“So. Looks like we didn’t have to come after all.” Wei Wuxian flopped back against Wen Ning’s solid shoulder, shamelessly leaving his friend between him and a tall, hard, likely chilly tree trunk. Maple, he thought, listening to the river chuckle behind them. At least the leaves looked like maple in the starlight, and the bark had the same ribbed, rough quality as maples back in the Jianghu.
Which was about as much as he wanted to think at all for the rest of the night. Maybe for days.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t keep hiding in Companions’ Field for days. Just long enough for the furor to die down, and the guards to go from jumpy to post-battle-crash sleepy, so they could sneak politely back out through Weaponsmaster Alberich’s hidden gate.
Or less politely, hop the wall. Or simply, quietly-
“We’re not going in the river, Cousin Wei.”
Wei Wuxian craned his head back and slightly up, meeting Wen Ning’s long-suffering gaze. “We’re not? It’d be fast. We could just float under the walls. I can use talismans to dry us both off as soon as we get to shore.”
“Jiejie will needle us both if you get frozen and catch a wind-sickness,” Wen Ning said firmly. “No.”
“But it’d be quiet.”
“Cousin Wei.” Dark eyes narrowed, just a little. “If you go in that river, all the ghosts will rise up. That’s not quiet.”
Wei Wuxian opened his mouth-
“Unless you tell them to be quiet. I know you want to be busy. You always want to be busy when Hanguang-jun hurts you. But you’re tired. And you don’t want anyone to get hurt. We both have to be careful. So just… rest.”
Wei Wuxian closed his eyes. “Lan Zhan didn’t hurt me.”
Wen Ning’s sigh whispered through his bones. “Hanguang-jun didn’t touch you. I know. But you’ve tried to keep that secret so long, and-” He cut himself off, leaning his forehead against Wei Wuxian’s hair. “H-he thinks it was Wen Zhuliu. Even if word gets out Yunmeng Jiang should be fine. Rest, Master Wei.”