When Little Shan was ten, their family grew.
Jin was careful not to interfere, least he create another brat like his first son. He'd thought his wife having children would be an easy enough thing, even without his meddling, but he'd been wrong. It took longer the second time. Without his help, many of pregnancies ended early. She only noticed once, and she was so sorrowful about it that Jin made sure she'd never notice the others. In that way, many years went by without even a hint of pregnancy.
It was pure dumb luck that this second time, Mei Hua managed to have twins.
In truth, Jin knew something was going wrong with the pregnancies, and the problem was not with his wife. He watched each failed pregnancy closely, trying to figure out why they didn't last. When the twins successfully survived, he began to understand a bit of the problem: the spirits and the bodies weren't compatible. The purely human bodies trapped the pure mountain spirits, so that the spirits couldn't access the power of the mountain, and thus they died. And once the spirit died, the body withered too.
The reason Shan Hui had survived, was because Jin kept changing the little boy's body until it was more fairy than human. At the time, Jin had been making the changes blindly, not realizing why they were working, only that they did work.
Now he knew.
And why had the twins survived? There was a slight variation in their bodies, making them just a little bit like a fairy, and a slight variation in the spirit, making them a little bit human. Unlike Shan Hui, who had a mostly fairy body, the twins had a mostly human one. But the part of them that was fairy, allowed their spirit to tap into the mountain's power. In a sense, they were a truer mix of the Emperor and Mei than Shan Hui could ever be.
Little Shan had mixed feelings about these new additions to the family. He obviously didn't want to share his Mother with anyone, but at the same time, she was so happy. He felt a little ashamed of himself for feeling jealous over something that brought his Mother so much joy. After all, he wasn't like his Old Man, he was magnanimous!
While he'd lose the title of "Little" with the arrival of his new siblings, he would gain the title of "Elder Brother" and "First Son". Since he was getting to an age where he couldn't cling to his Mother's pants anymore, he supposed this trade-off would have to satisfy him.
Anyway, he could boss his younger siblings around with impunity and they'd still look up to him as he was the Eldest. His Nannies had assured him of this. He liked the thought and looked forward to it.
Pregnancies involving twins usually end up with the babies coming early, and Mei Hua's pregnancy was no exception. But she gave birth later than she had with Shan Hui, so her concern was greatly lessened. In fact, because she was carrying two children rather than one (and for longer), this pregnancy was far more uncomfortable than her first. She was secretly relieved when she finally gave birth.
Because the twins were a natural blend of mountain spirit and human, their spiritual powers started off weak. When Jin went to remove the birthing pains, the twins had no power to stop him (not that they were aware of him to begin with). So this time, Mei was only in a little pain, just enough to know when to push and when to relax.
There was also a Fairy Doctor and Assistant-Midwife helping with the birth. The moment Jin had seen Mei had a healthy pregnancy, he'd found two fairies and transformed them and trained them in their respective fields. He filled their minds with what he already knew, and then dragged them into the Traveler's Cave and forced them to study without rest for six months straight, filling in the gaps of knowledge. They were haggard souls when they finally came out, but almost Miracle Doctor level with all that they'd learned.
In terms of appearance, they looked much older than the other fairies. Having been in a human form for almost fifteen years at this point, Jin had naturally learned some things about human society. One of those things is that no one trusts a young looking Doctor. So the Doctor Fairy and his Assistant looked like a healthy Grandpa and Grandma. (In fact, the other fairies would jokingly refer to them as that.)
The twins were born healthy and hale, and boys. Mei Hua was the only one surprised that they were boys. She'd been secretly hoping for a girl the second time around, so she was just a little sad.
With two little newborns resting on her chest, Mei Hua asked Jin what he wanted to name them. Since they hadn't fought him during labor and they'd both cried as they should, Jin was feeling much more charitable towards his children.
The first one to be born, he named Yan Li, meaning strong rock cliff. The second born he named Shi Ji, meaning lucky stone. But as was typical of their family, they would go by Little Yan and Little Shi.
Their eyes were a gentle glowing blue, taking directly after the Blue Flower Villagers. Unlike Shan Hui, who was eerily silent and composed as a newborn, the twins acted like proper babies. They cried over small and large things, they laughed and giggled at whatever struck their fancies, they made messes and they ate greedily.
When Elder Brother Shan saw they were stupid, he scoffed and his last trace of fear was erased. How could such tiny empty-headed creatures ever compete with him? They were only getting attention now because they were weak and helpless, rather than any meritorious quality. And even with their helplessness being all they had going for them, they only got one Fairy Nanny each, where as he'd been given two. Clearly, he was higher ranking one!
Seeing as his position in the family was not the slightest bit in danger, Elder Brother Shan was much more kindly and patient with his little brothers than he would have been otherwise. If there was a slight gloating edge to some of his behavior, his Mother turned a blind eye to it. A parent needed to pick their battles carefully, after all.
Ye adored the twins. They were much more like MeiMei than Shan Hui had ever been, and far less dangerous. The little fairy spent a great deal more time with the twins, playing and entertaining them, then he'd done with Shan Hui. Their first laugh and smile, was for him. They got so use to his presence that if he left, they would get upset and cry.
By the time they could sleep through the night, at four months, Jin suggested (more like insisted) on moving them to their own courtyard. Between Ye and the Fairy Nannies, Mei Hua found herself with very little to do. It's not that she loved her twins any less, but they somehow managed to be less burdensome than her eldest son had been despite there being two of them. So even though she was hesitant, she couldn't think of a good argument to keep them with her at night and begrudgingly agreed.
Jin felt like the luckiest man in the world with the birth of the twins. Not only were they properly well behaved children, they'd somehow caught the attention of Ye. The little fairy spent a great deal of time with them instead of Mei. And when they moved out, Ye followed.
This gave Jin even more time with his wife, to nibble on her tofu whenever it pleased him and roll around in the sheets at leisure. For the first time, he felt like fatherhood was actually a blessing.
These poor boys. ( •᷄⌓•᷅ ) With Jin as their father, Shan Hui as their older brother, & Ye as their Uncle.... is there any chance they'll turn out normal?
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