Now that the adrenaline of defeating Ye Xiu had worn off, the gravity of what he’d just done caught up with him and the fae he’d just married- married, he was married! Led him away from Ye Xiu, whose golden eyes were narrowed in frustration but Huang Shaotian didn’t seem bothered by this, dragging Yu Wenzhou to his home, sitting him down on the sofa as he darted around the room.
Yu Wenzhou startled when a warm cup was pressed into his hands, Huang Shaotian’s head tilted to the side as he watched him, eyes bright with curiosity and an edge of worry. He brought the cup to the warlock’s lips before Yu Wenzhou’s brain kicked back into gear and he resisted, pulling away and placing the cup on the low table.
He glanced up to find Huang Shaotian’s lips curling up into a smile, teeth on full display and his laugh was soft but pointed, causing Yu Wenzhou’s eyes to narrow and the fae held up his hands apologetically.
“Ahh I should have known you wouldn’t fall for that, too intelligent for such a simple trick.” Yu Wenzhou eyed the fae suspiciously, not trusting the way he spoke, the tone too light-hearted, too carefree to be real.
“What would it have done?” Swoksaar’s eyes were dark with mistrust, darkening the blue further and Huang Shaotian couldn’t help but wonder what he’d look like lit up with joy. He stretched out on his sofa, head dangling off the edge as he shrugged, casual as ever.
“Not much, if we weren’t married it would have bound you to me but you’ve already tied part of yourself to the fae.” Yu Wenzhou was abruptly reminded that he was married and a small, hysterical part of him wondered how Wei Chen and Wang Jiexi would react to this new development. He swallowed down his laughter to ask more questions.
“What does it mean, us being married?” Huang Shaotian’s head tilted to the side and he frowned, the move playful, not reassuring Yu Wenzhou’s suspicions.
“So little trust from you.” When Swoksaar didn’t react, merely raised an eyebrow, Huang Shaotian rolled his eyes, quietly hoping that his new husband would loosen up a little once they knew each other better. “The marriage is merely a formality. Intent is vital when it comes to bonding.”
“The air burns less, is that a side effect?” Huang Shaotian rose from his seat to tuck himself against Swoksaar’s side and to his surprise and delight, the warlock didn’t lean away.
“Yes, fae have been bringing people back to our realm for millennium, if we were unable to keep you healthy then what is the point?”
“Why did you offer to marry me?” A myriad of explanations flickered through Huang Shaotian’s mind, the most honest answer on the tip of his tongue but he swallowed it down for something safer, something that revealed less of his heart.
“You beat Ye Xiu at his favourite game. That means you’re clever and cunning. Also you’re very pretty.” The candid answer had a flush dusting Swoksaar’s cheeks and Huang Shaotian preened at the sight, reaching up to trace a featherlight touch against the warlock’s skin.
“I won’t give you my Name.” Huang Shaotian tilted his head to the side, mulling the new knowledge over in his head for a few moments, wondering if he should feel discouraged but he shook off the notion in favour of grinning brightly at Swoksaar.
“I believe that you’ll change your mind in the end.”
“Because you plan to make me?”
“Because I expect that you will fall in love with me.” Yu Wenzhou felt his lips part in shock at the confident statement but the fae seemed certain of his proclamation, smile still gracing his lips. His tongue flicked out to wet his lips and Huang Shaotian’s eyes followed the motions, eyes bright with longing.
“I want to go home.” Huang Shaotian shrugged, eyes still fixed on Swoksaar’s lips and he stood fluidly, holding out a hand to help his husband up. The warlock didn’t take the proffered hand and as he followed him through the trees, he kept a pointed distance between them and Huang Shaotian frowned but didn’t say a word.
“When you want to visit again come here and call my Name. It’s unsafe to walk alone.” The fae darted back and vanished into the treeline, leaving Yu Wenzhou disorientated and exhausted. He went to see Wang Jiexi first, knowing that his friend was likely worried about him.
“What did you do?!” Fang Shiqian’s voice was loud enough that it brought his husband running into the room, eyes wide while Yu Wenzhou winced at the volume.
“What did he do?” Wang Jiexi’s voice was filled with concern and Fang Shiqian’s eyes narrowed as he took in Yu Wenzhou’s appearance.
“He got married!” Wang Jiexi stared at him and Yu Wenzhou felt like a chastised child under their collective stares. The fae tilted his head to the side for a long moment, gaze strangely penetrating before his eyes went wide. “You married Troubling Rain?! What were you thinking?”
“I didn’t wish to marry Ye Qiu-“
“Lord Grim offered to marry you?!” Yu Wenzhou couldn’t help but think that Wang Jiexi’s husband was overreacting slightly.
“Why did you get married Wenzhou?” While Wang Jiexi seemed collected, his eyes were bright with a mix of emotions and Yu Wenzhou was struck with the realisation that his decisions may not have been well thought through.
“I wanted to be able to pass to and from the fae realm. There is no other way to achieve this outside of marriage.” Fang Shiqian left the room at this point, muttering curses at the ceiling while Wang Jiexi brewed them some tea, pressing the warm cup into his friend’s hands.
“Do you think this is worth it?”
“I know my husband’s Name and I didn’t give him mine. I believe I hold the upper hand,” when the worry didn’t leave his friend’s eyes, Yu Wenzhou offered a reassuring smile. “I know what I’m doing Jiexi. I still hold the cards.”
“What if he tries to trick you? Tries to shift the power between you?” Fang Shiqian scoffed as he caught the tail end of his husband’s question.
“Troubling Rain wouldn’t. He’s a romantic. He’s always said that if he married a human, they’d give their name willingly.”
“He said as much earlier.” Fang Shiqian found that he had a new respect for Yu Wenzhou, not only had he challenged Lord Grim and come out the victor, he’d somehow caught the eye of Troubling Rain, renowned for his skill with his blade.
“Have you spoken to Wei Chen?” When Yu Wenzhou shook his head, Wang Jiexi winced and Fang Shiqian thought back to the warlock’s increasingly obvious panicking over the past few days.
“You should check in with him before he goes running after you.” Fang Shiqian wondered what would happen if Wei Chen actually invaded the fae realm and couldn’t help his snigger.
“You’re right.” Before Yu Wenzhou left he paused, turning back to meet Fang Shiqian’s eyes, “thank you. For your advice.” At the sincere words all Fang Shiqian could do was nod, eyes following the warlock as he left. Fang Shiqian startled when his husband leant against him, concern still written across his face.
“You truly believe that Wenzhou’s husband, this Troubling Rain, won’t try and take advantage of him?”
“I watched him grow up, he rode with the Hunt for a while, if he chose to marry, he wants to keep Yu Wenzhou. It wouldn’t be a game to him.” While Wang Jiexi didn’t seem convinced, some of the tension left the set of his shoulders and he sighed.
“I hope he can be happy.” Fang Shiqian wouldn’t say it aloud, but he hoped for the same, for both Yu Wenzhou and Troubling Rain.
Yu Wenzhou felt a strange aura hanging over his mentor’s home, the atmosphere thick and oppressive, leaving a sour taste in his mouth as he let himself in. His own magic curled tightly against him, shying away from the unfamiliar metallic tang in the air. The door eased open, silently and Yu Wenzhou’s eyes widened at the sight of Wei Chen.
His mentor’s hair was wild, bandages wrapped around his arms as he rummaged through his cabinets, Yu Wenzhou recognising the ingredients for a tracking spell in his arms. The older warlock’s eyes were hazed with lack of sleep and his magic crackled restlessly around him, barely leashed, barely under control.
The bottles hit the ground, shattering but Wei Chen ignored the mess, stepping over the glass in favour of wrapping Yu Wenzhou into a tight embrace, arms clutching him close, his magic coiling around Yu Wenzhou’s with ease, seeking comfort. Yu Wenzhou stiffened at the touch. In all the years he’d known Wei Chen, the man had raised him after all, he’d never had such open affection from him and it took him a moment before he returned the embrace.
“I thought you were lost.” Wei Chen’s words were soft, desperate and Yu Wenzhou didn’t know what to say in return, didn’t have the words to reassure him and he settled for simply letting his magic curl around Wei Chen’s in return, providing comfort in the only way he could.
“I’m not lost, I’m still here.”
“He said I’d lose you to the fae,” the dark shadows spoke of days without sleep but Wei Chen’s eyes were clear and sharp, thinking back to the fae he’d met all those years ago. When he’d first found Yu Wenzhou, and after seeing the destruction he could cause, chose to take him in.
The fae’s eyes were shadowed but Wei Chen could sense the truth in his words, the heavy tone that accompanied visions bleeding from every word and each word made Wei Chen shiver. The boy he’d just found tucked himself behind his legs, hiding from the oppressive aura the fae emitted. Each word was given weight by the fae’s knowing eyes and Wei Chen wished he could ignore the truth.
“You will lose him.” Wei Chen’s hand found the boy’s shoulder, watched as Yu Wenzhou stared up at the fae with wide blue eyes, curiosity warring with trepidation. “You will lose him to the fae.”
“I won’t.” Wei Chen knew that he couldn’t defy fate. That this would likely come to pass, no matter what he did, but he refuted it all the same. What more could he do? And he could see pity in the fae’s eyes, could see that he felt sorrow for him.
“There is nothing on this earth that will change this. The boy will be lost to the fae. There is nothing you can do.” Wei Chen’s eyes darkened with a mix of fear and anger, pulling Yu Wenzhou away but he could feel eyes on his back, and he never forgot the proclamation.
“I’m not lost.” Yu Wenzhou repeated, hoping to reassure his mentor but Wei Chen’s eyes were wet and his regrets were painted across his face.
“You are, bound to the fae by marriage, you belong to them now.” Wei Chen scrubbed a rough hand across his face, drying his eyes as he let out a brittle laugh. “I should have kept you away from them, perhaps I never should have taken you- perhaps it would have been better.” Yu Wenzhou pulled his mentor into his room and laid him down on the bed, whispering some of the lullabies he used to sing when he was younger, watching as they helped soothe his mentor into sleep.
Once his breathing was deep and even, Yu Wenzhou set about clearing up Wei Chen’s workspace, while he’d never been the tidiest, the mess was worse than he’d ever seen it. Yu Wenzhou cleared up the broken glass, salvaging as much as he could, cleared out the cauldrons and tided up the endless scrolls littered across the tables.
The familiar routine was soothing, allowing Yu Wenzhou to grow lost in his thoughts and he wondered if he was truly lost to the fae. He was bound by marriage after all, as much as the marriage was merely a formality, it still existed. And Huang Shaotian seemed convinced that he would give his Name willingly, binding himself fully to his husband.
Yu Wenzhou frowned, unable to untangle the knot of emotions in his chest whenever he thought of Huang Shaotian. The fae’s bright smile flickered through his mind, warming him at the memory and Yu Wenzhou wondered if Huang Shaotian was right, that it was only a matter of time before he gave his Name willingly.
He was pulled out of his thoughts by Wei Chen, the dark shadows having lessened slightly and Yu Wenzhou smiled at his mentor, hoping the expression on his face was reassuring. From Wei Chen’s frown, he suspected that it was not as convincing as he’d hoped.
“Who did you marry?”
“Troubling Rain.” A flicker of recognition passed across the older warlock’s face and Yu Wenzhou watched as some of the tension bled from the set of Wei Chen’s shoulders.
“It could be worse,” at Yu Wenzhou’s confused look Wei Chen shrugged, movement casual, “I spent time in the Seelie Court when I was young. Troubling Rain fought for the Court, for entertainment and he was skilled. He seemed less duplicitous than the others.”
“He gave me his Name.” Wei Chen blinked in shock and Yu Wenzhou sighed, the sound soft and confused. “I think it was to reassure me. To give me the power.”
“Why did he offer to marry you?” Yu Wenzhou felt his cheeks heat at the reminder and he found he couldn’t meet Wei Chen’s eyes.
“He said that I beat Lord Grim at his favourite game. He said that meant I was clever, cunning and that I am very pretty.” Wei Chen coughed, not expecting such an honest answer from the fae and he took a moment to gather his thoughts.
“Just be careful, even if you married a fae, it doesn’t mean the rest will accept you. After all, there’s a reason Wang Jiexi doesn’t live among them.” Yu Wenzhou nodded, but his eyes were distant, fixed on a point far away, thinking back to the fae with his bright smiles and smug assertions.
Meanwhile Fang Shiqian was pulled out of sleep by a knock at the door and he flung it open to find Huang Shaotian standing outside, bouncing on the soles of his feet as he prepared to knock again. He summoned up a bright smile while Fang Shiqian glared at him, debating shutting the door in his face. Before he could, Huang Shaotian slipped in, eyes sharp and teeth on display while Wang Jiexi sighed as he moved to begin brewing some tea.
“What do you want?”
“My husband’s heart.” Fang Shiqian sensed his husband’s magic standing to attention, ready to protect against any threat that might arise and he reached out, entangling their magic, soothing his husband’s fear.
“Why did you come here?” Huang Shaotian sat at their table and Wang Jiexi was struck by how otherworldly he looked. His own husband looked nearly human but Huang Shaotian exuded an aura of being different.
“You’re his friends aren’t you?” Huang Shaotian watched as the two stared at him suspiciously and he fought the urge to roll his eyes, it almost felt like he was facing off against Swoksaar’s parents. “I like him, he’s intelligent and pretty.” When they seemed unmoved Huang Shaotian threw his hands up. “What do you want me to say? I don’t want to trap him, I want him to love me.”
“Why did you ask him to marry you?” Fang Shiqian felt his husband’s eyes on the back of his neck and reworded his question, “what was the true reason you asked for his hand?” Huang Shaotian huffed out a soft breath before he answered.
“Because his magic called to me.” Fang Shiqian exchanged a glance with his husband and Wang Jiexi placed three cups of tea on the table before sitting down and speaking.
“You want him to fall for you? Then you should be yourself, let him decide.”
“What about gifts? What does he like?” Fang Shiqian tilted his head back as he laughed, leaning against his husband as he did so.
“You should figure that out yourself.” When Huang Shaotian looked like he was willing to sit until he got an answer, Fang Shiqian rolled his eyes and tilted his head at Wang Jiexi, waiting for an answer.
“He likes anything that helps him further his knowledge.” Once Wang Jiexi had finished speaking, Fang Shiqian let a smile spread across his face, teeth on full display, a clear warning and Huang Shaotian wasn’t one to linger once threats were made.
“Your help is appreciated!” His smile was more genuine as he left, already muttering under his breath and Fang Shiqian caught the names of some ancient books. He wrapped his arms around his husband, Wang Jiexi leaning into the touch, worry clear in his eyes and Fang Shiqian hummed softly, holding him tightly.
“Wenzhou will be fine. His husband wants to win his heart, not steal it.” Wang Jiexi took a breath and Fang Shiqian kept his arms around him, solid and reassuring at his back. “He’ll be fine.”
The next day found Yu Wenzhou at the edge of the forest, Huang Shaotian’s name falling from his lips and he startled at how quickly he appeared. The fae’s hair was ruffled by the wind, eyes bright with excitement and Yu Wenzhou couldn’t help but find him endearing.
“I like how my Name sounds from you.” Yu Wenzhou’s cheeks heated with a flush, remembering how Fang Shiqian had pressed a knife to his throat the first time he’d called Wang Jiexi by his full name. His friend had pulled the fae off him, murmuring soft reassurances in his ear until the knife was sheathed but Fang Shiqian had still shot him a warning glare.
Wang Jiexi had apologised, explaining that using one’s full name was intimate to the fae, that Fang Shiqian had felt threatened by Yu Wenzhou’s easy use of his name. Yu Wenzhou remembered how Fang Shiqian had eyed him suspiciously for the rest of his visit, arm curled possessively around his husband’s waist.
Yu Wenzhou wondered how it felt, for Huang Shaotian to have trusted him with his Name and to not know his in return. He felt a twinge of guilt at the thought before pushing it away. If Huang Shaotian was bothered by it, then he wouldn’t have married him. Yu Wenzhou was pulled from his thoughts when they arrived at a huge library, books lining the shelves and Yu Wenzhou’s eyes went wide with delight.
Huang Shaotian found himself entranced by the small smile that spread across the warlock’s lips, a soft gasp of delight slipping out. He was gratified to see that he was right, Swoksaar’s eyes were beautiful when they were lit up with joy and Huang Shaotian couldn’t bring himself to look away. He suddenly remembered the gift he’d bought and pulled Swoksaar over to a table and placed the package on his lap.
He kept his eyes on the warlock as Swoksaar unwrapped the gift and his lips parted in shock, admiring the gift he’d been given.
“You married me for knowledge, so I thought I should help you pursue new knowledge. I don’t know much about what is useful for scholars but I was told the ink will never run dry and the pages will never run out. I thought that may be useful for you when you visit, you can record as much knowledge as you wish without wasting coin on further materials.”
“It- it’s perfect. Thank you.” Swoksaar’s voice was soft with gratitude and Huang Shaotian returned the smile before falling silent, leaving his husband to become immersed in the books around him.
They sat in a comfortable silence for a few hours before Huang Shaotian interrupted the silence with a soft laugh, Swoksaar glancing up, curiosity in his eyes and the fae shook his head, pushing the book over to him. It was a tale of legends, stories so great they were immortalised in ink and he recognised the two names.
It was the story of Wang Jiexi and Fang Shiqian, telling the tale of how they’d grown up together, learning about each other’s worlds, growing to trust one another. How Wang Jiexi had made a bid for his freedom and Fang Shiqian had been forced to hunt down his friend, to chase him down and bind him to the fae. How through trickery and cunning and luck, Wang Jiexi had won his freedom twice over and his victory had been bathed in gold.
Yu Wenzhou smiled as he finished the tale and he hummed as he began to leaf through the pages, searching for another title to catch his eye.
“It is much less romantic when Aweto tells it.” Huang Shaotian’s laugh is pleasant and Yu Wenzhou found he’d like to hear it again. His attention is caught by his husband’s name written out on the page and he points at the tale. “What great deed did you achieve?” Huang Shaotian’s grin was sharp with triumph and he tugged the book from his hands.
“I won my freedom. We enjoy tales of trickery and intelligence. You will be written here as well, the way you triumphed over Ye Xiu is worthy of our library.”
“How did you win your freedom?”
“It was less impressive than what you or Vaccaria achieved. I merely fought my way to freedom from the court. I grew tired of performing and asked the court what price I would have to pay.”
“Could I do the same?” Huang Shaotian pushed down the hurt feelings that arose at the thought that Yu Wenzhou wished to break their bond but he answered honestly.
“You wouldn’t have to. You are not tied to a court, you are tied to me. You would only have to ask to be released.” Huang Shaotian was suddenly struck with the realisation that once Swoksaar had gathered all the information he desired from the fae; he would likely leave.
The realisation had Huang Shaotian determined to win Swoksaar’s heart before his husband chose to leave. To have the warlock fall in love with him so that he would not wish to leave. He smiled to cover the hurt and darted from the table only to return with a heavy book that he remembered was useful for warlocks.
When Swoksaar’s eyes widened with excitement, Huang Shaotian’s hopes that he could win him over were bolstered.
“This is one of the lost books on curses! My mentor, the first Swoksaar, he learnt a little from the fae and spoke highly of this.” Huang Shaotian nodded but internally he found himself distracted by the way Swoksaar’s magic crackled around him, deep blue shot through with purple. It left a metallic taste in his mouth as he trailed his fingers through the aura.
Swoksaar’s magic curled around his touch, almost eagerly and Huang Shaotian’s head tilted to the side when he realised that Swoksaar didn’t seem to notice. The magic was warm against his skin and Huang Shaotian shivered at how comfortable it felt. He felt another wave of determination shoot through him, certain that he didn’t want to lose the man beside him.
Yu Wenzhou found Huang Shaotian confusing. The fae was tactile, leaning against him, brushing hair out of his face, walking close enough that their hands touched, Huang Shaotian kept himself in Yu Wenzhou’s space as much as he could, particularly around other fae. When people would enter the library, Huang Shaotian would edge closer, eyes glittering with a warning until the person left, leaving Yu Wenzhou with the distinct feeling he was missing something.
Despite Huang Shaotian exerting considerable effort to stick as close to him as possible, Yu Wenzhou didn’t mind the tactile affection, finding it endearing, often catching himself leaning into a touch, something that always made his husband’s eyes spark with joy. Yu Wenzhou found himself seeking out ways to pull a smile from the fae, enjoying the way he’d light up with delight.
Fang Shiqian wondered when his life had changed from being one of a Wild Hunt, someone who was feared and whispered about, name enshrined in legend, to a relationship advisor. Both Yu Wenzhou and Huang Shaotian routinely appeared at his door, seeking advice about the other and he felt the urge to bang his head against a wall. His traitorous husband vanished into his workshop, leaving him to counsel the fools.
Yu Wenzhou was falling in love but was too blind to see it while Huang Shaotian had fallen in love but was too blind to notice that Yu Wenzhou was falling for him in return. Fang Shiqian’s smile was strained as he listened to Yu Wenzhou wonder about his husband’s motivations and why they caused warmth to pool in his chest.
“He bought me this.” Yu Wenzhou’s gaze was fixed on the bracelet, silver curling around his wrist, almost like a brand. Fang Shiqian lifted Yu Wenzhou’s wrist to get a better look and there it was.
Huang Shaotian’s name, carved into the silver, script neat and delicate.
“So it is a brand, in a way.” Fang Shiqian recognised Huang Shaotian’s attempt to protect his husband, the concept of a human being allowed to gather their knowledge, enter their libraries bothered many fae but Huang Shaotian publicly declaring that Yu Wenzhou was under his protection would most likely ward them off.
“What does this remind you of?” Fang Shiqian took a lot of effort to keep his voice calm, and not grab the nearest object to smack Yu Wenzhou with. The urge only increased when Yu Wenzhou offered him another confused look and Fang Shiqian wondered, once again, why his husband didn’t have to deal with this. “The gifts, does it seem familiar in any way?”
“You know more about fae customs than I do Shiqian, I’m not sure why you expect me to understand-“
“COURTING!” In hindsight, it might have been impolite to yell the word loud enough that Wang Jiexi actually came to see what was going on. Yu Wenzhou’s wide, surprised eyes also implied that Fang Shiqian should have said that a little more calmly.
However, in his defence he’d been listening to not only Yu Wenzhou’s romantic troubles, but also Huang Shaotian whining that “his pretty warlock was going to leave him, and then he’d die alone and Ye Xiu would likely go after him again, and maybe his pretty warlock would actually fall in love with him and then his pretty warlock would be lost to him forever and-!“ Fang Shiqian shuddered at the memory and refocused on Yu Wenzhou.
“Courting?” Wang Jiexi watched as Yu Wenzhou’s complexion shifted from red to white and back again, as he attempted to process Fang Shiqian’s words. “He’s- he’s courting me?”
“He gave you flowers two days ago!”
“For spell ingredients.”
“You use roses in spells often?!”
“Occasionally-“ Yu Wenzhou cut himself off when he noticed Fang Shiqian looking as if he were about to have an aneurysm. “You think he’s courting me?”
“He did say he wanted to win your heart Wenzhou,” Wang Jiexi finally intervened as he was concerned that his husband was about to strangle Yu Wenzhou in an attempt to shake some braincells back into him.
“I thought he might have changed his mind,” Yu Wenzhou’s gaze was drawn to the bracelet around his wrist, brushing his thumb over the cool metal, running the interactions he’d had with Huang Shaotian over in his head.
Remembering how his face lit up when he caught sight of him, how Huang Shaotian always had some small gift to give him, how the fae always leant against him when he was studying in the library. The way Huang Shaotian’s touch was so achingly gentle when he brushed stray pieces of hair away from his face and how his face bloomed with colour when Yu Wenzhou offered an absent-minded smile.
“Oh.” Fang Shiqian sent a fervent thanks to whatever had Yu Wenzhou coming to the realisation that Huang Shaotian was in love with him. “I need- I need to go-“ The two watched as Yu Wenzhou wandered out of the door, already muttering under his breath.
“It’s over-“ Wang Jiexi stifled a laugh at his husband’s betrayed look when Yu Wenzhou suddenly reappeared, question in his eyes.
“How do you court a fae?”
“Beat the Wild Hunt.” Fang Shiqian’s patience had completely dissipated at this point and Yu Wenzhou took the hint, deciding to go bother Wei Chen for advice. Fang Shiqian collapsed into his husband’s arms, resting his chin on his shoulder as he complained.
“He’s so stupid.” Wang Jiexi continued to pat his husband, humming soothingly in an attempt to calm him down. “And Huang Shaotian might be worse, why do we know so many stupid people Jiexi?”
“I do not have an answer to that.” Fang Shiqian levelled an unimpressed look at Wang Jiexi, meeting his eyes and scowling.
“You’re laughing at me.”
“You are. You didn’t have to hear them Jiexi! You didn’t hear Huang Shaotian moon over his ‘pretty warlock’ every day.” Fang Shiqian kept himself plastered against his husband as Wang Jiexi went to make himself some tea.
“You didn’t have to entertain them, if you found it so difficult.” Fang Shiqian narrowed his eyes at the implication in his husband’s voice, waiting for him to elaborate. “Just because our friends-“
“Not our friends, your friends.”
“Then why did you help them?” Wang Jiexi hid his smile as he took a sip of tea, Fang Shiqian stomping off like a particularly grumpy cat being accused of showing affection. He took another sip of tea, waiting patiently as his husband slunk back into the kitchen, still visibly sulking but now sulking in his direct line of sight. For better effect.
“Left me to deal with the romantic troubles,” Fang Shiqian muttered under his breath, tucked unto Wang Jiexi’s arm as his husband continued to drink his tea, a book now in his hands, “unfair.”
Wang Jiexi leant over to press a kiss to his forehead, placating him as he continued to leaf through the pages. Fang Shiqian’s mumbling soon tapered off as he tucked himself more comfortably against Wang Jiexi’s side, eyes slipping shut for a nap, soothed to sleep by his husband’s steady breathing and the soft rustle of pages.
Yu Wenzhou slipped into his mentor’s home, unsure of how Wei Chen would react to his question, even though he’d asked a multitude of difficult questions when he was still studying under him, this one might take the cake. Wei Chen glanced up from the scroll he was reading and his eyes honed in on the bracelet around his old student’s wrist before he sighed.
“He drapes you in jewellery to win your heart?” Yu Wenzhou’s hand flew up to touch the pendant in the hollow of his throat. He flushed slightly, remembering how Huang Shaotian’s fingers had grazed over his skin as he fastened the clasp. His words were whispered, breath hot against his ear and his smile was wide and satisfied at the sight of the necklace around his throat- He pushed the memory out of his mind in favour of focusing on his mentor, trying to ignore the flush on his cheeks.
“Do you know how to court a fae?” Yu Wenzhou watched as his mentor knocked over the pot of ink, moving quickly to rescue the scroll before turning to stare in disbelief at him. Yu Wenzhou took a seat and waited for his lecture. It was quick in coming.
“You want to do what?!” When Yu Wenzhou remained silent, Wei Chen continued to lecture him, standing to pace as he spoke. “I cannot believe you want to win his heart, he’s truly ensnared you if you are looking for ways to win his heart-“ Wei Chen abruptly cut himself off to stare at Yu Wenzhou, eyes flickering all over his face, seemingly scrutinising him carefully before sitting down heavily, eyes shut in resignation. “You love him.” The words were tinged with defeat and Yu Wenzhou reached out, only for Wei Chen to shift away.
“I won’t be lost.” Yu Wenzhou’s voice was soft, barely audible over the sounds of the fire but Wei Chen still wouldn’t meet his eyes. “He lets me leave whenever I choose, that won’t change just because I feel the same way.”
“I should have protected you, should have been better- taught you not to get lured in by a pretty face- I failed you, lost you to the fae, just as he said would happen-“
“Wei Chen.” Yu Wenzhou nearly snapped out the words before gentling his tone, watching as Wei Chen’s eyes flicked up to his face and he sighed. “I chose him, I made the choice to marry him and I want to court him. It’s my choice, not influenced by him or someone else.” Wei Chen opened his mouth to speak but Yu Wenzhou continued before he could, “and you didn’t fail me.”
Yu Wenzhou let his power crackle over his fingertips, the purple shot through with silver as he tried to find the right words. The familiar movement was soothing, the instinctive pull, the immediate leash he had to throw over the magic before it overwhelmed him.
He remembered the terror as a child, the bone deep terror when his magic was wild and out of control, when every movement brought the purple sparks to his fingertips. He’d never been fast enough, never been able to pull it back under control, not before someone got hurt.
Wei Chen had changed that.
He’d taught him how to control his magic, how to draw it out slowly, only ever as much as he needed, every movement precise and controlled. Yu Wenzhou was lauded as a brilliant warlock, known throughout the land to the point that it surprised no one when the title of Swoksaar was passed down to him.
But none of it would have been possible without Wei Chen.
“You can’t have failed me. Everything I became was because you took the time to guide me.” Wei Chen scoffed at the words, waving one hand dismissively.
“You had the potential from the beginning, I never had to train that into you.”
“But you chose to train me.” Yu Wenzhou’s eyes were dark with conviction, forcing Wei Chen to meet his eyes. “I didn’t know how to control my magic, didn’t know how to use it. You changed that. You changed everything.” Wei Chen closed his eyes for a few long moments, seemingly trying to recentre himself before he met Yu Wenzhou’s eyes once more.
“Fae courtship is complicated. You’d be better asking Wang Jiexi’s husband-“ When Yu Wenzhou glanced away, face flushed, Wei Chen frowned. “Why can’t you ask him?”
“Troubling Rain was courting me and I didn’t realise. Aweto was the one who made me realise and he seemed a little frustrated.” A little was putting it mildly but Yu Wenzhou didn’t want to admit that Aweto had essentially chased him out of the door.
“Right. Well from what I learnt while I lived among them, was that courtship looks different for everyone and that what is courting for one isn’t for another.” Yu Wenzhou frowned at the answer, unhappy at the prospect of having to guess what Huang Shaotian would consider a courtship.
“Do you remember what kind of things were considered as part of a courtship?” Wei Chen seemed to be casting his memory back, tapping his fingers against the table, his own magic crackling around his fingertips.
“I remember there was a courtship that revolved entirely around flowers.” Wei Chen frowned, “I think that one ended with them crying on each other because they hadn’t realised each other’s feelings.” Yu Wenzhou hoped that his courtship of Huang Shaotian would go better than that, after all, Aweto had enough to mock him about already. “I remember that Troubling Rain used to spar with people pre-courting.” Yu Wenzhou tilted his head to the side, mulling that over in head for a little while.
“I should gift him things that remind me of him.” Wei Chen waved one hand, seemingly at the end of his advice. There hadn’t been much advice offered but it was enough to get him started, and hopefully, Aweto would soon calm down and be willing to offer some more guidance.
Huang Shaotian found himself staring at Swoksaar, shock clearly painted across his face while the warlock’s cheeks were flushed, hand still outstretched.
In the palm of his hand was an intricately braided token, unfamiliar runes woven in silver thread that seemed to glow, even in the dim light of the trees. Swoksaar seemed unsure of himself, waiting for Huang Shaotian to accept the courting- the gift.
“It’s for protection.” Yu Wenzhou broke the silence, pink high on his cheeks as he began to explain, “the runes, they’ll glow when there’s danger, to warn you.” When Huang Shaotian didn’t reply, Yu Wenzhou moved to loop it at his waist, the fae not moving to stop him. “And it suits you.”
Huang Shaotian shivered a little as Swoksaar’s magic curled around him, as it seemed to examine him from top to bottom, tickling slightly. After a few moments, he was enveloped in its warmth and he fought back his gasp at the sensation, feeling Swoksaar’s magic cling to his skin and he could sense its power and the protection that brought.
“It’s beautiful, did you make it yourself, I didn’t know warlocks did weaving-“ Swoksaar cut Huang Shaotian off before he could start rambling, following him on the now-familiar route to the library.
“I did, it’s something that’s done to initiate courtships.” Huang Shaotian nearly tripped over nothing but he managed to recover before it was obvious.
“How can he say that with such a straight face!” Huang Shaotian couldn’t believe how calm Swoksaar was, no hint of any embarrassment or hesitation. “Wait-!”
“Initiate courtship, what do you mean initiate, the courtship started already! It started ages and ages ago, it started so long ago that you probably don’t even remember when it started-!”
“It was the notebook wasn’t it?” Yu Wenzhou watched in amusement as it seemed like Huang Shaotian’s brain had screeched to a stop.
“You knew this whole time?!” The words were a mix between a screech and a croak, but before Swoksaar could respond, the charm on Huang Shaotian’s belt began to glow and the fae tackled the other to the ground.
An arrow promptly buried itself in the tree behind Swoksaar.
Huang Shaotian was on his feet in a moment, sword in his hand with Swoksaar at his back, magic crackling around his fingers and Huang Shaotian took a moment to mourn the fact that he couldn’t appreciate the sight right now as a fight was about to break out and he filed away a note to convince Swoksaar to let him see it again when their safety wasn’t on the line.
“Don’t be so cowardly come out come out come out, are you too afraid to face us, are you just tiny little cowards, little children who can’t leave the safety of the trees, too scared to fight us but you’ll shoot from the trees, do you have no shame, no shame at all, come out and face us-“
“Shut up!” The words were roared as the two fae walked out from the cover of the trees. Huang Shaotian didn’t recognise them, one of them was carrying an axe while the other had another arrow nocked and aimed at Swoksaar.
“You’ll stand at his side? Protect him?” The one with the bow’s face was twisted into a snarl and Huang Shaotian tensed when their fingers loosened on the string.
The bowstring released and all hell broke loose.
Swoksaar’s magic solidified into a shield, the arrow bouncing off harmlessly as Huang Shaotian threw himself at the fae with the axe, sword curving down in a bright arc and clashing with against the other’s weapon. Sparks flew as they swung their weapons at one another, neither holding back as they tried to beat the other into the ground.
Huang Shaotian spared a glance over at Swoksaar, relieved to see that he was holding his own, magic sparking around him and he noticed that it was shot through with silver before the axe cleaved towards his head and his attention was pulled away again.
“I don’t want to fight you Troubling Rain.” Huang Shaotian blocked the swing towards his throat, trying to lever the weapon out of the other fae’s hand but they were too quick, manoeuvring out of the lock before he had the chance.
“You don’t want to fight me, that’s good, that’s very good, then you can just drop that weapon and you can just lie down and let me drag you away, far far away, I’ll put you exile, it will be fun, don’t worry your friend can come with you, wouldn’t that be nice, aren’t I so very nice to you, letting you take a friend, stop fighting me now, you don’t want to, axe down, bow down, into exile, what a great idea, your only good idea in your entire life-“
“SHUT UP!” Huang Shaotian held back his laugh when the other fae lost his cool, stumbling a little and letting him score a thin cut across his arm. “Just let us get rid of the human and we’ll let you live!” The laughter that elicited from Huang Shaotian was not reassuring.
“Ahahah, you think you can kill me, you’re wrong wrong wrong, you’ll be the one getting hurt if you don’t let us go, just let us go and you can go-“ The amulet on his belt crackled with warning once again, but this time Huang Shaotian was too slow, and he watched the throwing knife embed itself in Swoksaar’s stomach. Swoksaar made a soft, shocked noise, eyes widening as he crumpled to his knees and the other two fae bolted as Huang Shaotian managed to catch Swoksaar before he hit the ground.
Swoksaar’s shirt was rapidly turning red and Huang Shaotian forced his brain to work instead of staring in horror at the wound, scooping his husband up in his arms and running, praying that he wasn’t jostling his injury too badly. Swoksaar’s eyelids fluttered, eyes out of focus and clouded with pain.
“You’re going to be okay, going to be okay,” Huang Shaotian wrapped the wound as best he could without removing the knife, trying to stem the flow of blood, before swallowing and pressing a kiss to Swoksaar’s forehead. “I’m going to get help, you’ll be okay, just stay here, don’t go anywhere.”
The runes seemed to glow with warning as Huang Shaotian ran through the trees, panic thundering in his chest, threatening to overwhelm him and he burst into Wang Jiexi’s cottage yelling, terror making his voice crack.
“FANG SHIQIAN, COME HERE AND HELP ME, I NEED YOU TO HELP ME!” Fang Shiqian and Wang Jiexi emerged from their room, bleary eyed and Huang Shaotian grabbed them both, pulling them out of the door without bothering to explain. They took in the fractured look in his eyes, the blood on his hands and they followed without demanding an explanation.
Wang Jiexi paled slightly at Yu Wenzhou, the bandages already soaked with blood and Fang Shiqian stood straighter, already barking out orders, sending Huang Shaotian out for supplies from the home he still kept amongst the fae. He had his hands on Yu Wenzhou in a moment, hands glowing a dark, soothing green and gold and Wang Jiexi remembered when Fang Shiqian’s magic was only gold.
Remembered how the green had bled in slowly as they had fallen in love.
“Stop looking so fucking sappy.” Fang Shiqian shot a glare over at his husband and Wang Jiexi hummed placatingly as he boiled the water.
Huang Shaotian burst back in, arms full and Fang Shiqian took them from him before sending them both outside, snapping that he needed room to work and they were both useless and in the way. Huang Shaotian looked as if he were about to protest before he took one look at Yu Wenzhou and slipped out of the door.
“He’ll be okay.” Wang Jiexi kept his voice calm even as Huang Shaotian seemed to be vibrating in place, pacing back and forth restlessly.
“You can guarantee that, you can promise me that? Huh? Huh Big-eyed Wang? You can swear to me that he’s going to be completely okay?”
“Your charm is glowing less now.” Huang Shaotian grazed his fingers against the smooth weave and found that Wang Jiexi was right. Huang Shaotian slumped against the doorway, fear and guilt written across his face.
“I didn’t protect him. I wasn’t fast enough- I-“
“You can’t keep him safe from everything. It wasn’t your fault they tried to hurt him. And you got him here.” When Huang Shaotian opened his mouth to protest, Wang Jiexi didn’t give him the opportunity. “It wasn’t your fault. You should not blame yourself. He won’t blame you.”
“You can come in now, but if you jostle him by throwing yourself across his body and crying I will kill you myself.” Huang Shaotian nodded, clearly distracted and Fang Shiqian swayed slightly, Wang Jiexi by his side in a moment, supporting him. “I don’t need you to hold me upright.”
“I know.” Wang Jiexi’s gaze was disgustingly earnest and Fang Shiqian huffed, tilting his chin up even as he leant into his husband’s hold, letting the witch take his bed.
“As long as you keep it in mind.”
Huang Shaotian approached the bed hesitantly, unsure of what to do as he took a seat beside the bed, gaze on Swoksaar’s unnatural stillness. He knew that Fang Shiqian had likely just put him in a deep sleep, keeping him still to give his body time to heal, let him recover but Huang Shaotian couldn’t help but think he looked dead.
He reached out carefully, letting his fingers graze Yu Wenzhou’s cheek, skin warm against his fingertips and it eased the fear in his chest at little. He took a shaky breath, fingers moving to curl around Swoksaar’s hand.
“I didn’t mean to let you get hurt.” Tears tracked down his cheeks as Huang Shaotian rubbed his thumb over the back of Swoksaar’s hand, “please forgive me.”
It took a long time for Huang Shaotian to fall asleep and his dreams were hazy and unformed, sharp fear lacing through them.
Yu Wenzhou woke up slowly, an ache still present in his stomach but it was dull and he sensed it was no longer an issue. Huang Shaotian was the first face he saw and his lips stretched into a smile at the sight of the sunny fae.
“Shaotian.” He doesn’t mean to say it out loud but Huang Shaotian perks up at the sound, raw relief spilling into his eyes as he took in Swoksaar’s open eyes, soft smile and steady heartbeat.
“You’re okay! And awake!” He felt the all too familiar stab of guilt and Swoksaar frowned, “I’m sorry! I let you get hurt, I should have protected you better, warned you faster- I didn’t mean to let you get injured-!”
“But it wasn’t your fault, I was too slow in forming a shield and you had your own fight. It was my fault, my mistake, not yours.” Huang Shaotian looked as if he was going to protest and Swoksaar reached out to curl their fingers together. “My mistake Shaotian.”
Huang Shaotian shivered slightly at the touch, Swoksaar rarely initiated contact between them and he wondered what had changed. He looked down at the warlock, noting the soft, fond look in his eyes and he tilted his head to the side, curiosity written across his face.
“You were right,” Yu Wenzhou watched as Huang Shaotian blinked in confusion, continuing, voice quiet, just for the two of them. “That I’d give you my Name. It’s Yu Wenzhou.” Huang Shaotian felt something settle comfortably in his chest, like a gap had been filled, Yu Wenzhou’s name the perfect fit for what was missing.
“Yu Wenzhou, Yu Wenzhou, Yu Wenzhou…” Huang Shaotian said, grin bright and pleased, delighting in the sound of the name from his lips. He met Yu Wenzhou’s eyes and wet his lips, leaning in close, breath grazing Yu Wenzhou’s neck. “Yu Wenzhou can I kiss you?”
At the eager nod from his husband, Huang Shaotian closed the gap between their lips, pressing a deep kiss to Yu Wenzhou’s mouth, long and lingering, luxuriating in the contact. He felt their marriage bond snap together properly, finally complete and the warmth rushed through him, making him giddy and dizzy with joy.
“Yu Wenzhou, Wenzhou, husband, my husband,” Huang Shaotian murmured against the warlock’s lips over and over again, making Yu Wenzhou shiver, arching up into the contact.
“Huang Shaotian, Shaotian, my husband-“ Yu Wenzhou couldn’t help his eagerness, could feel it thrumming through him as he longed for nothing else but to keep Huang Shaotian in his arms. He sensed it was the bond between them, that it was because of his marriage but he could see Huang Shaotian’s giddy delight in his eyes and he didn’t want to break away.
“Maybe I’m lost to the fae,” Yu Wenzhou thought, one hand cupping the back of Huang Shaotian’s neck, magic sparking along his skin, responding to his pleasure, “maybe I’m lost to this fae, but he’s just as lost to me.”
And that? That was something Yu Wenzhou was endlessly satisfied with.