up on melancholy hill

06 May 2021

At any other time, Nie Mingjue would have teased his brother relentlessly and given Jiang Wanyin the worst terrifying talking-to of his life. But they’re in hiding and on the run, being hunted by both their own people and the rest of the world – and this is such a painfully normal teenage thing to experience in the midst of all the bullshit they’re dealing with.

Nie Mingjue figures that he can let his brother have this much, at least.

(Snapshots of some quiet moments during a war)

Chapters: 10
Words: 21,652

up on melancholy hill

Chapter 8
olive branch


A surprise arrival in the safehouse.



Less than a week after Jin Zixuan had allegedly been “kidnapped”, Wei Wuxian bursts into the plant nursery, practically screaming-

“Hey, peacock!”

Jin Zixuan lets out a tired groan. “Wei Wuxian, I swear, I will use this spray bottle if you-”

Wei Wuxian is panting. “Mingjue-ge told me to get you.”

Jin Zixuan realizes the real urgency then, and he puts the spray bottle down as he walks towards the other. “What happened?”

“Huan-ge is here, and he’s with-” Wei Wuxian grins. “He’s with MianMian.”


MianMian is Jin Zixuan’s best and oldest friend. She doesn’t have a gift, but she might as well have grown up in the Jin safehouse with him. Her family is one of their major suppliers of food and goods, her father a prominent public figure who had vouched for their society’s acceptance of people with powers time and again.

He hadn’t been able to say goodbye to her, before being sent to his supposed death. But here she is now, standing beside Lan Xichen, and talking to Nie Mingjue.

It’s so good to see her again, that Jin Zixuan didn’t even bother interrupting politely – he just blurts out her name as soon as he sees her.

She turns around and gasps when she sees him, and then she’s running up to him and he’s getting what could be the tightest hug of his life.

“What are you doing here?” he asks when she finally lets go of him.

“Looking for you, dummy.” she teases, grinning. “Madame Jin sent me.”

He blinks in shock. “What? Mother did?”

“Jin Zixuan.” Lan Xichen says, making them both turn towards him. He looks tired, but even with his rumpled clothes and messy hair, he still somehow manages to look serene and graceful. “I owe my life to your mother and your brother. I got caught with a few others, but A-Yao didn’t tell Wen Ruohan about me, he told him that we were all just ordinary stragglers.”

Oh. Jin Zixuan had never thought much about Meng Yao. He didn’t like how his father treated his illegitimate brother, but he couldn’t have done much about it, not when he’d been sheltered from knowing the full story. All he knew was that Meng Yao had been staying with the Nies, he was rejected by their father when he first attempted to reconnect, and then he had somehow ended up as Wen Ruohan’s assistant.

“He let me know what Wen Ruohan told your parents about your disappearance, so I told him that it’s not true, you weren’t kidnapped at all. I suppose he somehow managed to tell Madame Jin, because she came to see me and I told her what I knew. About what happened with you. Nothing else. But that was enough for her…”

“She contacted me. She said that I’m not one of you, so no one is keeping track of me.” MianMian continues. “Meng Yao snuck Lan Xichen out and they sent us to find you. He said he’d cover our tracks.”

Jin Zixuan stares at them in disbelief. His mother and Meng Yao? His mother hated Meng Yao! He just couldn’t see it…

Then again, he had seen his mother frown everytime his father bowed and offered his services to Wen Ruohan. He had listened to her worry about him going wherever Wen Ruohan demanded him to go. He had seen her – held her – on the days after Lotus Pier burned, after she heard that her best friend had been killed by the man her husband had allied their faction with.

Huh. And now, discovering that Wen Ruohan had tried to kill her son and then used him for his own image because he survived? Yes, that may have just been enough to get his mother to cooperate with her husband’s illegitimate son, after all.

“Meng Yao, huh.” Nie Mingjue frowns. “I don’t know, Xichen. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that you made it here safe, but…”

“A-Jue.” Lan Xichen gives their leader a strained smile. “He’s trying to do the right thing too, just like the rest of us.”

Nie Mingjue looks at him, at Jin Zixuan and MianMian, then at his own brother by his side. Nie Huaisang looks hesitant, but hopeful.

Jin Zixuan doesn’t know exactly what had caused the rift between the Nies and Meng Yao, but it’s obvious that the bond there hasn’t been severed completely.

MianMian takes an item from her backpack and offers it to Nie Mingjue. “He asked me to give this to you.”

It’s a burner phone.

“Well… we were waiting for something to happen, right?” Nie Huaisang says with a little shrug.

Nie Mingjue sighs, then takes it.




Chapter Notes:

(me: u know what if madame jin did a narcissa malfoy… WHAT IF)

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