FTMH C7 The First Day as a Married Couple

Zhu Hong woke up with a smile. He looked at the ceiling of the familiar room, feeling as if things were suddenly different. Well, that wasn’t wrong. From today onward, he was not a single man any longer. Instead, he was somebody’s husband.

Going forward, it would be his task to take care of Zhen Zhu, to make sure that he wouldn’t get into danger and would not suffer from hunger or cold. He had to ensure his happiness. In that way, he would also ensure his own.

What had originally seemed a little daunting was now something that filled him with excitement for the future. Not living alone in this house, waking up together with somebody, going to sleep together, … he felt that this was something that would enrich his life.

Even though he didn’t share the feeling that other dragons held for their phoenixes, that didn’t mean that he was unhappy. Having a person at your side that you could share your life with … that was a special type of joy. At the very least, it was to him. Maybe others would not be able to live like this but he felt that if he had the choice again, he would do it all over. He would pick that pearl-white egg with the faint apricot markings that had looked a dusty gray at first and carry it down the mountain, presenting it as the one he had chosen as his spouse. And then, he would use every following day of his life to stand behind that decision.

Serenity entered his eyes and he reached up to his chest where he could feel a faint weight. As it seemed, his husband had snuggled up to him at night. That, as well, was something that he quite enjoyed.

Zhu Hong wanted to rub Zhen Zhu’s head, sliding his fingers through the silky white hair but instead, he was greeted by fluffy feathers.

His brows shot up and he looked down, finding a little white bird on top of his chest. Well, that was unexpected. Even more unexpected was the fact that the small bird that had still fit between his two hands yesterday without needing to spread his fingers too far apart was now at least twice the size. Apparently, he had grown quite a bit overnight.

Zhu Hong continued to look at him, not quite sure what to make of this. Contrary to other species, a phoenix was supposed to be an adult when it hatched. So to be honest, he had been a little surprised when he saw Zhen Zhu still being so small yesterday. His heart had only calmed down when he saw him transform into a youth that was clearly not a child anymore. Otherwise, that really would’ve been too awkward.

Now, it seemed that the phoenix form was slightly lacking behind. Was this something that was usually like this? Or could it be that something was wrong with Zhen Zhu because of the long time he had spent as an egg on the mountain?

Zhu hong immediately started to worry when he thought of that question. He might be able to ask Zhen Zhu himself when he woke up but he was afraid to hurt his self-esteem if there really was something wrong. No, it would probably be better to go and ask Elder Bi later on. He had a spouse of his own so he should differently now. And at his age, he’d also definitely seen several weddings happen already.

To be honest, even Zhu Hong himself had been a guest to a handful of weddings since the whole tribe would usually come together to celebrate. But, unfortunately, he had still been young at that time and not really cared about it. Somebody else taking a spouse … he had never felt that it had anything to do with him. Also, the scene of the phoenix being handed over was something he had never seen since it was usually only the Elders that were around at that point unless one was family. Now, his lackadaisical attitude at the beginning of his life came back to bite him. Well, he probably deserved it. In the future, he would need to make up for it so that he could ensure that he was able to take care of his spouse well.

While thinking about all these questions, Zhu Hong had started to absentmindedly brush through the feathers of the little phoenix.

Zhen Zhu happily snuggled up closer against his chest, enjoying the feeling of that big, warm palm brushing over his body in his half-asleep state. He was clearly far from really waking up.

Zhu Hong also noticed that his husband didn’t seem to be too interested in getting up for the first day as a married couple but he didn’t bother waking him up. In any case, he felt that it was alright to let him sleep in a little.

Outside, the sun slowly climbed higher and the other dragons all got up one by one. Seeing that Zhu Hong’s house still had no movement, a few of them couldn’t help but gather to gossip.

“I say, is this the right attitude to have after just getting married? If you’re a single dragon, you have to make sure that you get your house in order so you can welcome your spouse. As a married dragon, shouldn’t you be up and busy about, making sure that your spouse can have a good life?” This was one of the female dragons talking, that felt that it was a bit of a shame for Zhu Hong to act like this. Even though he hadn’t had as much time as others to prepare for the arrival of his spouse, everybody had helped him to put things in order. Could he really just turn lazy the day after the wedding? That definitely wasn’t a good sign!

One of the others clicked his tongue and shook his head. “The ceremony wouldn’t be the problem. But who knows how long the two of them were up yesterday? I say, we should probably hope that they sleep in a little longer. That at least means they were busy back then. Who knows? In a few months, there might already be a small addition to our valley.”

The female dragon laughed, nodding her head. “If you say it like this, I really can’t be annoyed at him any longer. Well, let them sleep then. Although I honestly can’t deny that I am curious about that spouse of his.”

The other dragons sighed, looking over at the house again. “Who isn’t? Who isn’t?”

The group continued to talk a bit longer and finally dispersed when it didn’t look like Zhu Hong and Zhen Zhu would come out anytime soon.

Inside one of the houses, the phoenixes that were currently living in the valley were having a discussion of their own.

“That little phoenix was on the mountain for such a long time. I hope he’s alright.”

“Grandelder Lan Jing never said that there was anything wrong with being up there longer. At the very least, I’ve never heard of that. I guess we shouldn’t worry too much. If it really was a risk, she probably wouldn’t have left yet. She would’ve made sure beforehand that he was alright.”

“Yes, ah, Grandelder Lan Jing and the Elders returned to the forest immediately. If there was any risk, they probably wouldn’t have done that and would’ve stayed here instead.”

The second phoenix nodded, her expression already smoothing out. “In any case, Zhu Hong will return to the forest with his spouse in a few days for the first visit. By that time, Grandelder Lan Jing will certainly take a look at him. We shouldn’t worry too much. Instead, let’s make sure we make him feel welcome. I still remember how it was when I arrived here. Knowing nobody, I was really nervous. If I could have, I would’ve stayed with my wife every day.”

The others laughed, nodding immediately. “You’re definitely not the only one. Who wants to leave their spouse? In any case, this little one shouldn’t be any different. I watched it with my husband yesterday. Seeing them return from the temple, they clearly seemed very happy. I think they are a good couple.”

The other phoenixes nodded with relief, happy to hear that. Although just taking a look from afar couldn’t compare to having a talk with the new phoenix and observing for a while how his spouse treated him, it was already a good sign. After all, just because a connection was felt, not everybody was a good couple.

Some people — even though they were destined to be — just did not mesh well. If their personalities clashed, then there really was nothing that could be done. Often enough, the phoenixes would return to the forest after their first child had been born. It really was a pity each time it happened. And while it wasn’t often, it was still something to worry about each time a new phoenix was born. Thus, even the slightest sign that the new phoenix wouldn’t need to suffer such a fate, made them quite happy.

Half a day soon went by and finally, Zhen Zhu also opened his eyes. He wanted to rub them but soon noticed that he had somehow shifted forms in his sleep and didn’t have hands anymore. He lay there in a daze for a moment and then gave up on his original intention, instead raising his head and looking around. Finally, he noticed his husband’s gaze on him. Blinking his phoenix eyes, Zhen Zhu shook his body, slipping out of Zhu Hong’s grasp, and jumped down from his chest and to the other side of the bed. He changed back into his other form and then turned to his husband, looking at his handsome face for a moment as well.

Zhu Hong’s smile brightened under the gaze of his spouse and he reached out to take his hand. “Did you sleep well?”

Zhen Zhu nodded, still not saying anything for a moment. Then, he lay back down, pulling his pillow a little closer to Zhu Hong. “Did you wake up a long time ago?”

Zhu Hong continued to smile and shook his head. “Not that long ago.” Actually, it had already been several hours but he didn’t want Zhen Zhu to feel awkward.

The little phoenix gave a hum and looked back at him, once again falling silent.

Zhu Hong didn’t rush him. In any case, this was their first full day as a married couple. It was the first time that Zhen Zhu woke up next to him. He should give him a bit of time to get accustomed to the idea, just like he had had time before Zhen Zhu woke up.

The little phoenix’s thoughts actually weren’t that complicated. From the moment he saw Zhu Hong for the first time, he had known that this was the man he would spend his life with. And he had also felt that he was the person that he wanted to spend his life with. Maybe this was just how the phoenixes were but he felt happy just looking at him. Being able to wake up on his chest and then being able to look at him for some time, he was more than happy. Just imagining that every day from now on would be like this, he didn’t know what to do with all the happiness. Finally, Zhen Zhu craned his neck and kissed Zhu Hong’s cheek. “Good morning, husband.”

Zhu Hong chuckled and turned to the side, pulling Zhen Zhu back into his arms. “Good morning to you as well.”

Zhen Zhu chuckled and then closed his eyes again, nuzzling Zhu Hong’s chest with his face. After a moment, he looked back up, his eyes sparkling brightly. “What are we going to do now? Are there any other things to do after getting married yesterday?”

Zhu Hong shook his head. “Nothing official for the next few days. After that, we will return to the forest for a visit. For today, I would like to show you around the valley of the dragon clan for a bit and introduce you to a couple of people. We won’t be able to look at everything yet but I want you to have a first impression.”

Zhen Zhu nodded. He had to find out more about the place where Zhu Hong had lived for his whole life. In any case, from now on, this was his home as well. It would be good if he could get used to it fast.

Thinking about it, it was actually quite good that he hadn’t grown up in the forest of the phoenix clan. This way, there was no pain from parting with that place. Instead, he could immediately get to know this place and accept it as it was. Was there really a better thing that could’ve happened to him? He doubted it.

Being excited, Zhen Zhu immediately sat up, swung his legs over the edge of the bed, and got up. Looking at his robe that was lying to the side, he wasn’t quite sure if he could just wear it again. In any case, that was the robe for their wedding.

Zhu Hong leaned over and wrapped an arm around his waist, motioning over to a chest at the side of the room with the other hand. “The clothes I prepared for you are in there. You can choose whatever you like to wear. Save for a few festivals, there isn’t really anything that requires you to be dressed a certain way.”

Zhen Zhu nodded and rushed over, opening the chest curiously. While looking through the clothes inside, he couldn’t help but question further. “Then how do I know which are the ones for the festivals?”

“Don’t worry. They weren’t made yet. The next festival is still several months away so nothing for you to worry about yet. I will have the appropriate clothes made in the next few weeks. In any case, it is a bit difficult to prepare everything for you without knowing your size. So I wanted to wait with it for a while. Because of that, there are only a couple of robes for now. I will have more made after you decide on what you like. They can all be according to your wishes.” While he explained, he got dressed as well and then turned around, noticing that Zhen Zhu still hadn’t managed to put on any clothes.

He laughed faintly and then went over, crouching down next to him. “Have you found anything yet?”

Zhen Zhu looked up at his husband, not quite sure what to say. “They are all very pretty.” To be honest, he felt that Zhu Hong had prepared much better than he would’ve expected considering the short amount of time that he had been given. There were only five or six robes but considering that he had only had a week, that was already quite a lot.

The most surprising thing was that all of them looked as if they had been tailor-made for him. There was an apricot-colored robe with some white embroidery, that looked a bit like a mirror image of his wedding robe with the colors being inverted, a white robe with a part that had been dyed apricot, and then another few robes that were in a different color but still incorporated the two from his egg like a lilac robe with white embroidery and an apricot-colored belt, or a mint green robe with apricot-colored leaves embroidered from the hem up to where a white belt would go around his waist.

Clearly, a lot of thought had been put into these. Zhu Hong hadn’t chosen the easy way out and just borrowed robes from others who didn’t need them for their spouses anymore. From the memories of his clan, Zhen Zhu knew that this was something that was actually often done.

Since the dragons didn’t know beforehand whether their spouse would be male or female, big or small, thin or thick, they could only prepare something for all eventualities. The robes that were needed were practically useless afterward so they would often be given to other members of the clan either for the spouses they already had or to the ones to who were still waiting to welcome their own. Sometimes, people would also keep their robes and then give them to their children, allowing them to use them for their future spouse.

To have a husband like Zhu Hong who would actually prepare robes specifically for his own spouse was a rare occurrence. It meant that they were paying special attention to their spouse and usually signified that the marriage would be an especially good one.

Thinking of the things that Zhen Zhu remembered, he couldn’t help but lower his head to hide the sweet smile on his lips. He didn’t know how he would explain to Zhu Hong if he saw it. In any case, he was just very happy. There weren’t enough words to describe what he was feeling.

Zhen Zhu finally picked a mint green robe, feeling that it might be better to take something that didn’t look as much like his wedding robe. In any case, today was a new day. There should be something to signify that.

Putting the robe on, Zhen Zhu turned in a circle once before he stopped to face Zhu Hong. “What do you say?”

Zhu Hong looked him up and down, then slowly nodded. “You’re very beautiful.”

Zhen Zhu smiled brightly and then stepped closer, grabbing his husband’s hand. “Husband, I remember you promised yesterday that you would always do my hair for me. Dos that still count today?”

Zhu Hong laughed and already pulled him over to the dressing table in the corner. “If I already forgot about that or reneged on my promise the next day, I wouldn’t be a worthy husband. Come on, sit down. Tell me what you want and I’ll do my best to make it possible.” It wasn’t like he had a lot of experience doing something like this but he was willing to give it his best try for the sake of Zhen Zhu.

The little phoenix sat down and turned to his head to all sides, looking at himself in the mirror. “Make it a bit taller. Then I won’t look too small.”

Zhu Hong raised his brows but still started to do what Zhen Zhu had said. “Are you unhappy about being small?”

Zhen Zhu pursed his lips. “When I saw you, I originally wanted to look a bit more like you. Being tall would have been good. Now, I’m so much shorter than you. I don’t know how that happened.”

Zhu Hong felt a faint thread of anxiety in his heart, thinking once again that maybe something had gone wrong with Zhen Zhu. He really needed to ask Elder Bi about it later on. For now, the most important thing was to calm his husband though. “To be honest, I think it is quite nice to have a spouse that is a bit different from you.

“If you are very similar, it certainly does have some advantages but if you differ, you can make up for each other’s shortcomings. Whether that be your height or your personality or anything else. Things that I can’t do, you might be able to do. And things you can’t do, I may be better suited to doing them. So I think we should celebrate our differences.

“Also, with how small you are, you fit very snugly into my arms. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.” He bent down and kissed Zhen Zhu’s cheek before he pulled back with satisfaction after he saw that the little phoenix was already smiling again. Clearly, his dissatisfaction with his own height wasn’t that deep-seated.

Soon enough, Zhen Zhu’s hair had been done, and he got up excitedly, grabbing Zhu Hong’s arm. “Alright, then I’m ready. We can go.”

Zhu Hong nodded and pulled him out of the house, intending to bring him over to Elder Bi’s house first. Before he had the chance though, they were already greeted by a group of nosy neighbors.

« ToC »

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