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Call it magic (when I'm with you)

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— Hoseok —

Hoseok laid on his back staring up at the book floating above his head. Though he was reading the words, his mind wasn't really processing them. He has to reread the same sentence five times before he actually knows what it's saying. His aunt had always given homework like this to do since he was little. However, this was a little bit different from his usual homework. Though he wouldn’t consider his normal homework as particularly fun, this was a punishment.

Hoseok turns the page in the book and tries to read the next chapter. If he could read two more chapters he could put the book down and go have dinner. He could always lie to his aunt and say he read them, but she would figure him out. Hoseok had always been a shitty liar. Plus Hoseok has too much respect for his aunt to do that anyways.

She only wanted to protect Hoseok. It's more than my real mother ever did, Hoseok thought to himself. Though Hoseok was bitter, he understood why his mother abandoned him; fear. Ever since Hoseok was very young, he could make strange things happen. He could make objects float to him when wanted them to. He could turn lights on and off simply by thinking about it. He could even understand what small animals were saying and sometimes even talk back to them.

When Hoseok was just a baby, he made a stuffed animal float over to him in front of his mother. His mother instantly recognized this as magic and was terrified. Magic is outlawed in the kingdom. She contacted her sister and begged her to take her son. Her sister, being a witch herself accepted. Unable to live with the guilt of giving away her only son, Hoseok's mother moved far far away and Hoseok has never met her.

Hoseok now lived with his aunt and uncle. Though with his uncle being busy in the shop most days, it was mostly Hoseok’s aunt who looked after him. Even though she was very nice and Hoseok was grateful to have her, Hoseok couldn't help but wonder what his real mother was like.

Hoseok sighed in resignation when he realized for the fourth time he had no idea what he just read. He thought back to the accident that got him into his current situation. He hadn't had an accidental outburst in about three years now. Despite what his aunt may think, this outburst was not an accident.

"It's too dangerous," Hoseok's aunt had insisted when Hoseok asked yet again why he couldn’t enroll in a normal school. He normally doesn’t get upset over much, but he felt very on edge today. Today was the start of a new school year decided to try and convince his aunt to enroll him. He would be older than anyone in the class and he might already know all the material, but it would be worth it if he could make a few friends. Hoseok wondered what it was like to be a normal kid and have friends. He told himself that he was always better without friends anyways. That reduced his risk of being caught and executed for being a witch. He mostly had his magic under control these days so he didn’t understand why he still wasn’t allowed to go normal school.

"Why can't we move then? Other kingdoms have different rules about magic! We could live somewhere where we’d be accepted," Hoseok shouted. He rarely raised his voice, but he was tired of having the same argument with his aunt. He wasn’t mad but he wanted her to know just how serious he was. He was tired of feeling trapped.

"Keep your voice down!" his aunt replied with a cautionary tone. She added with a sigh, "You know it's not that easy, Hoseok."

Hoseok knew she was right. Villagers who try to leave the kingdom were almost always investigated to make sure they didn't have any kind of witchcraft spell books, potions, or otherwise with them. If they did, they could be detained and put up for trial under the speculation of being a witch. Hoseok knew the only way to get past guards like those would be to bribe them. Unfortunately, Hoseok's family was not very fortunate as to have that kind of money. They would hardly be able to afford moving out of the kingdom, let alone a bribe to get out alive.

Hoseok was angry and frustrated, but not to the point where he was about to have a break down because of it. He wanted to show just how angry he was, so he focused all of his energy on an old vase he had always hated. It was a stupid vase - all garishly purple and red. It didn't match the living room and it never had anything in it. What was the point of having an empty vase?

It shattered into pieces under Hoseok’s stare and his aunt shouted at him to go to his room.

About an hour later Hoseok came back from his room and apologized. The vase had been repaired already, but his aunt felt the need to punish him by making him reread old magic textbooks. "I need you to fully understand what it means to be a witch, Hoseok. I know you didn't choose to be like this, but we still need to be on the same page. I know it's hard for you to not have many friends, but until you can control this, it's safer for you here."

"I haven't had an accident in three years," Hoseok retorted quietly.

"Then what do you call that that just happened?" his aunt asked referring to the broken vase.

"That was on purpose," Hoseok mumbled. In all honestly, it was on purpose, but he'd never be able to convince his aunt of this now.

"Sure it was," she answered. "Read the first section of this book and when you've finished you can have dinner and we can talk some more."

Hoseok sighed and nodded. He didn't think about the consequences before he decided to break the vase. Now his aunt would probably be even more strict and keep him inside for awhile until this blew over.

After years of practicing Hoseok actually did in fact know how to control his emotions. He used to get upset about things all the time. Questions about his real mom and dad filled his mind. Most of which left him angry. Other small things would occasionally set him off as well. However after years and years of breaking things unintentionally, Hoseok had learned how to control his emotions. Even when he appeared outwardly angry, he was still calm inside. The only foolproof method he found for controlling magical outbursts was to also have his emotions in control.

The textbook fell heavily on his face when the sound of laughter outside broke his concentration. Sitting up, he sees his neighbor’s daughter running around outside. It seemed as though she had a friend over. Hoseok watches as they run around the front yard playing some game of tag.

One of his favorite activities was people watching. He often went to the market just for this purpose. He loved getting to see how normal people interacted and went about their daily lives. At the market he would see people loudly bargaining with each other; becoming passionate over simple things like how much an apple should cost. He would see couples holding hands and walking as if there weren’t others trying to get around them. He never understood couples. His attention would then be pulled to see children complaining to their parents when they wouldn't buy them sweets. The actions of children were simple and they made sense. Love on the other hand, made far less sense.

Romance was such a foreign concept to him. Even his aunt talks about how lucky she was to have found his uncle. Being a witch in a kingdom where magic is forbidden has always been a challenge for Hoseok's aunt. However the difference between him and her is that she chose to be a witch. Hoseok did not.

Hoseok had heard the story countless times about how his aunt met his uncle. It sounded like something out of a story book and he has a hard time believing there will ever be anything like that out there for him. Hoseok sighs looking out his bedroom window to see his uncle coming home from a long day at the shop. He hears him greet his wife in the house. They exchange sappy words about missing each other that make Hoseok roll his eyes.

He truly loves them, but he knows this is the only love he will ever experience. He supposes this is okay.

 

— Yoongi —

"Taeeeee," the prince whines throwing himself back on his bed.

"Yoongi, bro, I know," Taehyung answers the prince.

"Why is life so hard?" Yoongi asks sitting up and facing his best friend.

"I can only imagine how hard life is for you, your highness," Taehyung replies, sarcasm lacing his words.

"Shut up, Tae, you don't have to deal with my father like I do."

"Mmmm, I still kind of do," Taehyung answers. Taehyung and Yoongi were like brothers. Well, Taehyung was Yoongi's cousin to be exact. The king had a brother four years younger than himself. He also had a sister but she was married off to some prince many years ago for the sake of a peace treaty and hasn’t returned to visit since.

Years ago, the king and queen decided they should have children to ensure they would have an heir. After a couple miscarriages, they started to lose hope. The king’s brother always lived inside the kingdom, knowing that if his brother were to die before having children, he would assume the throne. However, the queen eventually gave birth to Yoongi but died in doing so. Taehyung came into the world a few years after the death of the queen, but Taehyung’s mother and father died in a fire related accident a few years after that. Taehyung was taken into the castle and raised as Yoongi's own brother. The two of them would go everywhere and do everything together and some might assume they were brothers.

The gossip in the kingdom says that the king dishonored his soulmate and had a son with some peasant after Yoongi’s mother passed, but the official record holds that Taehyung and Yoongi are just cousins. In all truthfulness, Taehyung was the only person Yoongi honestly considered his friend.

"Well yeah, but he doesn't keep you under a magnifying glass like he does with me," Yoongi replies. "Everyday at dinner, he's asking me how my trips to town are and if I've found them yet."

"Found who?" Taehyung asks.

"My soulmate! You know, I've caught the maids in here quite a few times before I was awake checking my wrists to see if there’s a name yet. I bet you anything my father sent them to check," Yoongi replies.

Taehyung nods, "Right, right, I got pretty lucky to be honest. I don't know how my soulmate ended up being the most gorgeous boy in the entire kingdom." He pauses and admires the letters on his wrist that spell out "Park Jimin."

Yoongi rolls his eyes and sighs. "It's just so hard to meet people, you know? There's already a big enough problem with all the fabics out there, but add onto that the fact that I'm the prince. Everybody wants to try and get to know me to see if they're my soulmate. There aren't that many people my age living within the castle walls to begin with and I'm pretty sure I've already met all of them. Now that I have to go out into town, it's even worse than before. I'm pretty sure my father wants me to marry some kind of noble, but I just want to marry my soulmate, to be honest. I don't know. What if I don't even have a soulmate? I mean I've met all of the eligible people living within the castle, and I highly doubt my soulmate is some kind of peasant. If they are, then it's going to take me forever to meet them. There's about a hundred villages and probably thousands of people living in each of those in this kingdom alone. I'm probably going to have to meet all of them before I find my soulmate. God must hate me."

"I stopped listening about twenty minutes ago. Chill out, Yoongi. You'll find them. I think what they say is true: You find your soulmate when you're not looking for them. I mean, you know how Jimin and I met," Taehyung reasons.

"I think they just say that to dissuade kids from becoming fabics," Yoongi says.

"Maybe... maybe not. I believe in you, bro," Taehyung replies.

Just then there’s a knock at the door that interrupts their conversation. A maid pokes her head into the room and says, "Sir, the king has requested you to come down for dinner right away." With a quick bow, she leaves the room and shuts the door behind her.

"That's odd," Yoongi says, "Usually dinner isn't for another hour or so."

"Maybe he wants something from you," Taehyung says.

"Oh God, I hope not," Yoongi sighs. He gets up from his bed and says goodbye to Taehyung. Though Taehyung was allowed to eat with the king and Yoongi, he was rarely required to. For this reason, Taehyung rarely chose to eat dinner with them. He always got the feeling that the king did not have a very nice opinion about him. Yoongi had tried time and time again to convince Taehyung that his father didn’t dislike him but maybe it would help if he wasn’t so reckless around the castle. Taehyung will always dismiss the idea and change the topic and Yoongi will roll his eyes.

Yoongi leaves his chambers and makes his way through the castle to the dining room where he finds his father waiting for him. There are servants and guards around the room and Yoongi knows most of their names, but it always feels oddly empty in the dining room with just his father at the table.

"Yoongi, take a seat," his father invites, gesturing to the seat across from him.

Unsure of his father's intentions. Yoongi takes a seat across from his father. "How's your evening been?" Yoongi asks attempting to start pleasant conversation.

"Quite busy actually, there's lots going on in the kingdom at the moment. Some citizens in outer villages have been organizing fights where others place bets on who the winner will be. I'm thinking nothing good can come from this, so I'm in the process of making a law against it. The decree should be ready and sent out by the weekend. Anyway, how about you?" the king asks, seemingly changing the subject to Yoongi as quick as he could.

"What about me?" Yoongi asks in a bored voice.

"What'd you do today?" the King inquires. Yoongi feels like rolling his eyes. His father knows very well what he did today and Yoongi knows exactly what he’s trying to get out of him.

"Not much. I went to classes today and afterwards Taehyung and I went into town for a bit to get some of that cinnamon bread. We came right back after that and we've just been hanging out in my chambers since then," Yoongi answers boredly to try and fend off further questions.

"Cinnamon bread again? You seem to be visiting the same bakery a lot recently," his father questions.

"Yeah, they make really good bread there. I'm not sure how, but it's better than the kind we have at the castle. But Taehyung likes it more than me," Yoongi answers.

"Hmm. You wouldn't happen to be visiting the bakery to see someone would you?" his father asks with a hint of mischief to his voice.

Yoongi sighs, there it is. "No Father, I just like the bread. I haven't met my soulmate or anything. Trust me, I'll be sure to tell you when I do."

The king clears his throat and Yoongi looks up from his plate to listen to what he has to say. "I actually have been thinking about that, Yoongi. Your twenty-third birthday is approaching soon and you've yet to find your soulmate. I got married at your age and I had met your mother six years before that. For your sake and the sake of this kingdom’s future I was thinking something needs to be done. I know that it's important for you to meet your soulmate, but it seems to me you aren't trying to do this anymore," he pauses for a second and Yoongi decides he should say something.

"It's not that I'm not looking, it's just that I've met most of the people inside the castle already. You got lucky with meeting mother, you know. She didn’t even live here! She was a foreigner, as you’ve told me,” Yoongi replied.

“I know that, but I’ve also introduced you to all of the princesses from our neighboring lands over the past ten years, your soulmate must be somewhere inside our own kingdom! The universe wouldn’t make it that difficult to find her,” the king reasons.

Yoongi pauses for a second as a thought enters his brain. Sure he’s met all the princesses, but he doesn’t recall ever meeting any princes, what if h-

“This is why,” the king interrupts that train of thought, “I’ve decided to host an event. I’m going to invite all of the eligible young women to a party for the prince. We’ll have you in a disguise so no one will recognize you. I expect you to make your way around the room and talk to as many of them as you can. Hopefully by the next morning, you will have found your soulmate. Simple enough, right?”

Yoongi pales at the notion of socializing all night, but realizes something. “Are you only inviting the girls?” he asks, timidly.

“Yes, that way you will have to talk to them.”

“Well won’t it seem odd if I am the only boy in the room and also wearing a disguise?”

His father ponders this for a second. “I suppose you are right I will have to invite men as well.” The topic changes after this and Yoongi is glad for that. He doesn’t hear about this again until a week later when he wakes up to a pounding on his door.

“Yoongi! Wake up!” Taehyung shouts through the door.

Yoongi groans and rubs his eyes. Sometimes he wishes his door was soundproof. He gets out of bed to see what Taehyung wants. When he opens the door he’s prepared to spit a menacing “What the fuck do you want?” at Taehyung but doesn’t get the chance as he’s already being bombarded with questions.

“Can you slow down?” Yoongi asks.

“Tell me you know about this,” Taehyung says holding up a letter announcing “A Celebration of Love.”

He takes the letter and reads thoroughly. He laughs to himself. “Yeah, Father mentioned it to me about a week ago at dinner. He didn’t tell me when it would be though.” According to the letter Yoongi now knows it will be held in three nights time. “Wait, how did you get ahold of this letter?”

Within the letter it explains how they are inviting all young people within the kingdom that have not met their match to this party and that they will be checking wrists at the door. The letter explains that it is because of the prince’s birthday and that he wants others to find their soulmate, just as he has found his already. Yoongi squints at the words and wonders if that was too obvious of a lie. People would be able to see right through this. Obviously Taehyung knew Yoongi had not met his soulmate. Being best friends, Taehyung expected he would be one the first to know when Yoongi should meet them. Still the question stood, if Taehyung already had his soulmate, why did he receive this letter?

“Oh, this letter was given to my friend Seokjin, actually. You know him, he lives in the town. He’s quite attractive too, which is probably why he hasn’t met his soulmate. Anyways I ran into him and he asked me when you met your soulmate and why he hadn’t heard about it. I asked what he was talking about and he showed me the letter. I made something up about being forbidden to tell anyone until the official announcement was made, but ‘oh I guess the secret is out now.’ I think he bought it,” Taehyung explains.

“Oh,” Yoongi says digesting all that information. “I guess this means you won’t be coming to the party then?”

Taehyung grins, “I’ll find a way in, don’t worry.”

-

Three nights later, Yoongi finds himself in a dark, crowded room wearing a ridiculous disguise. He scans the room looking for Taehyung, but sees him nowhere. When he asked earlier about Taehyung’s plan to get in, he wouldn’t give any details.

A girl comes up to him out of nowhere and introduces herself. He doesn’t hear what she says her name is but he tells her it’s a pretty name anyways. Yoongi really wants to be anywhere except for here but he doesn’t want to disappoint his father. The girl leaves after some time, politely excusing herself to “go to the bathroom,” but he figures she just finds him too boring and wants to find her real soulmate tonight. He doesn’t blame her.

The night turns into a blur of the same conversation over and over. Too many people come up to him trying to find that connection that only soulmates have. In between conversations, he looks around for Taehyung. He supposes it’s possible he made it in but is lost in the crowd somewhere.

He only tried approaching one person the entire night. It’s a boy as well. He’s really starting to wonder if he hadn’t met his soulmate because he thought all this time they had to be a girl. However the boy kindly shut down the conversation and told Yoongi he’d love to be friends but wanted to focus on finding his soulmate and that wasn’t going to happen if Yoongi was gonna keep him from talking to girls. Yoongi doesn’t try to talk to anyone else that night and just lets people come up to him. Nearly all of them are girls.

One girl introduces herself to Yoongi and he introduces himself as “Taehyung.” His father had suggested him using a fake name so that people didn’t find out he was there. Taehyung had agreed - or rather insisted - for Yoongi to use his name.

The girl looks at him weird and he questions her.

“Huh, that’s odd,” says the girl. “You know you look exactly like Prince Yoongi?”

Yoongi laughs and gives the signal to one of the undercover palace guards that's around. All he had to do was hold two fingers behind his back and one of the young guards would swoop in and take over the conversation. This had been a pre-arranged idea per Yoongi’s request when he insisted they must have some measures ready to take place when someone was bound to recognize him.

This is the fourth person who’s recognized him tonight. It’s nearly midnight when he finally spots Taehyung.

“Taehyung!” he calls out, approaching his friend. Taehyung turns around and sees Yoongi. He excitedly waves him over.

“Taehyung?” the girl he’s been talking to asks. “I thought your name was Seokjin!”

The girl leaves and Taehyung pauses and looks like he’s about to apologize to the girl, but she’s already gone. The apologetic look is quickly replaced as he seems happy to have finally found Yoongi.

“What was that?” Yoongi asks. “Are you leading people on?”

“What! No! I’m just talking to people, socializing. I told a few people at the start that I already have a soulmate but that makes them ask too many questions that I can’t answer without giving you away,” Taehyung explains. Yoongi rolls his eyes. He had forgotten some people, like Taehyung, actually enjoyed socializing just for the hell of it.

“Sure, just don’t cause any trouble, okay?” Yoongi lowers his voice, “Hey, I’m going to need your help.”

Taehyung’s eyes lit up, “What is it? Is there someone you want to talk to? Who is it? Why can’t you talk to them?”

“No, no, nothing like that,” Yoongi says. “I wanna leave. If I have to talk to another person about my life’s goals and aspirations I might kill myself. How did you sneak in here? Can you get me out?”

Taehyung shows Yoongi the way he got in and Yoongi is able to slip out easily unnoticed. Sometimes he envies Taehyung’s knowledge of the castle. While Yoongi had been required to take classes and learn about how to be a prince as a child, Taehyung would slip off and wander the halls of the castle alone. He basically knows of all the shortcuts and secret passageways within the castle and Yoongi wishes he could’ve gone on these adventures with Taehyung when he was younger.

Taehyung helps him get outside and then leaves him. “I’ll be waiting for you to come back,” Taehyung says. Yoongi nods, he doesn’t need to ask where Taehyung will be. They’ve done this too many times before now so they have a system.

Yoongi finds himself in some kind of small courtyard. He knows he’s still within the castle’s walls, but can’t seem to recall which part of the castle this is. He feels as though he’s being watched so he has to get out. He finds a tree with low enough branches that allow him to climb up it. Taking off his jacket, he makes it to the top of the wall and sits on the edge. He’s never had to jump down from the wall from this high up before, but he does so anyways. It turned out the ground was closer on the other side than he had thought. He hits the ground with a roll and stands up slowly making sure nothing is hurt.

He loosens his tie and takes a deep breath. The cool air is refreshing and Yoongi is glad to be out of that stuffy room.

He looks around and sees nothing but trees. The wind ruffles his hair and whistles in his ears. The wind always seemed to carry secrets from tree to tree until the whole forest knew every bit of gossip. Yoongi hated wind - unless it was a warm day and it carried the scent of something sweet on it.

Yoongi figures the town must be on the other side of the castle or somewhere he can’t see. He wanted to visit the markets and look around. He didn’t have any money on him, but there was almost always something exciting happening at night in the town. A few times a week he knows of a fire dancer who performs for a large crowd of people every week. He’s been to these shows a couple of times. Of course Taehyung was the one who took him, but that didn’t change the fact that every time Yoongi found himself amazed at the talent the boy seemed to have.

He sets off into the forest in the direction he thinks the main town is in. He passes a river where he attempts to wash some of the disguise that is still caked to his face. He watches as the river is stained with the shade of his foundation, illuminated by the moonlight.

After about thirty minutes, Yoongi knows he’s lost. He thinks he’s passed that same tree three times, and still he hasn’t seen any sign of the town he was searching for. He looks up behind him for the tall pillars of the castle, but he can’t seem to see them through the tall, thick trees of this forest.

A mild panic sets in, but he forces himself to stay calm. This was such a bad idea. He should’ve stayed in that courtyard and just returned to the party after people started to leave.

The sudden burst of wind ruffles his hair and he shivers. He wasn’t so aware of the cold until now. This is just great, Yoongi thinks. He’s alone and lost in the cold, dark woods. He dreads what to think if he isn’t able to find his way back home by tonight. His father would be sure to scold him for leaving the party early. That is if his father ever finds him at all. He was sure he’d never be allowed outside again.

Yoongi goes to turn around again when out of the corner of his eye he catches a glimpse of light. He heads towards the light, finally hopeful in returning home. Maybe whoever is there can point him back towards the castle. They must think of him as an idiot to lose such a big building as the castle, but he doesn’t care at this point.

His pace picks up. Too focused on the light to watch his step, Yoongi trips over a root and lands with a loud thud and a groan.

“Who’s there? Ma is that you?” A shrill voice sounds from nearby.

Yoongi smiles at the sound of the voice. Yes, someone who can help. He gets up and dusts himself off.

Yoongi walks around a large tree and sees a boy standing with a small cottage house several meters behind him. He smiles and tries his best not to look threatening. “No I’m uh…. I’m lost,” Yoongi says.

The boy looks him up and down. He must notice his suit and he probably has dirt on it from falling. He probably looks like a wreck. “Who are you?” The boy asks quietly, gently.

“I’m Yoon...sung,” Yoongi almost tells the boy his real name, but stops himself at the last second.

“That’s not your real name is it?” The boy asks. Yoongi shakes his head, but doesn’t offer his real name still. “Fine, then I’m Hojun.”

“Is that your real name?” Yoongi asks with a hint of a smile.

“No, it’s not.” Yoongi smiles at this boy. He knows stranger danger is real, but part of him feels safe here, he almost forgets that he needs to return home. He finds comfort in the mutual anonymity between him and this boy. Another chilling wind rips through his skin. Yoongi shivers and the boy seems to notice this.

The boy walks around a tree without a word. Yoongi pauses before following him. He swears he sees a sort of greenish glow come from where the boy disappeared to. When he fully makes his way around the tree he sees the boy sitting next to a fire. Yoongi wonders when that got there and how the boy was able to start a fire on such a windy night.

“Hey, Yoonsung, the fire’s warm, if you want to take a seat and then tell me why you’re here and why there’s dirt on your face.”

“How did you make this fire so quickly?” Yoongi asked taking a seat next to the boy, rubbing at his face. He instantly feels warmer.

“It was already here,” he replies. “If you won’t tell me your name, tell me: where are you from?”

Yoongi sighs, “I would rather not say… I’m from nearby. At least I think.”

“Why so secretive? Are you running from someone?”

“I’ve had a long night. I think that if I tell you, you’ll think of me differently,” Yoongi explains. Part of Yoongi had always longed for more friends. However he found it increasingly difficult to make friends with people who bowed upon hearing his name. He knew he would never see this stranger again, but it was nice, just for a second, to pretend as if he had never been a prince at all.

“Can you tell me what you’re doing here?”

“I ran away.”

“So I was right. What are you running from?”

“It’s a long story…” Yoongi trails off.

“We’ve got time,” the boy says giving Yoongi a weird look. “At least I think we do. No one’s following you or anything, right?”

“No, no, nothing like that. I uh… well you know the whole soulmate bullshit? The uh… my father met his soulmate when he was pretty young. I think he was like sixteen or seventeen. He completely lucked out with the whole thing as well. He says she was beautiful and kind and he felt himself fall in love right away. And well I’m about to turn twenty-three and I still have no one. I’m okay having no one as well, but my father isn’t. I’m his only son the only thing he wants in the world is to keep our family name from dying. He wants me to marry someone so bad that I don’t think he cares if they’re my soulmate or not. He used to be supportive, but over the past couple of years that’s changed. I think he thinks that if I can just fall in love then that person can become my soulmate anyways. I’ve read about people who do that though and it never ends up well for them. He sent me to this uh… thing where a bunch of other people without soulmates went to also. It was meant as like a social thing to get people to find ‘the one’ or whatever. I got annoyed from all the talking so I left. And now… I’m here,” Yoongi did his best to explain without giving out too much detail. He felt winded from talking so long, but he was mostly just impressed the boy seemed to still be listening.

“I’ve never really looked for my soulmate. I feel like the whole idea is kind of wrong. Plus if I ever did meet them I’d be scared,” the boy says. Yoongi isn’t sure what the scary part about finding your soulmate would be is, but he doesn’t question it.

“I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking by this point I just don’t have one,” Yoongi says. “This whole thing is dumb.”

“It is kind of dumb.”

“Right… and you never know who’s a fabic…” Yoongi says.

“... a fay-what?” the boy asks.

“Fabic. It’s what we call people who will fake sincerity just to see if they’re your soulmate,” Yoongi explains.

“Oh… what’s wrong with that?” the boy asks and Yoongi wonders just how far he is from the nearest town. This boy seems pretty isolated all the way out here.

“I mean nothing I guess really, it just has a negative connotation since usually the other person is left feeling betrayed. You would understand if you poured your heart out someone only to never hear from them ever again,” Yoongi says.

“Has that ever happened to you…?”

Yoongi sighs, “Yeah. Unfortunately it just makes people more guarded about who they open up to and then less people find their actual soulmate since they’re all afraid.”

“Hmm… I always kind of thought your soulmate was just supposed to be something that happened. I didn’t know people could actively look for them.”

“Well yeah, that’s the thing. Supposedly we’re told our chances for finding our soulmates are best when we’re not looking for them. Which is ironic about the party my father had me attend tonight. If all the possible people without soulmates were in one room, you might think your chances for finding them are higher. But at the same time, you’ll be looking so you’re chances are lower,” Yoongi says, thinking out loud.

“I think you’re over thinking it,” the other boy says with a light laugh.

“I think you’re right,” Yoongi say, grinning back.

They sit in silence for some time and then suddenly Yoongi remembers his home. “I uh… I think I need to get going,” Yoongi says. His father might notice his absence soon and that would not be a good thing.

“Do you… want me to walk with you? I know these woods pretty well and you mentioned being lost earlier.”

“Oh no, that’s okay… I just uh… this might sound kind of dumb but do you know which direction the castle is in?” Yoongi asks.

“Yeah…” the boy gives him that weird look again. “Just go that way for a bit. You should run into a stream. If you follow it to the west you’ll see the castle.”

“Thanks,” Yoongi says. He hesitates before leaving. “I feel like I don’t know how to properly thank you for tonight. I’m really glad I ran into you or I might still be wandering in the forest somewhere.”

“No problem… I hope your journey to wherever is safe!”

“Bye…”

“Bye Yoonsung!”

Yoongi smiled at the fake name the boy used. It was nice to meet someone who didn’t know him as Prince Yoongi. Everyone always seemed to tiptoe around him and Yoongi found it hard to make actual friends who liked him for him.

Yoongi follows the directions he was given and soon finds himself within view of the castle. He makes his way around to the east side. He had gone this route and scaled this wall countless times. He stops in front of the wall and then sighs. Swallowing all self-dignity he inhales and lets out two long owl hoots.

After a second he hears a reply that signals he was heard. A few seconds later, a familiar rope ladder is being tossed over the wall. Yoongi catches on to it and uses it to climb up and over the wall. One the other side he’s met with a grinning Taehyung busy collecting the ladder to stash back in the hiding place.

Yoongi rolls his eyes. He never understood why Taehyung insisted using these signals, he always got so much joy from it for some reason. “Can we please change the signals,” Yoongi asks.

“Where have you been? I almost fell asleep waiting for you! You know your father saw me leaving the party. He asked me what I was doing and I told him I was looking for you. I think he bought it,” Taehyung explains.

“What time is it?” Yoongi asks as they start off back towards the castle.

“About 3AM… the party ended two hours ago,” Taehyung says.

“Oh,” Yoongi whispers, "Let's get inside, I'll tell you then." After that neither of them say a word as they sneak around the castle halls and staircases. Neither daring to breathe until they make it safely to Yoongi’s chambers and shut and lock the door behind them.

“So what happened? Why did you leave the party?” Taehyung presses.

Yoongi sighs. “It’s not a big deal it was just… talking to all those people just to hope that one of them might be my soulmate… it felt wrong. You were there, couldn’t you sense the air of desperation in that room? A few people seemed nice enough, but for the most part everyone was just annoying me. Then I finally found you and it was perfect timing because I was about to go hang myself.”

“Right I kind of assumed that much but where did you go for three hours? I sort of assumed you would walk around the night markets but we both know there’s not that much to do for that long,” Taehyung says.

“I uh… got lost. That courtyard you left me in, I’ve never been to it before. I thought maybe it was just because it was dark I didn’t recognize it but then once I scaled the wall I was surrounded by forests. Then I got lost trying to find the town. I was going to turn back and make my way over to our meeting place but the trees were so tall and close together I couldn’t actually see the castle. I eventually ran into this boy and he had a fire so I sat down for a bit and warmed up and after I was warm I asked him which direction the castle was in and he told me-”

“Yoongi! What if this man was a murderer!? What were you thinking!?” Taehyung interrupts.

“He didn’t look like a murderer…” Yoongi mumbles.

“Well whatever at least you weren’t murdered,” Taehyung says.

“So I was really gone for three hours? It felt like thirty minutes.”

“Yeah…”

“What’d you do with all that time?”

“Well I hung out at your party for a bit, but I left just before it ended. I went over to our spot and just kind of watched people. Oh and Jimin came by for a bit and we made out for awhile,” Taehyung explains.

“God, Tae I don’t need to know that,” Yoongi rolls his eyes.

Taehyung grins, “Yeah well I was getting bored waiting on you.”

“Right… Sorry,” Yoongi apologizes.

“Yeah. It doesn’t matter though! At least you’re back, and hey maybe tomorrow there will be a name on your wrist,” Taehyung said with a cheesy grin and finger guns pointed at Yoongi.

Yoongi scoffed, “Yeah, as if. Goodnight Tae.”

“Night Yoongi!”

 

— Seokjin —

Seokjin wanders the rows of library in search of a particular book. He was sure it was nearing dinnertime, but he wanted to finish taking inventory before he took a break. His fingers brush over dozens of old dusty book spines. When he’s unable to find the book he returns to the log to check who had checked it out. It was someone by the name of Joon.

It was irritating that whoever this was didn’t feel the need to put their full name. Seokjin wasn’t sure how he would be able to track him down if the books continued to be missing. Every now and again he loses a book from the library and it’s never a very pleasant experience.

Under normal circumstances Seokjin would send out the page runners from the library in search of the boy who had checked out a book three weeks ago and failed to return it. However, Seokjin was pretty sure tonight was the night of Yoongi’s party which meant this boy was likely either at the celebration or attending one of the many festivals happening concurrently in town.

He couldn’t know for sure because Taehyung had taken his invitation and failed to return it. It wasn’t like he was considering going anyways. He seemed to have the worst luck when it came to love, so for the time being he was sworn off searching for his soulmate. Seokjin had done his fair share of reading on the topic of soulmates. He was constantly having an internal debate on whether soulmates were a legitimate thing where each person had one person predetermined by the universe to be their own soulmate or if no one had a soulmate predetermined and any single person who you felt connected with could become your soulmate.

He felt like each option was just as likely as the next. Whatever the truth was, it didn’t change the fact he just didn’t care to search for his soulmate anymore.

When Seokjin was young he used to care a whole lot. His parents at the time travelled to a bunch of places, so Seokjin went along. Everywhere he went, Seokjin tried and failed and tried and failed to find his soulmate. He thought he had found them a few times, only to find he was wrong and have his heart shattered.

Seokjin’s past was a mystery to most people. His closest friends knew that he had done a lot of traveling as a child with his parents. However no one knew the story of how he ended up here.

It was quite simple to say the least. Well if one would consider losing one’s parents and wandering the wilderness alone for six months simple. Seokjin himself wasn’t quite sure where his parents went. He didn’t even know if they were still alive. He tries not to think about them too much.

All he can know for sure is that by the age of sixteen, he found himself where he was now. He remembers how he stumbled across this giant castle. He never meant to go inside the castle, and instead he was looking for a town where maybe he could get a job to make money and buy some food. However, while circumventing the castle he stumbled over the ground. When he looked at what made him trip, he found a trap door covered in leaves and debris.

Seokjin had opened the door to be greeted by darkness. He was scared of going down there, but the smell of freshly baked bread wafted from the cavern below. He hadn’t tasted bread since he had lost his parents. Unable to deny his stomach, he wandered inside.

This quickly turned out to be a mistake. Seokjin found himself in an endless maze of tunnels going in every direction. The scent of bread faded away and he had decided to turn back and leave however he couldn’t find the direction he came from. After turning around a few more times, he ran into a person. As in, he literally bumped into someone who was running in the tunnels. The boy apologized a hundred times and eventually introduced himself as Taehyung.

“That’s alright, but do you know how to get out of here?” Seokjin had asked.

“Um… well that depends on where you want to go. Wait. Who are you? And how’d you get in here?” Taehyung had finally come to his senses and seem to have realized it wasn’t a normal occurrence for him to meet strangers in the underground tunnels.

“Seokjin… I uh… I’m lost? There was a door in the ground, and I didn’t mean to come in here I swear, but I smelt bread and…” his stomach had growled with perfect timing.

“You’re hungry!” Taehyung exclaimed. “Oh my god, follow me I’ll get you something to eat.”

The rest was history. Taehyung lead Seokjin into the palace kitchens and insisted he eat his fill. They became instant friends just during the short journey through the tunnels to the kitchen. Seokjin didn’t share many details about his life, but he let on enough for Taehyung to know he was homeless and jobless. For reasons unknown to Seokjin, Taehyung insisted he work for him, at least until he found something else to do.

Taehyung asked what he liked to which Seokjin had hesitantly replied, “Well I like to read.” Taehyung got him a job in the palace library and that’s where he’s worked ever since. Seokjin had thought Taehyung was trying to be his soulmate or something at first and was hesitant to accept, but soon found out Taehyung already had his soulmate. This put him at ease. Unlikely as it seemed, Seokjin supposed that maybe some people can just be nice for the sake of being nice.

With his new job he was able to live comfortably just outside the castle walls in a small home he bought himself. Or rather Taehyung bought for him and Seokjin swore to pay him back. It wasn’t until later on that Seokjin found out just how connected Taehyung was.

He never believed in luck, but running into Taehyung was perhaps the luckiest thing that’s ever happened to him.

He liked living in the town. He had friendly neighbors and all the shops were nice and family owned. He liked working in the library and keeping things organized. On days where no one checked out books, he would pick a random book himself and read it at his desk. He loved to read and had learned a number of things he never would have simply by traveling around.

He enjoys his job. He’s reading a book about the origins of latin languages when suddenly someone comes up to his desk and and coughs a bit. He closes the book and looks up with a smile.

“Can I help you with something?” Seokjin asks.

The tall man in front of him smiles sheepishly, “Yeah uh… I was looking for a book, but I don’t know the name of it.”

Seokjin squints at him, “Do you know the author?”

The man shakes his head.

“Well I don’t know how to help you if you can’t give me any information about the book,” Seokjin answers.

“Wait… I didn’t mean I was looking for a certain book, I just… I need to research on a certain topic,” he explains.

“Oh, well in that case, what are you researching?” Seokjin asks.

“A language. Though… I’m not sure what the language is. I might know it if I see it.”

Seokjin tilts his head. Of course he was very familiar with the language section of the library. He had picked up on a fair few different languages as a child when he travelled around. In fact, he was known as the castle’s resident polyglot. “Well the language section is over here, follow me,” Seokjin says, getting up.

After they arrive, he watches as the boy skims the spines of each book, whispering under his breath as he does so. Seokjin feels like he should leave the man to search on his own, but at the same time it felt like leading a stranger into his home and leaving them there. He should at least make sure he picks out a good book.

“Do you know the origins of the language at least?” Seokjin asks watching the man struggle.

“Um… not really. That’s kinda why I’m researching.”

“Oh, what you researching,” Seokjin finds himself asking out loud. He never intended to invade this person’s privacy, but his curiosity always got the best of him.

The other boy seems to freeze up at this, “Umm I just… I’m writing a book I guess.”

“Oh really? What’s it about?”

“Umm… I can’t… I don’t-”

“Oh, I’m sorry, you don’t have to tell me,” Seokjin says realizing how red the other boy had gone in the face.

He swallows, “It’s uh, okay.”

“Could I maybe read it when you’re done?” Seokjin asks. He wants to hit himself. It was like he no longer had a filter between his brain and his mouth. He should’ve shut up when he was ahead.

The boy pauses for a long moment, “Perhaps. Depends.”

Seokjin blinks. Those two words echo in his mind and he wonders what that could mean. However he felt he had finally reached his limit for asking embarrassing personal questions for the time being.

“You’re still not seeing anything that could help, are you?” Seokjin asks.

He shakes his head.

“Well maybe if you could describe a bit what you’re looking for. I’m quite well-versed in a few different languages,” Seokjin says.

“It’s like a curly kind of script and I think it reads right to left,” he explains, drawing a few shapes in the air.

Seokjin thinks for a moment before something comes to mind. He turns around and skims the shelves before pulling out a book, “Is it like this by any chance?”

The man’s eyes widen in surprise, “Yes! That’s it exactly.” Seokjin hands him the book and goes back to his desk to read.

The man ends up checking out nearly all of the books they had written about this particular language. Which isn’t many seeing as it is an old, completely archaic language. He knows very little about this particular language as well. He remembers once when he started to read into it, it was very boring to him. He decides he’ll read up about it whenever the books are returned to his library.

Seokjin finds himself thinking a lot about the boy after he had left his library. He wonders what that boy could need so many books on that old language for. But even more so, he keeps reading the name that had been written in the log. How curious, he thinks to himself. It was the same boy he had been meaning to track down earlier for that overdue book.

Joon.

Chapter Text

— Yoongi —

Yoongi wakes up in a state of confusion. The past few years he’d grown accustomed to waking up to Taehyung bursting through his door or one of the maids opening the blinds to his window. (He found out once that the latter was a direct request of the king and he had never felt more betrayed in his life). However neither of these things happened this particular morning and he finds himself waking up in silence. It must be past breakfast time already which is odd because he can’t remember the last time the king let him skip breakfast.

Suddenly last night comes flooding back to him and his heart starts racing. He looks at the back of his wrist, tentative to flip it over. The notion of “What if” causing his heart to pound uncontrollably. He tells himself he doesn’t care if he’s found his soulmate so it shouldn’t matter if his wrist is blank.

However he can’t help but feel disappointed when he finds it blank. He looks to his other arm expectantly; this is it. Slowly he turns his arm around to peak at the skin on the other side.

He feels himself let out a breath as he looks over the skin. His right wrist was just as blank as the skin on his left wrist, he doesn’t see any hint of black lettering. It’s blank. He sets it back down and lets his heart feel crushed, burying his head into a pillow.

He lays like this in silence. He has no idea how long he lays there like that until Taehyung bursts through his door with a slam. He almost knocks over a picture frame making his way over to Yoongi. “I tried to get out of class early but they wouldn’t let me leave! I couldn’t focus at all ‘cuz I wanted to know if you found your soulmate!” Taehyung says.

If classes are already over it must be later in the afternoon than Yoongi had originally thought. He’s missed not only breakfast but lunch as well. He doesn’t try to stop Taehyung as the boy reaches for him and grabs both his arms.

“It’s no use, Tae. My wrists are-”

He’s interrupted by a loud gasp. He looks at Taehyung who’s staring at him eyes wide and mouth agape. He’s about to tell Taehyung he’s okay and it’s fine that he doesn’t have a soulmate, but doesn’t get to the chance to because the other boy is already running around the room shouting incoherent noises.

Yoongi doesn’t understand until he takes his eyes off his crazy friend and takes another look at his wrists sitting in his lap. Very faintly, near the edge of his right wrist is a plain, simple “H” standing out against his fair skin. His eyes bulge and he lifts his arm to inspect it closer.

He must have missed it since it was written towards the edge of his wrist. Yoongi wets his thumb with spit and attempts to rub off the letter. He refuses to believe it’s real. It must be some sort of sick prank someone was pulling on him. However it’s not rubbing off so it must be real.

His mind starts reeling. Who’s “H”? What kind of name only has one letter? He tries his best to think of the party and recall some names. Perhaps it was one of the people who spoke too softly for him to hear them say their name. Vague faces of pretty girls flip through his mind, but it could be any number of them.

Taehyung calms down and sits on the edge of the bed next to Yoongi who appears to be frozen.

“Man I’m not sure who this “H” is but they sure are lucky,” Taehyung says reaching to touch the small letter.

“I’m not sure who this “H” is either,” Yoongi says. He realizes he’s terrified. Part of him doesn’t want a soulmate anymore. Even though he’s spent years admiring how cute Taehyung and Jimin are together he doesn’t believe there’s a person out there who can understand him and make him happy in that way.

“It’s weird that there’s just one letter,” Taehyung comments.

“I… think I’ve heard of this kind of thing happening before. I don’t think it’s that uncommon... but why did it have to happen to me?” Yoongi asks quietly so Taehyung can barely hear him.

“Well at least the king should have a list of everyone who was invited to the party,” Taehyung says.

Right. The king. Yoongi hasn’t even thought about facing his father with the news. He might already know anyways. “Oh my God,” Yoongi whispers.

“Hey, don’t stress out too much. I know it’s scary, but they’re your soulmate for a reason,” Taehyung reasons picking up on Yoongi’s fear. Yoongi smiles gratefully at the younger boy.

Taehyung informs him it’s nearly dinner time so he pushes Taehyung out of his room and gets dressed. He looks at himself in the mirror and takes deep breaths to try and calm himself down before going to face his father in the dining room. He’s already thought up a million different ways the conversation at dinner could go and has prepared responses for any questions he might be asked. What he’s not prepared for is to walk into the dining room and see three unfamiliar girls sitting around his table along with the king.

The girls exchange looks with each other and Yoongi. When Yoongi makes eye contact with the king he grins widely. “Yoongi, glad to see you’ve woken up! This here is Kim Hyojin, Lee Heesung, and Pyo Hyemi.”

Yoongi looks at each of the girls in turn when he realizes what this is. His father must know about the “H” and these must be the girls whose names start with H that were at the party last night.

“Hello,” Yoongi says lamely. He takes a seat and dinner begins awkwardly. As time progresses Yoongi doesn’t know how to communicate to his father that he doesn’t remember any of these girls. Dinner is awkward and everyone seems to know this except for his own father.

At one point the king brings up the party and everyone tenses. “I heard the celebration we held last night was a complete success. I’ve received reports that over forty people found their match last night. That’s twenty new happy couples! Perhaps we ought to do this every year.”

Yoongi laughs and agrees weakly. He knows that none of the girls sitting at the table could be his soulmate. He doesn’t remember talking to any of them. It dawns on him that he could just look at their wrists and then he would know none of them are his soulmate. He knows it’s sometimes seen as rude to ask about someone’s soulmate or demand to see their wrist, but he figures in this case asking can’t harm anything.

“What about you ladies? Did you have any luck at the party?” he asks addressing the girls.

One of them blushes and timidly pulls back her sleeve to show the name “Choi Jungwoo” on her wrist in a nice scripted font. The other two girls gasp and marvel at the pretty lettering.

“Wow, how lucky!” one of them beams.

“I know I wish I had met my match… I was there for hours and had no luck!” the other girl complains.

They then ask the girl about the guy she met and and she goes on to talk about how charming and handsome and perfect this boy is. Yoongi excuses himself from the table and the king gets up after him but not before dismissing the girls. They’re all lead out of the castle and the king stops Yoongi.

“Yoongi! What was that?” the king demands.

“I know what you’re doing. None of them are my soulmate. I don’t have one!” Yoongi insists, still a little doubtful himself.

“Show me your wrist,” the king says with a commanding force. Yoongi lamely holds up his left wrist and exposes the bare skin. The king rolls his eyes and tells him, “The other one.”

Yoongi reluctantly shows him the “H” written there neatly on his right wrist.

“Whether you want one or not, you’ve got a soulmate. I don’t know why you’re hiding them from me, but you’re going to tell me who they are eventually.”

Yoongi thinks for a second. “Maybe it was someone else at the party…” Yoongi trails off.

“Nonsense, those were the only three girls at the party whose names began with H.”

A thought occurs to Yoongi but he doesn’t have the heart to tell the king out loud. He wants to say, “What about the boys that were at the party?” but instead he doesn’t say anything. The king gives up for the time being and dismisses his son from dinner. He probably thinks Yoongi wants to keep his soulmate a secret for a bit until they get an actual relationship started. This should be alright for now but he tells Yoongi he expects a better answer in a week’s time.

The next day is his day off from regular lessons. He spends the day up in his chambers with Taehyung. “You know I’ve always been jealous that this room is so much bigger than mine,” Taehyung says.

Yoongi rolls his eyes, “You know you have one of the largest chamber rooms in the castle.”

“I know. But yours is bigger.”

Yoongi squints at Taehyung. He’s surprised Taehyung hasn’t brought up the soulmate ordeal yet or asked about what the king thinks. Come to think of it, Taehyung had been acting odd in general all day. He decides to bring it up, “What’s up with you?”

Taehyung snaps his head around to Yoongi in surprise, “What do you mean?”

“You seem to be… on edge,” Yoongi comments - which is really the best way to describe Taehyung’s odd demeanor.

Taehyung stares back at Yoongi in silence debating on what to say. The words seem to spill out of his mouth on accident, “Don’t tell Jimin.”

Yoongi narrows his eyes, “Don’t tell Jimin what?”

Taehyung bites his lower lip and pulls back the sleeve that has Jimin’s name written on it. He pulls it back even further and reveals there’s a new addition to his wrist. “I don’t know! I didn’t mean for this to happen. I guess at the party I met this boy, his name’s Jeon Jungkook. I remember him. I talked to him because I thought he was cute but obviously not in the same was Jimin is. I met him after you left, but I don’t know. I know it’s not his full name but it has to be him he’s the only one I remember and his name fits!”

Yoongi stares in wonder at the new letters on Taehyung’s wrist. There’s a “J” and then a bit of space and then a “k.”

He doesn’t know what to say about this. “When did you notice?” he asks.

“This morning. Yesterday I didn’t look at my wrist because I was thinking about you and besides it’s not like I had a reason to check my own wrists… I already have a soulmate! A perfect soulmate who I love so much, and now… What is this? Am I going to lose Jimin!?” Taehyung exclaims. Yoongi notices the tears forming at the corners of his eyes and tries to calm his friend down.

“You and Jimin are perfect together, I’m sure nothing is going to happen to him. Have you told him about this?” Yoongi asks gently.

“No!” Taehyung exclaims, outraged. “How could I tell him!? He’s going to think I don’t love him anymore! What if he never wants to see me again? Yoongi, what if his name fades away? Oh my God what if he breaks up with me and moves and I never see him again. What if he goes off and finds a new soulmate just like me. I don’t want to lose him.”

By now the other boy is sobbing and Yoongi doesn’t know what to do except pat his back and offer kind words. “That’s not going to happen, Tae,” Yoongi says even though he’s not quite sure himself.

When he finally calms down he apologizes. “I’m sorry, I’m not being very considerate. I’ll figure something out but what about you? Do you know who your soulmate is yet?”

Yoongi frowns and shakes his head. “The king invited all the girls who were at the party whose names started with H to dinner last night. I don’t remember any of them and I really don’t think it was them. Besides one of the girls showed us her soulmate was some guy named Choi Jungwoo and the other two claimed they had no one, so how could it be one of them?”

“You said he invited all the girls to dinner?”

“Yeah, just the ones with H names.”

“Hmm I wonder who it could be then…” Taehyung trailed off.

“Part of me wonders… I didn’t bring it up to the king, but what if it was one of the guys at the party? I mean I don’t think I could’ve talked to more than like five guys total, but what if that’s it?” Yoongi ventured. He knew Taehyung would never judge him for thinking like that. Besides, his own soulmate was Jimin… or possibly this Jungkook guy?

Taehyung shook his head. “I already checked. Some guy named Hongbin reported that he found his soulmate. The only other guy on the list with an H name was Lee Haeseong but according to the list he never showed up.”

“What list?” Yoongi asked wondering how Taehyung had obtained a list of all the attendees to his party.

“Oh I uh… may have stolen the list last night to do some research…” he admits.

“The list says who all found their soulmate as well?” Yoongi asks.

“Well no… I’ve heard of that Hongbin guy before. Turns out he’s friends with Seokjin. I got his help to track him down yesterday and I asked him myself. You’re not his soulmate.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah so if it was no one from the party it must have been someone else you met that day… Did you meet anyone new before the party?” Taehyung asks.

“No… I don’t think so. Well I did meet one of the new kitchen maids but her name is Mija. I’ve talked to her a few times since then as well, she’s nice but way older than me. It’s not her,” Yoongi says.

“Hmm…” Taehyung hums.

They sit in silence while Yoongi thinks longs and hard about his day and Taehyung tries to think of other ways he might have met this person. Suddenly it hits him.

“Fuck,” Yoongi says.

Taehyung looks at him startled, “What?”

“Shit, I met one other person that night. After I left the party. Remember how you were worried I met a murderer? But it was just some guy who told me how to get back home,” Yoongi explains.

“What? No way! How could it be him if he only gave you directions?” Taehyung asks.

“We did talk for a bit,” Yoongi admits, feeling his cheeks heat up.

“About what?”

“I complained mostly and then we talked for a bit about the whole soulmate thing and how stupid it is.”

“Did you get a name!?” Taehyung nearly shouts, eyes widening.

“Yes! Well… actually no.”

“Which is it?”

“I got a name, but it was a fake one,” Yoongi explains. “Also I don’t remember what it was, but I think it did start with an H.”

“What? Why would he give you a fake name?”

“Because I gave him a fake name first.”

“Why would you give him a fake name?”

“You’re the one who’s always concerned about stranger danger! Why would I tell a guy I randomly found in the woods that I’m The Min Yoongi, heir of the throne to this kingdom? That’s just asking for trouble!” Yoongi argues.

“Okay but he was your soulmate!” Taehyung exclaims.

“I didn’t know that at the time!” Yoongi shouts back.

Taehyung pauses and grins at Yoongi. “So you think he’s the one?” Taehyung asks with a cheesy grin that makes Yoongi want to smack him. Yoongi feels his skin grow hot and he really hopes he’s not blushing.

“He must be,” Yoongi answers quietly. He turns and looks out his bedroom window as if he’d be able to see the boy with the small cottage he met in the woods.

“Aww,” Taehyung coos and this time Yoongi really does slap him.

“Fuck,” Yoongi says realizing something else, “how the hell am I ever going to find him again?”

Taehyung shrugs, “We’ll just go out the way you did last time.”

Yoongi shakes his head, “No, there’s no way. I told you this already. I was completely lost. I turned around about fifteen times, I won’t be able to find him again.”

“Sure you will, just follow your heart. That’s probably how you found him the first time,” Taehyung smiles and winks at Yoongi.

Yoongi rolls his eyes. Taehyung had always been one to believe in the magic within the universe. Yoongi, on the other hand, had been taught from a young age that magic was bad - evil even. He remembers the king taking him to witch trials and showing him what happens to people who use magic in this kingdom. It always seemed sort of cruel to him but he was in no position to argue. His father always blamed the death of Yoongi’s mother on magic.

One night the king had gotten very drunk and told Yoongi about his birth. He told him that he and his mother had been trying to have a child but his mother kept having miscarriages. The king had one of his most trusted advisors go out into the town to find a witch. He had written a letter for this person and made it very clear that they would never be punished for being a witch so long as they could help him out. Back then magic was still outlawed, but the laws were hardly enforced. The king asked this witch if they could give his wife a special potion that would ensure Yoongi’s birth. The witch had tried to object, saying this type of magic that deals with life and death is much too dangerous to mess around with. However his father insisted. Yoongi was born but the price for life was death; Yoongi’s mother died shortly after giving birth. The king kept his promise to the witch and let him go, but since then, all types of magic became punishable by death.

Yoongi shakes his head, “Even if I do somehow magically find this boy again, I’m not gonna be able to marry him or anything. Who’s ever heard of a kingdom ruled by two kings? The whole reason father wants me to get married is to have a son that can inherit the land and carry on our family name. This is never going to work out.”

Taehyung shrugs, “I don’t know… what if you adopt a kid somehow?”

Yoongi shakes his head, “No, the laws of this kingdom clearly states the throne is passed down through bloodline. If I don’t have any biological children it would be passed to your biological children, but that’s not very likely. I think I have an aunt who lives in a different province. She has a daughter, but we haven’t heard from her in over five years.”

“Oh. Well maybe you can make arrangements to where you have a child with someone who’s not your soulmate,” Taehyung suggests. “They have ways to do that you know. Where you don’t have to… you know… they just like inject th-”

“I get it, Tae,” Yoongi interrupts. He frowns at the thought. If he ever did find his soulmate would he ever be okay with something like that? “Okay, fine,” he starts, “let’s pretend I somehow find this boy again and then let’s pretend he someday and somehow agrees to having a child that way. That won’t change the fact he’s this random stranger out in the woods. My father always wanted me to marry a noble or some upper class, wealthy girl. He might have settled for even a knight’s daughter. I could see him being okay with letting me date a boy, but there’s no way my father will look past the peasant thing. We’ll never be together. The universe hates me. I’m probably cursed.”

Taehyung frowns at this conclusion. He doesn’t want Yoongi to give up on his soulmate so easily. “Okay, but aren’t you a little bit curious? I’m sure your soulmate is sitting out there somewhere confused as hell. He must be waiting for you to return. Don’t crush his heart like that.”

Yoongi feels a pang of guilt as he pictures the boy sitting somewhere waiting all alone.

“I should find him-”

“There you go!” Taehyung cuts him off before he can finish. “Alright so we need to come up with a plan to find him. We’ve got a week, right?”

“Well yeah but no. I was going to say I need to find him and explain the situation to him. That way he won’t have to wait on me and he can find a new soulmate,” Yoongi finishes.

“Yoongi, you’re his soulmate no matter what. You don’t just go find yourself a new soulmate if one doesn’t work out,” Taehyung reasons.

“Well you did.”

Yoongi immediately takes back his words when he sees the betrayal written on Taehyung’s face.

“You know I would do anything to carve this extra “Jk” off my wrist so Jimin would never know about it,” Taehyung retorts.

“I know, I know. I’m sorry, Tae. Don’t worry I’m sure things will work out for you. Maybe the universe gave the letters to the wrong person.”

Taehyung rolls his eyes, “As if. The universe wouldn’t make such a horrendous mistake as this.”

Now it’s Yoongi’s turn to roll his eyes. He’s unsure how Taehyung came to believe in the universe as this separate entity, but every time he mentions it he just sounds child-like and foolish. “My bad, I’m sorry, Universe,” Yoongi says for Taehyung’s sake. No matter how ridiculous Taehyung acts, Yoongi always finds himself humoring the younger boy. He was far too soft when it came to Taehyung, he just hopes Taehyung never finds out the depths of this softness.

“I’ve got a plan,” Taehyung changes the subject back to Yoongi’s problem.

“Already?”

“They don’t call me The Plan Master for nothing,” Taehyung says.

“No one calls you that,” Yoongi replies flatly.

“Yes, they do.”

“Who does?”

“They. You know, the general people.”

Yoongi rolls his eyes, “I’ve known you your entire life and never once has anyone called you by that name.”

“Do you wanna hear my plan or not?” Taehyung whines jutting out his bottom lip.

“Let me hear it.”

“Okay so I’m going to accidentally bump into the king on his way to lunch in a bit. I’ll mention to him that you’re feeling sick so he’ll leave you alone. When you’ve been sick in the past he sends one or two of the maids to regularly check up on you and make sure it’s not becoming worse. So I’ll find out who he’ll send and I’ll tell them there’s no reason to check up on you that your sickness is not one of the head but one of the heart-”

“Gross,” Yoongi interjects.

“The poor lovesick Yoongi will be left alone all day and they’ll leave your meals outside your door. I’ll inform my friend Seokjin that he needs to come by and pick up your meals.”

“How is Seokjin going to get all the way up here?” Yoongi asks. He’s met Taehyung’s friend once or twice, but all he knows is that the boy is some kind of polyglot who works in a library.

“Seokjin gained clearance level six many years ago,” Taehyung explains.

“We don’t have clearance levels you dimwit.”

Taehyung sighs, “No, but learn to have a little fun, Yoongi. I mean Seokjin used to run around the castle halls and help me not to fall into holes when we were younger. All the palace staff know him.”

“Oh.”

“So anyways… That should allow us to sneak out for the day to search for your lover,” Taehyung concludes.

Yoongi takes a deep breath and tells himself not to make a snarky comment about how this boy is not his lover and probably never will be. Instead he forces a smile and says, “You know lunch is right about now? You better get moving if you want your plan to happen today.”

Taehyung’s eyes widen and he scampers out of the room quickly telling Yoongi to stay put. Yoongi smiles to himself after the boy is gone. He’s lucky to have Taehyung as his friend, he doesn’t know what he would do without him.

The prospect of meeting his soulmate today weighs heavily on his stomach. Something inside him picks up when he pictures the boy again. He forces the feeling away and makes himself believe he won’t ever find that boy again. He wonders what he’s doing. Would he really be waiting for Yoongi?

 

— Hoseok —

Hoseok wakes up a bit later than what is considered usual for him. His uncle must be at the shop as he always is this time of day, but he does not know where his aunt went off to. He wonders why he woke up so late and then he remembers the night before. Meeting that stranger in the woods. He was almost certain he was going to get murdered until he actually saw the boy.

His face and shirt had dirt on them, his tie was loosened and shirt untucked, his shirt had a little tear in the sleeve. He wondered where the mysterious boy had come from. After he had gone, Hoseok had put out the fire and returned to the house. His aunt asked what he was doing out for so long on such a cold night and Hoseok answered that he was just looking at the stars.

Which was true to some extent. Hoseok was looking at the stars until he heard a sound and this boy stumbled into his yard. When he went back to his room after that sleep would not come easily to him.

He lied awake wondering about the boy and where he came from. He must have been up later than he thought which must be why he woke up so late in the afternoon.

Hoseok got out of bed and looked at the disarray of blankets and pillows. He focused on each item and watched as they, encircled in light green dust, floated back to their proper places. Once everything was tidied up, Hoseok smoothed out the blanket. His aunt never liked for him to use magic for things like this around the house, but he couldn’t help it. She wasn’t around to tell him not to, and he figured he should practice as much as he could. The more he practiced the better he would be able to control his magic, right?

He checked outside to see if his aunt was gardening or something, but she didn’t appear to be anywhere. Hoseok decided not to worry as his aunt would often run to the markets for an ingredient or two before returning home. If she was missing for too long he could always go find his uncle in the shop.

Hoseok used to become extremely nervous when his aunt left the house. Being a witch like himself, he knew she was in danger of being caught just as much as he was. When he was very little he was instructed that if she ever left and didn’t come back after a bit or was out way longer than she said she would be that Hoseok was to find his uncle and tell him she had been caught.

A couple of times when Hoseok’s aunt was gone for even a few minutes longer than she said, Hoseok found himself sprinting from the house as if someone was already chasing him down. Luckily he would run into his aunt on the path where he would begin to cry that he thought she had died.

The older he got, the more comfortable he felt living out here with his aunt and uncle. They had a couple of neighbors that were all spread out. The closet markets were about a ten minute walk from his house. There was a larger town about forty minutes from his house, but he had only visited one time to go to the library with his aunt. She needed a specific recipe book, but didn’t know how to find it so she brought Hoseok along so he wouldn’t get worried if she was taking too long. They never found the book, but that was the first time Hoseok clearly saw the castle.

The castle was a large and impressive building, but unfortunately for Hoseok, he rarely got to see it. From his house, even the tallest pillars were shrouded from view by tall, thick trees.

Curiosity got the best of him, so he asked his aunt about it.

“Can we go see it?”

“Absolutely not,” she had answered quickly and with absolute certainty. It made Hoseok’s heart drop. He figured if the castle looked so magnificent from so far away it must be breath taking close up.

“Why not?” he had asked jutting out his bottom lip.

“Because that’s where the king lives and the king is the one who wants our kind dead. I wouldn’t dare take you within two miles of that horrible fortress. Certainly not when you still have not learned to control your magic.”

“But I’m getting better!” Hoseok insisted.

“Better yes, but better isn’t good enough.” Hoseok frowned at this but his aunt never changed her mind. He asked her about it a few more times over the next couple of years, but her answer had always stayed the same.

Hoseok often found himself attempting to climb up trees just to get a glimpse of the castle once again. This proved to be a difficult task for a small child as all the branches were quite high for even an adult to reach. However Hoseok found that when he wished for something hard enough, it had a way of making itself happen. The vines beneath the child’s feet would grow around him and start lifting him up. They would lift him all the way to the lowest branches where Hoseok would latch on and climb up the rest of the way himself. He went as high as he could until the tree started to feel too small for him to go any higher. When he looked up he was able to see the castle in perfect view. He would watch as the sun set behind the building and painted the sky and clouds in beautiful shades of pink and orange.

Hoseok found himself climbing trees as often as he could. He would climb trees whenever he knew his aunt would be away from the house for a bit. From his favorite tree he was able to see the path into town so he could always see when he aunt was returning home. He felt safer up high - he was invisible.

Whenever he would spot his aunt coming down the path to their cottage, he would take one more glance towards the castle and climb down as quick as he could. Once he reached the lowest branches he would find the vines there ready to catch him again and bring him to the ground safely.

His aunt never noticed him climbing trees or if she had she decided not to say anything about it.

One time Hoseok was too entranced with the beautiful sunset behind the castle that he almost didn’t notice his aunt heading back towards the house. He had to scurry down the tree much faster than normal. His shirt got a little bit torn as branches scratched his face. At the bottom, the vines couldn’t quite grow fast enough to catch him and he had stumbled to the ground a bit.

He ran back inside through the back door and made it into his bedroom just as he heard the front door open. He came out from his room when he heard his aunt calling him.

“Hoseok, I’m home! Hose-” she stopped midway when she saw the boy and the state he was in. There was a scratch on his cheek and dirt on his face and arms. She noticed the tear in his shirt and the overall tousled look of the small boy. “Hoseok what happened?” she asked.

Hoseok panicked. He didn’t want to tell his aunt about how he had been climbing trees when she was gone to see the castle. She would probably stop him from doing so ever again somehow. “I uh… I was playing outside.” A partial truth.

“Were you now?” she had asked skeptically.

Hoseok nodded enthusiastically, “I found a bunch of really cool plants outside! They all had different leaves and one of them had thorns on the stem.” Hoseok had learned from a young age how to tell partial lies to avoid getting into trouble. He paused looking his aunt in the eyes, “I’m sorry I know you want me to stay inside.”

She considered the boy in front of him and instead of scolding him, she went to her personal library and pulled out a book about plant-based potion making. She flipped to a certain page and pointed at a plant. “Did it look like this?” she asked.

Hoseok nodded. She then went on to tell Hoseok that if you take the roots from this plant you can turn them into a tea that cures mild fevers. Hoseok stared at her in wonder and disbelief.

After that Hoseok started expressing more interest in plant-based magic. His aunt was delighted as Hoseok had never shown any interest in learning more about magic except for how to control what he already had.

He grew more and more fond of the all little green and growing things in the forests around him. In the spring time his aunt would come back from the markets with seeds for Hoseok to plant and grow. Some of the seeds turned into plants that he turned into potions while others bloomed into pretty yellow and orange flowers. “Chrysanthemums,” his aunt had informed him.

“What?” he asked.

“That’s what these flowers are called. The stems and leaves of this flower are moderately toxic, but there’s a spell that can turn them harmless. I won’t teach it to you just yet as it’s more advanced and you should learn about the flowers first,” his aunt explained.

“What about the flowers?” Hoseok asked, wide-eyed.

“If you take the flower and make tea with it, it’s great for fevers, headaches, toothaches, as well as treating acne or pimples,” she explains.

He nods enthusiastically and she continues, “How about you pick a few flowers and we go inside and I’ll show you how to make it?”

His smile instantly dropped, “Pick them?”

“Yes just like we picked blueberries from the bush.”

“I-I can’t pick them,” he mumbled.

“Well why not?”

“It would kill them!” Hoseok exclaimed. “They have names, I can’t kill them!”

His aunt had spent the next ten minutes convincing Hoseok it was okay to pick flowers if they were going to be used for something like making tea. And once he was convinced, he spent the next five minutes trying to decide which flower he could pick so that the flower’s friends didn’t miss him.

He finally picked one flower and immediately burst into tears. “I’M SORRY WOOSUNG, I KILLED YOUR FRIEND,” he wailed.

Hoseok smiled to himself as he remembered that memory from years ago. He went out to water his flowers. He no longer named them because he found it was much harder to let go of things when they had names. He did however have an array of small succulent plants and various cacti scattered around his room. All of these plants had names, but he never used them in potions.

After watering the flowers he decides to tidy up the kitchen. His aunt must have baked bread or something earlier as there was flour scattered on the counter tops. He cleans the counters and moves on to wash the dishes. He hums a tune to himself while looking out the window as he scrubs a plate. He works mechanically moving one plate or cup along at a time.

While scrubbing another plate with a particularly tough spot to clean, he looks away from the window to focus on the plate when something catches his eye.

His eyes shoot wide open and he drops the plate in his hands. It sounds like it shattered but he’s far too focused on something else. He had been dreading this since the day he first found out about it. There on his wrist, written in plain black text, was a name. Or well, what he assumed was supposed to be a name:

Y      gi

His heart drops as he scrubs his wrist. This must be a mistake. He never wanted to find the person who’s his soulmate. He was happy enough with just his aunt and his uncle.

He remembers when he was about ten years old, he asked about the name on his aunt’s wrist just as he had done numerous times before. She had always told him that when two people fell in love and got married it was customary for them to get a tattoo of their partner on their wrist. This time however she sighed and sat him down to tell him the truth.

“Soulmate?” the word was new on his tongue, but after saying it Hoseok feels as though he’s heard that word before, whispered from the trees or perhaps carried on the wind.

“Yes and everyone has one. Well mostly everyone. Once you find them and have a conversation where the two of you really connect, their name will show up on your wrist the next morning.”

Hoseok took in this new information but hoped secretly to himself that he was one those people without a soulmate. Hoseok did not dwell on the topic much.

His aunt had always warned Hoseok to be weary of meeting new people. Over the course of his life, he never had much experience with meeting new people. He grew scared of the idea he might meet his soulmate and they would find out about him and he would end up dead for it. Of course this was the worst case scenario. Even if things didn’t turn out that bad he thought that meeting his soulmate would be far too awkward and he wouldn’t know how to talk to them.

The soulmate thing just wasn’t for him. Yet somehow, the first new person Hoseok had met in over a year turned out to be his.

He stares in horror at the black letters marking his arm. He felt tainted. He pulls his sleeve back down to hide it but he can still feel the letters there as if they’re burning their way into his skin.

His aunt came home after a bit and Hoseok hadn’t realized it had started getting dark. He wonders how long he had been sitting there alone.

“Hi Hoseokie! How are you?” she asks in a bright voice.

Hoseok swallows, straightening up his back, and speaks, “I-I’m good.” He cursed at how quiet and nervous his voice sounds.

“Oh my! Hoseok I’m sorry for being our so long! My my, the poor drapes. I do suppose it was my fault. I was helping your uncle out at the shop today. I guess I thought you would come find us if you got scared. I was thinking you were past this,” his aunt rambles on.

He turns around to see what his aunt is looking at. The drapes that hung in front of their windows are torn to shreds. Oh. He must have done that without noticing earlier.

“Me too,” Hoseok says getting up to go to his room. “I think I’ll go to bed early tonight.”

“Oh alright! I’m sorry again, deary. I’ll bring you some food in just a bit, I’m sure you haven’t eaten anything.”

She was right and he hadn’t eaten yet. He hears his uncle come home a bit after that. His aunt tells him what happened and how she felt awful about leaving him here alone. She came into his room with dinner and Hoseok picked at the food idly. He dumps the rest out his window knowing there would be some creature out there that would like it more than he. He tucks himself into bed after leaving the plate near his door.

The next morning Hoseok feels a lot more normal. He had that feeling of waking from a dream but he cannot remember what it was about. He thinks it must have been a nice dream because he woke up with a pleasant feeling in his chest. The feeling turns sour when he remembers his wrist and he checks again to see whether or not the whole thing had been a nightmare.

Unfortunately the letters are still present.

His aunt greets him with a timid, “Good morning,” when he walks out of his room.

“Morning,” he mumbles in response. He has some fruit for breakfast and goes to grab several books off their shelves. He tried to make it seem like he grabbed books randomly, but made sure to grab a specific one.

“I’m gonna do some reading,” Hoseok says.

His aunt gives him a guilty smile, “Alright hun. I need to head into town in a bit for a bit of an emergency, but I need you not to worry we’re just low on stock in the shop. I will be back in no more than two hours.”

He nods and goes to his room with the books. He opens one of them titled “A Complete Guide to the Magic of the Universe and Soulmates.”

He reads the table of contents to help him find what he’s looking for. He wants to know if there’s a way to contact your soulmate. He can’t help the curiousity. He’s dying to know where this random guy came from. He wants to know more about him just so he can know better how to avoid him in the future.

However what he finds instead is an unhelpful passage saying that it’s impossible to find your soulmate through some sort of magic and that you must meet them in person. The passage concludes with a reassuring note that it’s not necessary to search for your soulmate or find ways to communicate with them before you meet them as the Universe will take care of what needs to happen.

Right, of course, Hoseok thinks.

He continues reading because there are more things he’s curious about. His aunt had his uncle’s entire name on her wrist and vice versa. Why did he only have three letters?

He finds a passage that seems promising and he runs his fingers along the lines as he reads:

There are three main reasons for one’s soulmate’s name to appear incomplete or faint on the other’s wrist and they are listed in order of most common occurrence.

1: One’s soulmate and oneself made a very shallow connection upon first meeting. This is the primary reason one might find oneself with a faint or partial name on their wrist. Usually those who experience this can solve the issue and get the whole name by simply talking to their soulmate again and learning more about them. Often names begin faint, but complete and darken over time. It is rare that letters are missing in this first occurrence. It should be noted that this began as a rumour started by witches to protect their own kind. The theory was actually proven to be accurate in 1063 and generally became accepted by the public by 1332.

2: Others might find that they began with a full name but slowly the name fades or loses letters. Those who experience this issue might find that they and their soulmate will have problems in the future. This occurs because one or both of the people tried to force a relationship with a person that was not their soulmate as designated by the universe. It should be noted that the only other case for a name to fade away would be in the event of a death and subsequent memory loss. This is commonly seen in elderly people who lost their significant other at an old age.

3: The third and final reason is one that is not known by the general, non-magic public. If one or both soulmates practice magic regularly, their internal magic can interfere with the magic of the Universe and cause their soulmate’s name to appear only partially or jumbled up. Witches who experience this problem find that the issue is solved after they and their soulmate share a kiss.

Hoseok’s heart starts racing. His soulmate may not know he’s a witch, but there’s good chance he’ll be figured out sooner or later.

His aunt knocks gently on his door and he shuts the book he was reading and shoves it under his covers picking up a new one.

“Hoseokie?” she asks, slowly entering his room. “I’m going to leave now and I want you to remember what I said. I’m going to be perfectly safe on this trip and I’ll be back within two hours.”

He smiled and nodded up at her as she pats his head. He always loved the feeling of his hair being played with. It made him feel small and safe at the same time.

“Whatcha readin’?” she asks, pointing towards his book.

“Oh, you know uh…” Hoseok picks it up and shows her the cover.

She laughs, “Of course, you’ve always been fascinated by herbology.” He thanks the Universe for letting the book being about plants and not something weird like the “History of Sacrificial Spells.” That was definitely a book on their shelf and Hoseok never dared to open it since it sounded so scary.

“Yeah,” he says with a smile.

“Okay, well I’m off!” she says, turning to leave. She pauses and adds, “Hoseok, I love you.”

“I love you too, Ma.”

He waited for her to be gone from the house before taking the books and putting them back up on the shelves. He finds himself pacing around the house as thoughts of that boy filter into his mind. It scares him that he really didn’t know much about the boy.

After a couple minutes of pacing, his feet end up leading him outside. He takes a seat in the same spot where he had first heard the noise two nights ago. His original thought had been that he was about to get murdered. His second thought had been there’s no way a boy that cute would be a murderer.

He inspects the letters on his wrist again. He knows the boy as Yoonsung, but he also knew this was a fake name. He knew that for sure now that his wrist read “Ygi” with a space between the Y and g. He wonders what the boy’s name really was. He seemed like a nice enough person the other night. His voice was deep and calming. He had done most of the talking as well and Hoseok let him because the sound had been pleasant to listen to.

He pushes these thoughts aside, remembering his aunt. That boy was some stranger he met in the woods at night. If she ever found out about this she would be absolutely livid that Hoseok had trusted a stranger so much. Hoseok believed he wouldn’t have a soulmate so he never worried about what he would tell his aunt if he ever found one.

He decides that maybe he won’t tell her at all.

The boy from that night had told him he was lost. He himself had no idea where this boy had come from or where he went off to. With any luck he would never see him again. Hoseok remembered what the book said about the name fading away if the memory of the soulmate fades away. It seemed simple enough to him. He could just forget about this boy altogether and soon the letters would be sure to fade away.

He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, however, when he opens them he sees something move. His plans for trying to forget about his soulmate are scrapped when he sees the very same boy several meters away from him.

He scrambles to his feet and goes to hide behind a tree. He doesn’t think they saw him. They. There’s two of them.

It was definitely the boy from the other night but this time he had a friend with him. His heart is racing. He can’t think of any reason for him to return with a friend other than they must be here to capture him. Hoseok wasn’t the strongest but he might be able to overpower a single person. As for two people… he doesn’t think he could do it. He considers climbing the tree so they can’t see him, but he would risk making too much noise. And besides they could catch him using magic - though he was older now, he still wasn’t quite tall enough to reach the lowest branches without help.

Hoseok gulps as they come close enough for him to hear.

“Are you sure this is the right way?” one of them asks.

“No! I’ve told you, Tae, we probably won’t even find it today. I was completely lost,” the other boy snaps. Hoseok recognized this voice as the one belonging to his soulmate.

“Well is it the right direction at least? Does anything look familiar?”

“I don’t know… it was dark. Don’t all trees look the same anyways? If anything look out for a small little cottage home,” his soulmate says.

Hoseok gasps as he can hear them getting closer still and they will probably find his house in no time. His aunt will probably return soon as well. What if they find her and ask about him? What if she finds out he met his soulmate? He tries to think of places he could run off and hide in but the only place he can think of is Namjoon’s house even though he moved away over a year ago.

“Do you mean like that one?” the other boy asks. Hoseok’s eyes widen. Oh no. This must be it for him. They’ve seen his house and next they’re going to find him and take him back to the castle to be executed.

He knows the other two must be on the other side of this large tree. He listens closely to try and keep himself out of sight and move around the tree as they did.

“Hmm,” his soulmate says. “It’s hard to tell. There’s probably like a thousand of these cottages out here I don’t know. Plus even if it is, what should I do? Wouldn’t it be odd to show up at someone’s door and ask for someone I don’t even know the name of? What if they don’t even know him and it’s just some stranger’s house?”

Hoseok silently cheered for his soulmate. Perhaps he would be able to convince his friend to leave and keep looking.

“But what if this is it?”

Hoseok silently cursed.

“I don’t know, Tae. It could be. It kind of does seem familiar, but I think I sort of expected him to be outside already. I don’t know how I feel about knocking.”

“Come on! I’ll do all the talking,” the other boy suddenly runs towards the house dragging his friend along. Hoseok gasps as they come into view. If they turned around right now they would see him. He scrambles backwards but instead finds himself falling towards the ground. He lands with a thud. He must have tripped over a root and he thinks his ankle hurts for a second until he looks up locks eyes with two pairs of curious eyes.

His eyes go wide as he stares back. He doesn’t dare to blink but he starts to scoot away. He makes a conscious effort to hide his wrist.

“Is this him? He’s cute?” the one guy says as if Hoseok isn’t there at all. If it wasn’t for the immense fear he was feeling he might have blushed.

“Yeah I think so,” he replies. “Hi, um I don’t know if you remember me, but I got lost over here the other day and then we talked for awhile. I know it was dark out so maybe you don’t recognize me. You called me Yoonsung. Oh and you probably thought I was a murderer, right? You probably think that even moreso now, well I’m not. I swear. Umm I don’t know how to prove that to you. You could pat me down I guess? Shit would that be too sexual though? I’m sorry. I just mean I don’t have any weapons on me. Neither does my friend here. I only brought him along because he has a better sense of direction than I do. I was bound to get lost again, but he would know how to get back. Anyways I figured I needed to come back, I’m assuming you know why. Oh, wait this is awkward, I still don’t know your name. Actually, I don’t even remember the fake one you told me.”

The boy finally stops talking and looks expectantly at Hoseok. He realizes that he’s waiting on a response.

“What’s your name?” Hoseok counters.

The boy looks at his friend who shrugs and then looks back at Hoseok. “Well I asked you first, so you should tell me.”

“I’m not telling you my name until both you and your friend tell me your names and where you came from. You can’t just show up at my house and expect me to tell you who I am! You have to tell me first. Who are you and what are you doing here!?” Hoseok asks, finally sounding assertive.

His soulmate grasps his chest and pretends to be offended. He sighs, “Fine. This is my friend Kim Taehyung and my name is Yoongi. So what was your name again?”

“Hold up. What’s your family name?” he asks eyeing Yoongi suspiciously.

“Min.”

“Min Yoongi?” Hoseok asks. He tilts his head and wonders why that name seems familiar to him. It must be his mind playing tricks on him because he’s had a very limited number of friends growing up. Two to be exact. Hoseok sits up and brings his arm up in front of him. He realizes the name would fit perfectly into the blank spaces. He’s suddenly aware of the other two boys trying to get a peak. He pulls his sleeve back down and frowns at them. “So what about where you’re from?”

“Oh! Um well that’s complicated you see we’re…” Yoongi starts.

“We’re from just down the road. Like thirty minutes from here… if you like run a bit maybe,” his friend, Taehyung, offers.

“Right! I’ll show you sometime!” Yoongi says. After a pause he adds, “So… I didn’t catch your name.”

He figures there’s no harm in telling him at this point, “Jung Hoseok.”

“Hoseok,” Yoongi whispers to himself in awe causing Hoseok to blush. He shakes his head refusing to let any emotion fill his heart.

Hoseok stares at Yoongi for a second waiting for him to say something else, but he doesn’t. “You have to leave,” he finds himself saying. He regrets his words instantly as the expression on the other boy’s face falls.

“Leave?” Yoongi asks quietly. “But wait I just got here! I have so much I need to tell you.”

Hoseok looks around nervously, his aunt should be home any minute now. Part of him wants to hear what Yoongi needs to tell him, but he knows if his aunt finds him out here with these boys she’ll assume the worst. He remembers when he introduced Namjoon to her a few years back. She had completely freaked out, demanding Hoseok tell her how he met this boy and how he knew about Hoseok being a witch. In hindsight he should not have started with saying, “This is Namjoon, my friend. He knows I’m a witch.”

He had to explain to her that Namjoon was okay and wasn’t going to report them to anyone because Namjoon was also a witch. Hoseok had run into the boy on accident when playing in the woods one day while his aunt was gone. Hoseok watched as Namjoon sat with a potion and some seeds, trying to make them grow. Namjoon knocked over the potion when he saw Hoseok and caused a bright pink cloud to explode around them. It took Hoseok ten minutes to calm down the other boy - while he was trying to explain how what had happened wasn’t magic, and that he wasn’t a witch - to tell him that he was also a witch. Hoseok showed him by making some of his seeds grow. Namjoon had been shocked and asked how he could do that without a potion.

After that Hoseok had found out Namjoon was his new neighbor. He was delighted at the idea of finally having a friend, so he kept his meetings with Namjoon secret. He went to Namjoon’s house for the most part, but the first time Namjoon visited him was when his aunt found out about his new friend.

Hoseok couldn’t help but notice how his current situation could turn out similar to the one several years ago when his aunt found him and his new friend in their backyard.

“Yes. Please leave. My… aunt… she’ll be home soon and she doesn’t do well with strangers. It would be bad if she found you guys out here, please leave. I… I’m sorry,” Hoseok says.

“Oh. Okay, we’ll leave, but when can I see you again?” Yoongi asks. He seems to realize the implications with what he said so he adds, “I mean because I have something I really need to tell you.”

“Um… Saturday? My aunt always goes out for at least three hours on the weekend to go into town and get groceries for the week. She leaves at noon,” Hoseok offers.

Yoongi nods. “Saturday. Okay, I’ll see you then.”

“Alright.”

They both stood watching the other. Hoseok wonders how long Yoongi would have stared back at him if it weren’t for Taehyung coughing loudly behind him. He blinks and seems to come out of whatever trance that had captured him.

“Right. Sorry. Bye… Hoseok,” Yoongi says with a gentle smile, turning to leave.

“Bye, Yoongi,” Hoseok replies quietly. He watches Yoongi and Taehyung go. Yoongi looks over his shoulder once and Hoseok looks away quickly pretending like he wasn’t just staring. When he looks back up, they’re gone.

His heart feels ready to collapse. This was not good at all.

 

— Taehyung —

Yoongi is quiet the entire walk back to the castle. They sneak back in and make their way to Yoongi’s chambers.

It’s not until the door is completely shut when Taehyung decides to say something.

“‘When can I see you again?’” he mocks the voice Yoongi used talking to Hoseok. Yoongi groans and throws a pillow at Taehyung who laughs and catches it.

“Oh my God, Tae,” he whines flopping face first into his pillows.

“I know. You never told me your soulmate was so cute,” Taehyung adds.

Yoongi groans louder at this and tugs at his hair with his hands.

“What happened to finding him just to tell him you can’t be with him? Weren’t you planning on explaining things to him?”

Yoongi sits up and rubs his face. “I don’t know. I was actually going to, you know. But I wasn’t thinking we’d actually find him today. Then we just kind of stumbled across him and he fell on the ground and after that… I don’t know what happened. And what? I’m seeing him again in two days? Saturday at noon? Is this some kind of date? What the hell should I wear?”

Taehyung laughs. “You talked to him for like five minutes straight before you finally stopped to ask his name. I was going to stop you, but I’ve never seen you talk so long.”

“You’re an asshole, you know that?” Taehyung grins at him.

“So you’re going to tell him, right?” Taehyung asks. “I mean about the whole you being the prince and your family line, et cetera.”

“I don’t think I can,” Yoongi says.

“What? What do you mean?”

“I mean I’m not going on Saturday.”

“What? Of course you are! You’re completely smitten.”

Yoongi glares at him, “Say that again and I’ll have you hung.”

Taehyung laughs at the older boy, knowing he’d never actually do that sort of thing. Yoongi wouldn’t be able to function properly without Taehyung and Taehyung knows this. “Isn’t it hanged?”

“What?”

“You said you’ll have me hung but isn’t it supposed to be: I’ll have you hanged?” Taehyung asks.

“Who the hell cares.”

“Right, but you need to go on Saturday! He’s expecting you to.”

Yoongi pouts, “I don’t think I’ll be emotionally ready by then.”

“Sure you will! You should eat and sleep well, remember you’re supposed to be sick,” Taehyung reminds him.

“Fuck you,” Yoongi says but there’s no malice in his words.

“I’m gonna go then. I haven’t seen Jimin all day. Goodnight Yoongi!” Taehyung says, getting up and heading towards the door.

“Goodnight Tae.”

On his way out the door, Taehyung adds an extra, “Dream of Hoseok!” before leaving. He hears Yoongi groan and throw something hard at the door. This sends him into a fit of giggles as he walks away from the room.

He skips merrily down the halls in search of one person in particular.

After ten minutes, Taehyung ends all the way up at the shop where Jimin’s parents work. They’re weaponsmiths, making mostly swords and weapons for the king’s knights. Taehyung only came to this shop as a last resort when looking for Jimin. Jimin was rarely found in their shop because he was against war and violence as a concept. He told Taehyung that he would continue his parent’s work if he had to but he was hoping his younger brother would do that instead so he wouldn’t have to.

Jimin’s parents told Taehyung they hadn’t seen their son since lunch. Taehyung thanks them and decides to go back and give up for the night. When he opens his door he gasps in surprise.

“Jimin!” he exclaims. His boyfriend was asleep on his bed and he can’t help but grin while looking at him. He looks so small and soft bundled up in Taehyung’s bed. His heart swells.

Jimin wakes up at the sound of the door shutting. “Tae? Is that you?”

“Of course it’s me,” Taehyung says laying next to and wrapping his arms around his boyfriend. He places a gentle kiss on his forehead.

“I missed you,” Jimin mumbles into Taehyung’s chest. Taehyung feels his heart fill with fondness and he can’t stop himself from leaving little pecks all over Jimin’s head.

“I missed you too.”

“Where were you all day?” he asks.

“Oh, we were out in the forests searching for Yoongi’s soulmate,” Taehyung answers.

“Did you find him?”

“Yes! Ahh, Jimin you should’ve seen him! He’s completely adorable and Yoongi is totally in love.”

Jimin laughs, “Was he cuter than me?”

“No! No one’s cuter than you, babe,” Taehyung leans in to kiss his boyfriend. The kiss is cut short because suddenly, that guy, Jeon Jungkook, was popping into his mind.

Jimin notices Taehyung’s sudden frigid demeanour, “Are you okay?”

Taehyung blinks and focuses back on Jimin. “Yeah, yeah I’m great! I just remembered something suddenly.”

“Yeah? What is it?” Jimin asks.

Taehyung’s gaze softens, “How much I love you.” He kisses Jimin again, but this time Jimin was the one to pull away.

Jimin giggles, “I love you too. But really, is something bothering you?”

Taehyung shakes his head adamantly.

“Then what is it?” Jimin asks.

Taehyung tries to think of a plausible answer, but his mouth starts speaking before he can come up with one, “I want you to meet someone.”

“Really? Who?”

“My brother.”

Jimin tilts his head in confusion, “You have a brother?”

Taehyung wants to hit himself. That was the worst possible lie he could’ve come up with. He could’ve said it was a friend or someone he went to classes with or a friend’s friend even someone he met in town. But no. He had to say Jeon Jungkook was his brother.

Taehyung nods slowly, “Well yeah… kinda. He’s like a long lost brother you know… I guess I didn’t know him since my parents died when I was so young. I met him the other day… at the uh Yoongi’s party thing. I don’t think he knows he’s my brother though.”

Taehyung feels hot under Jimin’s gaze. “So you didn’t know you had a brother, but this guy is your brother and he also didn’t know he had a brother…?”

“...Yeah…”

“How do you know he’s your brother?”

Taehyung gulps realizing the fault in his lie. “Oh it’s just a brother thing.”

“...Right. Did you know you lost a brother?” Jimin asks.

Taehyung nods. “Yeah… one of the things that survived the fire that killed my parents was this box. It must’ve been fireproof and it had a picture of us as a family and my brother was in the picture.”

Jimin frowns but nods his head anyways. “Okay. So when did you want to introduce me to your brother?”

“Umm, well Yoongi is going back to visit his soulmate on Saturday so how about tomorrow?” Taehyung asks.

“Tomorrow?”

“Yeah.”

“Ahh, it’s so sudden,” Jimin says.

“We don’t have to go tomorrow.”

“No, no I want to!”

“Alright… oh but one more thing,” Taehyung starts.

“What is it?”

“Don’t mention to him that he’s my brother… You see I haven’t told him yet, and I don’t want him freaking out or something,” Taehyung explains. He feels horrible lying to Jimin like this, but it was like his mouth was talking without asking his brain first what to say.

Jimin nods, “Okay.” He didn’t deserve Jimin and his unyielding trust.

After that Jimin brought up the subject of Yoongi’s soulmate again. Taehyung recounted the story of how Yoongi stumbled into the love of his life in the middle of the woods that night and then how they went back to visit.

They fell asleep in each other’s arms, but Taehyung woke up without Jimin. He gets dressed quickly. On his way out he sees Yoongi’s door and considers running over to see how he was doing real quick. However he figures the boy must be busy sleeping or daydreaming about Hoseok and he doesn’t want to risk interrupting that.

He rushes through the castle and heads out the front gates. It was odd for him to exit the castle the normal way as he was so used to scaling the walls or leaving through secret passages. Taehyung was fairly confident he knew the castle better than anyone else. He knew where everything was as well as all the shortcuts and secret passages. However right now, he has only one destination in mind.

He was almost running down the street as he made his way through town as fast as he could. The aired filled with the scent of cinnamon and he knew he was close. He rounded the corner and there it was.

When he first met Jungkook, he couldn’t believe it when he found out Jungkook worked in the very same bakery he and Yoongi had been visiting recently to buy cinnamon bread. Not only this but that the cinnamon bread was also his favorite and Jungkook’s own recipe. He and Yoongi once brought an entire loaf of it home so they wouldn’t have to come back every day, but the bread was always best warm and fresh so they came back anyways.

He rushes into the shop and sees the same tall blonde boy working behind the counter that’s always there. The boy doesn’t get a chance to say anything as Taehyung is already demanding to see Jungkook.

The other boy looks startled. “Jungkook?” he asks pretending not to know.

“Yes. Jeon Jungkook. He works here,” Taehyung explains. He wasn’t sure how Jungkook could work here as he had never seen the boy before. Or maybe he had but he could only ever recall talking to this the tall lanky boy behind the counter.

“...He’s not in today. It’s just me.”

Taehyung squints. “Listen. What’s your name?”

“Namjoon.”

“Listen here, Namjoon. Jungkook is here and I know he is because he told me makes the cinnamon bread and I could smell it from a mile away. Now please go get him or I’m going to jump this counter myself and go find him,” Taehyung says.

Namjoon sighs in defeat, “Okay, one minute.” He comes back a moment later with the boy in question.

They stare at each other for a second before Jungkook says something. “You!” He exclaims, pointing an accusatory finger at him.

Taehyung realizes he hasn’t talked to the boy since the party. He also realizes he had been so consumed with the thought of losing Jimin that he hadn’t considered the idea his name might be on Jungkook’s wrist now.

“Jungkook!” Taehyung smiles.

Suddenly the other’s expression changes to an angry one, “Why are you here?”

Namjoon looks between the two and tries to decipher what’s going on.

“Um… I need to talk to you,” Taehyung hadn’t planned out any of this and he was starting to regret it. Jungkook came around the corner and walked with Taehyung until they were out of the busy streets.

Jungkook turns to face him and look him evenly in the eyes. “What is it?”

 

“I uh… you remember me right?” Taehyung asks.

“Duh.”

“Oh. Well um did you have a soulmate before you met me?”

“No. What are you talking about? You’re my soulmate,” Jungkook says.

“Oh. Right. I knew that.” Taehyung starts panicking. He would have to break this guy’s heart. Jungkook didn’t have anyone else - at least not like how he had Jimin.

“How come you didn’t come sooner?” Jungkook asks crossing his arms.

“What?”

“Do you know how long I wanted to find you? All my life. And then I do. When I’m not expecting it of course, but then you don’t show up for three days. You barely told me anything about yourself or where you live so I just had to sit at home and wonder if you would ever show up!” Jungkook explains.

Taehyung wants to hit himself. Of course Jungkook would be upset. He was lucky to meet Jimin at such a young age when feelings were less complicated. He never had the stress of talking to his soulmate for the first time after finding them like most people do. “I… I’m sorry. I was nervous. I…” Taehyung trails off. A partial truth.

“Oh.”

“Yeah,” Taehyung replies.

“Well you’re here now,” Jungkook says but it sounded mostly as if he was speaking to himself.

“Yeah, um, I have something I need to ask you, though,” Taehyung starts.

“Oh?”

“Yeah so um I have this uh… friend. I’ve known him basically my entire life and he means everything to me. I accidentally told him I wanted to introduce you to him, but then I panicked and may have told him you were my brother…” Taehyung explains.

“Your… brother?” Jungkook asks.

Taehyung nods. “I know it’s weird, but could you just go with it for a bit. I swear I’ll tell him, but he’s meeting you today and I’m not ready to tell him. Please.”

“Today?” Jungkook’s eyes widened.

“Oh yeah… Did I not say that?”

Taehyung looks at him with hopeful eyes as he processes all this information.

“I… suppose,” Jungkook says.

Taehyung smiles and basically jumps on Jungkook wrapping his arms around the other boy in a tight hug, “Thank you so much! I swear I’ll make it up to you somehow.”

“That’s okay,” Jungkook mumbles, flustered.

Taehyung bounces away saying, “I’ll see you back at the bakery!” He was completely oblivious to the state he had left the other boy’s heart in as he bounced away.

-

“Yoongi, I’m in so much trouble,” Taehyung says once Yoongi had finally let him into his room.

“What’d you do?” Yoongi asks. Taehyung had been right about Yoongi sleeping in earlier. Yoongi had been in his room all day sleeping and waking up occasionally to stress about seeing Hoseok.

“So I told Jimin that I wanted to introduce him to someone,” Taehyung starts. “I told him I wanted to introduce him to Jungkook.”

“How’d he take it?”

“Well I didn’t exactly tell him the truth.”

“What’d you tell him?” Yoongi asks, a slight note of amusement entering his voice.

“I said Jungkook was my brother.”

“Your what-”

“I KNOW! I said there was a box that survived the fire that killed my parents and that there was a family photograph in that box and that was how I knew I had a brother. Then I told him that I met Jungkook at your party and that I knew he was my brother, but Jungkook doesn’t know he’s my brother,” Taehyung continues.

Yoongi shakes his head, “Oh my God, Tae.”

“Wait, it gets worse.”

“How…”

“So I asked Jimin to meet Jungkook today. I don’t know why I did but I did. So this morning I ran into town and found Jungkook. Oh! By the way you remember that cinnamon bread we both like so much?” Taehyung asks. Yoongi nods. “Yeah well Jungkook makes it. He works in that bakery. Isn’t that funny?”

“Okay, and…? What happened?” Yoongi asks.

“I found Jungkook and at first he was mad at me for not coming to see him. Turns out, he didn’t have a soulmate before me so I’m not sure how I’m going to tell him it was a mistake. Anyways I told him that I didn’t go see him because I was stressed because I have this really good friend that I didn’t want to disappoint. I told him that Jimin was going to meet him but that Jimin thinks he’s my brother,” Taehyung finishes.

“What the fuck.”

“I know.”

Yoongi ponders this for a second, “So Jimin thinks Jungkook is your long lost brother and Jungkook thinks Jimin is just your best friend?” Taehyung nods. “But both of them are your soulmates and one of them is your boyfriend.” Taehyung nods again.

“I’m in so much shit. I know some people never find their soulmate, but somehow I’ve found two? Am I supposed to choose or something?” Taehyung asks.

“Well wouldn’t you just choose Jimin? You’ve known him for what? Nine years? You’ve been dating for three of those,” Yoongi reasons while Taehyung nods along.

“If Jimin’s mother asks it’s only been two.”

“What?”

“Well part of the reason Jimin and I took so long to get together was because his mother basically forbid him from dating anyone until he was eighteen,” Taehyung explains. “So if she asks we’ve only been dating for two years.”

“That’s not the point, you changed the subject.”

“Yeah well obviously I’m not leaving Jimin, but how am I supposed to break Jungkook’s heart? He seems fragile, Yoongi. He told me he was waiting his entire life to find his soulmate. What if I’m his only soulmate and he’s forced to live alone?” Taehyung asks.

“I don’t know, I’m sure he’s not that fragile. He’d get over it.”

Taehyung frowns. “Is that what you’re planning on doing to Hoseok?”

“What!? No!”

“So you are going to see him tomorrow, right?” Taehyung asks with a smirk.

“Don’t make this about me, and stop changing the subject. Don’t you have to go introduce your brother to your best friend or something?” Yoongi asks.

Taehyung rolls his eyes, “Whatever. I’m gonna go. See ya later!”

And with that Taehyung leaves to go pick up Jimin. He meets him at his house and when he comes out his front door Taehyung audibly gasps. Jimin looks amazing. More so than usual. It was like he put in extra effort in styling his hair and picking out his outfit. He wasn’t in a suit or anything, but Jimin looked… sharp.

Jimin blushed upon seeing Taehyung’s reaction.

“You clean up nicely,” Taehyung says after getting over his initial shock and wiggling his eyebrows.

“Shut up. I never got to meet your parents, so this is as close as I’m gonna get… He’s your family,” Jimin explains.

“Oh. Right… well it’s not like you need his approval or anything. In fact he’s younger than us so if anything he probably wants your approval,” Taehyung explains.

“Oh.”

“And before I forget, I talked to him this morning and told him he was my brother,” Taehyung says unexpectedly.

“Really? How’d he take it?” Jimin asks.

Taehyung shrugs, “I think he already knew. He was cool about it I guess.”

The rest of the walk was relatively quiet. Taehyung thought he could hear his own heartbeat growing louder the closer they got to the bakery. It was just around the corner now and he couldn’t help but feel nervous. He knew something bad was bound to happen.

When he walks into the bakery that same boy is behind the counter. “You’re back? Are you gonna buy anything this time or threaten to jump the counter again?” Namjoon asks with a wry grin.

Jimin gives Taehyung a weird look and he just shrugs. “Namjoon, right? Sure I’ll buy something. I’d like two slices of cinnamon bread and then can I speak to the guy who made them?”

Namjoon rolls his eyes and hands Taehyung the bread. He then goes into the back to find Jungkook. He comes back a moment later. The wide-eyed boy followed close behind him and looks between Taehyung and Jimin expectantly.

They went outside upon Taehyung’s request and he cleared his throat. “Jimin this is Jungkook, Jungkook this is Jimin.” He held his breath in anticipation. He really needed this moment to be over as soon as possible.

Jimin smiles politely, “I’m so glad to get to meet someone from Taehyung’s family. I’m terribly sorry about your parents, though.”

Jungkook nods and shoots a glance at Taehyung who nods as if to tell him just to go with it.

“Yeah… um, me too,” Jungkook mumbles awkwardly.

“You must have been really young, right?” Jimin asks.

Taehyung interjects before Jungkook can answer, “Yeah he was. He probably doesn’t even remember them.”

Jungkook nods, “Do you… remember them?”

Taehyung was shocked by the sudden question. He shrugs, “Not really. But sometimes I think I have dreams about them. Yoongi tells me they’re probably fake, and he might be right, but it’s something at least.”

“Are you okay, babe?” Jimin asks. He started to move to put an arm around Taehyung, but Taehyung catches the movement in motion and pushes the arm away. Jimin looks shocked and Taehyung, not wanting to face whatever Jimin was about to say, runs away.

He runs all the way until he’s back inside the castle gates.

 

— Namjoon —

After a long day at work, Namjoon retires to his home. He lives in a quieter part of town, and it wasn’t more than a five minute walk to work each day. He thought himself quite lucky to work in the bakery that he did.

He moved into his own place about a year ago and out of boredom, he found himself a job as well. His parents had left him enough money to never need a job, but he still got one. He liked the idea of trying to make it on his own. It was nice knowing his parents were there to support him if he ever needed them, but for the time being he didn’t need anybody.

The bakery he worked in was quite popular in town. This was thanks to his coworker’s talent for baking bread. His talent was so great, it could even be considered magical. Namjoon suspected Jungkook was a witch, but he never formally brought it up. He could always turn out to be wrong and then he would find himself in trouble. He’s yet to get himself into a situation so bad his parents couldn’t solve it.

Namjoon’s parents were exceptionally bright witches. They had started up their own small clinic years ago to cure illnesses in their local neighborhood. Of course they had been using magic charms, but no one could tell the difference anyways. Their business grew and soon there was more and more demand for the home remedies they created. They began inventing new ways to store magic inside tiny capsules that wouldn’t expire. However this took many years and Namjoon always felt guilty for hindering their progress.

Whenever his parents started to gain clientele in a town, Namjoon would run into trouble that would lead his entire family to have to uproot their lives and move to a completely new village. Each time, Namjoon would do something where someone would begin to suspect him of being a witch. His parents, being particularly crafty with mind reading and memory charms would pick up on this before it became too large of a problem, wipe their memories and disappear, leaving it as if they were never there to begin with.

Namjoon knew they would have been even more successful if only he hadn’t gotten in their way to delay progress from time to time. Over the course of nineteen years of living with his parents, Namjoon can recall moving eight or nine times. After the third or fourth move he stopped letting himself get attached to things. Everything was temporary for him. That was until his eighth move where he met a boy his age. He was his neighbor.

The boy’s name was Hoseok and one of the first things he remembers hearing from the boy was, “Don’t worry, I’m a witch too.”

Namjoon had been completely shocked at the time as no one’s ever openly admitted to something like that to him before. He knew how serious a crime it could be to be caught doing magic so when he caused a charm-potion explosion, he panicked. Hoseok became his closest friend and Namjoon found himself trying really hard to conceal his magic better for the next couple of years. Hoseok even taught him some useful tips on how to do just that.

However he should have known better, because nothing good in Namjoon’s life ever lasted for long. He had another slip up at the local markets and his parents moved him away once again before he could even say goodbye to Hoseok. He begged and begged his parents to tell him the address of that house so that maybe he could write to Hoseok, but they refused. “It would be like returning to the scene of a crime, no Namjoon,” his mother told him firmly.

“But I didn’t commit a crime,” Namjoon had replied.

“In this kingdom, magic is a crime.”

So Namjoon turned to what he knew best to solve his problems: books. He read up on all forms of magic, especially charms. For the next two years he would work on inventing a way to communicate with other witches via magic. He moved out in the middle of all his research as his parents complained he was making their house a mess.

Tired of hearing complaints, Namjoon moved into the capital city to continue his research. He had never lived so near the castle in his entire life, but he felt strangely confident that this was where he was meant to be.

He met Jungkook soon after moving. He thought about asking Jungkook plainly if he was a witch several times. Instead he decided to use Jungkook as a guinea pig. Since Namjoon was already pretty confident Jungkook was a witch, he decided to test out his communication method with him. Really all he had to do was chew up this certain kind of leaf-mixture and then think or say his message out loud. He snuck some of the mixture into Jungkook’s drink one day and tested it out. It seemed to work, though he didn’t get a response from Jungkook. His co-worker had seemed very confused that day.

Namjoon considered trying to use this method to contact his old friend Hoseok, but he figured that by this point Hoseok would have all but forgotten him. Besides he was unsure how to make that work exactly.

Namjoon moved on with his life and decided to continue working on his communication charm. Though his initial tests were successful, he was trying to figure out ways to send multiple messages. The charm worked so that a continuous stream filtered into the head of the receiver at the same time the sender thought of it. It kept going all the way until the word “forsooth” was said or thought of. This was mainly because Namjoon needed a word that would not be used in any normal person’s vocabulary.

However once this one message was sent, they could only receive one in return and a new charm would have to be made to open the communication stream again. There were many problems with this method such as the message having no tangible form meaning it could never be repeated. Also there was the fact that the receiver could be busy or asleep when the message is sent and miss it altogether. Also the fact it would be hard to contact someone you wouldn’t see in a normal day.

Namjoon began to do more and more research into all forms of communication and things of this nature. He considered asking his parents for help, but this was really something he wanted to figure out on his own.

In the midst of all his research Namjoon stumbled upon something that could help him, but it was written in an unfamiliar language. He visited the town library but had no luck finding anything. He decided to try the palace library next and ended up checking out all the books on the topic.

His life falls into an easy pattern of researching, working at the bakery, and sleeping. His pattern is disrupted one day when that boy comes into the bakery.

He recognized him from before, this kid had was somewhat a regular customer, though they rarely spoke and Namjoon didn’t even know his name. He shows up and demands to see Jungkook. Though he still had not verbally confirmed the other boy’s witch status with him, Namjoon can only assume that must be what’s happening here. Unable to turn the kid away without also giving himself up, he gives in and gets Jungkook.

They leave the bakery and he’s left confused. Jungkook returns twenty minutes later, alone. Namjoon wants to ask what happened but the look on Jungkook’s face tells him he’s way too out of it to answer questions. Later that boy returns, but with a friend. Again Jungkook leaves with them but this time he doesn’t come back.

Namjoon spends the rest of his day worried. He starts believing he accidentally turned Jungkook in and he’s been arrested and killed. Namjoon does all he knows how to and decides to send a message to Jungkook. Everyday he makes sure Jungkook eats the herbs required to keep the communication channel open. Now it seems as though it’s paid off to do this.

“Jungkook, it’s Namjoon. If you can hear this, I’m a witch and you must be one too. Please let me know if you’re okay. If you think of me I will be able to hear your thoughts starting now.” Namjoon thinks, hoping his message will have gone through. Moments later, he hears Jungkook’s voice in his head. It’s odd for him as he’s never been on the receiving end of his experiments.

“Namjoon? What the fuck? I’m at my house, come over I guess.”

Namjoon ended the communication stream and ran out of his house. He only vaguely knew where Jungkook lived and that was because he lived so close to the bakery. He makes it and knocks on Jungkook’s door. Jungkook answers and gives him a weary glance before motioning to follow him.

Jungkook still lives with his parents. Namjoon wouldn’t consider Jungkook a friend but he still knew enough about the other to not think of him as a stranger. They had a few good talks from time to time when work was slow, but still most of Jungkook’s life was a mystery to Namjoon.

All he knew was that Jungkook lives with his parents, but wants to move out. He had wanted to move out for some time now, but he continued living with them as he had nowhere else to go. As a kid Jungkook had set a lot of expectations for himself. He wanted to meet his soulmate by the time he was fifteen so they could get to know each other before starting dating and when they were old enough, they would move out and decide what to do with their lives together. However Jungkook was eighteen and had not met his soulmate. He became jaded and was bitter about love and couples; he would often rant to Namjoon about this.

On Valentine’s Day, he refused to bake anything sweet or heart shaped. He actually had burnt half the bread and gone home early that day. Namjoon never questioned him about this. They kept their distance from each other’s personal lives and most of the time talked about customers or people around town.

So it was surprising when Jungkook closed the door behind Namjoon in his room and started demanding answers. “You better tell me what the fuck is going on, or I swear-”

“Woah woah, wait!” Namjoon holds up his hands in surrender. Jungkook’s fingertips were holding the beginning sparks of flames and he needed him to calm down before he set the house on fire. This was all the confirmation Namjoon needed to know Jungkook was a witch.

“Wait for what!? How do you know what I am?”

“I just… guessed. I mean I am too…”

“Yeah? Prove it, then,” Jungkook challenges.

Namjoon glances around the room, “I uhh… I’m not very great with elemental magic. I try to stay away from it and stick to charms.”

“I don’t care. Prove it,” Jungkook repeats. The flame in his palm surging for a second.

Namjoon thinks for a second and comes up with the safest thing he can think of. He hasn’t tried levitating anything in years probably so he feels nervous. He focuses his energy on Jungkook’s bookshelf and imagines pulling out a book and bringing it closer to him. The books shake and slowly one them falls off the shelf towards the ground. It stops just before it hits the ground then changes direction to shoot directly towards them. Namjoon ducks and the book his Jungkook smack in the face.

Namjoon’s eyes widen and he stops the book. He ends up ripping it in half which only makes him panic more. He looks a Jungkook apologetically, “I’m so sorry, I told you, I’m bad at this, I’m-”

“Whatever,” Jungkook interrupts. He takes a seat and motions for Namjoon to sit next to him. “I get it, you’re a mess. I didn’t care about that book anyways.”

“I…” Namjoon trails off. He doesn’t know what to say.

“So why are you at my house and why did I hear your voice earlier?” Jungkook asks.

“I’m working on a way to communicate long distance with magic. So far I’m not doing too well, but I can kinda send messages I think. Well I’ve only tried it out on you,” Namjoon answers.

“What the fuck I thought I was going crazy…” Jungkook says. “So is that why you’re here? To test out your little project thing?”

Namjoon shakes his head, “No, I was worried about you. I thought when you didn’t come back to work that maybe you had been caught.”

Jungkook’s expression fell as he downcast his eyes into his lap, “Yeah no… that was… my soulmate, I think.”

“What!? No way? That’s so great! You’ve finally met them!” Namjoon exclaims.

“I guess,” Jungkook says.

“What do you mean? Is something wrong?”

He shrugs, “I don’t know… It’s like he doesn’t want me to be his soulmate or something. It’s different than how I pictured it would be. People always tell stories about how they met their soulmates and everyone always talks about how wonderful they were or how they felt this clicking feeling… There’s none of that.”

“Maybe they’re just nervous. What was their name?”

“Taehyung. I don’t think so. He’s such a collected person, I don’t think he’d get nervous over that. All he wanted to do was introduce me to his friend. Then he did and we ended up talking about his parents who I guess are dead or something and he got all upset and ran away. Then his friend stood there for a second before running after him,” Jungkook explains.

Namjoon considers all this, “He wanted to introduce you to his friend?”

“Yeah, I thought that was weird too. He said this friend was really important to him. His name was Jimin. He was pretty cute too. Part of me feels like they’re dating or something.”

“Woah, what?”

Jungkook shrugs, “I mean it would explain everything wouldn’t it?”

“Maybe, but if you’re his soulmate I don’t think he would be dating another person. Or even if he was he wouldn’t introduce you to him,” Namjoon reasons.

“I don’t know then… I want to talk to Jimin and find out what’s going on,” Jungkook concludes.

“That sounds good,” Namjoon says and they fall into silence. After a moment Namjoon gets up, “Well I should get going, Kook…”

“See ya later… Joon,” Namjoon smiles at the nickname. He waves goodbye and heads back home. He’s glad to know Jungkook is safe and was never in danger. He’s also happy he’s finally confirmed Jungkook is a witch. The smile stays on his face the whole way home as he thinks of the prospect of maybe finally being friends with someone again. He hadn’t had a real friend since he was Hoseok’s neighbor and he had to admit he became extremely lonely at times.

Chapter Text

— Yoongi —

“Taehyung, calm down and tell me what happened,” Yoongi says. The other boy had burst into his room and started babbling incoherent sentences. Yoongi could’ve sworn his door had been locked.

Taehyung takes a deep breath, “I introduced them to each other and then Jimin asked Jungkook about my parents but I told him he was too young to remember them and that even I was too young to remember them really, except that I have dreams about them sometimes and Jimin thought I was upset and called me babe and I realized I didn’t tell Jimin that he couldn’t act like my boyfriend so I ran and now I’m here.”

“Oh… so you left them there alone… to talk about you,” Yoongi points out.

Taehyung’s eyes go wide as he sprints back out of the room. Yoongi knew Taehyung was getting himself into a mess but he knows there is not anything he can do to help that. Taehyung gets himself into messes all the time, but he always seems to come out the other end just fine. Yoongi remembered the time Taehyung had broken an expensive necklace on display in the castle. The king had been livid, and threatened to leave Taehyung out on the streets. Yoongi later found out that necklace was a replica and all the king had wanted was an apology from the boy.

Yoongi sighs as he remembers his own problems. He needs to go talk to Hoseok but at the end of the day that’s not going to solve the issue of not being able to carry on his bloodline. He decides he must talk to his father.

He makes his way out of his room and down the hall. He declines the offer to be escorted by the guard waiting outside. He wants to talk to his father alone. He realizes, however, it’s a rare occurrence for him to be in the castle alone. He was almost always led around by Taehyung or a guard or someone else. What would’ve taken him normally about five minutes, takes him twenty. He never realized how maze-like the castle walls are when alone within them.

He knocks on the doors to his father’s private office. The guards had recognized him and not said anything to stop him so the king must not be up to anything important.

“Come in,” the king’s voice echoes out from inside.

Yoongi takes a deep breath and pushes open one of the big doors.

“Son,” the king says in surprise. “How are you feeling?”

Yoongi forgets for a second that he’s supposed to be sick. “Better, I suppose.”

“That’s good, did you need something from me?” the king asks. Yoongi knows the king is waiting for him to say he found his soulmate or remembered who it was, but he also knows the king will not be the first one to bring up the topic.

“I need to go into town tomorrow,” Yoongi starts.

“Oh? Why’s that? Shall I send my best men to accompany you?” the king asks.

“No, no please that won’t be necessary. I um… I think I know who my soulmate is, I don’t want to scare them,” Yoongi mumbles picturing Hoseok in his mind. The boy had already been terrified enough when Yoongi had showed up with Taehyung, he couldn’t imagine what his reaction would be if he showed up with actual palace guards.

“Do you now? What’s her name?”

Yoongi panics hearing that word. Her. He can’t bring himself to tell the king the truth now. “I… I don’t know. I just think I remember hi-her face and where I met them,” Yoongi says, trying his best to keep things vague.

“And you met in the capital?” the king asks.

Yoongi shakes his head. “Well no, not really… we met in a town, not the main town… it was a ways away… in a village.”

“Who did you meet from a village?”

Yoongi shrugs, “I don’t know I just… Can I please go check tomorrow? I promise I’ll tell you all about my trip.”

“Hmm… and you don’t want any of the palace guards to accompany you?”

Yoongi shakes his head again.

“In that case, take Taehyung,” the king concludes. Yoongi nods, thanking the king. He was about to leave when the king adds, “Be back by midnight or I’ll send guards out looking for you.”

He nods and leaves quickly. It had been his plan to take Taehyung along anyways for moral support.

Over the past day or so he had done a lot of thinking and finally decided what it is he needs to do. He has to break Hoseok’s heart. It’s the only way his father could ever be happy.

-

The next morning, Yoongi wakes up bright and early. He eats an early breakfast and cleans himself up. He hasn’t showered since the last time he saw Hoseok and he doesn’t want to smell like a zoo the next time he sees him.

It dawns on Yoongi that he will be seeing Hoseok again. He stifles the excited feeling he gets in his stomach. He will not let himself grow any more attached to the boy. This will be the last time he will see him.

About an hour before noon, Yoongi finds Taehyung and sets out. When he had found Taehyung he did not appear to be in good condition. He doesn’t want to ask about what happened with his soulmate situation. He also doesn’t want to hint to Taehyung what he’s planning on saying to Hoseok as he knows his friend would only try and persuade him not to. Because of all this, they’re mostly silent as they walk through the woods.

The trip this time was not quite as long as it had been the first two times. Yoongi figures he must be getting more familiar with the route and doesn’t take so many twists and turns that slowed him down in the past.

They approach a tree and stop. The house is in the background. This is it. Yoongi knows it is as well. This is the same tree Hoseok had been sitting near the past two times. He’s sure of it because this tree has a peculiar patch of grassy vines lying underneath it. Yoongi supposes Hoseok put them there so he didn’t have to sit in dirt when he came out here. Up near the house there’s lots of little plants and the bright orange and yellow flowers Yoongi recognizes from last time.

Those flowers used to be his favorite. He used to search far and wide for any sign of those same flowers. They used to decorate the castle halls when he was younger. When they slowly started dying off and no one made any effort to replace them, he asked the king about them and was told they had been put there by his mother. She was the one who watered them so the king let the flowers die with her memory. Yoongi wonders how the flowers seemed to live unnaturally long after her death, but he figures someone was just watering them in secret.

Yoongi had been sad to see the flowers go away. After that, the castle wasn’t nearly as colorful. He didn’t see any flowers again until he was old enough to wander into town with Taehyung. But the only flowers he found there were parsley flowers. They were small and white and easy to step on by accident. There was an occasional dandelion here or there and the glimpse of yellow would make him think he found the flowers that used to be in the castle, only to be disappointed. He stopped noticing flowers by the time he turned fourteen. But the flowers by Hoseok’s house brought all these memories back to him.

“This is it, right?” Taehyung asks bringing him out of his daze.

He nods, “I wonder where he is,” Yoongi says. He had been expecting to find the boy outside. Especially considering how he had been the one to set this meeting. He decides it was possible Hoseok has just slept in and doesn’t know what time it is.

“I think we should go knock,” Taehyung suggests.

He goes to knock on the back door, but no one answers. He looks around nervously and wonders for a second if this is the right house. He glances at the flowers, Are those kind of flowers common around here? He knocks again, but louder. Still there’s no response. He grasps the handle and pulls, only to find it’s locked.

“Hoseok!” Yoongi shouts. Taehyung’s eyes go wide as he covers Yoongi’s mouth.

“What do you think you’re doing!?” Taehyung whispers.

Yoongi opens his mouth to respond, only to be cut short by a creaking sound. He turns back to face the door. It’s somehow creaked opened now. He pulls it open further to see that no one had unlocked the door for them and furthermore that it seemed no one was home. He was positive the door had been locked just moments ago, it was almost as if it had opened by magic. Yoongi shakes his head at the idea and walks into the house.

It’s empty and almost seems as if no one lives here. Either that or whoever lives here is a neat freak. Taehyung follows him inside and Yoongi can practically hear the younger boy panicking. As much trouble as Taehyung gets himself into he never does anything considered illegal.

“Yoongi!” he whispers, “What if this is the wrong house? How’s it going to look if people find out the prince broke into someone’s house!?”

Yoongi ignores him and whispers, “Hoseok.” Just then, Yoongi finds himself tripping over a rug. Following Yoongi’s stumble, there’s a crashing noise from underneath him. Yoongi looks around in shock to see what he broke, only to find nothing.

Taehyung looks at him with wide eyes and points to his feet. Next to Yoongi’s feet, where the rug had been pulled back, there appears to be a hidden hatch in the floor. Yoongi’s hands are already reaching to open it when Taehyung grabs his hands to stop him. “No! Are you crazy. There’s someone down there!” Taehyung says.

Yoongi frowns at him, “Maybe… but what if it’s him?”

Taehyung knows he won’t be able to convince Yoongi not to open the hatch and the longer they stay in this person’s house, the higher the chance they have of being caught. Yoongi carefully opens the hatch only to be met with darkness. He motions for Taehyung to follow him as he descends down the stairs. When they get to the bottom, the hatch shuts behind them causing Taehyung to jump.

They let their eyes adjust to the dim light. Yoongi is about to turn and leave, as the room seems pretty empty when he spots something small in the corner.

“Hoseok?” he asks with fear in his voice.

He approaches the small boy in the corner and crouches down beside him. He doesn’t know how to comfort the other so he puts a hand on his knee. His heart is racing.

Hoseok looks up and Yoongi can tell he’s been crying. A feeling enters Yoongi’s chest and he feels like beating up whoever did this to this boy. “Hoseok, what’s wrong?”

“Yoongi, you have to leave,” the other boy croaks.

“I… but it’s noon. It’s Sunday. Isn’t this when you said to come?” Yoongi says, but he doubts himself as he says it.

Realization enters Hoseok’s eyes, “Is it really?” Yoongi wonders how long the boy’s been down here.

“Hoseok, what’s going on?” Yoongi presses.

Hoseok shushes him, “Yoongi, please, you have to leave. My aunt will be home soon!”

“I’m not going to leave until you tell me why you’re down here!” Yoongi raises his voice.

“Please, please don’t shout,” Hoseok says. He stands up and paces around with his hands on his head.

Yoongi approaches Hoseok again and grabs onto his shoulders to stop him from pacing around. “Hoseok…” Yoongi begins gently.

“I…” the other boy bites his lip and looks around the room. He sighs. Hoseok pushes Yoongi’s hands off of him and goes to sit on the edge of a bed before taking a deep breath and beginning. “Last time you were here… I told my aunt about you. After you left, I mean. She’s always been nervous about me meeting my soulmate so she’s mostly kept me inside. She homeschooled me so I never made many friends. I’ve only ever had two people I could consider friends. One of them was this girl I met at the local market’s flower shop and the other was my neighbor. My neighbor moved away a few years ago and I don’t get to go to the market very often. I don’t know why I’m telling you this. But when I told her I met my soulmate, she wanted to know how I met them. She wasn’t thrilled to hear that you were some weird stranger who happened upon our little house in the middle of the night. She told me off because ‘What if you had been a murderer?’”

Yoongi laughs lightly remembering that night and how either of the boys very well could’ve killed the other had they been an assassin or something.

Hoseok continues, “So after she calmed down about me almost dying, she wanted to know who you were. I told her she was silly for thinking my soulmate would ever try to kill me… I told her your name. Min Yoongi… I don’t know who you are, but she must. She stuck me down here. I’ve lived in this house all my life and never known about this room. She brings me meals, but I’ve been down here since you left.”

A silence settles between them and Hoseok whispers the question Yoongi knew was bound to come up, “Yoongi… who are you? Are you some kind of criminal or something? If you’re actually going to murder me please just get it over with…”

Yoongi shakes his head. “No… I’m uh…” he trails off, throat suddenly feeling exceptionally dry. He knew this moment would come eventually, though nothing could’ve prepared him for it. In fact he thought he had prepared himself enough already. He had planned on telling Hoseok today actually. He was going to say he was the prince and his father would never allow them to be together and then he would leave.

But of course none of that went to plan. Yoongi coughs, “I’m the prince,” he mumbles.

“I’m sorry? What was that? I don’t think I heard you?” Hoseok asks.

Yoongi looks up at Taehyung standing across the room. He had almost forgotten his friend was there. “I’m the prince,” Yoongi speaks up, clearer this time. “Min Yoongi… my father is Min Jun… the king.”

Hoseok’s eyes go wide as he looks between Yoongi and Taehyung searching for any hint that this whole thing was just a joke. Neither of them speak up.

Upstairs, they hear the sound of a door closing and Hoseok looks at the both of them. Yoongi doesn’t process what’s happening as he watches Taehyung slide under the bed and drape the blanket over the side and he feels himself being pushed into a closet. His heart is racing when he hears footsteps come down the stairs.

A second later the room is filled with light and Yoongi hears a voice. “Hoseok, why is the door unlocked?”

“The door’s unlocked?”

“Yes, do you know anything about it?”

“No, I’ve just been down here,” says Hoseok. “Maybe you forgot to lock it?” Yoongi shakes his head as he remembers the cleanliness of the house. If the woman he was speaking to now was the same one who kept such a tidy house, he doubts she was the type of person to forget things like that.

“Perhaps,” she says.

“I’m starving, by the way… what’s for lunch… or dinner?” Hoseok asks, diverting the conversation.

“I’ll figure something out, sorry I was gone for so long.”

“That’s okay.”

Yoongi hears the footsteps go back up the stairs. He then hears what sounds like the latch being locked and rug slid over top of it again. He lets out a breath he didn’t know he had been holding. Hoseok opens the closet doors and pulls him back out. Taehyung is crawling out from under the bed.

They sit in silence for a bit all together on Hoseok’s bed. Hoseok is the first to speak up, “I just shoved the prince into my dusty closet…”

He says it so quietly Yoongi thinks he must be talking to himself. He answers anyways, “It’s alright… that’s kind of why I didn’t tell you. Usually when people know who I am… they act differently. So if this is ever going to work I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t do that.” Yoongi wants to slap himself. If this is ever going to work. He never wanted this to work. Well he did… but it couldn’t. He had been planning on breaking Hoseok’s heart earlier today. He obviously couldn’t bring himself to do it when he found the boy curled up in this dark room alone.

“I’m sorry…” Hoseok trails off.

“Hey, um,” Taehyung speaks up for the first time. “You mentioned that your aunt was terrified of you finding your soulmate. If you don’t mind me asking, why is that? Doesn’t she know how wonderful having a soulmate is? Or did she know it would be Yoongi all along? I’ve got two soulmates and I love them both more than anything, so why wouldn’t she want you to have one?”

“Both?” Yoongi asks at the same time Hoseok says, “Two soulmates?”

Taehyung nods at Yoongi and he decides he’ll question the other boy later. Yoongi answers Hoseok question, “Yeah he has two soulmates, but it’s kind of a mess right now. But what about your aunt, I’m curious too.”

Hoseok takes a deep breath and looks into Yoongi’s eyes. Yoongi holds his gaze evenly, waiting for his answer. The longer he waits, the more he begins to dread the answer.

“Well…” Hoseok starts, his voice coming out weak. He stands up from the bed and walks a few paces away. He turns and faces Yoongi. “If you can tell me your secret… I guess I should tell you mine,” his voice comes out shaky and causes Yoongi to stand up. He walks up to Hoseok and grasps both of his shoulders to let him know whatever it is, it will be okay. Hoseok pushes his hands away and steps back again. Yoongi tries not to feel the pang of sadness that hits him when Hoseok steps away.

A silence settles over the room. The only noise that’s heard is the sounds of cooking coming from above.

Hoseok stares at his hands for a second and looks back at Yoongi. His hands formed into clenched fists and when he opened them again Yoongi notices one of them is shaking.

He’s about to open his mouth to say it’s okay if Hoseok doesn’t feel comfortable sharing when little golden sparks begin to appear from Hoseok’s palms. The sparks gather and float together forming a small golden butterfly. Yoongi’s eyes widen as he watches the butterfly approach him. It dances around his head and Yoongi reaches out to touch it. When he does, the sparks burst and fall to the ground in a light shower before disappearing.

“Holy shit, that was cool,” Taehyung muses behind him. Yoongi meets Hoseok’s gaze and realizes the other boy is waiting for him to say something.

He doesn’t know what to say. There’s so many feelings swirling around in his heart. Of course he knows this is only another thing to keep them apart, but he can’t get past how cool that was. It was so beautiful and he’s never seen magic be used to create something so gorgeous. The longer he looks at the boy in front of him the more he feels his heart swell. He wants to hug the boy and never let him go. He wants to protect him and make sure he never has reason to be sad or doubt himself.

Yoongi, however, instead of saying this or any of the things he was thinking or feeling, sums his thoughts into one word in which he utters, “Woah.”

Hoseok blinks at him. “‘Woah?’ Is that all? You know magic is illegal right. This could have me killed. You could have me killed.”

Yoongi wonders if Hoseok has some sort of death wish. Either that or he really does trust him. “I… yeah no I mean I know… but that was so… pretty. I’ve never seen something so beautiful come from magic, my father always told me all magic was evil.”

“Oh…”

“Can you do that again?” Taehyung whispers behind them.

Hoseok laughs and bites his lip, “I um… I could make something else if you wanted.”

They both nod and Yoongi goes to sit next to Taehyung again. This time Hoseok conjures up blue sparks and they swirled around before becoming a daisy. It floats down into Hoseok’s palms and he walks towards both of them with the daisy sitting fragile in his hands. He knelt down in front of Yoongi and Taehyung for them to inspect it.

Yoongi feels his own hands come up to cup Hoseok’s as he stares wide eyed at the blue flower and the soft light it was emitting. It was like Hoseok was holding a billion stars all in the palms of his hands. Yoongi holds his breath - he’s almost positive breathing too hard would break the flower.

Something clatters on the floor above them and Hoseok jumps. The flower shatters along with his concentration. “Shit, sorry,” Hoseok says realizing the disappointment on the others’ faces. Yoongi is only disappointed that Hoseok’s hands have left his.

“It’s fine,” Taehyung says. Yoongi nods along.

“How’d you learn how to do this?” Yoongi asks, voice barely above a whisper.

Hoseok scratches the back of his head, “I uh… I guess I was born this way. When I was little I would just… make things happen by accident.”

“What kind of things?” Taehyung asks.

Hoseok shrugs, “It depends. If I was upset I would cause things to break, if I was excited I would cause things to grow-”

“Grow?”

“Yeah… like plants. I um… really like plants… flowers… things of that nature…” Hoseok trails off, blushing. He seems uncomfortable answering so many questions.

“I wanna see,” Yoongi says without thinking. He realizes he should probably stop asking Hoseok to do magic for him as the other was clearly nervous - not to mention it was illegal and he himself could probably be arrested just for keeping Hoseok’s secret (which of course he was going to do).

“Oh um… follow me,” Hoseok says. He leads them over to one side of his room. Yoongi now realizes this side is filled with little potted plants of all kinds. A dozen different succulents, five different colors of flowers, some cacti, and more all nested in colored pots near the tiny window.

He picks up one small plant in a red pot and holds it out. Hoseok looks from them to the plant. Suddenly the plant seemed to have a faint green glow around it as the stem grew longer and the flower bud at the top grew a bit bigger. It stops before the flower can begin to bloom and Yoongi cannot help the disappointment tugging at his heart.

“I uh… find that if I use too much magic on a plant it tends to have a shortened life. So I try to take care of them as normally as I can and really only use magic to save plants that are dying,” Hoseok explains.

“That’s so cool,” Taehyung says, taking the words right out of Yoongi’s mouth.

Yoongi hadn’t realized how much time had been passing when he hears a noise that sounds like the latch being unlocked. Hoseok’s eyes widen and he quickly pushes them back into their hiding places from earlier. Yoongi wasn’t a fan of being stuffed into this tiny closet, but he knows it’s for the best, and it’s not like he was about to be able to fit under the bed with Taehyung.

Before he knew it he was being let out of the closet again. He’s greeted with a plate of warm food. Just one plate of food. For the three of them. Yoongi realizes the dilemma as he looked at the others.

“We can split this,” Hoseok offers meekly.

They did just that and each got about three bites of food. Taehyung groans when it’s all gone, “Can’t you magic up some more food or something?”

Yoongi glares at him because that didn’t seem like a very polite thing to ask.

Hoseok shakes his head, “No unfortunately I cannot. There’s like these rules that come with magic. It has it’s limits you know. You can’t create something that doesn’t exist out of thin air. Otherwise witches would be the wealthiest and best fed people in the land, but that’s not the case.” Yoongi wonders just how many witches live in secrecy in the kingdom just like Hoseok. His father always had him under the impression they had weeded out most of the witches by now. “I can ask for seconds, though,” Hoseok adds.

Taehyung nods enthusiastically. Hoseok’s aunt brings him a second plate a food a few minutes later. Taehyung finishes his share of this second helping almost nearly as fast. Yoongi slows down and covertly watches Hoseok eat. He takes note of how long his eyelashes are as they rest gently against his cheeks when he closes his eyes. And how two little dimples seem to appear on either side of his lips with every bite he takes. And how his soft brown hair seems to fall just a bit in front of his eyes. And he notices there’s a little freckle on Hoseok’s cheek and another one on his top lip and-

“Yoongi?” Hoseok asks, bringing him out of his daze. “Are you going to eat?” Hoseok asks. Yoongi realizes he has barely touched his food. He looks down at the plate and up at Hoseok. He pushes the plate closer to Hoseok.

“You can have mine.”

Hoseok looks uncertain, “You’re really not eating this?”

“I’m full by just watching you eat,” Yoongi answers, instantly feeling his face heat up.

Yoongi hears a noise and looks up to see Taehyung making a face at him. He knows what Taehyung’s thinking and he’s wrong. He just wants Hoseok not to feel burdened by having them be in his house. He made a mental note to remember to hit Taehyung later. However this aggression disappears instantly seeing the smile on Hoseok’s face as he finishes the last of the food.

After they had eaten, a silence settled between the three of them. Yoongi wants to speak, but he doesn’t know what to say. Actually it was more like he wants to hear Hoseok speak, but doesn’t know what to ask him.

Hoseok eventually speaks up and saves them all from the silence, “My aunt will probably be gone tomorrow morning and then you guys can leave. I’m sorry you’re trapped here.”

Yoongi feels his stomach drop. He never intended for Hoseok to feel guilty about them being down here. Sure his father might send out guards in search of him, but he kind of doubts that. His father often gives empty threats like that. Besides, even if he did send guards, it’s not like they were going to find him. There’s no way they’d make it all the way out here before he’s back home explaining to the king where he’s been.

“It’s really alri-”

“Let’s play a game,” Taehyung interrupts. Yoongi glares at him wondering what he could have up his sleeve. Taehyung rarely has pure intentions.

“What kind of game?” Hoseok asks.

Taehyung pretends to think for a moment which only makes Yoongi want to hit him more, “How about two truths and a lie? You have to say three things about yourself and everyone else has to guess which of those three things is a lie.”

Yoongi glares at Taehyung who was conveniently avoiding his gaze. Yoongi knew Taehyung better than almost anybody which meant he would be able to tell the lie right away. He was almost positive this game would not end well for him.

“I’ll go first!” Taehyung offers before either of them even agree to playing. “Alright so… my favorite color is green. I’m a Capricorn. And my favorite animals are birds.”

Yoongi squints at the other boy. His three facts were a lot more innocent than he had expected. Maybe it was possible he really did just want to get to know Hoseok a bit more. Yoongi already knew the answer to this one so he looked at Hoseok to answer. “Hmm… is it that your favorite color is green? Is that the lie?” Hoseok asks.

Taehyung shakes his head, “Nope!”

Hoseok looks to Yoongi, “Do you have a guess?”

“I already know the answer…” Yoongi admits.

“Oh… then is it the third one?”

Taehyung nods, “Yep! My favorite animals are actually dogs. I’m trying to convince Jimin to adopt one with me.”

“You’re not getting a dog,” Yoongi says.

Taehyung pouts, “Why not? You’re not the boss of me.”

“Because if you get a dog I’m going to have to take care of it and I don’t want to take care of a dog,” Yoongi explains.

“We’ll talk about it later. It’s your turn, Yoongi!” Taehyung moves on. Yoongi will not be discussing the aspect of Taehyung getting a dog later but for the sake of moving on, he doesn’t say anything.

Yoongi glances at Hoseok and suddenly his heart is racing. A game that seemed so harmless moments ago, has now turned nerve racking at the prospect of revealing personal information to Hoseok. He supposes since Hoseok already knew his biggest secret - that he’s the prince - there’s hardly anything he should be nervous to reveal. However he still feels this need for Hoseok’s approval. What if he says something that makes Hoseok hate him?

Yoongi takes a deep breath and tries to think of the simplest things about himself. “I don’t like waking up in the morning, I once had a pet frog, and my favorite color is black,” Yoongi says quickly, eyes shifting between Taehyung and Hoseok.

“You had a pet frog?” Taehyung asks. Yoongi quirks an eyebrow at him.

“Aha!” Hoseok exclaims. “That one must be the lie.”

Yoongi shakes his head and Taehyung’s eyes widen. “When did you have a pet frog!?”

Yoongi shrugs, “When I was little. It lived in a plastic box on my balcony. One day I went to check on it and it was dead. Which is the same thing that would happen if you got a dog.”

Taehyung’s eyes widen in shock. “No it wouldn’t! Frogs are a lot harder to take care of. What were you feeding it?” Taehyung says as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“Leaves.”

“Frogs don’t eat leaves! That’s probably why it died,” Taehyung says.

“Yeah, I know that. Stop being so insensitive I’m still not over his death,” Yoongi feigned crying.

“Seriously? What was his name?”

“Bubbles. He lived a week and when I realized I killed him I cried for two days,” Yoongi explains. He might have been exaggerating but the story was still mostly true. When he was really young he caught a frog outside. It was so tiny and adorable so he decided to bring it back up to his room. He made a habitat for him and put dirt, leaves, sticks, and some water all into a box and left it outside. When he went to check on Bubbles to play with him again he found the tiny frog dead. He cried to his father about it, but he had never approved Yoongi of having the pet in the first place so he only scolded him which made him cry even more.

“That’s so cute,” Hoseok says barely above a whisper. Yoongi feels his ears burn and he tries to pretend like he didn’t just hear Hoseok call him cute. He keeps his focus on Taehyung hoping for him to challenge his frog story some more, but unfortunately his friend had heard Hoseok’s words as well and was wearing a shit-eating grin.

In a desperate attempt to change the topic Yoongi decides to finish his round, “Whatever. The lie was my favorite color. It’s actually white.”

“Really? White?” Hoseok asks.

“Yeah… why?” Yoongi meets his gaze with hesitance.

“White’s not really a color.”

“Or it’s all colors,” Yoongi replies. He had heard that in some art class he had to take once. How that was supposed to make sense, he wasn’t sure. He was pretty bad at art, but he found mixing all the colors typically created a greyish brown which was nowhere near white.

Hoseok considers this for a second, “Okay, but if you had to pick a real color - like a color of the rainbow… what would your favorite be?”

Yoongi wonders why his favorite color was of interest to Hoseok, but he doesn’t want to think about that too long. Instead he considers the rainbow and tries to figure out a favorite color. He doesn’t like red or blue because they’re both too harsh. He supposes that ruled out purple as well. Green was alright, but certain greens could look pretty sickly if mixed with the right shade of yellow. “Orange,” he says before finishing his train of thought. The orange flowers from his childhood - the same ones outside Hoseok’s house - suddenly popped into mind. He feels his face heat up, though he’s not sure why. He’s aware of Taehyung’s eyes boring into his skin, but his own gaze is locked onto Hoseok.

Hoseok smiles at this. Yoongi was half expecting Hoseok to reply with his favorite color as well, but when he didn’t offer it Yoongi felt too embarrassed to ask.

“I love flowers, my favorites are tulips, I used to have a dog, and I’ve always wished I could be normal.”

Yoongi stares at Hoseok in confusion for a second. He had almost forgotten about the game they were supposed to be playing. He looks at Taehyung for help, but he just shrugs. He seems about as lost as Yoongi is. All three of Hoseok’s facts could just as easily be as true as the next. He wants to rule out the third one because it seems too personal, but at the same time maybe that’s the exact reason Hoseok said it - to throw them off.

“...is it the third one?” Yoongi asks timidly.

Hoseok shakes his head and looks down sadly, “No.”

“Oh. But magic is really cool. You’d rather give up magic to be… boring?” Yoongi asks, choosing his words carefully.

Hoseok fiddles with his fingers. “Yeah. If I could be born again, I’d want to be normal - without magic. I… I never got to go to school and make friends like everybody else. I didn’t have friends to play games with or complain about teachers with. I guess I had Namjoon, but I barely knew him for two years. I suppose magic wouldn’t be that bad if I didn’t have to live in fear for most of my life, but yeah.”

The name “Namjoon” rings a bell in Yoongi’s mind but he can’t seem to place it at the moment and he figures it’s not important anyways. Yoongi bites his lip, he wants to say something to comfort Hoseok but he knows saying what he wants to say in front of Taehyung would result in a lifetime of relentless teasing from the other one. He swallows his pride by the look on Hoseok’s face and decides to say it anyways. “You don’t have to live in fear anymore… I’ll protect you,” he barely mumbles the last part and and focuses his gaze intently on the ground.

The silence that followed his words was unbearable. It would have even been better had Taehyung jumped up and declared how head over heals Yoongi has fallen for Hoseok already. Instead Yoongi is forced to drag his gaze from the ground to stare back at Hoseok’s expression. One look at the smile on his face is enough to send his heart racing. He’s positive his entire face, neck, and ears are beet red. He wants to bury his face in his hands, but the look in Hoseok’s eyes is so sweet, he can’t look away. He feels like melting on the spot.

Taehyung coughs, “Did you have a dog?”

Hoseok blinks and looks back at Taehyung. “Sorry what?” he asks, echoing Yoongi’s exact thoughts. It hits him before Taehyung can reply. Oh, right, the game. Yoongi had completely forgotten the other two things Hoseok had said earlier. One of them must have been about having a dog.

“Was that the lie?” Taehyung asks.

Hoseok’s eyes widen as he comes to same realization, “Oh! Yeah… well no. I mean I did have a dog. I don’t remember his name. I was really little and I’ve only heard stories.”

“So it was the first one?” Yoongi asks. He doesn’t remember what the first fact was, so he hopes Hoseok does.

“Um… yeah. What did I say?” Hoseok asks.

“Something about flowers,” Taehyung provides.

“Oh right! I said tulips are my favorite flowers. I love tulips, but they’re not my favorites.”

“What are your favorites?” Yoongi finds himself asking. He knows deep down what he wants Hoseok to say even though he wouldn’t know the name of the flowers himself.

“Chrysanthemums,” Hoseok says simply.

“Cra… what?” Yoongi asks.

“Chrysanthemums,” Hoseok repeats. He looks over to his shelves of plants but seems disappointed. “I don’t have any in here, they need lots of sunlight… a lot more than comes through that tiny window.” Hoseok looks around his room, in search of what, Yoongi isn’t sure.

Hoseok begins drawing in the dirt, but erases is. “Oh I know how I can show you… duh,” Hoseok says. Yoongi watches as he cups his hands together. An orange light shines through the cracks in his fingers. Yoongi is excited to see another one of Hoseok’s star-filled creations until Hoseok moves his hands to reveal the flower. Yoongi swears his heart stops for a full minute.

It’s those same flowers from the castle. Of course it was. He looks at Taehyung to gauge a reaction, but he remembers he’s never told anyone about his attachment to that kind of flower. He wants to blurt out something about the flowers. Maybe tell Hoseok he’s been in search of those flowers ever since he was little. Maybe add on something about how every fact he learns about Hoseok causes his heart to beat at irrational speeds. Maybe not that last part, actually.

Instead of saying anything like that he just says, “Those are really pretty.”

“Yeah,” Hoseok agrees.

Their game progresses and they find the questions start moving into more personal territory. Any of them could decide to be done at any point, but they keep going. Yoongi learns that Hoseok wanted to be botanist and that his favorite food is bread. He also learns about Hoseok’s past and how his mother had given him up when she found out he had magic.

In turn, he tells about how he misses his mother even though he never knew her. He explains how his mother died giving birth to him and his father blames it on magic. He admits that he feels guilty for her death and also that he wishes he had grown up having siblings. Hoseok agrees with this sentiment and Taehyung is slightly offended Yoongi doesn’t think of him as a brother. Yoongi sighs and explains it’s more about being able to share responsibility of being prince more than anything. While it’s true Taehyung would be next in line if Yoongi were to die, he’s never attended any of the classes Yoongi was put through in order to help him be a king one day. If he had siblings they would have had those same classes.

It’s starting to get late and they’re running out of facts they can share about themselves. Taehyung brings up his double soulmate situation eventually which opens the door to a myriad of new questions. Soon it’s Yoongi’s turn again.

He’s tired and not really thinking we he begins speaking, “I’ve never been in love-”

“Lie,” Taehyung cuts him off before he can come up with two new things to add.

“You didn’t let me finish,” Yoongi seeths.

“It doesn’t matter, that’s the lie,” Taehyung states.

Yoongi shakes his head, “It’s not a lie.”

Taehyung doesn’t give a verbal answer. Instead he rolls his eyes around to point at Hoseok. Yoongi looks at Hoseok in confusion before he understands what Taehyung is implying.

“No-”

“I didn’t saying anything…” Taehyung trails off. He winks at Yoongi.

Yoongi looks over at Hoseok who looks embarrassed. He seems like he’s pretending to be occupied with counting the stitches on the fabric of his shirt. Yoongi sends Taehyung a death glare and he just shrugs in response.

“Whatever, I’m done playing this game anyways,” Yoongi says getting up. He realizes he doesn’t really have anywhere to go so he stands in his spot.

Hoseok looks up after a moment, “We can all go sit on my bed. It would be more comfortable than the ground.” They all get up and get into bed sitting next to each other. Naturally, Yoongi was in the middle. Though Hoseok’s full size bed was plenty big enough for one person, three people crammed side by side proved to be a tight fit. Yoongi feels his face heat up as Taehyung kept scooting over more, pushing him closer and closer to Hoseok.

He wants to snap at the boy for taking up too much space, but his throat feels constricted and he suddenly doesn’t know how to talk anymore.

They sit in silence for a bit until the silence is interrupted by soft snores. Yoongi looks over at Taehyung and marvels at how fast he was able to fall asleep. He supposes it helps that Taehyung doesn’t have the problem of an erratically beating heart at the moment.

“Yoongi?” Hoseok speaks up softly.

Yoongi turns his head and is struck by how soft Hoseok looks at the moment. He also takes note of how close their heads were, but does his best to ignore this facet.

“Would you mind… I mean… Could I see your wrist?” Hoseok’s request is a simple one but Yoongi only feels his heart race even more.

Yoongi swallows, “Yeah, sure.” He reaches for his sleeve and notices his fingers are shaking slightly. He hopes Hoseok doesn’t notice the same. Pulling back the sleeve, he reveals the neat letter “H” written on his wrist.

For a second he feels embarrassed that it’s only one letter. “I know it’s only one letter, but I… I know it’s you because… because… who else could it be?” Yoongi asks looking up at Hoseok for reassurance.

Hoseok smiles gently. He pulls back his own sleeve and Yoongi feels the anticipation growing inside him. He’s never thought about seeing his own name on someone else’s wrist before. However the excitement dies when he sees only three letters. He looks at Hoseok in confusion. “I suppose you don’t know… I looked it up. Sometimes this sort of thing happens when someone’s soulmate is a witch. It all has to do with the magic of the universe or whatever. Earlier, when you showed up I was bit worried you knew that so you knew what I was and came back here to kill me.”

Yoongi feels his heart split in two at Hoseok’s words. “I don’t want to kill you… I-” he stops himself briefly making sure Taehyung is still snoring. “I want to protect you. I will protect you, okay?” Yoongi says looking Hoseok evenly in the eyes.

“Okay,” Hoseok replies, smile returning to his face. Yoongi likes Hoseok’s smile but at the same time he finds looking at it too long is not good for his heart. He remembers how he had originally planned to break Hoseok’s heart today. After today he knew he would be completely incapable of doing this now.

He looks at his own wrist again and wonders what Hoseok’s full name would look like there. Suddenly Hoseok’s fingers are holding his wrist gently and he traces the letter on his wrist. Yoongi feels electrified by the touch.

Hoseok’s fingers suddenly leave his and Yoongi watches as he flicks his wrist and green sparks shoot out once more. They race over to the night stand and pull open the drawer. A pen is lifted from the drawer and the sparks bring it floating over to Hoseok. The sparks dissipate and Yoongi looks up at Hoseok again. However Hoseok isn’t looking at him as he reaches out and takes hold of Yoongi’s wrist again. He feels delicate with Hoseok’s touch.

Yoongi keeps his eyes on Hoseok’s features as he feels the pen tip touch his wrist. He watches Hoseok’s concentration until he is finished. He looks up and Yoongi looks at his wrist. Hoseok had written in the rest of his name for Yoongi. It was a little bit shaky but no one would be able to tell.

“To keep you safe,” Hoseok says simply. Yoongi bites his lip. He reaches for the pen and pulls it out of Hoseok’s grasp.

This time he takes Hoseok’s wrist and fills in his own name in the gaps between the letters. Yoongi doesn’t want to repeat Hoseok’s words, so he says the first thing that comes to mind, “Because you’re mine.”

He feels his face heat up, but it’s okay because there’s a pink blush tinting Hoseok’s cheeks as well. “Yoongi,” Hoseok says.

Yoongi doesn’t know if it’s a question but he asks anyways, “What’s up?”

“Who were you in love with before?” Hoseok asks.

Yoongi is caught off guard by this question and he’s not sure what’s going on, “What are you talking about?”

“Sorry… it’s just… from the game earlier. You said you’ve never been in love and Tae called you a liar almost immediately. I know I shouldn’t ask… but I… I don’t know,” Hoseok explains.

Again Yoongi feels like hitting Taehyung again, but he focuses on the question. “Oh… Taehyung was just… messing around. He’s weird like that I guess.”

“Yoongi… Please tell me. If-” he cuts himself off, pausing to think before continuing, “If I’m yours, are you mine?”

Yoongi nods quickly. He doesn’t have time to feel embarrassed at his own reaction, “Of course! No… yeah I mean there really is no one. There never was…”

“So then what did he mean?”

“I-I think he meant… he was, you know, I guess being dumb… clearly it’s too early… a-and I barely know you, but Tae was implying that… that I’m i-in love with y-you,” Yoongi stutters out.

Yoongi feels Hoseok’s lips press softly to his cheek and he looks up suddenly. Hoseok is shifting in bed to lay down on his side. Yoongi feels frozen. Once he’s situated, he looks up at Yoongi, “You’re right. Taehyung is ridiculous.”

Yoongi feels like the room is spinning. He slides down in bed to lay down. He’s facing Hoseok and their heads are nearly touching. Yoongi ignores that and reaches out for Hoseok’s wrist. He traces over the letters. “Yeah, completely ridiculous,” he mumbles.

He closes his eyes to fall asleep but something is nagging at his brain and he won’t be able to sleep until he says it.

“Hoseok?” Yoongi asks, unsure if he’s already fallen asleep.

“Hmm?” Hoseok mumbles. He must had been close to sleep but not quite there.

“I-I… need to tell you…” Yoongi trails off.

Hoseok shifts so that he’s looking Yoongi in the eye now. He doesn’t say anything but the look in his eyes tell Yoongi to continue. “When I was on my way here today… I was thinking to myself… You see with me being prince and whatever my dad - not that he wouldn’t approve - but I’m his only son and I need to have children to pass down the throne I guess. I had convinced myself that… I needed to tell you this couldn’t work.” Hoseok stares and Yoongi and doesn’t say a word. Yoongi watches the expression on Hoseok’s face fall as the silence lingers, but he’s not finished, “But after coming here… how we found you down here… I couldn’t leave you even if I wanted to. I guess I just want you to know… it’s probably going to be hard - whatever this is - but I want it to work.”

Hoseok nods. “Me too,” he whispers.

Yoongi can’t help the smile that spreads on his lips. He takes hold of Hoseok’s face and brings him down closer to kiss the crown of his head. He knows he’s blushing but he doesn’t care. Hoseok pulls Yoongi’s fingers away from his face and slowly entwines them together.

“Goodnight, Yoongi,” Hoseok says.

Yoongi pauses and looks at their hands fixed together. “Goodnight, Hoseok,” he says, barely audible.

Hoseok’s breathing slows and Yoongi thinks he must have fallen asleep. Yoongi wishes he could calm his heart enough to do the same. He’s far too focused on their clasped hands between them. Around their hands he can see the soft curves of Hoseok’s face illuminated by the gentle moonlight filtering in.

Yoongi feels like this is where he supposed to be.

He’s fucked.

 

— Taehyung —

Taehyung wakes up with a crick in his neck, but it’s worth it when he sees Yoongi and Hoseok cuddled up next to each other in bed. He had woken up probably not long after falling asleep. There wasn’t much space on the bed for him since that bed really wasn’t really meant for three people. He had noticed Yoongi and Hoseok sleeping with one of their hands clasped together between their faces and wondered how they ended up like that, but figured it wasn’t really his business anyways.

So he had gotten up to search around in drawers and cabinets until he found some extra blankets. He made himself a bed on the floor and fell back asleep.

He now smiles at the two of them but plans on bullying Yoongi about it later. He feels an ache in his heart and he remembers he hasn’t seen Jimin in over a day now. This isn’t an exceptionally long amount of time and he’s definitely gone longer without seeing him but his current situation makes him miss Jimin more than usual.

And Jungkook.

He curses himself for thinking of Jungkook yet again. He found this was becoming a more common occurrence as time went on: thinking about Jungkook that is. He hardly knows the boy, but he knows enough to know he’s funny and easy to get along with. The boy was charming. There was no denying that. All of that combined with Jungkook’s objectively good looks had Taehyung confused and upset.

Not that he liked Jungkook. And definitely not that he was attracted to him. It was just a fact that Jungkook was good looking (and funny and nice and smart and essentially the whole package and he would make someone else very happy, but not Taehyung. No, not Taehyung because Taehyung had Jimin).

Taehyung’s thoughts are interrupted by the sound of footsteps coming from upstairs. His eyes widen and he looks towards Yoongi and Hoseok. He runs towards the bed and shakes both of their shoulders.

Hoseok wakes up immediately and Taehyung is almost able to read his thoughts. First confusion at why Taehyung was waking him up, then shock seeing Yoongi’s face so close, followed by a panicked understanding.

“Yoongi wake up!” Hoseok hisses at the boy as he shakes him.

Taehyung hears the latch being undone.

“It’s no use!” Taehyung whispers. “Just hide him under some blankets!” He starts tossing Hoseok his extra blankets as he slides underneath the bed for yet a third time. He wonders why he chose under the bed again when this time the closet was available.

It doesn’t matter though because just as he gets settled, the door is being opened. Taehyung watches feet come down the stairs and he shrinks back and prays that he or Yoongi will not be seen.

“Hoseok?” Hoseok’s aunt says in surprise. “You’re up early. Have you been up long?”

“No I just woke up actually. I was just watering my plants,” Hoseok answers.

Taehyung hears the groaning of bed springs above him which can only mean one thing. He reaches up and jabs a finger into the mattress hoping Yoongi feels it and understands the message to stay put.

“Oh wow, there sure are a lot of blankets on your bed,” Hoseok’s aunt comments. Taehyung feels his heart drop. This is it. They’re about to get caught. And in the worst possible way.

“Y-yeah… I uh got cold last night,” Hoseok answers.

“Really? It was a hot one last night, maybe you’re getting sick.”

Hoseok laughs, “Yeah maybe. And also you know… heat rises.”

“Hmm… maybe I should wash those sheets for you just in case.”

“NO!” Hoseok shouts. Oh no. “I… I just mean, there’s no need! You’re busy and you do enough already. I’m not getting sick. I’ll wash them later though if it makes you feel better.”

There’s a pause before she answers. She doesn’t sound like she believes him but she knows she’s pressed enough for the time being. “Alright. I’ll leave the door unlocked for you so you can get something to eat. I’m going out and won’t have time to make you anything.”

“Okay,” Hoseok replies.

Taehyung listens as footsteps go back up the stairs followed by and opening and closing of the door.

Taehyung waits a bit before sliding out from under the bed. Hoseok is stood still just staring at the bed. “How did he just… sleep… through all of that?” Hoseok asks.

Taehyung thinks he’s supposed to answer but Hoseok isn’t really looking at him. He answers anyways, “Yeah… he does that. Heavy sleeper I guess.”

Hoseok launches himself forward to Taehyung’s surprise. He shakes Yoongi roughly, “Yooooongiiiiii!” Hoseok practically whines. Taehyung watches in amusement as Yoongi wakes up. He blinks up sleepily at the person shaking him and his eyes shoot open when he realizes who it is.

Hoseok stops shaking him when he notices Yoongi is awake. He lightly punches Yoongi in the arm, “Yoongi! I can’t believe you slept through that! You were almost caught!”

“Good morning to you too,” Yoongi says.

Hoseok scoffs, “You’re unbelievable.”

“Sorry, I guess I was just really comfortable,” Taehyung watches as Yoongi’s hand comes up and brushes Hoseok’s shoulder before falling back down. Taehyung felt a sad smile drift to his lips. Yoongi probably wanted to hug Hoseok, but he was always exceptionally bad at initiating physical contact. Taehyung, over the years, had learned to pick up on signs Yoongi gave out subconsciously.

Taehyung zones out and misses the next part of the conversation but perks back up when he hears mentions of food. Hoseok told them he would go up alone first and check the house was empty before having the others come up.

Hoseok leaves them, as he said, and closes the door behind him.

Taehyung takes this opportunity to tease Yoongi. “Yoongi’s in love~!” Taehyung says in a sing-song voice.

Yoongi who was sitting there looking dazed snaps his head up at Taehyung. “What are you talking about?”

“Oh, come on, Yoongi! Anyone with eyes would be able to see it,” Taehyung continues.

Yoongi puzzles over this for a second, “See what?”

“How in love you are! I mean Hoseok’s not any better. Ya’ll are gross,” Taehyung concludes.

Yoongi’s eyes widen. “What do you mean by that?” he asks, almost urgently.

“I mean Hoseok’s just as taken with you as you are with him.”

“Really? What makes you think so?”

Taehyung laughs at him, “It’s just obvious. Plus the way he worries over you. And the way he keeps looking at you when you’re not paying attention. And the fact a bunch of his little plants sprouted heart-shaped flowers this morning.”

“They what!?” Yoongi immediately gets up and rushes over to see the array of greenery. He bends down to inspect them closer when the latch opens back up.

Taehyung’s instincts briefly tell him to go hide again, but he doesn’t have time to act before Hoseok is standing above them motioning that it’s okay to come up.

Hoseok offers to make them food but Yoongi declines much to Taehyung’s dismay, “I… we really need to get back. My father probably won’t be very happy with me. I swore to him I’d be back by sunset.”

“Oh no! I’m so sorry Yoongi. This is all my fault I sh-”

“No, no! It’s fine,” Yoongi interrupts Hoseok’s panicking. Taehyung watches as Yoongi steps towards the taller boy and reaches for Hoseok’s fingers. “I’m glad we got to spend some time together,” he says, holding onto Hoseok’s hand.

Taehyung smirks. He’ll have endless content for relentlessly teasing Yoongi later on. His eyes widen as Yoongi brings their hands to his lips and kisses the back of Hoseok’s hand. Yoongi actually kissed someone and the thought isn’t registering in Taehyung’s mind. He never thought he would see the day Yoongi fell for someone - and so quickly as well.

Yoongi suddenly yanks his hand back. Well that didn’t last long. “Ouch!” Yoongi exclaims. “Your hand’s burning!”

Hoseok’s eyes widen, “Shit, I’m so sorry! I… I don’t know what happened I just… I should have been able to control it. Are you okay? I can find a spell that heals burns! I’m so sorry, Yoongi, I-”

“I’m not burnt, I’m fine. It just… startled me,” Yoongi smiles.

Taehyung thinks the scene is all very touching but he’s starting to feel bored. He’s hungry and wants to go home so he can find Jimin. But at the same time he doesn’t want to interrupt so he sits down and watches quietly.

This inadvertently draws attention to him. “Oh, Tae… you probably want to go home,” Yoongi says.

“It’s fine, take your time,” Taehyung answers but his tone betrays him. He’s never been a good liar. Which is odd considering the amount of mischief he gets into. He’s good at acting and making up stories but when it comes to his own emotions, he’s an open book.

“That means he wants to go,” Yoongi says, correctly, to Hoseok.

“Oh,” Hoseok responds. Taehyung wonders how he can make one word sound so sad.

“I’ll umm… figure out a way to contact you,” Yoongi mumbles.

Hoseok brightens at this, “Oh! I can send you letters!”

Yoongi frowns, “Yeah and who’s gonna deliver a letter to the castle from out here… Even if you somehow did I’m sure my father would find it first and find you here which would not be good.”

“Oh um… this is probably gonna sound crazy. But I uh… have a lot of friends that could take you a letter… secretly,” Hoseok says.

“Friends? I thought you said you didn’t have many.”

“Right, no I don’t. I mean my friends are… animals,” Hoseok answers.

“Animals?”

“Yeah like squirrels, bunnies, raccoons, some birds too.”

“Wait, what? You’re not serious are you?” Taehyung interjects.

Hoseok nods, “Yeah I mean it sounds silly but I’ll send you a letter, you’ll see. I mean I’ve never sent one myself but I’ve read all about it and it seems simple enough. I think anyone can send letters but they listen better to magic folk…”

“How will I send you one?” Yoongi asks.

“They should wait for you, the animals I mean. They should wait for a reply to bring back… I’ll make sure of it,” Hoseok answers.

“Do they have names?” Taehyung asks and Hoseok nods.

“That’s…” Yoongi starts.

“Crazy. I know,” Hoseok says

“No… I was gonna say cute,” Yoongi finishes. “Really cute.”

Taehyung rolls his eyes but finds himself grinning nonetheless. Hoseok blushes. A silence falls between the group and Taehyung wants to say something but can’t think of anything except for his desire to go home.

Yoongi coughs, “We should uh… get going.”

“Right! Of course,” Hoseok says and finally they walk outside through the back door. Taehyung feels relieved being out in the open again finally. Out here he feels less like he’s going to be caught at any second and arrested for trespassing.

“So… I guess I’ll see you… later,” Yoongi says.

Hoseok’s face falls and Taehyung feels guilty. He knows he isn’t the reason they have to leave Hoseok here, but that doesn’t change the fact he still looks like a kicked puppy. “One second,” Hoseok says.

He turns and heads back towards the cottage. For a second Taehyung thinks he’s going to go back inside for something but he stops short of the door. He bends over and plucks a single orange flower that’s in full bloom. He hands the flower to Yoongi who takes it and holds it gingerly.

If what happens next shocks Taehyung, it effectively paralyzes Yoongi. Hoseok leans forward and presses a small kiss on the corner of Yoongi’s lips. “I’ll see you later,” Hoseok whispers.

Yoongi stands there, a gaping mess. His mouth opens and closes as words escape his brain.

Taehyung decides he can’t let this go on much longer. It’s almost painful watching Yoongi struggle to say something. “What he means to say is, ‘Thanks for letting us stay, we had fun.’ Also that he thinks you’re super cute and has a massive crush on you and will be waiting on your letter.”

Yoongi’s eyes shoot open and he whips around to face Taehyung, “Tae!”

Taehyung shrugs but can’t help but feel satisfied looking between the two of them and how they are now a matching shade of red.

He knows he shouldn’t interfere but it’s so obvious there’s something between the two of them. They really must be meant for each other, he thinks. Just like he and Jungkook.

Jungkook. Jimin. No, Jimin. He definitely meant Jimin. And it’s not like anyone heard that.

He grabs Yoongi’s wrist and says a final goodbye to Hoseok before dragging him off.

Once they’re nearing the castle Yoongi finally gains his ability to speak once again. “I think I’m in love,” he says, but very quietly.

“Me too, my friend. Me too,” Taehyung answers back.

And that’s all that needs to be said. Taehyung knows Yoongi’s going to go up to his chambers to cry all day about how his heart feels sad. He knows he could tease Yoongi over a multitude of things from the past twenty-four hours as well but chooses not to. That can always wait for later. He’s not in the mood to tease Yoongi anyways.

He wants to sleep for a bit and think about his feelings.

He wonders a lot of things. He wonders what Jimin did while he was gone; if he missed him or if he found things to occupy his time. He wonders if he talked to Jungkook at all. He wonders what they would have talked about. Or if they would have talked about him. He wonders why he can’t seem to get Jungkook out of his head; and why he feels like he’s cheating on Jimin. And most of all: he wonders if he still loves Jimin.

 

— Jungkook —

Namjoon is mysteriously missing from work when Jungkook goes in to start baking the bread in the morning. This isn’t a huge deal because Jungkook has taken care of Namjoon’s duties in the past however today is a delivery day, so after baking the bread Jungkook will have to make his rounds.

He bakes the bread and manages the customers who walk into the bakery by himself. By noon, things have started to slow down. Jungkook informs his mother on his way out about the situation so she can take care of the shop while he’s gone.

Two years ago, since he turned 16, Jungkook officially took over for most of the operations of the family bakery. However technically speaking, his parents still owned the bakery so he had to report to them.

Jungkook fills three baskets with all the orders he needs to deliver and sets out into the streets. He finds it somewhat difficult to walk while carrying so much. He has one large basket in each hand and a smaller third one balanced precariously between those two.

The main road isn’t super busy this time of day but it will be in a few hours when he comes back.

He can’t quite see where he’s going but thankfully people walk around him. However he’s completely unprepared when something slams into his side and makes him drop everything he’s holding. He stumbles himself but doesn’t fall. The entire contents of the smaller basket and half of one of the bigger ones are scattered all over the ground. Jungkook frowns and looks up to yell at whoever made him drop everything.

The words catch in his throat when he sees who’s standing there. It’s that kid. Jimin. His soulmate’s best friend or whatever. Jungkook is horrified at the expression on Jimin’s face. His eyes are wide as he looks between Jungkook and the ruined bread.

“I-I’m so sorry! I wasn’t- I just… I ran into you. Oh my god. I’m so sorry- I-” Jimin stutters as he bends over and attempts to collect all the scattered bread.

“It’s okay, really… That bread’s no good anyways you should just leave it,” Jungkook says.

He gathers what’s left and is about to leave when Jimin reaches out and grabs his shoulder. “Wait, no! I just mean… please let me help. I’ll try to speed things up… Were you taking deliveries? I’ll help you with those too. Just let me do anything. I feel terrible…”

“Don’t you have somewhere to be?” Jungkook asks. Anyone who was running through the streets at this hour must be late for something.

Jimin shakes his head.

Jungkook frowns and wishes Jimin wouldn’t try to help. If it were anyone else he would tell him to fuck off and that he could handle this on his own. It was a fact he could handle this on his own. He could use magic to speed up the baking process and only be about twenty minutes late for his deliveries. However Jimin’s expression combined with his words make Jungkook feel weak. And even if he could get past this, Jungkook knew this kid was someone important to his soulmate so he should treat him nicely.

He gives in and tells Jimin to help carry the baskets back to the bakery.

Jungkook was initially worried upon agreeing to let him help that Jimin would be awkward but he immediately finds out Jimin is a talker. This must be why Jimin and Taehyung are such good friends.

“Wow,” Jimin muses as they step inside, “It smells so nice in here. I’ve never been inside but sometimes my younger brother comes back with bread from here for all of us. It’s so good, by the way. You probably know that, though.”

Jimin continues to chatter away about anything and everything. He comments on how he never knew what ingredients went into making bread and also isn’t it weird how that works like who was the first person to ever mix all this stuff together and heat it up until it made bread?

Slowly, Jimin’s comments begin to amuse Jungkook. At first all he wanted was to tell Jimin to get out of his kitchen, but the longer he’s there, the more he’s wishing he could do this every day. He wouldn’t admit it out loud, but working in the kitchen all day gets lonely.

Jungkook lets Jimin do simple tasks because it seems to give him some sort of joy. Jimin cracks an egg - like Jungkook showed him how to - and Jungkook watches as his face cracks with a smile. “Wow, that’s so cool,” Jimin whispers in awe.

Jungkook scoffs and laughs a bit to himself.

“Hey, what’s so funny?” Jimin asks.

Jungkook rolls his eyes, but doesn’t hide the smile on his face, “You are.”

Jimin frowns, “What do you mean?”

“Just… You. I can’t believe I was intimidated by some guy who thinks cracking an egg is… fascinating,” Jungkook admits.

“You were intimidated by me?” Jimin asks with an amused grin on his face. Suddenly Jungkook feels the urge to punch him.

“Well yeah with you and Taehyung and all that… I wanted to leave a good impression,” Jungkook answers.

Jimin smiles, “If I’m being honest I was intimidated by you also. I’ve known Tae for forever and going to meet you while knowing you were his… you know… it was scary.”

Jungkook nods, he understands. Jimin continues talking, “It was so unexpected too, you know? Like I lived my whole life thinking Taehyung didn’t have one and then you show up out of nowhere. When he told me I was so shocked, I kind of didn’t believe him.”

“Well you can believe him now, right?” Jungkook asks.

Jimin smiles and nods. For the first time since they got into the kitchen, a silence settled between them. It was a comfortable silence that neither felt the need to fill with useless chatter. Just for a second it was nice to sit there in revelation of their newfound friendship. Jungkook’s timer went off so he pulled the bread out of the oven and began working to wrap it up and pile it into the baskets.

“Shouldn’t you wait for it to cool first?” Jimin asks.

Jungkook curses himself and pauses what he’s doing, “Oh, it’s fine… I’ve been doing this awhile so I know how to not burn myself.” It wasn’t a complete lie. Jungkook had an inability to be burnt. He doesn’t understand how it works really but anything having to do with fire comes naturally to Jungkook. He figured this out when he was young and pulled out a pan from the oven with bare hands. His mother had freaked out and told him that he would have burns on his hands for awhile that would hurt a lot. But that never happened. The mark left by the “burns” disappeared by the next morning.

Fascinated, Jungkook began testing out just how fire-proof he was. Mostly in secret of course as he didn’t want to worry his parents. His mother was a witch and understood Jungkook had some sort of magic, but she didn’t know enough about magic to really advise him.

When he was fifteen, he was really into dancing. Naturally, once he had gotten pretty good at it, the next step was to combine it with fire. Jungkook performed sporadically at festivals at first, but found he never felt more alive than when performing. He quite enjoyed fire dancing, but for now the bakery came first, not to mention the fact his parents still don’t know about his performances. The few times he’s returned home with scorch marks he’s just blamed it on faulty ovens at the bakery.

Jimin just nods along and Jungkook is thankful for the boy’s lack of knowledge when it comes to baking.

Jungkook finishes piling bread and pastries into the baskets and Jimin picks up one of them without even asking. Jungkook gives him a questionable look to which he just shrugs. “You clearly can’t carry all this by yourself,” Jimin says.

Jungkook bristles and is about to tell Jimin off. It was his fault for running into him. However he’s interrupted by the most melodic laugh he’s ever heard. Jungkook is a loss for words and all his mind can come up with is cute.

The roads are busier this time than they were when Jungkook had originally set out. Jimin’s attempts at making small talk are unsuccessful due to the noise level. He quits trying to shout after a while and waits until they’re off the main roads. Once it’s a lot quieter he speaks up, “Hey I was wondering… who are these deliveries for exactly? Did they come in earlier and place an order or something?”

Jungkook shakes his head, “No, not really. So um… my family… we own this bakery but we really don’t need it. For the money, I mean. My father was one of the king’s knights a long time ago - like back before I was born. Then we went to war with some neighboring kingdom I guess and my father fought on the front lines. He lost an arm while protecting the king but lived through the incident.”

Jimin whispers, “Woah,” below his breath.

“He couldn’t be a knight any longer so he retired and opened up a bakery. The king rewarded him for his bravery so that his family would be supported by the royal family for life. That sounds kinda snobbish I guess that like we don’t need money. But that’s why these deliveries… we take bread to elderly and poor people living on the outskirts of town. It was my mother’s idea a long time ago and it’s just always continued. We keep it kind of on the down low just so that people aren’t demanding free bread from us constantly. It’d be nice to help everyone, but there’s just so many people.”

“That’s so…” Jimin says, a loss for words.

“Yeah,” Jungkook agrees. “I used to make deliveries when I was younger, but this is the first time I’ve done them in awhile. Namjoon usually takes care of this part of the job but just didn’t show up for some reason today. Probably because he’s lazy.”

Jimin nods but is still speechless. He stares at Jungkook in wonder and Jungkook pretends not to notice.

Jungkook coughs, “So what about you? That’s my story. Why were you running in the streets today?”

Jimin bites his lip and lets out a nervous chuckle. “I was uh… running away. Kind of. I got into a fight with my parents and they were yelling and it made me upset so I ran out. I didn’t mean to run into you,” Jimin says.

Jungkook pauses and debates prying for more information. Curiosity wins over him so he asks, “What were you fighting over?”

“Ah… my parents own a weapons shop. They make weapons for the king and in general as well. When I was really little, I don’t know what it was… I guess I just saw some of the effects of war. It’s really gruesome and so I decided that I’m against war. Which seems kinda silly because who wouldn’t be against war? I wish my parents’ shop just didn’t exist and that there wasn’t any violence in the world. But my parents are pressuring me to take over the shop. They’ll say ‘You’re twenty years old either take over the shop or move out!’ But I don’t wanna move out. I love my parents but hate what they do. Besides… I don’t feel ready to move out just yet… the castle is scary you know,” Jimin finishes.

Jungkook squints at him because that last sentence was kind of weird but he thinks he understands what Jimin’s saying. “So what are you gonna do?” Jungkook can’t help asking.

“I don’t know… I was hoping my brother would step up to run the shop but he’s still a kid so he’s too young. Maybe I’ll just move in with Taehyung,” he pauses and looks towards Jungkook which makes him feel uneasy. “I mean if that’s okay with you,” he adds as almost an afterthought.

Jungkook shrugs, “I guess, you gotta do what you gotta do, you know?”

Jimin nods and it goes quiet again. They make their way around town and stop at the houses Jungkook points out. Their loads get lighter as they go and before they know it, they’re already making the last delivery.

An elderly woman opens the door and brightens when she sees Jungkook.

“Jungkook! I haven’t seen you in awhile dear, how have you been? Oh please come in! I hope you’re not busy,” she says standing aside for both of them to enter. Jungkook remembers her from a memory buried deep inside his brain however he can’t seem to recall this lady’s name and he feels it would be too rude to ask.

Jungkook smiles and looks back at Jimin to make sure he’s following. Jungkook hands her the last of their bread and she smiles, “Please take a seat. I was just making some tea would you two like some?”

“I’m good, thank you,” Jungkook answer.

Jimin nods, “I’m okay too.”

“I haven’t seen you in forever!” she repeats. “You were about this tall last I saw you,” she says and motions with her hand about two feet shorter than Jungkook is now.

Jungkook laughs, “Yeah we have Namjoon doing the deliveries nowadays. I’m managing the shop.”

“Ah!” she exclaims. “You’ve grown up so well! I’m so surprised to see you! And with a boy too! He’s not your soulmate now is he?” she asks in a not-so-quiet whisper.

Jungkook’s eyes bulge out of his head and he feels his skin growing hot, “No! Of course not… he’s… he’s just a friend.” Jungkook swallows and shifts nervously. He wasn’t sure if he could even consider Jimin a friend. Or if Jimin would consider him a friend. Jungkook wasn’t used to having many friends.

The old lady laughs and Jungkook decides to take a risk and spare a glance towards Jimin. He’s surprised when he makes eye contact with the other boy and even more surprised when Jimin is smiling brightly at him. His smile is so wide his eyes are squinted, nearly shut into adorable crescent moons. Adorable. Jungkook feels something leap inside his chest and he nearly jumps in his seat.

Jimin’s demeanor suddenly changes as well and all Jungkook wants to do and leave. Which is odd because just before this he was having a pleasant time.

The old lady picks up on the shift in the mood and asks, “Is something wrong, dear?”

Jungkook shakes his head but then nods right after, “No… just that I remembered we have to get going. I need to clean up at the bakery.”

“Oh what a shame!” she says.

They say their goodbyes and Jungkook somewhat rushes them out the door.

They don’t speak until they’re a good ways away from the house. “What happened back there?” Jimin asks.

Jungkook shifts the empty baskets in his hands. He doesn’t know how to answer because he doesn’t know what Jimin’s asking. Did he feel something too? He can’t bring himself to ask in fear of being wrong.

So instead, Jungkook shrugs and says, “I’m not used to having friends.”

“Right,” Jimin says, “friends.”

And that word feels bittersweet somehow. It aches deep inside Jungkook and he knows this can’t be good. Jungkook offers him a weak smile but doesn’t try to hold a conversation the rest of the way back.

Jimin follows Jungkook inside of the bakery and helps him put away things and clean up the mess from earlier. Once everything’s clean they face each other in the kitchen. Jungkook is avoiding eye contact at all costs when Jimin speaks. “So um… I’m sorry again… for earlier I mean. I’m not sorry for getting to spend the afternoon with you… I had fun.”

Jungkook looks up, “I had fun… too.”

Jimin smiles and it’s that same smile from before. He bites his bottom lip. “I’m glad we met. Properly, I mean. I hope to see you around?”

Jungkook nods, “Yeah, that would be nice.”

Unsure of what to do in this situation, Jungkook sticks out his hand for a handshake. He realizes as soon as he does it how stupid it is. Jimin laughs more and Jungkook thinks his cheeks must be hurting from smiling like that. Jimin takes hold of his hand anyways but pulls Jungkook in for a quick half-hug. “See ya!” Jimin says.

He turns and leaves before Jungkook manages to get any words out.

The next morning Jungkook wakes up and sees a “P J m” on his wrist right under the “K T h” and he can’t say he feels too surprised. However this doesn’t stop the immense fear that enters his heart at the prospect of losing one or both of them.

 

— Namjoon —

A day or two had passed since Namjoon checked out all those books at the library when there’s a loud knocking on his front door.

Namjoon startles in his seat and rushes to get up to see who it could be. He doesn’t get visitors here so he really has no idea. Not even Jungkook or his parents would come by without telling him first.

He opens the door to see a guy who looks vaguely familiar. He cannot not recall a name.

“You have a book that’s two weeks overdue. It’s fine if you want to check it out again but if you’ve lost the book you have to inform us,” the boy says before Namjoon has the chance to ask who he is.

“Oh! You’re the book guy,” Namjoon says.

“Book guy?”

“Sorry, yeah I was trying to remember where I’ve seen you. I’ll go get that book,” Namjoon checks over his shoulder to see one of his chairs walking. He startles, “Just one second.” He closes the door and rushes over to the chair. He must have spilled some sort of potion on it earlier. He takes the chair into a back room and goes to get the the overdue book.

He returns to his front door and hands the book to the book guy, “Here it is!”

The book guy opens his mouth to respond when a loud crash sounds from Namjoon’s house. The book guy gives Namjoon a weird look, “Oh, that must be my cat! I should go check… on it.”

“It?”

Namjoon curses himself, “He. I meant to say he. Anyways. See you around!”

Namjoon closes the door and quickly rushes back to his room to deal with the moving chair.

After he settles the chair he sits down with a different book and a cup of tea and reads for a couple of hours.

There’s another knock at his door. This has to be some sort of record for having this many unannounced visitors in one night. Namjoon answers the door to see the same guy from before. “You’re back?” he asks.

“You gave me the wrong book,” he states.

“Oh! I’ll go get you the other one then,” Namjoon says.

“But! That’s not why I’m here. I started to read this book you gave me and-” he cuts himself off and checks over his shoulder. “What exactly are you up to?” he asks.

Namjoon’s eyes go wide and he blinks rapidly, “What do you mean? Can’t a guy check out books from the library?”

“Sure but I mean… you should be careful. Especially if you’re doing what I think you are.”

Namjoon pales at his words, “Well what do you think I’m doing.”

“Well I don’t think I should say out in the open,” he replies.

Namjoon reaches out and pulls the boy inside by his wrist, closing the door quickly behind him. “I’m not doing anything,” Namjoon insists.

“Right well it seems you’re doing a ton of research over this archaic language and psychology so it’s not hard to make a guess.”

He wants to slap the smug look off the other guy’s pretty face. Wait since when was this guy pretty? Namjoon squints and crosses his arms, “Well maybe I’m just interested in psychology and old languages.”

The boy rolls his eyes, he actually rolls his eyes. “Look. I’m not an expert and I’m certainly not about to turn you in for this but that language has only one use in modern society. Not everyone knows it’s used in magic spells, but after a bit of research it’s not hard to figure out. That’s what I did.”

Namjoon’s ears burn at the word “magic.” He’s worried he’ll be turned in even though this guy just told him he wouldn’t do that. “I-I’m not a… magic,” Namjoon sputters.

He rolls his eyes again, “Right and I’m not a library. I don’t know you, kid, but I’m just saying… be careful.” 

“Kid!?” Namjoon exclaims, in mock outrage. “How old do you think I am?”

He shrugs, “I dunno. Figured you were younger than me anyways.”

“I’m twenty-one!”

“See, I was right,” he says and begins to turn as if he’s about to leave.

“Wait! How old are you?” Namjoon asks.

The boy looks over his shoulder, “Twenty-three. I’ll see you around, kid.”

And with that, he leaves. Namjoon’s stood facing a door, gobsmacked. Who was that?

-

Namjoon tries to spend the next couple of days following his old regular routine. However his thoughts always kept returning to that boy. He had somehow discovered Namjoon’s most important secret and instead of threatening to turn him in or blackmailing him he was just told to be careful. That’s more than anyone’s ever done for him.

He can’t help but wonder if there were more people out there like him who wouldn’t rat him out immediately. He supposes it’s entirely possible for this librarian guy to still rat him out but all he can do is trust him for now.

Namjoon considers moving away - like he’s done so many times in the past - to avoid trouble. However something keeps him right where he’s at.

After a couple days of constantly thinking about him, Namjoon decides he should pay the librarian a visit. Maybe even ask a couple questions.

He takes a book with him so he can show up with the pretense of returning it in case he can’t find the boy.

However he doesn’t have that problem and finds him sitting right behind the desk. Suddenly nervous and unsure what to say since he didn’t plan anything, Namjoon stutters out a, “Hey, you.”

The boy looks up and makes a funny face at Namjoon. “Can I help you with anything?” he asks almost as if he doesn’t recognize Namjoon.

“Uhh yeah. I was reading this book and having some difficulty. Didn’t you say you were pretty good with a bunch of languages?”

The boy blinks at him, “Yeah… I did say that. Do you wanna um… go sit at a table or something?”

“Sure!” Namjoon smiles.

The librarian walks around the desk and Namjoon follows him through the rows of book. They turn the corner and there’s a bunch of tables set out for people to study at. They all seem to be empty at the moment.

“Is it always this quiet here?” Namjoon asks.

The boy shrugs, “I suppose.”

“I thought you worked here,” Namjoon comments.

“I do… I just don’t pay a ton of attention to people who come and go.”

“Oh.”

“So what did you need help with?”

“I just don’t know how to read this,” Namjoon says, opening his book to a bookmarked page.

“Like… verbally?” he asks. Namjoon nods. “Well since it’s such an old language and no one speaks it anymore it doesn’t matter how you pronounce it really.”

“Well how would you pronounce it?”

“I don’t know. You could probably pronounce each word about ten different ways. You honestly might as well make up your own language.”

Namjoon frowns. He kind of already knows this, but for the sake of his spells, he should probably have a correct pronunciation. In the past, slip ups with pronunciation still create an effective spell, but one that’s just a little bit… off.

For example, Namjoon once misspoke while in a panic casting a fire-extinguishing charm. It still put out the flames, but the liquid had some sort of bright green dye in it that stained part of the flooring.

They continued on like this for some time. It wasn’t until it got dark out, that they realized how much time they had spent sitting at that table today.

“I should probably get going,” Namjoon says.

“Yeah, it’s late.”

“Doesn’t the library close?” Namjoon asks.

The librarian shrugs, “Yeah, but I practically live here. I sleep here a lot of the time.”

Namjoon squints at him, “Do you have a bed? You’re welcome to crash at my place if you want.”

The boy frowns and shakes his head, “No, I have a bed.”

“Oh. Okay. Well thanks for today. I’ll uh… I’ll bring you something. To pay you back,” Namjoon says.

“That’s not necessary.”

Namjoon bites his lip, “Right. I’ll see you around.”

With that, he leaves and rushes back to his house. He doesn’t realize he’s left his book back at the library. His heart is racing much too fast to be concerned with something as trivial as a book. He finds a sleeping draught and downs the whole thing to help him sleep.

As he falls asleep, the scene of him leaving the library replays in his mind. He doesn’t know what made that departure so awkward. Despite what the other boy said, Namjoon was still planning to take him a gift the next time he visited the library.

Chapter Text

— Yoongi —

Yoongi wiped hastily at his eyes. He’d been crying for a solid fifteen minutes since getting back. They somehow managed to get home without being seen by any of the palace guards. All he wanted to do after getting back was lie down for a solid week or so and avoid all his problems. He was internally hoping his problems would solve themselves and he could go be happy with Hoseok.

But Yoongi knew this was not an option for him. Yoongi knew he had to go face his father, but he wasn’t emotionally ready for that conversation. He spent a reasonable amount of time releasing all his built up emotions from the past twenty-four hours with some cathartic crying into his pillow. He tried to keep the noise minimal to avoid an encounter with a nosy maid, but that only resulted in choked-up gasping sounds.

He knew he was an ugly crier. He can’t remember the last time he’s properly cried however. He remembers telling Hoseok the story of him crying over his dead pet frog. That story had been true. That was one of the few time Yoongi actually cried like this.

However just like that time with the frog, the tears didn’t last long. Yoongi forces himself to calm down and gather his emotions.

Once he was able to pull himself together, and make it not look like he had been crying, he sets off to find the king.

One of the maids spotted him when he was halfway down the hallway. She informed him the king had been looking for him and escorted him to his office. The guards standing outside the door immediately recognized Yoongi and opened the doors for him.

Yoongi gulps at the sight of his father. He was sitting with the leader of the palace guard. He doesn’t know and doesn’t want to ask what they could possibly be discussing. He knows it must be something serious. However when the king sees his son he asks for some privacy.

They shut the doors behind him and now it was just the two of them in this room. Yoongi opens his mouth to start explaining, but his heart catches somewhere in his throat. His eyes feel hot and he worries if he tries to speak, he’ll cry.

He waits on his father to speak up first. “Where have you been? Are you aware you made a promise to me that you broke?” he sounds calm and not at all enraged like Yoongi had been expecting.

Yoongi opens his mouth again, but tears started forming in the corners of his eyes even before he could get any words out. “I-I found them,” Yoongi speaks softly. He doesn’t know what he wants or even needs to say to the king.

“Found who? My boy, why are you so upset?” the king’s gentle tone causes the first tears to actually trail down his face. He doesn’t bother wiping them away.

Yoongi was embarrassed to be crying in front of his father like this, but not much could be done. “My soulmate… I have one.”

“That’s great, is that not what you wanted? Who is it?” the king asks.

Yoongi shakes his head, “It doesn’t matter who it is. I’ll never get to be with him.”

“Him?” the king catches it and Yoongi wants to dissipate. But this is only part of the news he has to break to his father and he’s starting to think he can’t do it. He should just run away while he has the chance and not worry about being the prince anymore.

Yoongi nods slowly. “I’ve wanted this my whole life but now… Everything hurts.”

“Yoongi, listen. We can talk more later, when you’re not as emotional. You’re probably thinking you’re in love or something but-”

“I do love him. I don’t care if it’s too soon or if I don’t know what love is. But fuck that, I’m in love with this peasant boy and I wish I wasn’t,” Yoongi states. His words shock even himself, but he can’t take them back; he wouldn’t.

The king blinks, brushing over the fact Yoongi just cursed at his father he cuts right to the matter, “He’s a peasant?” Yoongi nods and his father sighs. “Yoongi, I wish you could be with your soulmate just as much as you do,” Yoongi seriously doubted that, “but if neighboring kingdoms hear about this sort of stuff, they’ll believe we’re weak and might aim an attack on us.”

Yoongi hiccups. He’s not crying anymore, but his face feels all too hot. He wonders if he really is getting sick. Part of him hopes that he is so he can have more time to cry by himself. He doesn’t know what to say so he only says, “Okay.”

The king sighs and rubs his forehead, “Yoongi… I can’t help you right now. You should head back to your chambers while I try to work something out. I’ll see you at dinner.”

With one final nod, Yoongi leaves and heads back up to his room. He passes Jimin on the way who asked if Taehyung was back. He nods but says he doesn’t know where he’s at right now.

Jimin runs off in the other direction and Yoongi continues up the stairs that lead to his chambers. When he reaches his bed he flops down face first into the pillow. He wants to cry some more but feels all dried up.

He must have fallen asleep at some point because later he finds he’s being woken up by the sound of tapping at his window. The delusional side of him hopes it’s somehow Hoseok as if they were in a sort of Romeo and Juliet fairy tale. He also briefly wonders if it’s Taehyung as that boy could do nothing at this point to surprise him.

He pushes aside the curtains to see what could be causing such an annoyance. At first he sees nothing, but when he looks down, there’s a little squirrel.

He opens the window and the squirrel scampers in. It hops onto Yoongi’s night table and his initial instinct is to scream. He’s never actually been so close to a squirrel before and is afraid it might bite him. But at the sight of a little slip of paper, Yoongi holds back.

The squirrels seemed to have stopped and was watching Yoongi as if it was waiting on him. He picks up paper, quickly drawing back his hand so the squirrel would not attack him, and reads.

Hey, it’s me. Who else would it be - I mean who else uses squirrelmail? Haha well this is mainly to just test out and see if this works. This little guy won’t leave until you give him some food. But make sure you give him a new note before you give him food or he may leave too soon.
- H

PS - This squirrel’s name is Sheldon.

Yoongi smiles at the note and feels a little bit better that Hoseok has already sent him something.

He reads the note over again and pictures Hoseok back in that basement, writing it out. He can picture the way Hoseok would laugh to himself at such a lame joke. He rolls his eyes and hopes Hoseok somehow knows that would have been his reaction.

He then looks at the squirrel, Sheldon, that’s just sat on his table watching him. Not too sure how long Sheldon will stick around - and eager to get a new note from Hoseok - Yoongi decides to send a note back immediately.

He doesn’t know what to write or say. After scrapping a couple of notes that tried to start off with another lame joke, he decides he should just reply to Hoseok’s note.

What’s up? Sheldon is pretty cool. Do you know if there’s a way for me to send you a note first? How do you find animals that deliver notes I guess is what I mean?
Anyways, I wish I was back in your basement with you. I’m pretty lonely here… well there’s Sheldon at least.
I miss you,
- Y gi

Yoongi rereads his note and admires his own signature. He’s not sure if Hoseok signed his note ‘H’ because of the H on Yoongi’s wrist, but Yoongi decided that’s how he wanted to sign his own note. He hands the note to the squirrel, still unsure if this is even real or going to work.

The squirrel takes the note but doesn’t budge. Yoongi remembers he still has to feed the little creature. Luckily he still had a bit of his lunch set out for him in his room. He tears off a bit of cheese and sets it near the squirrel. Sheldon stuffs the whole block in his mouth and runs out the window, with Yoongi’s note.

Yoongi blinks, still in disbelief that just happened.

He sits back on his bed and sighs. There’s still some time to kill before dinner. He goes over to Taehyung’s door and knocks only to find that he’s still out. Which means Taehyung could be literally anywhere. Yoongi doesn’t know where he would even begin to look for the boy, so he doesn’t. He was hoping Taehyung was around to talk to, because though he’d never tell him, he found Taehyung was a good person to talk to. If he could talk to Taehyung right now, he knows the boy would help him take his mind off Hoseok.

He returns to his room and lays on his bed, staring at the ceiling. He tried to think of nothing, but scenes from his visit to Hoseok’s place keep randomly popping into his mind. He remembers when he kissed Hoseok’s hand and it burnt in his own. He told Hoseok he wasn’t burnt, but in actuality, he did get a little burnt. He was fine with it. It was a reminder that Hoseok was still real.

He rolls over to face his still open window. He sees the bright orange flower sitting nicely in a vase by the window. Hoseok probably didn’t think much of gifting the flower to Yoongi, but he would cherish it forever.

After about an hour of laying around and trying not to think of Hoseok (and terribly failing at doing such), Sheldon returns. Yoongi’s window was still open from the last time so the squirrel surprised him by scampering over his stomach. He wasn’t as scared as he had been the last time, since clearly this was an actual thing in his life now. Yoongi takes the note, excited that Hoseok wrote back so soon.

Sheldon rocks. I think if you want to send me something first you’d have to leave food outside your window along with a note. I mean I can sorta talk to animals, so it’s different. But maybe that would work. But right now, only Sheldon knows where to go… He can find you because you’ve been here before and he has your scent. I’ll try to find some more messengers so maybe that will help. Sorry this is confusing.
I miss you too, by the way… you know for like the first half hour you guys were here I kept wishing over and over that you might leave. But then I didn’t want you to go. Even Taehyung. I hope that we can be friends some day. I know my aunt means well, but I’m getting pretty bored of this basement.
- H

Yoongi sighs and reads the note several times. As fun as this is, passing notes via squirrelmail, it’s only making him miss Hoseok more.

Yeah… I’ll try that I guess. I wish you were here. Every day spent with Taehyung is never a boring one.
I’m waiting to be called down to dinner. My father should have some sort of news for me… I told him about you by the way. Well not really about you. Just that I have a soulmate and that you’re a guy who lives somewhere out in a village. But don’t worry he doesn’t even have your name. I meant what I said - about protecting you.
I guess by the time Sheldon leaves and comes back, I’ll be at dinner. Will he still wait for me on my table or something? I hope he doesn’t try to come to dinner. I guess I’ll find out.
- Y gi

Shortly after sending Sheldon off with his second note and bit of cheese, Yoongi gets a knock on his door. A guard is on the other side which surprises Yoongi. Typically it’s the maids that call him down for meals. He wonders why his father sent an actual guard to do this job.

He thanks the man and follows him down to the dining hall. It’s more empty than normal. He wonders where all the kitchen staff are at.

Yoongi sits down silently across from his father. They’re brought food but after that, the room appears to be empty. Yoongi is nervously waiting for his father to say something, or really just anything. He avoids making eye contact and tries to limit the noise he makes as well. Maybe if he pretends he’s not there, the king won’t say anything and he can go back up to his room in peace.

After what feels like an hour of deafening silence, the king coughs. “I know you don’t want this, but I think there’s no other way around it,” he starts.

Yoongi tilts his head in confusion. He knew he was waiting on something, but he’s not sure he likes where this is going.

“You’re going to have an arranged marriage.”

“What,” the word slips out with pure disbelief. If he had been drinking, he was sure he would have spit. He cannot processes what’s going on. This must be a dream.

“Our neighbors to the west. There’s a princess about your age. They sent me a request about a year ago asking for a peace treaty through marriage. We aren’t at war with them, but they are a relatively smaller kingdom and being our allies would be smart for them. At the time I had to decline because I told them you’re betrothed to your future soulmate. I never formally accepted their request to be allies either, and I think they did not like this. If they were bigger, they would no doubt have attacked our castle already. I know this is not your favorite option, but I’ve already sent a messenger out asking if this marriage peace treaty is still an offer on the table. It would be good for our kingdom, they’ll be strong allies and it will put them as rest. The princess’s name i-”

“Wait, what!?” now that Yoongi’s begun to process his words, he feels panic building up inside him. “You can’t do that to me!”

“I can and I will,” the king says firmly. “I know the timing of this is not ideal, but our messengers have delivered signs that the kingdom south of us is restless and planning on taking over more land. We need solid allies at this time.” He sighs, “It’s only for show, Yoongi. You can see your little peasant boy on the side, but the public must never know of that relationship.”

Yoongi shakes his head, “I didn’t agree to this. Why didn’t you ask me first!?”

“There were no other options. I’ve considered all the possibilities and this is the only one that works.”

Yoongi pauses and thinks about Hoseok, “How am I supposed to tell him?”

“I’m sure it won’t be hard.”

Yoongi swallows. He wishes more than ever he was back at Hoseok’s home, cuddled up in bed next to him. He can’t look his father in the eye right now. He stares down at the table and the food on his plate. He wants to run away; not just from this room, but from this entire life. He wishes yet again that he were never the prince.

When Yoongi is dismissed he goes in search of Taehyung only to find the boy is still mysteriously missing. Yoongi wonders why he doesn’t have more friends to complain to.

With no particular destination in mind, Yoongi decides to leave the castle. The guards stop him at the front gate. He tells them he just wants to buy some bread and he’ll be back soon. They let him go, but he’s almost positive one of the guards is tailing him.

Yoongi makes his way over to the bakery. He realizes this was a dumb idea since obviously the shop would be closing for the night. However he happens to catch some kid who’s locking up.

“Ah, guess I’m too late,” Yoongi says, mostly to himself.

The blonde haired boy turns around, “Did you want something? I can still run inside and get you something if you’d like.”

Yoongi glances over his shoulder and shrugs, “Yeah, actually. Can I come inside too?” He doesn’t actually see the guard that’s tailing him, but he can’t stand the feeling of being watched any longer.

The boy shrugs, “I don’t see why not.” Yoongi sits down once they’re inside. “My name’s Namjoon, by the way. What can I get you?”

That name, Yoongi’s heard it before. It hits him like a rock when he realizes who this is. “Um… just anything sweet, I guess,” Yoongi says while his mind is reeling. Namjoon was the name of that one friend Hoseok talked about. Yoongi’s desperate to find out if this is the same person, but he doesn’t know how to ask.

On one hand, it would be nice to talk about Hoseok with someone he was actually close with, but on another, he wants to keep Hoseok safe. He figures just bringing up his name won’t cause any harm.

Namjoon returns with one small chocolate muffin, “Here you are.” Namjoon sits across from him.

“Thanks. Hey this is gonna sound really weird, but did you ever know a kid named Hoseok?”

Namjoon seems to freeze at this, “Yeah. Why? Did something happen to him?”

Yoongi bites his lips, “I uh… met someone… with that name. They mentioned they used to know a kid named Namjoon, but I figured it was just a weird coincidence…”

“...Why does everyone keep calling me a kid?” Namjoon says, but it seems like he’s talking to himself. Yoongi doesn’t answer.

Namjoon doesn’t seem like someone who wants to harm Hoseok so Yoongi doesn’t mind giving out at least a little bit of information about him. Besides, if this is the same Namjoon, then they used to be friends.

“Was it Jung Hoseok?” Namjoon asks after a bit of silence.

Yoongi’s tempted to look at the writing on his wrist again at the sound of his full name. But this would give away too much. Yoongi nods.

Namjoon’s eyes widen, “Do you know where he lives?”

Yoongi shrugs, “That’s a secret.”

“C’mon! Tell me, I used to be neighbors with him!” Namjoon says.

Something seems odd to Yoongi, “How were you neighbors with him but now you can’t remember where he lives.”

“I moved around a lot as a kid, I rarely knew my own address,” Namjoon explains.

“Can’t you just ask your parents? Surely they know,” Yoongi says.

Namjoon sighs, “I’ve asked them like a hundred times and they won’t tell me!”

“Well why not?”

Namjoon pauses and looks around, “I can’t really say…”

“Sorry, then. It was nice meeting you Namjoon,” Yoongi moves to get up and leave, having finished his muffin.

“Wait! Why won’t you tell me where he lives?”

“Because.”

“Because why? What can I do to get you to tell me?”

“Well frankly I don’t trust you. Make me trust you, and I’ll consider it,” Yoongi says. He gets up for real this time.

“So you’ll be back?”

“I always come back here,” Yoongi says. And with that, he leaves. The door shuts behind him and he decides to head back home. The guards at the gate welcome him back when he returns.

Back in his chambers, he finds none other than Sheldon waiting for him on his bed.

Sheldon’s pretty fast. I hope you have a good dinner. I’ll be waiting for you. I’d wait for you forever even. Forever’s a long time though so don’t keep me waiting too long!
- H

Yoongi is already writing his reply. He has a lot he could tell Hoseok, but decides now’s not the time. He figures exploring the whole mystery of this Namjoon kid would be interesting.

Dinner was… interesting. But after dinner I felt like getting something sweet from the capital so I went into town and you’ll never guess what. There’s this bakery I always go to. They were just closing up when I got there, but the boy who was closing… He said his name was Namjoon. I think it could possibly be that neighbor of yours. He still remembers you. But I don’t trust him really so I didn’t tell him where you live. Do you remember his full name? I’ll ask him next time I see him… maybe that will help.
- Y gi

Yoongi sends the note and lays back on his bed. The day has exhausted him. He doesn’t want to think about his father or the potential of an arranged marriage. He doesn’t even want to think about Hoseok out in the woods because the thought of him being so far away only makes him sad. He wishes things could be simple. He falls away into a dreamless sleep.

 

— Jimin —

Jimin studies his wrist and can’t help wondering how he ended up in this situation. Underneath the cutely scripted “Kim Taehyung” on his wrist was now a “J J k.”

Clearly this was supposed to stand for Jeon Jungkook, Taehyung’s brother. Jimin wonders how it was possible for Jungkook and Taehyung to have two different surnames but supposes it’s possible the family that adopted Jungkook just changed his name when they adopted him. It’s weird how the universe is able to understand which names go with which people. And how the names even appear in the first place…

Nonetheless, this put Jimin in an awkward position. Obviously he still loved Taehyung more than anything in the universe and of course he would always be his soulmate. Jimin had no doubt about this.

Perhaps he did feel a little tiny spark of something when he was out delivering bread with Jungkook, but that was just in the moment. It didn’t mean anything, especially compared to what he had with Taehyung.

However, Tae was bound to see the letters on his wrist eventually and Jimin didn’t know what he would say when it came to this. Taehyung’s brother was not his soulmate.

He would admit that Jungkook - once you got past his rocky exterior - was quite cute, but only in a brotherly kind of way. He was literally Taehyung’s brother after all.

Ever since Jungkook entered into both of their lives, Taehyung has been more and more distant. In a typical week, Jimin spends on average about five whole days with Taehyung. They spend a lot of this time talking or hanging out and usually a bit of time actually studying. Sometimes Taehyung will help Jimin out in the shop. Outside of all that, they always find there’s lots to do and explore around town.

However in this past week, Jimin could count the minutes he’s spent with just Taehyung on two hands. He knows a lot is happening up at the castle and Prince Yoongi has finally found his soulmate. Jimin knows that between dealing with that and reconnecting with his long-lost brother, Taehyung is busy. But Jimin isn’t any busier than normal and he’s only finding boredom filling the spaces Taehyung used to be.

Jimin runs into Yoongi a few days after the whole bread incident - as he was now calling it. He hadn’t seen Taehyung since the weekend. He had come back from his trip with Yoongi and immediately crashed. Unfortunately, Jimin had been put in charge of running his parent’s shop the next day so he couldn’t stick around and wait for Taehyung to wake up and tell him about what happened. “Yoongi! Have you seen Taehyung?”

Yoongi turns around like he’s surprised to hear his own name, “Oh… yeah. Um I think he said he was going into town so he’s either probably with Seokjin or Jungkook.”

Jimin bites his lip. As much as he understood that Taehyung and Jungkook needed some time to talk about all the years they missed out on, he couldn’t help this little nagging feeling inside of him. He wasn’t jealous. That would be ridiculous. He just missed his own boyfriend. He missed all the crazy things they would do. He missed trying to talk Tae out of a ridiculous idea - and then how they would get into trouble anyways, and then laugh about it after. He wonders if Jungkook is replacing him. If he has a brother to jump off of cliffs with now, why would he drag Jimin along?

However, Yoongi did suggest he might be with Seokjin as well so Jimin decides to check out his place first. He stops by the library, only to find an odd sign declaring they are closed for the day. Jimin shrugs and supposes perhaps this meant Seokjin is out with Taehyung somewhere. They’re friends too, but Tae probably sees Seokjin even less than he sees Jimin these days.

He goes by Seokjin’s house and knocks on the door. He’s about to leave when the door suddenly creaks open an inch or two. Seokjin peeks through, “Jimin?”

He and Seokjin weren’t super close friends so for Jimin to show up at his house without Taehyung by his side was just a little bit odd. “Hi, sorry to bother you… um have you seen Taehyung?”

Seokjin shakes his head, “Sorry, no I haven’t. Is that all?”

Jimin notices the rushed tone in Seokjin’s voice. Something seems off here and he almost wishes he was closer friends with Seokjin so he could find out what. Seokjin appears to be hiding something, but Jimin, wanting to avoid an awkward encounter, doesn’t ask. “Yeah, thanks. Sorry again. It was nice seeing you,” Jimin says and turns back down the path.

He makes his way across town to the bakery. He half expected it to be closed down just like the library was. If Taehyung really was with Jungkook, no one would be left to run the bakery. However what he finds inside is quite a surprise.

“Tae?” Jimin asks upon seeing his boyfriend. He’s standing behind the counter as if he works in the bakery.

“Jiminie! How are you?” Taehyung says as if there’s nothing abnormal about their current situation.

“I was just looking for you… but I didn’t think you’d be here. What are you doing?” Jimin asks.

“Oh!” Taehyung finally seems to realize Jimin is out of the loop in whatever this is, “Namjoon skipped work or something today. I came by here for some cinnamon bread this morning - I was meaning to bring you some since I know you like it too - and then Jungkook needed some help so I offered to work the counter.”

Jimin rubs his head, “Oh.”

“Yeah! Sorry I was totally going to go find you during lunch but I guess I didn’t realize how much time had passed,” Taehyung apologizes.

Jimin inhales to help himself relax. Taehyung was like this sometimes, but he never meant any harm. Jimin just had to let go of the fact he spent most of his day searching for Taehyung when he could have been doing something productive instead. “That’s okay, I’m just glad I finally found you,” Jimin says, and he sounds sincere. He is.

Taehyung shoots him a cheesy grin, “Anyways, was there something you needed?”

“I just wanted to see if you wanted to hang out… you know you never told me about your trip with Yoongi-”

Jungkook chooses that exact moment to come out of the kitchen. He walks up next to Taehyung and slings an arm around his shoulders, “He really hasn’t told you yet? I swear he won’t shut up about that story.”

Jimin feels a slight twinge of jealousy inside of him. Not because of how Jungkook’s closer to his boyfriend than he’s been in about a week, but because Taehyung hasn’t felt the need to share this important story with him yet. He felt left out.

“Well maybe he would have told me if I could find him for once,” Jimin says, trying not to sound too passive aggressive.

“Hey I came looking for you every single day this week, you haven’t been in your usual places,” Taehyung says.

“Well when I haven’t been studying, I’ve been looking for you. I guess we just kept missing each other…” Jimin doesn’t mean to sound so dejected.

Jungkook looks between the two of them and takes his arm away from Taehyung, “You’re relieved from work!”

Taehyung looks back at him, “I’m what?”

“Go! You two clearly have some catching up to do, so I think it’s time for your shift here to be over,” Jungkook says pushing Taehyung a bit.

“But what about the shop?”

Jungkook shrugs, “We can sort of close up whenever we want after ten o’clock in the morning, it’s fine. No one really buys bread this late in the evening, anyways.”

“Well what about my pay?” Taehyung asks.

“What do you mean?” Jungkook replies.

“I was here all day, aren’t you going to pay me!?”

Jimin rolls his eyes.

“I’ll pay you later,” Jungkook says with an added wink. Jimin wonders if that’s some sort of inside joke, but by the way Taehyung is blushing, he doesn’t want to ask.

Jimin shakes off the thought and feels himself smiling at the idea of being able to actually spend time with Taehyung once again. Taehyung catches sight of Jimin, skips around the counter, and almost jumps on Jimin, engulfing him in a hug. Taehyung’s hugs are always the best. He instantly feels better and all of his negative thoughts from the past couple hours are washed away.

When Taehyung releases him from the hug Jimin reaches for his hand, but suddenly Tae decides to skip towards the door, “Bye Kookie! I’ll see you later!” Jimin smiles and waves and follows Taehyung out.

It’s not until they’re outside and alone that Jimin realizes something. Jungkook wasn’t acting odd at all. Maybe Jimin’s name wasn’t on his wrist. Surely if Jimin’s name had appeared on Jungkook’s wrist recently he would’ve given some sort of sign or hint. Jimin wanted to check his own wrist to see if maybe those extra letters had disappeared but he would have to wait until Taehyung wasn’t around.

Whatever he would find, he was certain of one thing; there was no way Jungkook was his soulmate.

-

The next day, Jimin wakes up alone in Taehyung’s room. He remembers they fell asleep together, but he’s disappointed thatt Taehyung seemed to have left already. He must have had something to get to this morning.

Jimin really needs to spend some time studying. It was his goal to become a physician. Jimin had never told his parents about this dream of his and mostly did his studying and extra schooling in secret - with Taehyung’s help. He sort of hoped that if he lined up a new career for himself his parents wouldn’t force him to run their weaponsmithing shop anymore.

However he can’t think about studying at the moment because he can’t shake this feeling. He had woken up from a dream. It had been a pleasant dream, in fact it was basically a scene by scene replay of one of the first dates he had with Taehyung when they had finally kissed for the first time. Except everything was slightly different. Taehyung wasn’t there at all; it was Jungkook he was on the date with.

His dreamt up date with Jungkook had been going surprisingly well. Jungkook had taken him to see some musical performances. They had dinner at a nice place on the outskirts of town. Then he had taken him to the edge of this huge lake. They walked out on the the edge of this small pier. There was no one else around, most people having gone to the castle courtyards for the show that was about to begin.

Bursts of red and blue filled the sky and illuminated everything around them in a soft light. It was the prince’s twenty first birthday. Jimin was almost positive Yoongi wouldn’t have wanted fireworks, so they had to have been the work of Taehyung. Jimin had been watching the sky, unaware of the pair of eyes on him, but suddenly in his dream, he realized something wasn’t right.

He looks over at Jungkook, who’s staring back at him. Jungkook starts to lean in for a kiss, but that’s when Jimin had woken up.

Jimin felt a sickly feeling in the pit of his stomach. He should not have had that dream. He doesn’t know where Taehyung is, but he’s somewhat glad he doesn’t have to face him at the moment. It felt like he had cheated on Taehyung with his subconscious.

Jimin decides something needs to be done about this. He rushes into town and goes straight to the bakery. He’s relieved when Namjoon is there and not Taehyung.

Namjoon doesn’t even bother trying to stop him when he marches back into the kitchen. “Jungkook!” Jimin exclaims. The boy jumps and nearly drops the hot pan in his hands.

Jimin’s eyes bulge when he sees Jungkook’s not using an oven mit. “Are you crazy!? You’re gonna burn yourself!” Jimin shouts.

Jungkook drops the pan on the counter and looks at Jimin wide-eyed, “I uh… this one isn’t hot. You scared me.”

Jimin looks suspiciously at the pan, and back at Jungkook, “Sorry for bursting in here. I just… had to talk to you.”

“Oh? What is it?” Jungkook asks.

Jimin swallows, now suddenly nervous and unsure he should even ask, “I uh… d-do you have one too?”

Through some sort of telepathic powers, Jungkook seems to understand what he means and points at his own wrist, “You mean… the letters?”

“Yeah! So wait you do?” Jungkook nods and Jimin swallows again, “Okay, I uh… I just wanted to say I don’t think we should like… do anything about it.”

“Really? Why?” Jungkook asks.

“Well you know… Taehyung being your whole… you know. And my whole…”

“Right. So we should just ignore it?” he asks again.

“I wouldn’t want to upset Taehyung,” Jimin admits.

“I guess… that makes sense. So we don’t tell him?” Jungkook clarifies.

“We don’t tell him.”

“And you’re okay with this?”

The question confuses Jimin but he nods anyways, “Yeah.”

“Okay… well if you ever end up changing your mind… I’ll be here,” Jungkook offers.

Jungkook squints at the boy and wonders if that means he’d be okay with dating Jimin even though he is his brother’s best friend. That would make things awkward for sure. Jimin tried to imagine if Taehyung wasn’t his soulmate for a moment. Could he date Jungkook then? Maybe, but only maybe… and only if Taehyung approved somehow of this.

None of that mattered however, because Taehyung was his soulmate.

“Alright, I’ll keep that in mind,” Jimin says, nodding at Jungkook and leaving the way he came.

He leaves with an uneasy feeling in his stomach. Something telling him that something there just wasn’t right. He doesn’t know what that something is. He leaves thinking that went almost exactly how he wanted it to.

 

— Seokjin —

Closing the door in a panic, Seokjin turns to face the mess behind him. It seems Joon has it mostly under control at this point.

He wasn’t sure how he ended up in this situation. He and this boy had been meeting regularly in the library to read and take notes on these books. For the most part, Seokjin enjoyed himself in doing this, but he found they kept falling asleep there at the table. He also believed Joon was up to something mildly illegal and Seokjin wanted to make sure it wouldn’t cause any harm. That’s what he was doing, right?

However looking at the boy now, he wasn’t sure that was possible. Seokjin had been making sun tea earlier that day, now that it was starting to warm up with spring. He had asked Joon if he could go outside and bring it in. He was going to use this diversion as a chance to quickly tidy up his house. He wasn’t used to having guests over and wasn’t expecting one anytime soon.

He’s still unsure what compelled him to invite this virtual stranger into his home. He blames it on the lack of privacy that comes with working in the library. Seokjin often found himself wanting to ask questions but holding back in case someone might overhear. By this point he was nearly certain Joon was dealing with magic somehow; the boy had pretty much admitted to it the last time he confronted him as well. However he still had his doubts.

Not thirty seconds after Seokjin had asked Joon to fetch the tea there’s a knock on the door that startles Joon and makes the boy drop the jar. The glass doesn’t shatter, but he hears it audibly crack and the top comes off. The tea is going everywhere and Seokjin struggles to put away a few more books on their shelves. He rushes to grab some paper towels, shoves them at Joon, and goes to opens the door just a smidge to see who’s there.

He’s relieved when it’s only Jimin and not some kind of stranger. However Jimin isn’t a frequent guest of his, in fact he’s not even sure if they’re friends. Jimin asks about Taehyung and Seokjin hasn’t seen him all day so he tells him so. Jimin leaves after that and Seokjin doesn’t question it. He supposes he might ask Taehyung the next time he sees him - that is if he remembers.

Seokjin returns to the situation at hand. He sees that the boy has somehow managed to clean up all the tea and some of it was even saved. Seokjin had been almost positive he saw the entire contents spill onto his wooden floors, but the jar is only a little bit less than half full.

More peculiar is the jar itself. Seokjin knows it cracked. He saw it - he heard it. He picks it up to inspect it closer but it seems to be good as new.

Seokjin looks at Joon and considers asking him flat out. He feels like he knows, but would hate to be wrong.

“I thought I heard this break,” Seokjin says slowly.

Joon shrugs, “I guess it didn’t.”

Seokjin squints at the boy. He doesn’t press it. Sometime between meeting Joon for the first time and maybe one of the next few times after that, Seokjin had noticed a new letter on his wrist.

It’s not completely out of the ordinary for him; Seokjin has had a few different names and letters written there in the past. He’s fallen in love before, and had his heart stomped on a few times. A couple of his “soulmates” had been fabics which he didn’t mind too much. He always thought they were rude, but they were easy to get over. In fact all of them had been fabics in the technical sense of the word in that they were people pretending to be his soulmate who were not his soulmate. But some were better than others at the whole faking it thing. Some moved on after a week or just a few days once they found out Seokjin was not their soulmate.

The ones that really got him were the people he actually believed to be his soulmate.

About a year ago he fell in love, this time with a girl. He loved her and she loved him back. He believed, despite Taehyung’s distrust, that this was finally the one. They had similar interests and she was pretty. Seokjin loved spending time with her. He had every reason to believe this girl was his soulmate.

Things started to change after about five months into their relationship. Seokjin had never been with anyone this long, so he figured it was normal to start having little arguments. But their arguments started to outweigh any of the fun they would have together. Things they used to agree upon, they now would fight over.

Seokjin suggested they take a break from each other for a week or so. He said he had been missing his friends (even though he saw Taehyung every day) and that maybe some distance would be good for them.

After a week, the name on Seokjin’s wrist had almost completely faded away. In the first few days he had thought he was imagining things, but it became evident later in the week that that’s exactly what was happening.

Seokjin panicked and went to find his girlfriend to see if she was okay. He thought the reason her name must be fading was because she was sick or dying. However, he found that she was more than okay. She had found a new soulmate. She apologized and told Seokjin that she actually was a fabic. However once she found Seokjin, she begun to believe he could actually be her soulmate after all. She didn’t feel anything for him at first, but they had enough in common, so she thought maybe it could still work out. But as everyone knows, forced relationships never work out.

She told him that she had never cheated on him, and that she and her new soulmate hadn’t actually done anything, but she knew for sure he was the one this time. Seokjin asked how she could know something like that and she just answered, “It’s not something you can really describe. I just know. When you find your soulmate, I’ll think you’ll know too.”

But that was the problem, Seokjin thought he knew before. He thought she was his soulmate. When he was younger and still had his parents, he had met a boy who he believed was his soulmate back then. He was about thirteen. That was the first time Seokjin ever had any lettering on his wrist. That was also his first run in with a fabic.

This boy had been cruel to Seokjin but kept him strung along. Seokjin figured that they were soulmates so maybe the boy was mean to him because he didn’t know how to cope with his own feelings. But he always held in his heart the belief that he had found a soulmate. When he finally learned the truth, he cried to his mom for a day.

Four months ago, when he and his girlfriend split up, he swore off searching. He didn’t want a relationship or a soulmate. He figured he just wasn’t relationship material and that’s why these things happened to him. He was happy enough living in the capital and working in the library. Life was messy and he just wanted to be comfortable for awhile.

But life was also unfair. Instead of giving Seokjin the chance to get over his girlfriend of seven months, the universe presents him with new letters. Or really just a single letter. At first he thought the letter might belong to Joon. However he couldn’t be sure without knowing the boy’s full name. So he covertly asked what Joon’s family name was. When he learned it was “Kim” this put him at ease.

There were no letter “N’s” in Joon’s name unless you counted the one at the end. And even then, that letter on his wrist was a capital one.

Seokjin knew this letter must be a sign there was some sort of fabic in his life, but he couldn’t seem to figure out who it might be. Whoever it was seemed to be leaving him alone since no more letters had appeared recently. But at the same time the letter still was not fading and it was starting to get irritating.

He was however still weary of Joon. The boy was cute and he often found himself thinking about him. If he wasn’t careful, he might end up hurting Joon by leading him on by accident. Seokjin keeps himself guarded around the boy, but still helps him out as much as he can. Something inside him compels him - perhaps his need for a good friend other than Taehyung - to keep this boy around even if he knows they might get in trouble for whatever it is he’s doing.

Seokjin knows his attempts at keeping his heart guarded are weak. Especially when the boy hands him something at one of their meetings, “I brought this… I mean it was leftover from yesterday but it’s still good. I hope you like it.”

He unwraps the paper to find a pastry inside. He takes a bite from it and is delighted by the strawberry jam filling. He smiles at Joon who returns the smile. He feels his heart jolt and he mumbles, “Thanks.” Strawberry is his favorite. He knows he never shared this fact with Joon as it was far too trivial and even somewhat personal. It has to be a coincidence. Strawberry is a popular flavor after all.

He finishes the rest of the pastry and tries to calm his heart. He wonders for a second if maybe he’s turned into a fabic on accident. He supposes it was possible.

He considers the possibility. Though he had sworn off love, maybe a part of him still wanted someone in his life. This boy shows up in his library, looking all cute, and then he asks for books on one of Seokjin’s favorite topics. Everything made sense put that way.

Seokjin would have to be more careful. He couldn’t be inviting Joon to his house anymore. The only thing that was keeping him from not shoving the boy out right away was the fact that he had not brought up the topic of soulmates himself. Surely if this boy thought for any second that Seokjin might be his soulmate, he might think to bring it up at some point.

His anxiety diminishes as time passes. They only meet up in the library now. Seokjin never asked what he really wanted to, but that’s probably for the best. He’s content with how things are now anyway.

Joon brings him gifts from the bakery and they go to look over more notes in the back of the library. No one mentions anything about soulmates.

“You really don’t have to keep buying me things,” Seokjin says one day when Joon sets down a cupcake on his desk as a greeting.

He just shrugs, “I figure I should thank you somehow for all the help. Besides… I uh… shouldn’t really tell you this, but I don’t usually buy them… I work in the bakery.”

“Really? So you steal cupcakes and pastries from your workplace? And you don’t get in trouble?” Seokjin asks.

“I mean, couldn’t you take a book from here and no one would notice. If you’re the guy who tracks down people who steal books, who’s going to track down you if you stole one?”

“Fair enough,” Seokjin admits. “Hold on a second… When do you work? It’s 8AM, you don’t expect me to believe your shift is ended today?”

Joon coughs, “Yeah, I uh, called in sick.”

“Oh really?”

“Yeah, I feel like I’m getting close to done with this research. I wanted to skip work so I could get as much… work done as possible today.”

Seokjin tries not to feel sad at his words. If Joon was getting close to done, would he still come in here once he had finished? They didn’t really hang out outside of their little study sessions, so he felt that must mean their friendship would be coming to an end soon. He laughs dryly, “Well you’re an awful employee. Remind me to never hire you.”

Joon laughs at this. Seokjin picks up his cupcake. They go to work like normal.

After some time had passed, Seokjin finally works up the courage to ask a question that had been on his mind for some time now, “Hey Joon, what exactly are you trying to accomplish with all this researching? I mean I know you told me you’re writing a book, but you should have more than enough material by now…”

“Oh… I uh… I’m trying to sort of… contact someone?” he answers but it sounds like a question.

“Someone? Like who?” Seokjin asks.

“Umm it’s just uh…”

“Like someone special?” the question slips out without thought.

Joon nods, “Kinda. I mean this boy… I knew him years ago. Never met anyone else like him and I uh… I miss him.”

Seokjin nods, he thinks he understands. He wonders if this boy is Joon’s soulmate. Seokjin finally picks up his cupcake that had been sitting nearby the whole time. He takes a bite and is surprised it’s strawberry flavored once again. He would not have guessed from the dull white icing implying it would be vanilla.

“Strawberry?” Seokjin puzzles outloud, inspecting the cake.

“Yeah? Do you like it?” Joon asks.

“How do you know I like strawberry things? For the past week or so everything you’ve brought me has been strawberry flavored or with strawberry icing. And I’m definitely not complaining since it’s my favorite, but how do you know?” Seokjin almost demands.

Joon just shoots a grin at him, “My favorite is lemon.”

“I’m serious, how did you know?” Seokjin repeats.

Joon shrugs this time, “I didn’t, at least not until just now.”

Seokjin feels himself blushing. He really didn’t mean to give something like that away. He really thought Joon had figured it out somehow. “I like strawberry… because when I was a kid… I lived somewhere else… my grandpa owned a strawberry farm,” Seokjin says sort of just speaking out loud as the memory occurs to him. He hadn’t thought about his grandpa in a really long time, and the nostalgia of that lost time was suddenly hitting him.

“Really? I just like lemon… well because I do,” Joon answers. Seokjin looks up and laughs at this. “No but, you said you used to live somewhere else… how come you live here now?”

Seokjin freezes up at the question, they’re breaching on extremely personal territory and things he has only ever told Taehyung before. But some part inside him makes him want to answer this question. He feels like if he’s ever going to have a chance of friendship with Joon once he finishes his research, he might as well open up just a little bit. “I-it’s sort of a long story. My parents travelled around a lot with me when I was younger. We never stayed anywhere for more than six months. But at some point, I lost them. It was a new town and the streets were busy. I’m not sure what happened, but people seemed to be angry about something. They all gathered at once. I got swept up in the crowd, got separated, and I never found them again. The crowd was nosy, people seemed to be shouting, everyone was shoving people. I barely managed to get out. I wandered around that town for a bit after things had died down, hoping to find them, but somehow I never did. After a while I was positive they must have moved on, so I decided I should also. I ended up here on my own when I was about sixteen. I think part of me stays here hoping one day my parents will come through town. But it’s also nice to have some stability.”

“Oh… wow. That kind of reminds me of my own childhood. Well… not exactly. I just mean my parents moved around a lot, but then again it was always sort of my fault,” Joon says. Seokjin thinks he maybe didn’t mean to say that last part because he’s covering his mouth.

“How could it be your fault?” Seokjin asks. He knows he shouldn’t have asked, but the curiosity wins out.

Joon seems to take a deep breath. He checks over his shoulder to make sure no one else is around. No one else is ever around here. “Well you know what I am… at least I think you do. And so you know why I can’t say it. It’s illegal here. But as a kid, there wasn’t anything I could do. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m a bit clumsy, I always have been. I kept making mistakes when I was younger. My parents had to move us around to keep us safe. I’m honestly surprised I’m not dead by now.”

“Would they really execute even a child for that?” Seokjin asks. He’s finally got confirmation that he was what he suspected, but that somehow doesn’t make him feel any better.

Joon shrugs, “Guess my parents didn’t want to stick around to find out.”

Seokjin nods, “Right.”

Part of him regrets sharing his story with Joon, but at the same time he’s glad for it. He finally has his confirmation about Joon, and at the same time he feels a little closer to the boy. He’s still not sure if it’s a good idea to be close to him, but for once in his life he wants to not care - just a little bit.

Chapter Text

— Hoseok —

Namjoon! Yes, his name was Kim Namjoon. I bet that’s him! It has to be him… well I hope it’s him. That would be amazing if I could talk to him again. Ask him more about me and what games we used to play. We played this one game a lot called… “Castle” actually and one of us would pretend to be the king and the other was the servant that had to go on missions. Missions were things like climbing trees or jumping across wide rivers. If he talks about any of that it’s probably him! If you can, take a piece of paper for your return note with you the next time you see him and that way Sheldon should be able to pick up on his scent too.
- H

Hoseok rushes when writing out his reply. Sheldon had been sleeping near him when he woke up that morning. When he reads Yoongi’s note he’s filled with excitement. He wants to hear back right away. He’s upset that he went to sleep so early last night and missed out on Yoongi’s letter, but he tends to go to sleep earlier now, especially since he gets bored.

Hoseok gives the squirrel his letter, but has to wait for his aunt to actually wake up before he’s able to give the squirrel some food. He knows he’s been forbidden to do any sort of magic, but by this point he can’t get into anymore trouble. It’s not like she can send him to his room or something.

He conjures up his energy and forms it into something similar to a portable soul. It’s almost as if he becomes a ghost as his actual body is all but useless when he’s like this. He doesn’t do this often as it requires too much energy and is altogether just not practical.

Using his ghost form, he makes his way upstairs and into his aunt’s bedroom. He picks up the alarm clock and changes the time to set off the bell. Hoseok drops the clock as quickly as he can before his aunt can notice him and he rushes back into his own body.

When he’s back in his physical form he feels himself panting even though he didn’t do any actual physical exercise. He hears the alarm bell get turned off, followed by footsteps. Hoseok knows the first thing his aunt always does in the mornings is check on him. Hoseok’s gets up off the floor and rushes over to his bed to pretend to be sleeping.

He isn’t sure if she had seen him earlier, but he thinks pretending to be asleep now might help. He settles into bed and peeks open one eye. He sees the squirrel still just sitting on the ground and he panics.

“Sheldon!” he whisper-shouts. The squirrel hears him and scampers over to the bed where Hoseok is. He tucks himself behind Hoseok and is hidden from view just at the hatch begins to open.

Hoseok closes his eyes again and waits until his aunt calls his name. “Hoseokie! It’s morning!”

Hoseok opens his eyes slowly and feigns a yawn, “‘Morning.”

“What would you like for breakfast today?”

As if on cue, Hoseok’s stomach grumbles. “I don’t mind, but can you maybe bring me a snack. Like maybe some crackers?”

“Sure thing, I’ll be right back with that.”

His aunt goes up the stairs and doesn’t even bother closing the hatch as she returns seconds later with a bag of fresh pita chips. These are probably a bit bland for Sheldon but will have to do. He thanks his aunt. She goes back upstairs to make some breakfast.

Hoseok sends Sheldon on his way but instructs him that he’s to look out for possible new scents on Yoongi’s next letter.

After that, there’s not much else to do besides wait.

He waters his plants just as he does every morning. He noticed a few of the flowers sprouted heart-shaped buds in the past few days and he knows exactly why. He does his best to cover up these sprout-lings without just killing them.

He loves having the reminder of Yoongi, but at the same time it’s not really necessary as he’s really all Hoseok thinks about anymore.

It’s a wonder how he caught feelings so fast. Hoseok knows he gets overly sentimental to things, but this was entirely different. He felt a certain kind of feeling when thinking about Yoongi and wondering the next time they would meet in person. There was a mysterious sort of “unknown” that both scared and excited Hoseok.

However, there was only so much daydreaming one could do before getting bored. There wasn’t a whole lot else he could do in his small basement room. Hoseok had read all his books, and he was officially bored out of his mind. An idea occurs to him, that he brings up at lunchtime with his aunt.

“So uh… I was thinking… what if we moved?” Hoseok asks. Originally the thought of moving scared him, however now he felt sort of invincible knowing Yoongi was on his side.

His aunt looks at him in astonishment, “Well why would we move? This house is perfectly fine.”

“I just uh… I’m bored… of being down here all day every day. If we moved then my soulmate wouldn’t know where I lived right? I could go outside again. But here… we run the risk of him coming back… if he shows up, I’ll definitely be here,” Hoseok reasons.

His aunt considers the idea for a moment, “I suppose we could look into it, but we would have to stay local so your uncle can keep open the shop. Perhaps it’s okay for you to be going outside again… If that soulmate of yours was going to show up again, I think they ought to have done it already.”

Hoseok nods in agreement and tries not to give anything away with his expression.

However his aunt wasn’t quite finished, “I do still think it’s a good idea if the basement stays as your room. If someone does show up while you’re home, it’s best for you to be down here.”

He nods along. It’s more than enough for now. He can’t wait to get back outside as soon as he can. It’s been awhile since he’s climbed any trees to view the castle. He knows it must look the same as always, but he’s never been more connected to it than now.

Hoseok receives Yoongi’s reply right after his aunt leaves to go upstairs.

I talked to Namjoon today. Kim Namjoon. I think it must be him. He said the game you used to play was called “Kingdom” but he described it all the same. I actually hung out with him for most of this morning. He’s a decent person I guess. He seems like he’s really smart and that sort of annoys me. I didn’t tell him, but he sort of figured out that I must be your soulmate…
I’m not completely sure if he knows who I am yet. Maybe he does, but he seems pretty chill about it. Anyways I did what you said and took this note with me so Sheldon can… do his thing or whatever.
Well that’s really all for now. I always have so much I want to write, but I just can’t.
- Y gi

Hoseok smiled and pulled out the book from under his bed. He stuck the note in with the other few notes he’d already received from Yoongi. He knew it wasn’t a particularly smart idea to keep all this evidence around. He really should be burning the notes, but despite all logic he decided to keep them. He began writing his reply to Yoongi.

Ah, I’m so glad! He is really smart, but kind of clumsy. At least he was when I knew him. I’m giving Sheldon two notes this time… He should still just give you one note. I’m hoping he can find Namjoon to give the second note.
Also, guess what! I’m allowed to go outside again! That sounds so sad… but I convinced my aunt that things were probably safe enough by now right? Anyways, that means you probably shouldn’t be planning any sort of surprise visits here just to be safe.
I hope you’re having a good day!
- H

Once he was finished writing one letter, he immediately moved on to write a second one. He threw away the first couple drafts, unsure how much information he should actually include in this one. He would be writing to Namjoon, someone he hasn’t talked to in over a year. He knew from Yoongi that at least he remembered Hoseok, but part of him doubted he would get a reply.

Namjoon had his own life now. It was entirely possible he had a ton of new friends or a job or maybe he was busy studying. Hoseok felt like Namjoon wouldn’t have time for him. However, he held onto a small shred of hope in his heart telling him he would hear back.

Finally, he was able to write out a letter that he was satisfied with.

Joon! Hi, it’s Hoseok. You’re probably confused… let me explain. Well, first of all, I found my soulmate!!! I think you already knew that, though… Well, I mentioned you to my soulmate once and he remembered your name or something later on and told me he had found you.
How have you been!!? I’ve missed you like crazy. I would’ve sent you something sooner, but I never tried out SquirrelMail or anything before. The animal has to be able to get your scent in order to find you, so I really didn’t know what to do…
This is Sheldon. I hope he found you and this note doesn’t get lost somewhere. If you do get this, you can reply by just writing a new note and giving it to Sheldon. It kind of sounds crazy I know, but I swear this works. You also have to give him a little snack as sort of a payment before he’ll bring me any reply.
I have like a billion things I wanna tell you, but I probably shouldn’t write them all out in a letter in case it doesn’t get to you. Well… I hope I hear back!
- Hoseok

Hoseok debates signing his full name, but he figures it couldn’t hurt since he already said his name in the letter. Plus he feels like the “H” was just his and Yoongi’s thing.

He can’t help but daydream about the possibility of meeting Namjoon again. Maybe he would sneak out some time to try and meet up with Namjoon - that is if he returns his letter.

The more time Hoseok spent daydreaming - about Namjoon or about Yoongi - the more he realized he was tired of being cooped up in this small house. He’s hardly lived any sort of life outside these cottage walls, and as much as he loved his aunt, it was time to leave. It was somewhat common for kids to live with their parents until they finished their studies or took on some sort of full time job or apprenticeship of their own.

Hoseok’s situation was different of course, but he wanted to leave. He finally had some connections outside his small house. However for the time being, it was best to stay until Yoongi was able to work out something. He knew he was waiting for some kind of news from him, but he wasn’t sure what that would look like just yet. Part of him wondered if in the distant future if he would ever become Co-Kings with Yoongi, but the thought of that terrified him. He never wanted to have that amount of attention drawn to himself.

He heads upstairs near dinnertime and informs his aunt he’ll be outside. She gives him a tight smile that Hoseok understands to mean she’s still not completely comfortable with him being anywhere outside of the basement. His uncle, just coming home, jumps in surprise at seeing Hoseok in the living room. He sends him a quick nod before going outside, deciding to leave the explaining up to his aunt.

Once outside, Hoseok finds his favorite tree and makes his way to the highest branches that can still support his weight. He’s never really climbed any trees while his aunt was still home, but he’s getting to a point where he realizes she doesn’t control every aspect of his life. If he knew how to he would leave and find a job and a home elsewhere tomorrow.

He manages to catch a glimpse of the castle with the final rays of daylight. It’s pretty as ever and he feels a longing in his heart. He knows he cannot go, but would in a heartbeat if he knew it was safe.

On his way back down, he spots none other than Sheldon. The squirrel goes right to him and he’s delighted to find two new notes. He unfurls the first one and begins reading.

I’m happy for you! It’s good you can go outside again. But you probably don’t need to worry about any surprise visits… I’m going to be pretty busy for the next few weeks. I wish I could tell you more right now. Also, I’m sorry in advance if it takes me awhile to reply to you.
My day has been… a day. Ah, maybe tomorrow will be better.
As always, I’m missing you.
- Y gi

Hoseok feels a sort of sadness knowing Yoongi must be facing some sort of trouble. He wishes he could help out. These feelings don’t last long as he’s already unfurling the second note in his hands with nervous anticipation.

Can this really be you??? I’ve spent literal months of my life working on a way to communicate and then of course I find out SquirrelMail exists… Ahh well, I am making progress finally so I might as well finish up. I probably shouldn’t say too much. Say, Hoseok, if this is really you reading this, how can I know? I don’t know how far away you live now, but I work in this bakery in the capital. If you’re ever around… you should come by. If I’m not around you’ll probably find my coworker Jungkook. He’s kind of shy at first, but heaven knows you aren’t!
Anyways I miss you like crazy also! I can’t believe you finally found your soulmate either. Someday you have to tell me everything. How you guys met, what you think of him, etc. This might sound a little crazy as well, but I think it’s possible I’ve met my own soulmate. Not sure though. I have lettering on my arm now, but I don’t know anyone whose name matches up. I’m either incredibly dense or just facing a classic fabic situation… I guess I’ll find out eventually huh?
I hope uh… Sheldon knows what he’s doing and this gets to you in one piece.
- Joon

Hoseok smiles and re-reads the note several times. He wants to leave immediately and find Namjoon and talk to him in person. He wants to catch up on years of lost time. But he can’t do that. He just has to do what he’s always done and wait.

He’ll go inside and eat dinner and have a pleasant conversation with his aunt and he’ll wait.

 

— Taehyung —

Taehyung is simultaneously having the best and worst time of his life. Jimin has been extra busy lately with his studying and filling in at the shop for his parents. The last time they talked, Jimin told Taehyung of an exciting opportunity he happened upon. It’s an apprenticeship with one of the best physicians in the capital. He heard about the opening from someone who came by his shop in search of new armour for his horse.

The apprenticeship was essentially Jimin’s dream position, but the downside was it would be extremely hard to get as it was a well sought after position. He had been putting extra hours into studying lately so he could hopefully take a test that would give him extra qualifications if passed. He told Taehyung that if he was able to get this apprenticeship he would finally tell his parents about his dreams.

Taehyung fully supported him, but all this extra studying meant he almost never saw Jimin.

Yoongi wasn’t good company at the moment either because he was busy on official business. Taehyung wasn’t sure what all the king was up to, but it was keeping Yoongi busier than ever before.

So it was as if the universe was creating opportunities for him to hang out with Jungkook. He told himself it wasn’t anything serious and that they were not dating. A lot of the time it felt like they were out on a date. Jungkook liked skinship quite a bit as it turned out so he was often hanging off of Taehyung one way or another.

They went to fun places together and talked and laughed. Taehyung’s heart rate always sped up a bit at the physical contact, but not because he liked him - definitely not.

He felt a bit guilty. He felt like he was cheating on Jimin and lying to Jungkook. He wasn’t very clear with Jungkook on what exactly they were doing and because of this, it felt like he was being disloyal to his boyfriend.

However, both names stayed strong and clearly visible on his wrists. Jungkook’s name was still only comprised of just three letters. He figured if what he was doing actually counted as cheating, then Jimin’s name would begin to fade. Of course, he never wanted that to happen. He checked his wrists often to make sure Jimin’s name wasn’t going anywhere.

One afternoon, he wanders into town. He’s grown into a habit of sleeping in late because Jungkook works most mornings. Without even thinking about it, his feet take him down a familiar path to one specific bakery.

“Welcome back Tae,” Namjoon greets him as he walks in.

“Hey! Is Jungkook around?”

“Yeah, he should be in the ba- one sec,” Namjoon stops himself. He appears to have spotted something outside through the window. He walks out the front entrance and leaves the shop. Taehyung shrugs and goes to the back to see Jungkook.

“Guess who’s here?” Taehyung says.

“Tae! I was wondering when you were gonna come by?” Jungkook greets him.

“Yeah, uh real quick though, Namjoon just left the shop all of a sudden… is that okay?”

Jungkook nods, “Yeah, he’s been chasing birds or something lately. I think he’s picked up a new hobby, bird-watching.”

“Interesting,” Taehyung says.

“It is.”

“Say, it’s nearly dinner time and I’m hungry. Let’s go eat,” Taehyung suggests.

“Help me clean up first,” Jungkook tells him.

A few minutes later the two of them are eating at one of their favorite places. It’s nothing fancy but they have really good soups here and they aren’t too expensive. While they eat Jungkook seems antsy and like he’s waiting on something. He keeps on looking around - occasionally glancing over his shoulders.

So Taehyung decides to address it, “Is something up?”

“What do you mean?” Jungkook asks.

“I mean you seem kind of… nervous tonight. Are you alright?”

Jungkook nods, “Yeah, no I’m great. I was just uh… okay. This is gonna be a little bit crazy, alright?”

“Crazy is fine,” Taehyung says.

“Um… I have a sort of secret. I wanted to show you something tonight,” Jungkook says.

“Okay…? Should I be worried?” Taehyung asks.

“No! I mean not really! It’s kind of dangerous, but really only for me… and maybe anyone who gets too close. Okay that sounds bad, but I swear it’s fine,” Jungkook says.

Taehyung nods slowly, he can’t help but feel a little bit concerned with how Jungkook is acting. “So uh, when exactly are you gonna show me?”

“I was hoping just after dinner… I have to take you to this place. It’s sort of on the other side of town, but it’s not too far,” he explains.

“Well then we should get going,” Taehyung gets up to leave despite not being completely finished with his dinner. He can eat some other time, he’s curious to see what Jungkook’s secret is all about.

Jungkook was right when he said it was on the other side of town. It was down past the bakery and then some. It felt like they should’ve been long out of town by now, but the crowd seems to just be growing bigger.

Taehyung begins to struggle to keep up with Jungkook. The crowd becomes more and more dense and Taehyung suspects there’s an event going on here because this is nothing like the normal night crowds. His suspicions are confirmed when he hears someone shout, “When does the show start?”

He thinks he sees a stage not far from here. Looking away from Jungkook was a mistake because suddenly he has lost him and sees no sign of him.

He shuffles through some people, muttering, “Excuse me,” as he goes. However, there doesn’t seem to be any sight of him at all.

He turns in circles, lost in a sea of people. He decides to ask what the big crowd was about, so he turns to a girl that appears to be about his age, “What’s everyone gathered around for?”

“I’m not too sure. My friends have been telling me I have to come to one of these shows for awhile now. They used to be weekly shows so I wasn't too concerned about when I would go, but the weekend I finally planned to go, the shows stopped. It’s been a few weeks but I heard it’s scheduled to come back tonight,” she said.

“Oh… I bet it’s some popular music act or something,” Taehyung says.

The girl shrugs, “I don’t know. Whatever it is, people seem pretty excited for it. You here alone?”

Taehyung shakes his head, “No, I uh, my friend was with me a minute ago. He was taking me somewhere but then I lost him… did you maybe see what direction he went? Kinda taller than me, hair so black it kinda almost looks purple.”

She shakes her head, “Sorry no. Maybe he was bringing you here. Did he give you any sort of hint?”

“No, I should probably go try to find him,” he says.

“Alright, well I think you should stay and watch the show to see what happens. You can find your friend later, but what if this is the last show here ever? At least stay for the beginning,” she suggests.

Taehyung shakes his head, “I really think I should find him - it’s important. Thank you though.”

“No problem,” Taehyung hears the girl say before he starts swimming through the sea of people again.

The crowd appears to be endless, or maybe he’s just turning in circles. Just as he’s thinking he wants to get out before the show starts, the sound of drums begins to play.

Taehyung spins around to see he’s really close to the stage now. The crowd surges and Taehyung feels himself being compressed.

Fire lights up on the corners of the stage. The crowd is restless. Music begins to play off the beat of the drums and people around him start jumping and dancing along to the beat. Taehyung realizes it’s easier to dance along with the crowd than to stand there like a sardine so he figures he might as well enjoy himself for a bit.

A few minutes later a singer comes out on stage and it appears Taehyung’s predictions were correct. This was some sort of pop singer. The music isn’t bad either - it’s fun and lighthearted. It’s music that’s easy to dance to. Taehyung forgets for a moment that he was supposed to be looking for Jungkook.

That is until he actually sees Jungkook. On stage.

He doesn’t realize right away that it’s odd seeing Jungkook up there. When it hits him he does a double take. Not only is Jungkook just on stage, but he belongs on stage. He’s dancing to the music with the singer and one other backup dancer.

Taehyung’s jaw drops. Was this his secret? That he’s a dancer? He can’t take his eyes off him. When the song reaches its bridge Taehyung notices the others step to the sides.

Jungkook takes center stage with a commanding force. Then the breakdown of the song begins and suddenly Jungkook is holding a ball of fire.

Jungkook is dancing with fire. Taehyung is mesmerized.

Suddenly Taehyung realizes he’s seen this before. He realizes he used to watch Jungkook dance with fire all the time - not usually with other people on the stage and with a smaller crowd, but he definitely remembers now. He’s seen Jungkook do this before, but he never realized it was him.

The fire appears to come out of nowhere and disappear again in seconds. Taehyung isn’t able to figure out how he’s doing that. One final body roll and the main chorus of the song returns so Jungkook’s solo is over.

He remains a backup dancer for a few more songs. He leaves the stage after that while the other backup dancer has a mini solo stage. When he’s done, the singer comes back to sing a few slower songs.

Then Jungkook returns.

He dances and plays with flames just as he did before. Jungkook grabs one of the torches from the stage and expertly tosses it around. Taehyung holds his breath and prays Jungkook won't catch his hair or clothes or anything else on fire.

He somehow appears to have gotten through the performance unscathed. The whole gang returns to the stage for one final song. Taehyung feels the crowd jumping and dancing around him, but he feels stunned in his place. He can’t bring himself to believe that what he just witnessed was real.

The singer thanks everybody for watching and tells them to have a safe night. They leave the stage and the crowd around Taehyung begins to disperse. He’s frozen. Once most of the crowd is gone he makes a beeline for the stage. He’s not sure where Jungkook went off to - probably some sort of backstage area, but it doesn’t matter because Jungkook isn’t backstage. He’s walking along the front of the stage.

“Jungkook!” Taehyung shouts, grabbing his attention.

He turns and sees Taehyung and sends him a wide smile. He’s sweaty and panting but he walks towards Taehyung anyways, “Hey!”

“Hey!? Holy shit… that was hot! Literally, I mean… the fire,” Taehyung says.

Jungkook laughs, “So did you like it?”

Taehyung nods, “That was incredible! Are you burned anywhere?”

“Thanks,” Jungkook laughs, “No I don’t think so, I’m pretty well-rehearsed.”

“Ah, I wish you would’ve told me before the show started… I thought I had lost you,” Taehyung says.

“What do you mean? I told you to wait there for me,” Jungkook replies.

“Oh… I guess I didn’t hear that.” Taehyung thinks he was probably looking towards the huge stage when Jungkook must’ve said that. He then thinks back to the other times he remembers seeing Jungkook perform before tonight, “Hey I have something you’re never gonna believe.”

“What’s that?”

“First, tell me this. You used to do smaller shows by yourself, right? In town central?”

Jungkook nods, “Yeah, why?”

“I’ve seen you dance before! I guess I didn’t recognize you or realize that it was you, but I used to watch some of your shows! I would drag my friend along with me, and well yeah!” Taehyung explains.

“Woah, no way. That’s so cool… So I guess I didn’t really need to be all secretive after all. I should’ve just told you.”

Taehyung shakes his head, “No this was way more fun!”

Jungkook smiles, “I had fun.”

“You’re a really good dancer by the way,” Taehyung says.

“Tae-”

“No, I’m serious. Like really really good,” Taehyung says and Jungkook meets his eyes.

Taehyung can’t tell if it’s loud or silent around them. All he sees in Jungkook. Before he knows what’s happening Jungkook is leaning in.

Taehyung stays frozen in place as he watches Jungkook get closer. Once his mind finally registers what’s happening he turns his head to the side and he feels lips collide with his cheek.

When he meets Jungkook’s eyes his expression drops, “I-I don’t know why I did- I didn’t mean to-”

Taehyung interrupts him, “I’m sorry.”

“I thought… I mean it felt like I should kiss you. I’m sorry, we aren’t even dating yet,” Jungkook says.

“It’s okay, really! I just think that maybe it’s too fast,” Taehyung says. He wants to hit himself. He should shut down the notion of them dating altogether because of Jimin, but for some reason, he can’t bring himself to do that.

Jungkook nods, “Ah, I can’t believe I did that! I’m such an idiot.”

“No it’s fine I should’ve been more upfront with you,” Taehyung says.

“Me too… Taehyung… I like you a lot,” Jungkook says, expression growing serious. Jungkook almost puts a hand on Taehyung’s shoulder, but second guesses himself and drops it back down.

Taehyung doesn’t know how to respond to this sudden confession. He likes Jungkook a lot too, but it’s all confusing in his head because he loves Jimin. He doesn’t know if the feelings he has for Jungkook are the same as the ones he feels for Jimin. There’s no way to compare these things.

“Jungkook…”

“No, it’s fine. I know I fall in love too easily and too fast, but I should be more considerate. It’s fine - I mean if you don’t feel the same, but Tae there’s something here. I feel like I’ve known you my whole life. I’ve never been more comfortable around someone before,” Jungkook explains, mostly speaking to the ground but looking up a few times to meet Taehyung’s eyes.

“I-”

“I get it, Tae. You don’t feel the same, and I think I’m okay with that. I just… let’s just be friends, okay? I don’t mind if I don’t get to kiss or cuddle or do other coupley things with you. I just like spending time with you.”

A sad smile comes to Taehyung’s face, “I like spending time with you too.”

“So just because you’re my soulmate, I don’t want you to feel pressured into anything,” Jungkook says.

Taehyung feels torn. He can’t bear the idea of Jungkook being upset because of him. He knows Jungkook is saying it’s fine, but he’s been in his place before. Back before Jimin’s parents allowed him to date, Taehyung had fallen in love with him. There were times before they started dating where all he wanted to do was kiss Jimin, but he held back because he had tried before and Jimin told him no. He was constantly discouraged and started to believe that maybe Jimin was using his parents as an excuse not to date him. It was painful not being allowed to date just yet, but at least he knew he might be able to in just a few years. Jungkook didn’t really have this sort of thing to look forward to, so Taehyung imagines it was more painful for him.

Taehyung wants to say screw it and kiss him, but he can’t, not while he still loves Jimin. He knows he shouldn’t sacrifice himself for this. “Thank you,” Taehyung says regretfully.

Jungkook deserves better than himself. He hasn’t even told him about Jimin. He was a bad boyfriend.

 

— Namjoon —

Namjoon is shocked, to say the least when he receives the first letter. The skeptic inside him tells him no, it can’t be Hoseok. This was much too easy and far too convenient to have just happened as it did. He wrote his reply while attempting to remain guarded. However on the off chance Hoseok would see his note, he tried to convey a lot of his emotions through his words.

Towards the end of the letter, he realized he was already speaking to Hoseok as if they were old friends. They kind of were, in a way.

They continued passing letters between them for awhile. The more they talked, the more Namjoon was convinced this had to be Hoseok. He could tell in the way he wrote, it was similar to the way he spoke.

Sheldon the squirrel seemed to be replaced with Oliver the canary bird after the first few notes. Namjoon asked why, but Hoseok couldn’t explain very much through his letter. He said it was better for Sheldon to focus on different tasks. Besides, Oliver was much faster. It seemed Hoseok had little to no life just like himself as he was constantly getting notes from Hoseok - the time of day didn’t matter.

Once they talk about all the important stuff, conversations drift to day to day activities. Namjoon talks about Jungkook and Jin and the weird jokes they pull daily. He notes that introducing them to each other was not a good idea because it made each of them more powerful. Hoseok talks about how his aunt and uncle have finally agreed to give Hoseok a job at the shop. Of course he’s closely monitored, but according to him, he’s having a blast getting to work in the shop. The best part, he says, is that they sell fresh herbs and he loves when people ask him questions about the different plants because he finally gets to show off just a little bit.

After two weeks of this, the notes stop coming. Namjoon had quickly become accustomed to sending and receiving somewhere between ten and twenty notes in a day, so it’s odd to him when for a whole twenty-four hours, he receives nothing. It’s especially off-putting since Hoseok made no indication in his last few letters that he would be busy or anything.

He tries not to worry too much. Namjoon considers that it’s possible Hoseok slept in extra long and missed his shift or maybe he got in trouble with his aunt for something. Maybe he got in trouble for sleeping in too long and missing his shift.

Namjoon finds himself pacing. He checks his regular mailbox even though he knows nothing from Hoseok could possibly end up in there. All he finds is an invitation to the prince’s wedding. He knows it’s less of an invitation and more of a mandatory request for attendance, so he makes sure to make a mental note of the date in his head.

Tired of pacing and out of things to do, Namjoon decides he needs some company. He wants to avoid Jungkook at the moment because the last time he was over there, the boy talked about his soulmate for an hour and a half. They seemed to be having tons of fun and going on loads of dates, him and Taehyung that is.

Hearing of all the fun Jungkook was having kind of bummed him out. He doesn’t want that to happen again, so he decides to visit Jin. It had been some time since he visited the librarian. He didn’t need help researching so much anymore and he found it difficult to come up with excuses to hang out with him. It was especially difficult when Jin always seemed reluctant to do anything together. He also always seemed to want to invite his friend Taehyung along. Which was fine with Namjoon. He’s met Taehyung once or twice and he was nice enough. He understood why Jungkook liked him so much.

However, whenever Taehyung tagged along he felt like a third wheel. He knew Taehyung had his own soulmate and that wasn’t the problem. It was that Jin barely seemed to want to speak to him. He directed almost all his questions at Taehyung.

Nonetheless, Namjoon still wanted to hang out with the evasive librarian. Once he got past Jin’s initial weirdness, he was a lot of fun to be around.

Namjoon decides to show up at Jin’s house unannounced. When he knocks on the door, it takes awhile for Jin to answer. When he answers the door he finds out why. Jin is wrapped with a towel around his waist - and only a towel. His hair is wet and his upper body is bare and glistening with drops of water.

Namjoon tries to keep his jaw from dropping. Jin jumps when he sees Namjoon, and hides a bit behind the door.

“Joon!? What are you doing here?” Jin asks. Namjoon gulps and tries his best to look at Jin’s eyes and not his-

“Hello?” Jin interrupts his thoughts.

Namjoon coughs, “I uh… just wanted to see if you wanted to hang out or something?”

“Oh,” Jin says, gaze dropping to the floor. “Why?”

Namjoon bites his lips and tries not to feel hurt. It was getting to the point where he was wondering why he still bothered trying with Jin. “Did I do something to you?” he asks without really thinking.

“Excuse me?”

“I don’t know. I guess I’m sorry for dropping by unannounced, but I’m getting kinda tired of this. You always act like it’s a burden to hang out with me, but then you’re fine once we do, and you always tell me how much fun it was and you say “let’s do it again” but I’m getting the vibe maybe you don’t mean that,” Namjoon explains. He’s never been one for keeping feelings in. It’s always best for him to express his thoughts.

“I… Joon… it’s hard to explain,” Jin starts.

“What so there is something? If you don’t like me I’d appreciate if you just told me upfront instead of… doing whatever this is.”

“I don’t not like you! Please…” Jin says, biting his lip and looking down. He looks like he has tears in his eyes threatening to drop. Namjoon feels bad. He never meant to make Jin upset like this.

“Hey, I’m sorry. Don’t cry. You don’t have to tell me… Can I come inside?” Namjoon asks, backtracking quickly.

Jin nods but doesn’t speak. Namjoon takes a seat on his couch and Jin leaves him for a minute. He comes back a moment later, fully clothed now.

“I’m sorry for what I said I just th-”

“It’s okay,” Jin cuts him off before he can finish his apology. “I do this thing where I push people away when they’re too close. They usually get tired of me and move on without a care.”

“I didn’t mean to overstep any boundaries,” Namjoon says.

“Yeah, no… you didn’t. I just mean I don’t really tell people about my childhood very often… I sort of gave away my biggest secret - and just because of some strawberry pastries as well. Not even Taehyung knows about that. So I just feel… weird - around you,” Jin says.

Namjoon offers a shy smile, “Well, I guess we’re even then because you know my biggest secret too.”

“I guess I do.”

“But you have to pinkie swear you’ll never tell anyone,” Namjoon adds.

Jin laughs, “Only if you swear the same to me.”

“Done.”

A beat passes after they link their pinkies together as if they were kids again. For just a second Namjoon feels content to sit in silence here with Jin. However, he has to interrupt the silence when a thought occurs to him, “Hey wanna know another secret?”

“Sure, but not if you’re expecting me to give you one in return,” Jin warns.

Namjoon shakes his head, “No. You know all those strawberry flavored pastries and cupcakes and such?”

Jin nods.

“Yeah uh… they were sort of enchanted.”

“Enchanted!? What does that mean? Did you poison me?” Jin asks.

Namjoon laughs, “No, nothing like that. Shhh. They were just enchanted to change flavor to be whatever your favorite was… I didn’t know they were strawberry to you until you told me. I just didn’t want to bring you something you didn’t like.”

“Oh. I guess that makes sense. They were also amazingly tasty, was that magic too?” Jin asks.

Namjoon shrugs, “I think Jungkook is just a really good cook.”

Jin laughs and tilts his head at Namjoon. He wonders what Jin could be thinking about at this moment. Is he okay with the fact he used a little bit of harmless magic on him? He wonders if he should have told him anything at all.

“I like this,” Jin says suddenly.

“I’m sorry, what?”

“This,” Jin gestures to the two of them, “the whole being friends thing. I think I like hanging out with you. I’m sorry I got all weird.”

Namjoon grins back, “I think I like that as well.”

“We should hang out more. Just whenever - swing by if you’re bored,” Jin says.

Namjoon nods, “I’ll definitely be doing that. Hey, remember that project I was researching a lot for?”

“Yeah, though you never told me what that was about,” Jin replies.

“Well, basically I was experimenting with magic and such, trying to make a spell that could allow you to communicate more effectively,” Namjoon explains.

“Woah, you can do that?”

“What do you mean?”

“Just like make up spells and shit?”

Namjoon laughs, “I mean, kind of. It’s sort of difficult and there’s a lot of theories you have to learn and understand first, but eventually, yes.”

“So what about it?”

“Right so I had made a little progress. I made a potion that sort of allows brief telepathic channel to open up, but it’s not great-”

“It sounds great,” Jin interrupted. “Can I try it out later?”

Namjoon shrugs surprised Jin would be okay with ingesting a magical potion, “I suppose. But to the point of this story, guess what I found out?”

“What?”

“My research, it’s all been sort of pointless. Apparently, animals can be enchanted to understand witches and deliver letters for them,” Namjoon explains.

“No way,” Jin says.

Namjoon nods, “So I guess I can continue with my research, but what’s the point?”

“Just to say you did something really cool,” Jin suggests.

“I guess so,” Namjoon shrugs. After a moment of silence, he adds, “Just so we’re clear if you ever report me for magic now that’s breaking a pinky promise. And you know that if you break a pinky promise, I get to break your pinky.”

Jin looks at him, a smile threatening to break as he tries to keep a straight face. “Okay,” he barely manages to get out.

“What!?” Namjoon demands.

Jin can’t hold it in any longer and he bursts out laughing, “I’m sorry! It’s just- it’s that it’s you!”

“What does that mean?” Namjoon asks, pouting and crossing his arms.

“You don’t seem the type to inflict physical pain… at least not on purpose,” Jin laughs.

Namjoon opens his mouth but shuts it again, because Jin is right. “Well, it’s still a pinky promise!”

Jin quiets down finally, “I know.”

“So you have to keep it,” Namjoon repeats.

“I will,” Jin says, “Of course I will.”

-

Namjoon had officially begun to worry over Hoseok’s absence. He hadn’t received any letters for nearly two days now. He doesn’t really know what to do. He considers telling Jin, but he doesn’t think that would help much.

He goes to work like normal. Jungkook doesn’t appear to be around at the moment. It doesn’t make a difference to him really. He goes through his normal routine with all his normal duties.

He’s thinking about Jin and how he wants to hang out with him again soon. He wants to actually do something with him next time. Maybe they can go to one of the new restaurants in town he’s been wanting to try. Or maybe they can go watch a play or performance of some kind. He realizes he doesn’t really care all too much what they do so long as they’re actually together. That’s odd for him, but he supposes this is just what it’s like to have an actual friend as an adult. They were too old to play pretend games anyway.

The door to the cafe creaks open and a strikingly familiar boy peeks around the corner.

“Namjoon?” he asks in almost a whisper as he steps fully inside.

Realization hits Namjoon like a ton of bricks, “Hoseok!?”

For a second he doubts it’s him. There’s no way it’s actually him, but there’s no mistaking that dimpled smile. However, that smile doesn’t last long because suddenly he’s crying.

“I actually found you, I can’t believe this,” Hoseok says through his tears.

Namjoon rushes around the counter to embrace Hoseok, “Oh my God! Are you okay?”

This only causes more tears to fall from the boy’s eyes, “Namjoon, I… I ran away.”

Namjoon’s eyes widen, “You what?”

Hoseok hiccups. He doesn’t seem like he’s able to answer. Namjoon doesn’t like the fact they’re still in the middle of the bakery and anyone could walk in at any moment. He decides to take the rest of the day off from work. This was clearly more important. Namjoon guides Hoseok to his house, but takes some back roads to avoid unwanted eyes from staring at the crying Hoseok with him.

Once they’re inside he goes to make them both some tea and sits Hoseok down. “I understand if you don’t want to talk, but you have to let me know what’s going on, Hoseokie. Are you okay? Are you being followed?”

Hoseok hiccups again but shakes his head, “N-no I’m okay.” His voice catches in his throat and he’s unable to go on.

“Okay, Hoseokie, I’ll be right back,” Namjoon informs him. He speeds up the tea with magic. He’s never been very good at that, but this time it seems to work without a problem. He returns with the tea and a blanket.

It was already warm outside, but Namjoon didn’t know any other ways to comfort someone. He had a billion questions, but he knew he would have to wait. First and most importantly was making sure Hoseok was okay.

Namjoon drapes the blanket over Hoseok’s shoulders and offers him the cup of tea. He takes it with a small thank you. Namjoon waits patiently as Hoseok sips at the tea. His hiccups slowly disappear and his sniffles slow down. Once Hoseok seems to be less emotional Namjoon decides to ask again.

“Alright Hope, what’s going on?”

Hoseok manages a small smile. “Hope,” he repeats the childhood nickname Namjoon had given him. It was his “superhero” name that Namjoon started calling him one day. He always thought it was incredible how positive Hoseok was able to be in even the worst situations. Namjoon explained to him back then that the name just suited him as he often gave Namjoon hope. Back then Namjoon used the name whenever Hoseok was feeling down. It served as sort of a reminder that he could pull through any situation. Hope was invincible. Namjoon only hoped that was still true.

Hoseok sniffles again, “I had to run away.”

“Why?”

Hoseok takes a deep breath, “My soulmate’s getting married, Joon.”

His voice cracks halfway through and he breaks down again. He’s crying, though not as bad as before.

“How did that happen?” Namjoon asks. “Is this the same guy I met?”

“I-I don’t know. I thought… I thought he loved me. I-I got this i-in the mail,” he pulls out a crumpled sheet of paper and hands it to Namjoon. He sees it’s the same invitation he got in the mail for the prince’s wedding.

Namjoon had his suspicions that the Yoongi that was Hoseok’s soulmate was also the Yoongi that was the prince. How many people out there could be named Yoongi anyways. “Hey, shhh,” Namjoon says wrapping an arm around Hoseok as he lets out some more tears. “I don’t know what to tell you Hope. Have you heard from him?”

Hoseok shakes his head, “No! I’ve been sending him letters, but he stopped replying. I-I think it’s my fault. He hates me now.”

Namjoon doesn’t think that could be true, but there’s not much for him to go off of. He rocks Hoseok gently back and forth. “I kind of doubt that Hobi, no one could ever hate you.”

“He does. Why else would he do this to me? And you wanna hear the worst part?” Namjoon doesn’t reply, and waits for Hoseok’s answer. “When my aunt found the invitation she got so excited. It was like she didn’t even care about me. She bought me a new suit and started making plans to attend the wedding. Namjoon, she pinned the the invitation to the living room wall!”

Namjoon pats his shoulder. He really wishes he knew what to do. He’s also glad to finally have his Hope back, but he wishes it were under better circumstances. Hoseok was the last person who ever deserved anything like this. “So your aunt knows?”

Hoseok nods, “God, I’m so stupid!”

“No you’re not, why would you say that?”

“I barely know him, Namjoon! We met a few times in person, and then, I don’t know, I fell in love with him? How ridiculous is that? I can’t be in love with someone I haven’t know for more than a month!” Hoseok is almost shouting now.

Namjoon isn’t sure how to reply to that, he himself had never really been in love. Sure he loves his parents and reading and he might even love Jungkook (when the kid wasn’t being a brat) but none of that was Romantic love. “I think… love… I mean, sure you can fall in love with someone that fast,” Namjoon tried.

Hoseok sighs, “How is this love? He tells me he’ll keep me safe and a few weeks later I get an invitation to his wedding? I’m not an expert on this stuff but usually, your soulmate is the person you’re getting married to.”

“I can’t speak on Yoongi’s behalf, but I think what makes this love is that it hurts,” Namjoon says.

“What?”

“I mean if you weren’t really in love with him would it hurt you so much to see him with someone else?”

“Oh…” Hoseok ponders this for a second, “Namjoon I really love him.” Tears form in Hoseok’s eyes again and Namjoon rubs his back while he cries.

-

Namjoon decides to take in Hoseok for a bit while he figures out what to do. Namjoon tells him to take his time and feel no rush with whatever he needs to do.

The wedding was slowly approaching and Hoseok had not heard from Yoongi still.

“Maybe he’s tried to tell me something, but I’m not home to receive the message,” Hoseok tried to tell Namjoon.

Namjoon told Hoseok he doubted that because his animal friends return almost daily but always empty handed. Yoongi must be feeding them and sending them away without writing a reply.

Hoseok understands this, but he wants to believe there’s another reason he hasn’t heard from Yoongi. Namjoon keeps a close watch on him and makes sure he’s eating well and taking care of himself.

Most nights, Hoseok stays up all night, and during the day while Namjoon goes to work he crashes on the couch. Namjoon wants to help him, but he thinks he’s already doing as much as he can.

One night, Namjoon stays up with Hoseok for awhile. They’re talking about soulmates and such, and Hoseok seems to be okay.

“So you’re saying it’s possible the soulmate thing is sort of like the placebo effect? We fall in love because we get in our own heads and believe that since they’re our soulmate, they’re a better match than they might actually be?” Hoseok says.

Namjoon nods, “Exactly.”

“No offense but I think that’s dumb. Yoongi is my soulmate,” Hoseok says definitively. Namjoon watches him closely, for the past week any mention of Yoongi’s name would send him into tears.

Namjoon shrugs, “It’s just a theory I have. Besides how can you know for sure?”

Hoseok furrows his eyebrows as he thinks. After a second he pulls down the sleeve of his shirt. “Because this,” he holds out his wrist for Namjoon to see, “Because even though I hate his guts, his name is still there. If he wasn’t my soulmate I could’ve moved on already.”

Namjoon’s eyes widen, “Woah, Hoseok did you know you only have three letters on there?”

Hoseok nods, “Yeah, why?”

“Well doesn’t that make you skeptical in the first place? I always heard that was the mark of an incomplete connection. How can you believe Yoongi’s your soulmate with only three letters?”

“Yeah, I looked that up, turns out that can happen when you’re a witch or something. It’s something about the magic being interfered with,” Hoseok says.

Namjoon’s jaw drops.

“Why? What?” Hoseok questions when Namjoon is silent.

Namjoon silently shows Hoseok the letter on his wrist, the simple “S.”

“Oh yeah, I remember you mentioned that in one of your notes a while back,” Hoseok says.

“Yeah… This whole time I was thinking it was a mistake but no matter what I do it won’t go away,” Namjoon replies.

“Who is it?”

“I… well I have an idea, but I’m not completely sure. I don’t know his full name,” Namjoon says regretfully.

“Hey, well I also read in my book that if you kiss your soulmate, the whole name with fully and permanently appear,” Hoseok suggests making Namjoon grow red.

“Are you suggesting I kiss him?”

Hoseok shrugs, “If you think he’s your soulmate.”

“But if he’s not?”

“Then apologize, change your name, and move out of the kingdom.”

Namjoon laughs, “Right, of course.”

He says good night to Hoseok shortly after that, but he doesn’t get any sleep - not when the idea of kissing Jin is in his head.

He thinks logically that Jin isn’t his soulmate, but deep down he sort of wishes he was. He knows it could be wrong and disrespectful to Jin - especially after what he’s told Namjoon about his past relationships, but ignores that little voice in his head and listens to the louder one in his gut screaming what if?

Chapter Text

— Jungkook —

While having a soulmate is all Jungkook ever dreamed about his whole life, he never considered that his soulmate may not want him back. Taehyung was nice enough to him and it was obvious he enjoyed Jungkook’s company. He liked being friends, but the voice inside Jungkook’s head wouldn’t stop reminding him this isn’t what he wanted.

He’s always wanted someone he could hold hands with walking down streets or someone he could cuddle with late at night. He wanted someone that would finish his leftovers or take care of him when he was feeling sick. He wanted a real soulmate - like the ones from all the stories he’s heard. Taehyung is great - he really is - but it’s almost not enough.

Jungkook bottles up his emotions and tells himself to give it time. He knows these things can take time and maybe Taehyung will come around.

In the meantime, he focuses his mind on being Taehyung’s friend and working at the bakery. Lately, he’s been finding himself waking up exhausted and emotionally drained. A couple times he let himself go back to sleep and ignore his responsibilities at the bakery.

The third time this happens, he makes a resolution. He will give up the bakery. It wouldn’t be that big of a deal after all. He would just turn the ownership back to his parents and theoretically, he could go back to his flexible hours of being able to sleep and work whenever he wants. He knows this is an exaggeration since his mother will be his boss again, but he thinks it will be better this way.

When he first brings up the idea his parents are reluctant to accept. They seem to believe Jungkook is just being a lazy kid who doesn’t want to work. However, he tells them why he can’t work. He says that he’s helping his friend who’s going through an emotional crisis and that he needs to be there for him. He doesn't tell them he’s the one actually going through an emotional crisis.

They agree to take ownership back for at least a month. It’s enough for now.

Jungkook hardly sees Namjoon now. It seems as though Namjoon is taking off work nearly as much as Jungkook. Jungkook doesn’t mind of course. The shop can manage - it is run by witches after all it can basically run itself.

He can’t help but wonder what Namjoon is up to when he doesn’t come in for work. However, he never questions him.

Namjoon’s weird pattern goes on for about a week or two, but then it stops. Namjoon goes back to a regular schedule and is at work every day. Jungkook thinks he should do the same, but still, even with the passing time, he’s not feeling any better.

When he’s with Taehyung his heart feels light. He smiles and laughs and nothing feels wrong. It’s when Taehyung leaves, is when it hits him. He begins to wonder if Taehyung will ever date him for real or if one day they’ll move in together. The endless possibilities fill his mind and fuel his hopeful heart.

It’s not that he hasn’t tried to get closer to Taehyung. A few times they’ve been out doing coupley activities when Jungkook’s pointed it out.

“You know if you were my boyfriend, I could kiss you right now,” Jungkook would say.

Then Taehyung would always reply, “I know.”

He wouldn’t say anything more, but he would be slightly more distant for the rest of the night. Jungkook tells himself he needs to stop doing things like this.

He doesn’t.

And it hurts when he sees the apologetic look in Taehyung’s eyes, but he doesn’t bring that up. In fact, he never really asks Taehyung why they shouldn’t date.They’ve known each other for nearly two months now after all. Jungkook thinks that it’s probably almost May, judging by the temperature outside. He doesn’t bother to check.

He can’t help but wonder if he’ll ever get the happy ending he always dreamed of. Sure he might have a soulmate, but it’s not what he expected it to be. As much as he loved Taehyung’s company, he felt empty - something was missing.

He wonders if Jimin is maybe meant to be his actual soulmate. He hadn’t talked to Jimin since that odd day when Jimin confronted him and told him they couldn’t date.

Jungkook wants to talk with Jimin now, but he doesn’t know where to look - it’s not like they’re friends after all. Even the information he’s learned from Taehyung doesn’t seem to help. Jimin is never at the weaponsmithing shop.

Taehyung doesn’t really talk about Jimin as much as he used to, but Jungkook remembers that bit of information at least.

After a long while, Jungkook begins thinking of what could be wrong. Everyone says meeting your soulmate is the best thing ever. If this was the best thing ever, why was he so unhappy all the time? He couldn’t help but wonder.

He loves Taehyung, he knows he does, but he wonders if maybe he’s not actually his soulmate. Maybe once the name showed up on his arm, he fell in love with the idea of Taehyung being his soulmate. Maybe he doesn’t love Taehyung at all. Maybe his feelings are all made up and in his head.

He can only think of one way to know for sure. He has to kiss Taehyung.

 

— Yoongi —

Every day Yoongi continues to receive letters and every day he sits at his desk with a pen and paper trying to write some kind of response. He doesn’t know how to explain to Hoseok what’s happening at the castle. Of course, he could explain it exactly as it’s happening, but the dangers of a letter with that kind of information ending up in the wrong hands were too great.

He owed Hoseok a decent reply, but he couldn’t bring himself to write one.

How was he supposed to tell Hoseok his marriage would be arranged and it has nothing to do with him? He couldn’t write about how there was unrest in neighboring kingdoms or how this marriage was only to gain the allegiance of another kingdom.

He couldn’t tell Hoseok anything and it was tearing him apart.

When the invitations first went out, Hoseok didn’t send any sort of reply. Yoongi wondered if he would ever hear from him again. After a few days, he started sending one or two notes a day. He didn’t mention the marriage, but Yoongi could tell he knew.


I don’t know what’s going on. I wish you could tell me.
- H


I left home, but I’m okay. I’m not sure why I’m telling you this. Do you still care about me?
- H


I probably shouldn’t have assumed you don’t care about me anymore… though it is getting hard to tell.
- H


I can only assume you’re still alive and okay, right? I feel like I might have heard about it if you weren’t.
- H


Are you ignoring me on purpose? Maybe I’m making things worse for you.
- H


Do you still love me?
- H


Did you ever love me?
- H


My friend thinks I should stop sending you letters… If you wanted to reply you would’ve by now.
- H


Sometimes I think I hate you… but I love you too much for that.
- H

After that, the letters stopped coming. Yoongi tries to reply, but he knows contacting Hoseok right now could be risky. His connection with Hoseok needs to be kept secret. It was also risky to even keep the notes from Hoseok, but Yoongi had a box full of them stored underneath a loose tile in his floor.

The day he had been dreading had finally come. He would be meeting his future wife today. He wanted more than anything to postpone this. He wishes Taehyung was around to talk to about this.

Taehyung had actually been missing for some time now. The rare moments he was around, he would only talk to Yoongi about his own situation. From what he can tell Taehyung is completely torn. After detailing to Yoongi how much he loves Jimin and now also loves Jungkook, he would move on to talking about how bad he feels for Jungkook. Then he would mention how he feels bad for Jimin, but he’s busy with apprenticeship work.

Yoongi could tell him to shut up and listen to his own problems for once, but he feels too tired to do that. Plus he doesn’t want to burden Taehyung anymore than he already is.

A maid knocks on his door and informs him the king awaits his presence in the main hall. His outfit had already been picked out for him, and earlier this morning, before breakfast, someone came down to do his hair and makeup.

By the time he makes it down to the main hall, he’s positive he’s running late. However, his father must’ve accounted for this because Yoongi is actually right on time.

A knight announces the arrival of their visitors. Moments later the doors open and dozens of people parade into the space. They line the walls and make way for more people coming through. The queen walks up first, she’s clad in a long, flowing red and silver dress that drags on the ground behind her. Ten paces back, there’s another girl: Princess Hani.

The moment he sees her, Yoongi hates her guts. She’s wearing a deep red colored dress with delicate golden accents. The crown that sits on her head is smaller than her mother’s but suits her more and contrasts sharply with her long black hair that frames her face. She is, in every sense of the word, beautiful.

Someone introduces them and they take turns bowing to Yoongi and his father. He realizes their king is not present and Yoongi assumes he had to stay behind to manage the kingdom. If their situation really is as precarious as he hears, it would not be smart to leave the kingdom without a ruler completely at a time like this. However, they worked it out so that Hani would come here. They would get married here and live out their lives here. Yoongi hated everything about it.

When it’s Yoongi’s turn to be introduced, he bows but keeps his gaze at an even middle distance. He doesn’t want to make eye contact and he’s not looking to impress anyone.

Once the encounter is over, Yoongi returns to his own room. He does not need to socialize with Hani or any of their guests at the moment, nor does he want to. He assumes they will be given rooms to stay in the guest tower, but he doesn’t really know (or care) where that is.

Dinner later that evening is awkward. Hani and her mother sit across from Yoongi and his father. They don’t talk much except about their journey down.

“... We’re just glad to have been generously brought in,” the queen finishes a long story Yoongi only listened to partially.

“Of course,” the king replies. “I hope you don’t mind this change in topic, but I’d like to discuss wedding plans.” This caught Yoongi’s attention.

“Go ahead,” the queen motions.

“I’m not familiar with the customs of your kingdom, but here soulmates are believed to be sacred. In order for this marriage to be a success, my kingdom must believe your daughter and my son are each other’s soulmates. For this reason, we must give them time to get to know each other before the wedding. I’ll set the wedding date once my son tells me to, and not a day before then,” the king explains.

Yoongi thinks to himself he might just never tell his father to set the date. He knows this plan is illogical.

“This seems fair. However, you must know I cannot be away from home for too long,” the queen says.

Yoongi zones out again after that. He knows tomorrow will be worse and all he wants is sleep. The next morning he’s woken up by someone knocking at his door. He drags himself out of bed to answer his door. All he knows is it’s far too subtle to be Taehyung and he usually just bursts in any way.

He’s startled when he sees it’s Hani.

“W-what? Hi? I mean, what do you want?” Yoongi manages out. He knows he doesn’t like her, but he feels underdressed at the moment.

She gives a slight bow, “Forgive me for intruding. I was told to spend time with you today, and they sent me here. I did not know you would still be sleeping.”

Yoongi meets her eyes, trying to decipher that look, “Okay… give me a few minutes. I’ll meet you in the front courtyard.”

He sighs when he closes the door. Gathering his emotions, he begins to get ready. Once he is decent, he grabs an apple on his way out and heads towards the courtyard. As much as he wishes to go back to sleep, he knows if his father found out he ignored Hani he would be in lots of trouble.

He walks outside and spots her standing towards one side, looking a little bit lost. “What’s up?” he says casually when he’s close enough. He wants to saw his own arm off.

She turns to face Yoongi, probably shocked at his lack of formality. Yoongi hadn’t been given the chance to really say anything or even introduce himself to Hani before now. “I was just thinking… this courtyard is kind of ugly.” Yoongi raises an eyebrow at her and she quickly amended her statement, “I mean it’s so bare. There are no flowers and only a few trees. It’s almost obvious no woman lives here.”

Yoongi feels slightly offended but thinks she probably doesn’t mean to offend him, “There used to be flowers. They all died a bit after my mom died. I think my father killed them purposefully because they reminded him of her.”

“Oh,” Hani says. “Did you know your mother?”

Yoongi bites his lip, “Look. I don’t want to lie to you. I don’t care to get to know you or anything. I don’t want this arranged marriage, but it’s not my choice. I don’t mean to be so blunt, but you deserve to know that. I’ll go tell my father to set the date for the wedding and you can stop pretending to care about me.”

Yoongi turns and leaves before she can come up with a response. He knows he shouldn’t have said what he did, but he doesn’t regret it.

He thinks about returning to his room, but he would be too easy to find there. Instead, he leaves the courtyard and exits the castle. He’s just outside the front gate when a hand grabs onto his wrist and forcefully stops him.

“You think I want this!?” Hani whispers harshly. Yoongi didn’t know he was being followed, she probably waited until they were alone to do this because when Yoongi looks around he sees no one. “How dare you be this selfish. I don’t want this either, but if your people don’t believe I’m your real soulmate then the plan will fail. When my kingdom is attacked, your people will not want to support us! They’ll see our alliance as a sham. So this wedding has to happen and it has to be believable. I don’t care if you like it or even like me, but you better pretend to like me as long as we’re in public. Got that?”

She drops his wrist and waits for Yoongi to nod weakly. She turns and storms away and Yoongi stays frozen in place. When he can no longer see her anymore, he blinks. He never expected her to retaliate like that.

Now that he knows she hates him just as much as he hates her, he supposes he should start acting kinder.

The next time they meet up is later that evening - after dinner. Their parents suggested the two of them go for a walk or something and neither of them could say no.

It’s quiet and awkward at first. Yoongi’s walking half a step behind Hani and watching her from his peripheral vision. As they walk, Yoongi feels like he should say something about earlier, so he does. “I-I’m sorry,” he starts.

Hani stops walking abruptly, “For what?”

“For what I said earlier. It’s just… I don’t want this marriage and that’s not really fair. But I… I have a soulmate already,” Yoongi explains.

She turns to face him, “So if soulmates are so important here, why aren’t you marrying her?”

Yoongi bites his lip, “He’s just some boy from a tiny village. I can’t marry him.”

There’s a long pause before Hani speaks again. “I get it,” she says softly.

“You do?”

“Yeah… I sort of… have a soulmate of my own,” she explains. Hani pulls back her sleeve and pushes back the bracelets to show a name written there.

“Who’s Hyojin?”

“My girlfriend… or maybe my ex-girlfriend now,” she says, looking down.

“Oh. What happened?” Yoongi can’t help but ask.

Hani laughs bitterly, “I told her I was probably going to get married. She couldn’t understand why I had to go and got mad at me. Then she quit and I didn’t get to see her before we left.”

“She quit?”

“Yes. She worked as one of the maids in our castle. When I met her I appointed her as my personal handmaiden so we could spend time together. My mother is the only one who knows about her. My mother is the only person I trust in this world, you know? When I told her about Hyojin she was only ever supportive. She told me it was difficult because I was a princess, but if I could hold out for a few years, it was possible we could get married and live our lives peacefully together. I have an older brother who would take care of the kingdom. Then, as you know… someone had to go and threaten us with war,” Hani explains.

“Why?”

Hani just laughs, “You want me to explain our politics with you now? What happened to not wanting to get to know me?”

Yoongi frowns, “I didn’t realize I wasn’t the only one getting fucked over with this.”

“Wow, so the world doesn’t revolve around you?” She teases. This normally would’ve upset him but it has a certain hint of sarcasm that Yoongi is familiar with, so instead, he smiles.

“It’s shocking, really,” Yoongi shoots back.

Hani laughs, and Yoongi thinks it’s the first genuine laugh he’s heard out of her, “Well, if you really must know, it’s because of magic. My kingdom believes magic is natural and part of the world and so it is not something to be punished for. Not everyone shares this belief. Some of our citizens went into neighboring lands and used magic to cheat and steal. I know you think magic is evil as well, but our neighbors are far more strict about it. You can be a completely normal non-magic person, but if someone accuses you of being a witch, you’re good as dead. We heard about this incident from one of our guards and he begged us to rescue those citizens and punish them in our own kingdom for only the cheating and stealing they did. So we did, but our neighbors did not like that. They threatened to come in and kill every last one of us since they believe we are all witches.”

Yoongi opens his mouth, but closes it again, unsure of which part of that to respond to. “I don’t think magic is… evil,” he says slowly.

“Really? What would make you say that?” Hani asks. Yoongi looks around nervously, but can’t think of anything to say. “So you know someone that’s a witch?” she asks.

Yoongi snaps his eyes over to her. “No!” he basically shouts.

“It’s fine, really! I’ve already told you I’m fine with magic. I sort of have to be,” as Hani speaks, she runs a hand through her hair and Yoongi watches as it changes from black to a bluish-green.

“Woah!” Yoongi exclaims, wide-eyed.

“I’m a witch,” she says. She shakes her hair and it’s black again. “I think I can trust you not to arrest me or anything considering I’m your future bride, but if you do, I should warn you I am capable of killing a man out of sheer will-power.”

“I… Woah,” he repeats.

“So who’s this witch you know? Clearly, they’re important to you.”

“M-my soulmate,” Yoongi admits quietly. He feels as though he’s betraying Hoseok somehow. He promised to keep him safe, but here he is telling this girl something that could get him killed. Even though Hani is a witch herself and told Yoongi she is accepting of magic, he can’t help but feel weary.

“Oh! That makes so much more sense now! Does your father know?”

Yoongi frowns, “No… I’m afraid if he did he’d hunt him down and kill him.”

“Oh, wow. That sucks,” she says.

“Yeah, it really does,” Yoongi replies.

“So what about you? I told you how I met my soulmate. What’s your story?”

Yoongi inhales and retells the full story of how he met Hoseok. He explains everything even down to the letter on his wrist. He tells her about the letters and how he wishes more than anything to be able to see him now. He even explains how his own brother has been too busy with his own problems to talk with. By the time he finishes telling his story, his heart hurts.

“Wow,” Hani mumbles. “I can see why you hate me so much now.”

Yoongi sighs, “I don’t hate you… not really. I just hate this situation. I hate not being with Hoseok.”

 

— Seokjin —

Seokjin seems to have made a new friend. A new boy has started coming by the library. His name is Hoseok, and he’s pretty secretive, but Seokjin enjoys his company. He thinks about asking the boy where he came from or why he’s never visited before, but Seokjin knows he himself doesn’t like to be asked those kinds of questions, so he holds off.

He and Hoseok hang out most days in the library. The first couple of days Hoseok seemed kind of upset and quiet. He came in asking for any books about soulmates.

When he came back to return the book, all he wanted to do was talk. He talked to Seokjin for hours without realizing it. He wanted to talk about his book and the parts he agreed or disagreed with. Seokjin had read that book before so he was able to make counterpoints.

The next day, Hoseok came back and Seokjin asked what he was looking for this time.

“A friend,” Hoseok responds simply.

“Well, if you’re waiting for someone to show up, there are some tables in the back,” Seokjin says.

Hoseok laughs, “No, I’m talking about you, Seokjin! I’m here because I like hanging out with you!”

“Really?” He asks, unsure of himself.

“Yeah! You know, I haven’t met a ton of people in my lifetime, but you’re probably one of my favorites.”

“How can that be true? You barely know me?”

“I know you’re smart, but kind of lame. And somehow you’ve got this super cool job to work in the palace library so you have to be rich too and honestly I’m a gold digger.”

Seokjin bursts out laughing. He spends the next few days looking forward to and expecting Hoseok to drop by. He learns bits and pieces of this boy’s past, but nothing big enough to patch together and explain the bigger picture.

It’s enough. It’s more than enough in fact. Lately, he’s felt upset because Joon has become more distant, and he’s not even the one pushing him away anymore.

Joon has been acting weird. Every time Seokjin tries to hang out with him he gets told he is too busy. It’s as though their roles have swapped. Seokjin almost feels betrayed, but he knows Joon is taking care of a friend who needs him. A tiny part of him feels jealous, but he tells himself that’s ridiculous.

When Seokjin asks about his friend, Joon doesn’t give away very much and tells him it’s too complicated to explain.

The next time Joon shows up at his door, he kind of loses it.

“Oh. It’s you,” Seokjin says in greeting.

“Yeah, hi. I wanted to hang out,” Joon says.

Seokjin purses his lips and pretends to think things over, “Yeah, no.”

“Wait, what? I thought we agreed we would hang out more,” Joon questions.

Seokjin crosses his arms over his chest, “Yeah, I thought we did too.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Joon asks. He seems genuinely confused and for a brief second, Seokjin feels his heart soften. He very nearly lets go of his anger, but it only lasts for a second before he’s angry again.

“It means what the fuck!? You wanted to hang out with me and get to know me and be my friend and stuff even though I acted like a complete jerk to you. Then as soon as I agree to stop shutting you out, you turn and do the same to me. I don’t know what you want from me, but I would appreciate it if you stopped fucking with my life,” Seokjin says.

“W-what?” Joon’s eyes are big. Seokjin feels weak again.

“I’m sick of it, Joon. I don’t want to be friends with you. Not like this.”

“Jin?” Joon whispers. He seems like he’s close to tears. “I didn’t mean to… I just want…”

“Stop trying to be a part of my life,” Seokjin says. “You don’t know what you do to my heart,” and with that, Seokjin shuts the door.

He retreats to his room and packs his stuff. Once he’s finished packing a bag with some clothes and essentials he takes his bag, leaves through the back door, and sets off into the night.

He doesn’t go far however, he only goes as far as the local inn on the outskirts of town. He needs some space and some time away.

-

Seokjin’s stay at the Inn is lonely and quiet.

Every morning he wakes up and has breakfast at the Inn. Then instead of going to the library as he normally would, he goes back to his room. He wastes the time away by reading the books found at the inn or sleeping some more. He also spends a lot of time thinking. He feels bad for shutting the door on Joon like that, but it’s not like he can take it back now. He keeps recalling the last words he said to him and he almost fears what those words could mean. He didn’t plan to say them, and they sort of just came out.

Maybe he has unknowingly developed feelings for Joon. Which he dismisses because the notion is altogether ridiculous. It’s not like Joon had done anything romantic for him, he has no reason to have those sorts of feelings.

He considers moving away. He wants to stay for Yoongi’s weddings, but after that, he’s been making plans to travel some more. He’ll have to say goodbye to Taehyung, but he doesn’t feel obligated to let anyone else know of his plans.

He finds maps and reads up on the neighboring kingdoms around here. In his past, he traveled around without a map or anything, but he’s grown up since then and knows he should be smarter than that. He was lucky as a kid to be able to move around so much and yet not starve to death.

About a week before the wedding, he’s made up his mind. He’ll move away. Someone else can handle the library, as much as it pains him to think of leaving that place behind forever. As for the friends he’s made recently - like Jungkook and Hoseok - he’s sure they’ll be fine and won’t miss him much. They barely knew each other anyway. The only person he would regret leaving was Taehyung… and Joon.

As much as he told himself he was upset with Joon, he felt as though he would be leaving behind a quality friend and person. He’s never felt as comfortable around any other person than he does around Joon. He wishes there was some way for him to stay and be friends, but he was positive Joon hates him now.

He soon finds out he was right. When he finally checked out of the inn and returned home, he was ambushed in the streets. He was walking back to his house, and he unknowingly walked right past Joon.

“JIN!” Someone shouts from behind him.

Seokjin turns around to see none other than Joon running straight at him. He keeps a stoic face and makes no effort to move out of the way.

“Jin, what the fuck!” Joon says once he’s closer. He’s panting, out of breath from the sprinting, “It’s you!”

Seokjin clenches his jaw, preparing for the worst, “Yeah, it’s me.”

“Where have you been!? I’ve been so worried about you! I’m so glad you’re okay. You’re okay right?” Joon shoots out a thousand questions at once.

“Relax, I’m fine. I just went to stay at the Inn,” Seokjin tells him.

“Oh. The inn. That’s the one place we didn’t think of,” Joon says.

“We?”

“Yes! I have a roommate now sort of. But that doesn’t matter, I have something really important to tell you,” Joon starts.

“What is it? I really have to get going,” Seokjin tells him. He’s not in a rush, but he wants to get back to his house to start packing. He knows the longer he stays and talks to Joon the more he’ll want to stay here and he can’t do that.

“Alright, I’m sorry. It’s about your name, Jin. It’s Seokjin,” Joon says.

“Yes, I know my own name,” Seokjin replies.

“Well, I didn’t! I was talking with my roommate about where to find you and he went ‘If I was Seokjin where would I be?’ So I was confused and asked who Seokjin was and he said it was you! And that’s so great becaus-”

“Wait, who’s your roommate?” Seokjin interrupts.

“My friend. His name’s Hoseok.”

 “Hoseok… I know him,” Seokjin says.

“Yeah, I know that, but what I didn’t know was your name! I only knew you as Jin, so way back when I met you and this letter showed up on my wrist, I didn’t consider it could be you,” Joon holds up his arm and Seokjin feels his heart racing. He refuses to look. “S stands for Seokjin, doesn’t it?”

Seokjin is holding his breath. He can’t decipher everything he is feeling. He’s mostly feeling anger. He cannot believe Joon would do something like this to him after everything he’s told him about his past. Part of him also feels excited or maybe hopeful that Joon isn’t like the rest. However, his head tells him he’s exactly like the rest.

Seokjin takes a deep breath and talks through gritted teeth, “Joon, stop it. Stop it now.”

“Stop what? I really think that maybe you’re my soulmate,” he says and the word makes Seokjin’s heart pound.

“I’m not. It’s not possible, Joon,” Seokjin says. He wants more than anything to turn and leave, but he’s done enough running away for awhile. He doesn’t want to do something he’ll regret like slamming the door in Joon’s face so he stays firmly planted in place.

“How do you know!? Jin, I wouldn’t try to hurt you after knowing what you’ve been through. Think about it, you told me stuff you’ve told anyone else and you know that I’m… what I am. We’re meant to be,” he whispers the last part.

Seokjin feels his eyes burn, he feels close to tears so instead of saying anything he just shakes his head.

“I can prove it! What’s on your wrist? You can’t tell me it’s blank,” Joon says confidently. “I-if it’s not… I’ll leave you alone or do whatever you want me to. I’ll never talk to you again if that’s what you want,” he adds, less confidently.

Seokjin had forgotten about the letter on his wrist for a bit now. He had convinced himself it had to have been someone he met in passing somewhere and so it didn’t matter. When he holds up his wrist he expects it to be blank again, but instead, the “N” is still there, bold and plainly visible. He sighs, “See, Joon. You’re not my soulmate. I have an N, not a J.”

Joon seems frozen in place, but he snaps out of his daze when Seokjin talks, “No! See, that’s my name! Namjoon - not just Joon!”

Seokjin frowns, he feels sad. He doesn’t know what to think, “Joon…” He doesn’t know what to say to him. He feels broken because how could he be so obviously lying to him.

“Jin… I promise- I pinky promise that I think this is real. I’m not lying, but I don’t know how to prove it right now. Just… give me a chance,” Joon says.

Seokjin sighs, eyeing Joon’s extended pinky finger, “You know what happens if you break a pinky promise, right?”

Joon nods, “You break my pinky. You could break all my fingers for all I care, Jin. That’s how serious I am here.”

Seokjin bites his lip. He still doesn't believe him but locks his pinky finger with Joon’s anyways. He thinks the idea of breaking his fingers doesn’t sound too bad at the moment. He internally resolves that if he still doesn’t believe Joon in a week’s time, he’ll move away for good.

-

The next time he sees Joon it’s two days later. Seokjin decided to return to his post at the library. If he really would be leaving in about a week he wanted to spend as much of his remaining time possible here at the library.

Joon walks in and jumps when he sees Seokjin. “Jin! I didn’t expect to see you here,” he says.

“Well, why not? I do work here,” Seokjin replies. It comes out harsher than he meant it to.

Joon shrugs, “You haven’t been here recently.”

“So why are you here?”

He stands for a second, staring off into a middle distance, “I’m not sure… force of habit I guess? I checked here every day when you were gone. I was let off work early today because Jungkook’s mother wanted him to take my shift or something, and I was bored and now I’m here.”

Seokjin squints at him unsure if he believes that story, “Why is Jungkook working your shift? I thought he baked the bread.”

“Yeah, I think he’s in some trouble with his mother. He’s been neglecting the shop, so she’s in charge again,” he explains.

“Interesting,” Seokjin says. Just then another person enters the library.

“Woah! Hey guys!” Hoseok says, smiling wide at the two of them. “It’s good to see you back, Seokjin. Wow, this is like, worlds colliding right here.”

Joon laughs at his roommate, “What’s up, Hoseok.”

“Oh, not much. I just like walking around. I saw this cool bush back somewhere and I didn’t know what it was so I thought maybe there would be a book on it,” Hoseok explains.

“Well, you know where the botany section is,” Seokjin replies. Hoseok smiles at Seokjin and waves them off as he turns down a row of books.

“How’s living with Hoseok going?” Seokjin asks conversationally.

“It’s good. I think he’s gotten a lot better. He still gets sad a lot… I heard he told you why,” Joon says.

“Yeah, he started coming in here. I’ve heard Yoongi had been going through some stuff from of Taehyung, so it wasn’t hard to figure out Hoseok was the other side of that story. It is interesting you know… that he willingly enters the castle knowing that he could be here,” Seokjin says.

“Truthfully, I think he first came in here to meet you.”

“Why would he wanna meet me?”

Joon blushes and looks down, “Well, I kind of talked about you a lot.”

“Oh… I thought he was my friend,” Seokjin says. He’s a little disappointed about Hoseok, but that’s mostly made up for since he just found out Joon talked about him a lot. He wonders what he talked about.

“No! Don’t get me wrong, he loves you! He came in here at first for that, but then he became friends with you. He didn’t tell me he had been leaving the house while I was at work. I thought he had been sitting at home all day,” Joon explains.

“I found a book!” Hoseok exclaims, bounding up to the two of them with his book in hand.

“Awesome, you can just bring it back whenever,” Seokjin tells him.

“Don’t I have to check it out?” Hoseok asks.

Seokjin shrugs, “It’s fine. I know where to find you if you don’t bring it back. We’re friends.”

Hoseok seems to light up at Seokjin’s words. He looks like he wants to reply, but he’s smiling so big, it may not be possible for him to talk. “Thanks, Seokjin! I promise I’ll bring it back! Bye Seokjin! Bye Namjoon!”

“I think you just made him really happy,” Joon says.

“He’s really odd,” Seokjin says, but with a smile. He also notices how Hoseok called him ‘Namjoon’ on the way out. It sounds odd hearing Joon called that. It makes him think about the other day when Joon told him his name was actually Namjoon. He starts to consider that maybe he wasn’t being lied to after all. Hoseok didn’t seem like the kind of guy to get involved in a lie like that.

“He… didn’t grow up with many friends,” Joon says.

“That’s surprising, he seems really friendly,” Seokjin replies.

“Yeah well, he was sort of isolated. I became his friend only because I moved into the house next door to his and was his neighbor for a couple years.”

“He called you ‘Namjoon,’” Seokjin is unable to keep to himself any longer.

Joon looks taken aback, “Yeah. That’s my name.”

Seokjin shakes his head, “Sorry I just, it’s still weird for me.”

“I get it. Anyways I should probably go after him. He doesn’t really know the way home… I can’t tell you a number of times I’ve found him wandering around streets. He’ll usually just walk around until he finds me or he finds the house.”

Seokjin laughs, “He’s a mess.”

Joon smiles, “He is. See you later. Seokjin.”

Seokjin waves him off. It’s the first time he’s heard his full name from Joon like that and for a split second he considers doing the same and calling him Namjoon in return. Instead, he just smiles and waves.

The next day he sees Joon at the library again. In a lot of ways, it’s the same as the day before, but something feels different.

Joon walks in and drops a small parcel on Seokjin’s desk.

“What’s this?” Seokjin asks as he picks it up and begins to unwrap it.

“It’s just… bread,” Joon says, sounding embarrassed.

“Bread?”

“I uh, baked it.”

Seokjin finishes unwrapping it to see the most oddly shaped, burnt loaf of bread he’s ever seen. “I can see that,” Seokjin teases.

Joon pouts, “It was supposed to be a dog since you told me that was your favorite animal once, but then it turned into a horrific monster.”

Seokjin rotates the bread. “Hey, I can see it! It’s kind of cute,” he admits. Seokjin pretends not to notice the blush on Joon’s face.

“Well, I sort of have to get back to work… I’m only here for my lunch break,” Joon says.

“Hey, don’t you wanna eat this bread with me?” Seokjin asks.

Joon laughs, “Thanks for pretending it could be edible. Means a lot. See you later.”

He leaves before Seokjin is able to get in another word. He looks at the loaf of bread some more and can’t help the smile that comes to his face. Namjoon was quite a terrible baker, but his effort was evident.

Seokjin picks off the worst of burnt parts and finds the inside is actually quite good. He eats as much of it as he can.

A bit later Hoseok shows up to return his book.

“Hey, friend!” Hoseok says, strutting up to Seokjin’s desk.

“Hi Hoseok,” Seokjin says with a smile. It was hard not to smile around Hoseok - he just had that sort of effect on people.

“I am here to return this book,” Hoseok announces placing said book on the counter.

“Thanks,” Seokjin says. Hoseok is turning to leave when Seokjin stops him, “Hey Hoseok.”

“Yeah?”

“How long have you known… Nam… Joon…?” Seokjin asks.

“Oh! Hmm, maybe two or three years total,” Hoseok answers.

“Really? You seem like you’ve been friends a lot longer.”

“Sometimes it feels that way. Namjoon is a really good person. I mean he’s clumsy and he smells sometimes, but he’s a great friend. It’s kind of weird of me to say this considering I’ve had less than five solid friends my entire life, but Namjoon is the best person I’ve ever met,” Hoseok says with confidence.

“Really?”

Hoseok nods, “Yeah, he’s like… my friend soulmate.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, and I know it’s not really my place to say anything like this, but you should give him a chance. I think the person who gets to be his soulmate is the luckiest person in the world.”

Seokjin nods, “I might… consider it.”

“For real!?” Hoseok exclaims, lighting up instantly at Seokjin’s words.

“Maybe, but you have to swear you’ll never tell him I said that,” Seokjin hisses.

Hoseok mimes zipping up his lips and locking them shut with his fingers. Then he waves goodbye to Seokjin without another word. Seokjin sighs, unsure if he can trust Hoseok to keep that a secret.

He hates to admit it, but Namjoon had been softening his heart. His mind tells him to remain cautious and watch his step, but his heart keeps pulling him towards Namjoon.

-

He invites Namjoon the next night to go with him to this concert in town center. Seokjin doesn’t recognize any of the music, but it’s fun nonetheless. The slower songs are especially fun because Seokjin stands half of step behind Namjoon to watch him sway along and attempt to match the pitch of the singer as he sings.

“You’re an awful singer!” Seokjin can’t help but tell him at one point.

Namjoon turns to him and frowns, “Well you’re good at everything, so fuck off.”

Seokjin laughs and turns back to the stage. He suddenly feels something warm press against his cheek. He freezes and turns to Namjoon who’s mirroring his expression.

“I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to- I just-”

“It’s okay,” Seokjin stops him and offers a small smile. He reaches out and grips his hand briefly before letting go. He tries to pay attention to the music once again, but his heart is pounding and he can feel the ghost of Namjoon’s lips burning their way into his cheek.

After the show ends, Namjoon walks him home but doesn’t try to kiss him again. In fact, he seems scared to even touch him. Seokjin lets him keep his distance. Though he’s decided to give Namjoon a chance, he’s focused on just taking baby steps for now.

And that’s exactly what he does. The next couple of days leading up to the wedding are simple and relaxing. Namjoon visits him in the library during the day, and at night Seokjin invites him to hang out in his house. They cuddle together on his couch and just talk. They play with each other's fingers lazily and talk about their dreams.

It gets late and they get tired. Seokjin finds himself pressing a tentative kiss to the backs of Namjoon’s fingers. They don’t talk about it. They do talk about the wedding and Hoseok’s condition. He seems to be keeping more to himself again now the wedding is just a couple days out.

Namjoon idly brushes a hair back from Seokjin’s eyes. They don’t talk about that either. They keep their topics limited to anything and everything except for anything having to do with them and the letters on their wrists.

Seokjin is tempted to just take the plunge and let his heart get broken again. He feels himself falling helplessly for Namjoon, and he’s not doing anything to try and prevent it.

It comes to the night before the wedding. Namjoon didn’t come over at all the day before that because Hoseok had been a crying mess. He explained that he must’ve realized this was really happening after living in denial for a bit. Being an optimist, he was probably hoping things would work out for the best.

But now Namjoon was here, apologizing for ditching him last night. Seokjin tells him it’s okay and he understands. He means it. Seokjin admires the sight before him. He doesn’t remember Namjoon being this handsome in the past. Maybe it was the low light or maybe it was just him. He remembers what Hoseok had told him about Namjoon just a few days ago. About how anyone would be lucky to be his soulmate.

Seokjin thinks he understands this now.

Namjoon stays later than Seokjin would’ve expected him to. He says he’s worried about Hoseok and wants to make sure he’s still alright.

Seokjin walks him to the door and pauses.

“Good night. Namjoon,” he says and it’s the first time he’s called him that directly. Very carefully and slowly, Seokjin leans forward and tilts his chin up to peck him lightly on the corner of his lips.

He’s leaning back when he sees the look in Namjoon’s eyes. He looks soft and adoringly at Seokjin. He can’t resist any longer. Seokjin kisses him again but for real this time. Namjoon’s lips are soft and he can feel his face being cupped by his hands. Seokjin rests his arms on Namjoon’s waist.

It only lasts a second or two. Both of them pause in the silence that follows the kiss. Seokjin isn’t completely sure it was real. Though he wouldn’t admit it, he’s had dreams almost exactly like this.

“Good night, Seokjin,” Namjoon says. He drops his hands from Seokjin’s face and turns in one fluid motion. Seokjin watches him leave. When he’s out of sight, he goes to bed.

He sees his bags in the corner of the room from when he decided he would be moving. He never got too far with packing.

When he wakes up, he feels like he’s still asleep. He slowly remembers what day it is and then that he has to get ready. While he’s changing out of his clothes, something catches his attention out of the corner of his eyes.

He drops to the group like a dead weight, clutching his arm. He starts to panic and then cries a bit. He can’t believe he let someone else into his heart. He can’t believe he let himself be fooled. Because now on his wrist, was no longer just a letter. Now it read:

Kim Namjoon

He feels dread.

 

— Jimin —

After weeks of work, Jimin finds out doesn’t get the apprenticeship and he’s crushed. Not only that but he’s been neglecting Taehyung in order to get the job and he feels really bad about it. He doesn’t have the heart to tell Taehyung he lost the apprenticeship just yet. He’s afraid it will make him upset.

He never told his parents what he had been up to and now he never will. He decides that his dream is just that - a dream. He tells his parents he’ll work for them.

When Jimin hears news of the royal wedding, he’s surprised. He wonders if Yoongi will be marrying the soulmate Taehyung told him all about. He wonders why he hasn’t heard about any of this from Taehyung himself.

That’s when he realizes he doesn’t know when the last time he saw his boyfriend was. Jimin checks his wrist and traces over the letters of Taehyun’s name. He stops when he sees Jungkook’s name.

He really wonders when that will fade away. He hasn’t seen, talked to, or so much as thought about Jungkook in a long while, but it’s still there - strong as ever. He misses Taehyung and thinks that maybe if he tells Taehyung the truth, the name will fade away.

Taehyung has always been understanding with Jimin. Sure, he didn’t love it when Jimin’s parents prevented them from dating, but he respected the rule for at least as long as Jimin did.

He had made up his mind. Deciding that he had spent enough time moping around about missing Taehyung and about his future in weaponsmithing, he got up to take action. He left his house and headed straight for the bakery first. It was about a ten-minute walk into town for Jimin and the bakery was on the way to the castle anyway, so it worked out.

However, when he makes it to the bakery, he only sees some lady he’s never met before.

“I uh, was looking for my friend,” Jimin mumbles out when she asks what she can get for him.

“Well there isn’t anyone here right now besides me,” the lady tells him. “Who are you looking for?”

“His name’s Taehyung. He’s loud, has brown hair.”

The lady shakes her head, “Sorry, don’t know him.”

Jimin thinks that’s odd. This lady probably hasn’t worked here long because Taehyung was sure to visit this bakery far too often. Either that or Taehyung doesn’t come by here anymore for whatever reason.

Jimin sighs thinking about how much he’s probably missed out on with Taehyung.

The next few places he checks are just as unsuccessful. He’s not at Seokjin’s house, by the pond, in town center, the library, or even the castle. Jimin asks anyone he knows that might know Taehyung and none of them are all too helpful.

Disheartened, Jimin returns home for the night. His mother notices his sad demeanor when he walks in the front door.

“Everything alright, dear?” she asks.

Jimin considers lying and going up to his room to sulk alone, but at his mother’s words, he recalls everything that’s not alright. He shakes his head slowly, and his mother notices.

“What is it?” her voice is soft and it causes Jimin to breakdown on the spot.

He curls up next to his mother on their couch and lets himself be sad and cry. He doesn’t say anything about the apprenticeship or his dreams of becoming a physician. Instead he tells her how he’s been too busy for Taehyung lately and feels like they’re losing touch.

She soothes him and tells him it’s normal to feel this way. “Being in a relationship isn’t sunshine and rainbows all the time,” she explains.

Jimin listens and lets his mother pet his hair. He thinks he hears the footsteps of his brother or father come into the room at one point, but they leave quickly - probably after seeing Jimin.

It’s not like they’ve never seen Jimin cry. Jimin was a semi-emotional person and had cried over a multitude of things. However, he’s never cried while feeling like this before - as if he’s hit rock bottom.

He falls asleep at some point, probably exhausting himself from all the crying. When he wakes up, he finds himself on the couch with a blanket draped over him and a glass of water waiting for him on the coffee table. He smiles to himself. As much as he tells himself he loathes his parents for what they do, he still loves them.

When he gets up the next morning - or afternoon really - he decides to try again. He must have slept through breakfast and missed everyone leaving today. His parents are likely at work and his brother is likely at his classes. He’s home alone so he makes himself a small snack before heading out.

He tries all the same spots again just in case. Just like the day before, he cannot find him. Jimin panics a little inside as he begins to imagine the worst. He wonders if Taehyung is still in town or if he’s even still alive. None of his friends have seen him until he asks Namjoon at the bakery.

He stops by for the second time that day, but this time to actually buy something. Namjoon hadn’t been in when Jimin stopped by the first time, so he wonders if he was on his lunch break or something.

“Namjoon! I’m so glad to see you,” Jimin says. They’re not really friends, but at this point, any familiar face is nice to see.

“Jimin, right? I haven’t seen you around lately,” Namjoon replies.

Jimin nods, “Yeah, I’ve been busy. Hey, uh listen, have you seen Taehyung? I can’t seem to find him anywhere… I swear he’s disappeared off the face of the planet.”

Namjoon laughs softly at this, “Yeah, he comes and goes in here a bit. It’s hard to say for sure when he’ll be where though because Jungkook has an irregular schedule now. His mother took the shop back over.”

“Oh. I think I met her yesterday,” Jimin says.

“You probably did. Anyways if you’re looking for Tae the best I can tell you is that he and Kookie typically hang out at night.”

“Kookie?” Jimin asks.

“Ah, sorry. Jungkook. I have a friend that’s really into puns and he calls Jungkook that because he bakes and well… Jungkook. Kook. Chocolate-chip cookies. It’s lame,” Namjoon explains.

Jimin exhales a laugh, “That’s funny.”

“Yeah, oh hey can I get you anything while you’re here?”

Jimin squints, “Do you have any banana bread?”

“Of course!” Namjoon announces.

Jimin pays and thanks him about twenty times before leaving the shop. He doesn’t know where to go at the moment, but he feels somewhat content to just stroll around town. He feels reassured since Namjoon has seen Taehyung around lately. Logically it would make sense to wait in one place for Taehyung, but he didn’t want to loiter in the bakery. He’s too antsy to sit still anyway, walking will help calm him down and clear his worries.

It’s been awhile since Jimin last walked these streets with no destination in mind. He makes his way over to the merchant’s tents. The capital was set up so that there were permanent shop buildings meant for the town residents and then around town center and down certain streets there were pop up tents. Merchants from out of town could come in and rent a space to sell their goods. Because of this, there was almost always something new being sold at the tents.

Jimin walks past a vendor selling knitted blankets but stops at a jewelry tent. He’s always loved rings and earrings so he stops to look through the selection.

“Free set of earring with a piercing,” the vendor offers him.

He smiles politely but doesn’t respond. He has been considering getting a cartilage piercing lately. He wanted to ask Taehyung what he thought of that, but it’s slipped out of his mind with how busy he’s been lately. The few times he has seen Taehyung it hasn’t come to mind to ask him about that. It really seemed trivial to all else they could talk about.

Taehyung was always supportive of him anyway, and Jimin was almost positive he already knew what his answer would be. Taehyung was the kind of friend that would always say yes when asked whether or not Jimin should do something - presuming “something” wasn’t reckless and dangerous. Even Taehyung, who has a higher threshold for what he perceives as dangerous, wouldn’t think a piercing would fall in that category. Jimin knows Taehyung would tell him to do it.

“Actually, how much was that piercing?” Jimin turns to ask. He was feeling kind of reckless and figures this is exactly what he needs to make himself feel better. It wasn’t dangerous, but it would sting a bit and maybe even take his mind off things. It was only a bonus that he had been wanting this for awhile. He had partially been holding back because of the apprenticeship, but now that that’s gone to shit, nothing’s stopping him.

Twenty minutes later he leaves with two new rings, some earrings, and one new piercing. He enjoys the way it feels in his ear. Now he’s more excited to see Taehyung so he can show off his new piercing. It did not have the intended effect of making him forget his troubles.

He makes his way down to the pond next. He spots a family across the water. They seem to be having a blast. One girl is tossing whole slices of bread at ducks with her mother. A boy and his father are down the shore and it appears that he is being taught how to fish. Jimin used to come here all the time as a child to feed the ducks with his mother. It makes him feel nostalgic. He used to come here and imagine him and Taehyung bringing their adopted kid or maybe kids here someday. He still imagines this as a possibility, but for some reason, he can’t get Jungkook out of his head.

Maybe it would be nice for their kids to have an uncle, but Jimin had never imagined other people tagging along in his fantasy days out with his future family. He wonders if Jungkook would really tag along or if he was just being weird.

He takes a seat near the water’s edge and just sits back to relax. He inhales and tries his best to clear his mind. It’s starting to heat up as summer is just around the corner, but for now, it feels really nice with the warm sun and cool breeze.

He lays back and watches clouds as they pass overhead. He hasn’t spent so much time relaxing like this in months. It’s nice.

He doesn’t know how long he stays like that, but once the sun starts to set, he gets up. He doesn’t expect to find Taehyung tonight, but he might as well try. He ventures through the streets, passing the merchant tents once again. Most of them shut down at night, but they typically stay open if there is an event going on at town center.

It appears tonight is one of those nights. Jimin goes from tent to tent to see what’s being sold. He also enjoys talking to people or listening to stories. He remembers how he always loves listening to Taehyung and suddenly he feels sad again. No matter where he goes, he’s reminded of Taehyung.

He decides it’s nothing a shot or two can’t fix. Jimin’s an adult. He’s old enough to drink and he’s tried alcohol enough times to know he’s not a huge fan of it. He’s really only been drunk once and that was on Taehyung’s last birthday. It was fun. They hung out in Taehyung’s room and got drunk off wine each other - as cheesy as that sounds. Jimin remembers how they “snuck” out of the castle and pretended to be secret spies. He doesn’t remember how they ended up there, but he knows they woke up the next morning in one of the castle’s watchtowers. Luckily the guard recognized Taehyung and they didn’t get into any trouble.

Jimin smiles at the memory, but it doesn’t last long as it’s quickly being replaced by the sad empty feeling that’s been slowly consuming him all day. He settles down at this mini bar near the back side of town center.

While he’s waiting for his drink, he notices people are starting to gather in the grassy field in front of the stage.

Jimin nods at the bartender when he hands him his glass. He winces as the toxic liquid burns its way down his throat. As painful as it was, it doesn’t stop him from ordering more. Everything around him is reminding him of Taehyung.

He sees a couple holding hands. He misses the way Taehyung’s hand fits into his.

Another shot.

He sees a concert begin. He misses countless dates he’s had with Taehyung, dancing and singing in this very field.

Another shot.

After a couple shots - he doesn’t know how many, he isn’t counting - they become less painful and he suspects the bartender is just giving him shots of water now. It doesn’t matter, he’s already drunk. He didn’t mean to end up like this, but it kind of seems like that’s the way everything in his life is going.

The crowd of people annoys him. They’re all so happy. He wants to be happy like he used to be with Taehyung. They’re also loud, just like Taehyung. Some of them dance like him. He could swear he even hears him singing along above the crowd.

Eventually, the show ends and the crowd disperses a bit. Jimin figures he should go home as well. He doesn’t want to wake up here in the morning.

He wobbles as he turns on his stool. Then he spots him.

Jimin’s eyes shoot open and he jumps off his chair. However, this was a terrible idea as his legs don’t catch him and he falls all the way to the ground. A few people turn to look and one person tries to help Jimin off the ground, but he pushes them all away.

Once he’s on his feet again, he scans the crowd. He knows he saw him. It has to be him. He spots his target again and is about to make his way towards him, but he’s stopped dead in his tracks.

Taehyung’s not alone. Jungkook is sitting on the stage, Taehyung standing in front of him, leaning in to wipe the sweat off the other boy with a towel. Jimin feels a spike of jealousy in his chest.

Then he watches in horror as Jungkook tilts his head up and kisses Taehyung - his boyfriend.

Jimin’s vision blurs and he’s filled with red hot anger.

“Hey!” he shouts out. They turn to look at him. So do about ten other people.

He doesn’t realize how drunk he had been getting until his vision blurs even more while he tries to walk. He can’t be sure if that was caused by the anger or the alcohol. He’s almost reached them, but as he takes another step, he feels himself hit the ground. He passes out before he can reach them.

Chapter Text

— Hoseok —

Hoseok wakes up with a headache, but that’s not the only reason he wants to go back to sleep already. There’s noise coming from the streets outside. The wedding festivities have begun. Hoseok had considered returning home because he knew it would be much quieter in his tiny village. However, he knew his own aunt would make the day far more painful than Namjoon would.

Unable to fall back asleep due to the noise, Hoseok rolls off the couch. Namjoon had offered his bed to Hoseok countless times since he got here, but he refused - he didn’t want to be a burden. The couch was pretty comfortable as it was so Hoseok didn’t really mind.

“Oh! Look who’s up,” Namjoon’s voice drifts in from the kitchen.

Hoseok groans in response, “I’m in pain.”

“Are you okay?” Namjoon walks in holding a plate of pancakes.

“I fell on the floor,” Hoseok mumbles face down.

“Well if you get up, I made chocolate chip pancakes!” Namjoon waves the plate around and Hoseok rolls on his side to look up.

Hoseok frowns at him, “Why are you in such a good mood today?”

Namjoon blinks, “Good mood? I’m perfectly normal.”

Hoseok squints at him but doesn’t say anything else. He gets up to join Namjoon over breakfast. He helps himself to a couple pancakes, a ton of syrup and a glass of orange juice. Hoseok eyes Namjoon as he eats. He’s definitely excited about something and it’s making Hoseok feel bad.

“Really, what is it?” Hoseok asks with a mouthful of pancakes.

“Hoseok I can’t understand you with your mouth full,” Namjoon sighs.

“What’s with you?” Hoseok repeats after swallowing.

“What are you talking about?” Namjoon feigns innocence.

Hoseok frowns, “You know the wedding’s today. You’re supposed to be upset or maybe just indifferent… But Joonie it’s almost blinding to look at you - you’re practically beaming!”

Namjoon looks around before meeting Hoseok’s gaze, “I’m sorry. It’s just… I didn’t want you to feel any more upset.”

“What could possibly make me more upset than the wedding happening? Tell me what’s up,” Hoseok demands.

“Well,” Namjoon begins bashfully, “I woke up this morning with this.”

He thrusts his fist over the table, wrist flipped up to expose the words there. Hoseok’s eyes widen, “Holy shit! Does that mean you guys-”

“We kissed!” Namjoon bursts out, practically giddy.

Hoseok laughs at him, “No way.”

Namjoon nods enthusiastically, “And he was the one who kissed me! I thought for sure I was gonna have to be the one to make the first move like that, and I was scared to because I can tell Seokjin still doesn’t really fully trust me. I didn’t want to make him more uncomfortable. Then he kissed me and I came back here and checked my wrist about every fifteen seconds to see if his name would show up-”

“Ooh! Did you see it come in?” Hoseok interrupts.

Namjoon shakes his head, “No, that’s sort of impossible. Soulmate tattoos can only show up while you’re sleeping or in a deep rest because your heart has to be pumping at a slower rate. There’s this whole science behind it, I can tell you about it later. Anyway, I knew I had to go to sleep, but I was way too excited to do that for a while. I mean Seokjin kissed me, Hobi! Then this morning when I woke up, it was the first thing I saw.”

“That’s so great! Have you seen him since?” Hoseok asks.

“No… I should go see him now, right?” Namjoon asks.

Hoseok shrugs, “Probably not since you haven’t finished eating breakfast or taken a shower in two days. I’d say maybe later, but- oh right… the wedding.”

Namjoon’s face instantly fell, “Hoseok, I’m so sorry. I wish tha-”

“It’s fine, really. I’m happy for you, Joonie!” Hoseok smiles genuinely.

It’s enough to put Namjoon at ease, “Thanks.”

-

Hoseok takes his time getting ready for the day. He’s really hoping he can make it through the entire day without crying. He had done plenty of crying leading up to today - especially this week - and he was done with that for a bit. He was determined that he and Namjoon would have a nice time today.

It didn’t matter that his soulmate was about to get married to someone else.

From hanging out with Seokjin and Namjoon, Hoseok had heard all about this kid named Taehyung and his situation. This Taehyung guy apparently had two different soulmates. Hoseok tries to convince himself maybe he’ll get lucky and find another soulmate some day. Or if worse comes to worst, he can maybe go after whichever guy Taehyung doesn’t pick.

Of course, ideally, he could be with Yoongi, but at this point in time, it was just unrealistic.

Once he and Namjoon finally set off towards town it’s just after noon. They spend a little bit of time in the town per Hoseok’s request. He’s never experienced any sort of party or celebration, so he wants to walk around and see what’s going on.

In the town center, there were lots of people dancing around and playing games Hoseok had never seen before. He almost wants to join in until Namjoon stops him. He hadn’t realized the only people playing this particular game were children under the age of ten. He felt it was unfair he couldn’t join.

They continue around the path. All of the merchant’s booths around the square were packed. There appeared to be more people in town at the moment as well. Hoseok wonders where they all came from or if his aunt and uncle would be here.

They purchase cinnamon-sugar soft pretzels from the lines of food booths. Everything is lively and joyous. Hoseok wishes he could feel the same amount of happiness as all the kids who got let out of school today. There’s so much going on around him, and Hoseok can feel himself start to become sad, so he asks Namjoon if they can leave.

They leave the town and fall behind several others that are making their way to the castle for the celebration as well. Despite the occasion, Hoseok was excited to be seeing the castle for real. He had been to the palace libraries a few times, but that was different. The library was sort of separate from the rest of the castle so that it could accept visitors. It was barely inside the castle’s walls as well, so to Hoseok it didn't really count.

There are similar festivities happening around them inside the castle’s gates. There are more games happening here as well, and they’re ones Hoseok is actually able to participate in. He eventually stumbled past someone advertising a scavenger hunt.

His eyes widen with excitement, “Please, Namjoon! We have to!”

Namjoon shrugs, “I don’t see why not.”

There was still about an hour until the ceremony, and the scavenger hunt booth declared they would reward anyone able to complete the full list with a monetary prize.

The list was a series of clues that hinted at a certain place around the castle. At each place, there was a small, usually hidden, sign declaring you had found the spot for the hunt. Under each sign was a pile of small poker chips and each place had a different color stock.

“Under the sun I glean, I’m tan surrounded by green,” Hoseok read out.

“That sounds like the fountain in the middle courtyard. It’s tan and surrounded by grass,” Namjoon says.

Hoseok looks at him in awe, “Have you been here before?”

“Seokjin gave me a tour awhile back,” Namjoon shrugs.

“That’s super cool! Now let’s go find that fountain!” Hoseok says.

On their way to the fountain, something catches Hoseok’s eye and he ends up finding another one of the scavenger hunt stops on accident. They waste a good forty-five minutes doing this and they’ve found nine out of ten of the items listed.

The final one has them both stumped.

“Up in the mountains you will see; a sight so grande, grand it can’t be free,” Hoseok reads again. “It doesn’t make sense are we supposed to go to the top of the mountains? Those are at least two hours away.

“I was thinking maybe it’s up high somewhere in the castle, but there’s no way we’ll be allowed up anywhere right now when the ceremony is about to start,” Namjoon says.

“I guess you’re right. We should go find a spot, anyways,” Hoseok concedes.

“You’re still okay with this?” Namjoon asks.

Hoseok shrugs, “Not really. But I kind of have to be.”

“We don’t have to attend if you don’t want. We can go back to my house or leave. Just say the word,” Namjoon presses.

Hoseok sighs, “I have to go. Even though Yoongi might be the biggest asshole in the kingdom, I feel like I owe it to him… to be at his wedding. I mean his name’s still on my wrist.”

“As long as you’re sure,” Namjoon says.

They make their way through the crowds and find a place that’s still within view of the front, but about two-thirds of the way back. Hoseok looks up at the clouds to try and distract himself from reality.

It really is a beautiful day. If he was getting married, he would want the weather to be exactly like this. It was warm from the sun, but there was a cool breeze running through the air. He’s not sure if he would want the entire kingdom to be there, however.

Hoseok then spots someone through the crowds of people. He nudges Namjoon’s shoulder to make sure he’s still next to him and to get his attention.

“What’s up? You doing okay?” Namjoon asks.

Hoseok shrugs, before turning to face Namjoon. The look of concern on his friend’s face upsets him. He doesn’t want to upset Namjoon. “I’m good. I just uh… I see someone.”

“What? Who is it?” Namjoon asks.

“Seokjin,” Hoseok says, watching as Namjoon instantly perks up.

“Where? Are you sure it’s him?”

Hoseok sighs, “Yeah, I think so. He’s over there, off to the side.”

Namjoon looks around for him.

“But Namjoon…”

“Yeah?”

“Please don’t leave me alone right now.”

Namjoon brought his attention back to Hoseok, “Hope, I wouldn’t dream of it. I’ll just find Seokjin later.”

“Thanks. Actually, it kind of feels crowded right here. Do you think we could move back?”

Namjoon opens his mouth to respond, but the sound of a piano beginning to play interrupts him. The first few people come around the corner and make their way through the crowd. These people are mainly making sure there is enough room for the center aisle. Hoseok feels himself get pushed back by the crowd due to the number of people moving outwards.

He’s starting to feel kind of sweaty and hot and maybe even a bit claustrophobic. He wishes for the cool breeze he felt earlier to return.

Before he knows it, a whole bunch of people have already made their way down the impossibly long aisle and to the front. Two white horses come around the corner next and that’s when Hoseok sees him. Yoongi rides behind the king as they proceed down the aisle.

Hoseok tries to ignore the pounding in his chest. Yoongi’s only about ten meters away from him. The sunlight hits him and Hoseok could swear he’s glowing.

“He’s so… beautiful,” he whispers to Namjoon as his heart does a flip in his chest.

Namjoon gives his arm a squeeze in response.

Hoseok watches Yoongi until he’s all the way at the front. He wants to remember every detail of this as if it were his own wedding. The music stops and changes and an air of hushed silence falls over the crowd.

More horses come around, but this time, they’re pulling a carriage. Hoseok takes his eyes off Yoongi just to see this.

A maid opens the door and helps a lady step down to the ground. Hoseok is just thinking she looks way too old for Yoongi when he realizes that’s not the princess - probably her mother. Another girl is helped down from the carriage and Hoseok can’t deny that she’s beautiful. Part of him had been wishing she was ugly - but she’s not.

Hoseok looks back at Yoongi and he’s much too far away to see any sort of facial expression. He must be nervous regardless. Having this much attention would make anyone nervous.

When the princess reaches the front and is accompanied up the stairs by the queen, the music halts. Hoseok’s breath catches in his throat. He thought he had made his peace with this day, but everything inside him was screaming this was wrong.

He doesn’t want to watch Yoongi get married off to someone else. He wants to be the one standing in front of him, holding his hands and meeting his gaze.

Everything feels hot. Everyone’s standing too close to him. Hoseok thinks he might be close to tears, but that thought leaves once the wind picks up. It’s much stronger than before and he’s grateful for the relief from the heat.

He thinks he hears the priest speaking up at the front, but it’s too hard to tell over the intense winds. Then, one sentence floats on the wind, right to Hoseok’s ears. “Should anyone object to this marriage, speak now or forever hold your peace.”

I object. Hoseok wants to scream. His heart is pounding, he feels like he’s going to pass out.

Then the unthinkable happens. One by one, the long tapestries decorating the sides of the courtyard ignite. They catch fire as if by some chain reaction.

Hoseok hears whispers of “sorcery” and “cursed wedding” around him. The wind is not helping calm the flames. Scared, Hoseok turns to Namjoon, only to find he’s not there. He starts pushing through the crowd to find him, but something else catches his attention first; the guards are shutting the huge gates to the courtyard.

Abandoning all hope of finding Namjoon, Hoseok sprints the other way to try and escape. His efforts are futile as the crowds around him are just as panicked. Hoseok looks back towards the front, hoping to find Yoongi and maybe some reassurance, but he seems to be gone. Everyone is gone except for the crowd and the shouting guards. It's a nightmare.

He doesn’t know what’s going on, but he feels himself being tugged along.

It happens in a blur. Panicked voices, children crying, guards shouting. Somehow everyone who was in the courtyard gets ushered into the dungeons. Hoseok doesn’t know when he started crying, but his face is soaked with tears.

Once he finally calms down, he looks around at the masses of people around him. This was all his fault.

 

— Taehyung —

Taehyung couldn’t believe his eyes as he watched the wedding go up in flames - literally. He previously had some feeling the wedding wouldn’t be perfect - how could it be? Yoongi wouldn’t be marrying his soulmate - but he never expected this. He watched as the crowds started to panic and run around as the gates shut.

Someone tugs on his wrist and he looks over to see Yoongi. “We have to leave, Tae,” he says. He was surprisingly calm for someone whose wedding had just gone up in flames.

Taehyung tears his gaze away from the chaos and follows the escorts away from the scene. They go into some underground tunnels and Taehyung knows exactly where they are.

However, they end up in a room he had never seen before. It was very plain and had only one big heavy door with no windows. He assumes this was some sort of safe room. He looks around to see Yoongi, Hani, the king, queen, and about eight knights all inside this room. The king had just finished giving orders to two of the knights and they leave to deliver the message.

Taehyung finally snaps out of this daze he was experiencing and whips his focus to Yoongi. “What’s going on?” This was sort of a dumb question. Clearly, they felt under attack so they were put into this safe room, but beyond that, he was sort of lost.

Yoongi meets his gaze evenly and speaks, “Witch hunt.” Taehyung feels his heart drop in his chest. Yoongi’s eyes convey a lot more than those two words did and suddenly he understands.

The king feels as though some sorcerer is attacking them so he’s imprisoning the crowd until he can find the witch. Or maybe all the witches. Taehyung’s concerned because he knows Jungkook was probably in the courtyard somewhere, but more importantly, it’s likely Hoseok was too. There’s so much Taehyung wants to ask at the moment, but he refrains from doing so.

The knights returned a few minutes later to inform the king, “Everyone from the courtyard has been rounded up into the dungeons.”

“Excellent,” he turns to then address the room, “Alright, we should be safe to leave, but I want none of you going outside for awhile. Please take escorts with you anywhere within the castle until further notice. Hopefully, the perpetrator will be caught soon, but until then, this is the best way to operate. I think we should postpone the wedding until the witch has been found.”

Taehyung nods along, but he doesn’t plan on following any of those rules. He knows as soon as he can get out of here, he’s going straight to find Jimin and Jungkook and if he can’t find them, he’ll search the dungeons for them.

-

It feels like déjà vu - except worse. Taehyung can’t find either of his soulmates nor can he find anyone who might know where they are. He can’t find their parents or Namjoon or Seokjin or anyone else. He knows deep down, they’re gonna be trapped in the dungeons.

So that’s where he goes. He’s stopped by a guard on his way down but he informs him he’s on executive orders. The guard allows him through, figuring there’s not much trouble Taehyung could do by walking the halls of the dungeons.

What he finds down there saddens him. Families huddled together, shaken and scared, children crying for their parents they got separated from, loners curled into themselves for comfort. These people don’t deserve to live down here. He makes a note to talk to Yoongi about this later.

He’s scanning each of the cells that contain about five to eight people each. He’s walking past one when he hears his name called, “Taehyung?”

He spins around to see Jimin. He feels like crying on the spot. He hasn’t seen Jimin since he watched him pass out drunk after shouting something at them. He definitely had seen Taehyung kiss Jungkook, but he hasn’t had a chance to address that. “Jimin!”

He doesn’t know what to say, so he waits for Jimin to say something. “Um… do you think you could get me out of here?” he asks quietly with a small laugh.

Taehyung softens at his smile. He wants to say yes, of course, but his mind begs him to ask something else first, “Aren’t you mad at me?”

There’s a long pause while Jimin thinks. It makes him uncomfortable, “I think so, but I still love you and we can’t have an argument like this, down here.”

Taehyung swallows. Right. There should be an argument. It only makes sense. He doesn’t want to argue with Jimin. He loves him too, but it’s because he loves him that he’ll give in. He goes to the first guard he can find. “Excuse me, my soulmate was imprisoned by mistake. Can you unlock his cell over there for me?”

“Who are you?” the guard asks and honestly he’s sort of offended.

“Taehyung?” he says but it sounds like a question. The guard doesn’t seem to respond to this so he keeps going, “Kim Taehyung? The half-brother to the Prince. You know. Min Yoongi. The Min Yoongi.”

“I don’t like your tone,” he says.

Taehyung’s jaw drops, “Well excuse me, but it’s been a rough week for me so if you could please just free my soulmate, I’ll be on my merry way.”

The guard contemplates this, “Show me your soulmate tattoos and I’ll consider it.”

Taehyung almost agrees, but then he remembers Jungkook’s name. He hasn’t even told Jimin the truth about his situation, he wasn’t about to do it here, “No… I uh… can’t.”

“Fine by me. He stays locked up.”

Taehyung has half a mind to tell this guard off, get his identification number, and have him fired. Instead, he takes a deep breath, “Fine. How about you let him go for a few hours and let us talk then once we’re done, I’ll bring him back here and you can lock him up again.”

“No.”

He groaned loudly in response, “Okay, I’ll show you our tattoos.”

They walk over to the cell and Taehyung pulls up his sleeve slowly and motions for Jimin to do the same. He tries his best not to reveal Jungkook’s name, but it’s there, and the guard sees it.

“What’s that about?” he asks.

Taehyung covers his wrists again and shrugs, “What’s what?”

The guard looks from Taehyung to the cell as though he’s processing something. He gets out his keys and Taehyung feels relieved. The guard unlocks the door and it swings open. Taehyung was so excited to free Jimin that he didn’t realize what was going on. Before he knew it, two guards had grabbed Taehyung by his shoulders and guided him into the cell. The door was shut and locked behind him before he could even blink.

“Wait, what!?” He exclaims.

“I have probable cause for believing you’re a witch, sir. Why else would you want to free your friend here? One or both of you are probably a witch so I’ll have your trials moved up,” the guard informs him.

“What the fuck,” is all he can say.

“Nice going,” Jimin adds helpfully from behind him.

Taehyung frowns, “I don’t deserve this.”

“Or maybe this is exactly what you deserve,” Jimin mutters.

Taehyung faces him, “What?”

“How long has his name been on your wrist?”

Taehyung panics. He doesn’t know how to answer him. “Are we going to do this now? Here?”

Jimin shrugs, “Nothing better to do now that you’re trapped in here with me. Besides, I want some answers.” Taehyung looks around him. There’s a small girl and an older woman who appears to be her mother. Then there’s an older man probably in his sixties and another kid who looks to be about fifteen. They all seem to be ignoring them… except for the fifteen-year-old who’s staring straight at him.

“Three days,” Taehyung says, giving in.

“What?”

“That’s when he kissed me and his name showed up… his full name at least,” Taehyung admits.

“Did you… have part of his name before that?”

“Yes.”

“When did that show up?”

“The day after I met him.”

“So… back at Yoongi’s birthday?” Jimin asks.

Taehyung nods. He knows this probably hurts to hear, but he needs to finally come clean. No more secrets. “Jimin… I need you to know… I still love you. More than anything. I just want-”

“If you love me how come you didn’t tell me?” Jimin asks, but his words are soft.

“Tell you what?” Taehyung asks, he feels like crying. “That I’ve got another soulmate? That maybe I have to choose between leaving you and breaking this kid’s heart? I’d never leave you, but Jimin… all he’s ever wanted was a soulmate. I… didn’t know what to do.”

“Tae… you know all you ever have to do is just talk to me. You can tell me anything,” Jimin says.

Taehyung actually is crying now, “I just don’t want to lose you.”

“Hey,” he says, but Taehyung doesn’t look up. “Look at me,” Taehyung reluctantly meets his gaze. “You aren’t losing me,” Jimin says. It’s all Taehyung needs to send him over the edge. He’s full on sobbing now - he doesn’t care how much of a scene he’s causing.

After a moment he calms himself down enough to ask, “What about Jungkook… I can’t break his heart like that Jimin… I can’t do that.”

He’s afraid of Jimin’s answer. He’s afraid he’s going to be told he has to and that if he doesn’t, that will be mean the end of their relationship. He never expects to hear the words Jimin says next, “You don’t have to.”

He’s confused for a moment. Does Jimin mean he’ll do it? He’s not sure if he’d be okay with that either. Jungkook deserves to be happy after all. Then Jimin rolls up his sleeve.

Taehyung’s breath catches in his throat. Just below the letters of his own name are three additional letters - identical to the ones that had been on his own arm up until three days ago.

He looks at Jimin and tries his best to understand this situation, “I… what? Is that real? Are you leaving me for Jungkook?”

“No… never. Tae… I should’ve told you from the start, but you made me believe he was your brother and I thought it would be wrong if he became my soulmate over you. So instead I ignored it and tried to pretend he didn’t exist, but the letters haven’t gone away,” Jimin explains.

“So… what does this mean? Do we both have to break his heart?” Taehyung asks.

Jimin laughs, “I don’t think so. I think we’re all soulmates. The three of us.”

“What? How is that supposed to work?”

Jimin's smiling. He shrugs, “I don’t know."

 

— Yoongi —

“Have you heard what they’re planning on doing!?” Hani storms into his room.

Yoongi is caught off guard. He had only been released to go to his room a little less than an hour ago. He had been sitting on his bed trying his best to think through this situation. He’s relieved the wedding has been postponed, but there were so many other things to be worried about. First and foremost was Hoseok.

“They’re looking for the witch?” Yoongi questions. He thought that had been made pretty evident from their earlier meeting.

“Not just the witch! All witches,” Hani basically shouts.

Yoongi swallows, he feels his heart drop to his stomach, “What?”

“They don’t care which one of them ruined the wedding. They want to demonstrate that magic is and will always be illegal,” she seethes.

“Oh,” Yoongi says because that’s all his mind is able to process. If Hoseok was in trouble before, he’s definitely in trouble now.

“Yoongi!” Hani shouts at him.

“What!?” he shouts back, it’s his first outburst of emotion since everything went up in flames.

“Don’t you care!? More of your friends are probably witches than you care to imagine! It’s gotten extremely easy to hide this sort of thing - especially within the last decade. If you don’t do anything hundreds if not thousands of innocent people are going to be executed and some of those are probably your friends,” she explains.

Yoongi feels panicked, “I don’t have any friends.”

Hani laughs, “Really? Alright. I’ll sit here and pretend you don’t have any friends, but you seem to be forgetting about your soulmate. Remember him? Maybe you’re okay with innocent people being killed, but while you sit here and do nothing I’m going to talk with my mother to see if there’s something we can do.”

The fear rises up into Yoongi’s throat and then fills his vision. He watches Hani leave and the door shut behind her right as the tears spill over his eyes. He has to do something.

-

Once he composes himself Yoongi rushes through the castle to find his father. He’s not hard to find - especially at a time like this. He’s in the big conference room. Yoongi bursts through the doors, ignoring the guards that try to stop him. Everyone in the room startles at his entrance.

“We need to talk,” Yoongi says, staring straight at his father.

“What do you need?” the king replies evenly.

“Alone,” Yoongi adds.

The others in the room look from Yoongi to the king, wondering what to do. The king waves his hand and dismisses the others. Under normal circumstances, him bursting into the room and demanding a private conversation probably would not have worked.

“What do you need?” the king repeats.

“You cannot execute innocent people,” Yoongi says. He’s surprised at his own boldness.

“They are not innocent,” the king starts.

“Yes, they are! They were merely attending my wedding! Why should we punish people for that?” Yoongi says. He hadn’t completely thought through his argument, but he thought he would start by trying to convince the king what happened wasn’t that bad.

“They are not being punished for attending, they are being punished for sorcery!”

“You cannot punish everyone for the actions of one,” Yoongi says.

The king almost laughs at him, “You act as if you know who is responsible.”

Yoongi shakes his head, “No. I don’t.” He tries to disguise the edge of panic in his voice with anger.

“Well, then how do you suppose we get one person to admit to it?”

Yoongi is a loss for words. He tries to come up with something that might make sense. But he can’t.

The king presses on, “Exactly. They will never confess, so the only just action is to condemn them all.”

“Or to free them all!” Yoongi says.

The king shakes his head, “Why do you care so much about these people?”

“Because they’re my friends,” Yoongi says without thinking.

“Friends? All of them?”

He shakes his head, “Friends. Citizens. I… don’t actually know. But my actual friends are probably locked up. My friends definitely would’ve come to my wedding.”

“I’ll tell you what. You write down the names of your friends for me and you can go down to the dungeons with that list and I will move their trials up,” the king says.

“Trials?”

“Just because they’re your friend doesn’t mean they’re not a witch. I will be the judge of their trials and if I deem them normal, then they can be freed. Okay?”

This was very not okay. This would in no way help him make sure Hoseok was safe. “No! Not okay! None of my friends are witches and even if they somehow were I would not allow you to execute them.”

The king does not answer for some time. He seems to be thinking things through before he speaks, “You can free three people. I will not hold trials for them, but you can only choose three.”

Yoongi nods. He knows if he finds Hoseok, he will free him. He’s not sure who the other two will be. The king writes down this request on a piece of paper and signs it for Yoongi.

He takes the paper and heads straight towards the dungeons. He hands the first guard at the door the paper and waits while he reads over it. Yoongi hardly says a word to him. He waits for the guard to let him inside.

He walks down the first row of cells. He doesn’t like the sight. He wants to free all of these people but he can’t. Some of them look at him in fear as if he’s down there to single them out and execute them on the spot. Others look at him in a distasteful manner. He wishes he could explain to them it’s not his fault they’re down here and if it were up to him they wouldn’t be.

He’s about to round the corner and head down the next row when something catches his eye. It’s not Hoseok - though he wishes it were.

“Tae?” Yoongi asks.

The boy looks up from his slouched position on the floor. It appears he was taking a nap with someone. That, someone, was Jimin.

“Yoongi! Boy, I’m glad to see you,” Taehyung says as Jimin stirs awake beside him.

“How did you end up down here?” Yoongi is thoroughly confused. He could’ve sworn Taehyung was right next to him at his wedding before things went to hell. And even then he was in that panic room with him too.

Taehyung points an accusatory finger at a guard standing a little ways away, “I came down here to try to get Jimin out and that guy thought I was a witch because I have two soulmates.”

Yoongi’s eyes widen and he looks over a Jimin. Jimin laughs at this, “It’s okay. I know. I have two soulmates too.”

Yoongi blinks, confused, “Oh.”

“Can you get us out of here, though? I need to feed my pup- my plant,” Taehyung says.

“Your what?” Yoongi asks. If he’s not mistaken Taehyung nearly just claimed to have a dog.

“My plant! Plants… need to eat,” Taehyung says.

“Oh my God, when did you get a dog?” Yoongi asks.

“I didn’t! I just-”

“Please let them out of there so I can hit Taehyung over the head with a bat,” Yoongi tells the guards.

He honestly should’ve let them both stay in their cells, but Yoongi was allowed to free three people, so he might as well. The guard complies.

“Don’t leave. Follow me,” he tells them. He doesn’t want Taehyung to be able to sneak off while he searches for Hoseok.

He continues down the next row and still, there’s no sign of Hoseok. About halfway down the third row, he hears his name.

“Prince Yoongi?” Although a few people had called out to him after seeing him free Jimin and Taehyung, he had ignored most of those voices. This voice, however, sounded familiar.

He’s met with the even stare of a familiar blonde boy. It takes him a minute, but then it hits him, “Namjoon!” he feels something akin to relief when he finds Namjoon. He lowers his voice, “Have you seen Hoseok?”

As much as he’d like to free Namjoon as well, Hoseok is his top priority.

“Yeah,” he says and Yoongi feels hopeful, “but not since the wedding. We got separated once chaos broke out. I don’t know where he is now.”

“Oh, okay,” Yoongi says. “Well um… I’ll try to get you out of here as soon as possible.”

“Thanks, I appreciate it,” Namjoon nods at him.

Yoongi returns the nod and keeps walking. Once they’re far enough away, he feels someone grab his arm. “Why didn’t you free Namjoon?” Taehyung asks in a hushed whisper.

Yoongi swallows. He feels uneasy, “I’m- The king said I can only free three people.”

At this Taehyung and Jimin, both go on alert, “What!?”

“Not as in everyone else is condemned!” Yoongi whispers back. “I’m just allowed to free three people with no questions asked.”

Jimin and Taehyung share a look. “We need to talk,” Jimin says.

“What?” Yoongi asks.

“You can come back later, right? We need to talk,” Taehyung repeats.

“What’s going on?” the guard demands. There had been too much whispering going on for his liking.

Yoongi wants to knock the both of their heads together. “I need to go. I have to meet Taehyung’s new dog and I will return later for the last,” Yoongi says.

Taehyung’s eyes go wide at this, but he nods along. The guard looks suspicious but allows them to leave.

-

“Why on Earth, would you choose to free us!?” Taehyung asks once they’re back in his room.

“Um, you’re welcome?” Yoongi asks.

“What Tae means is that we were never in any real trouble,” Jimin says.

“Okay? Hoseok was the only one I was going down there with the intention of freeing. Who else is in trouble?” Yoongi asks.

“Jungkook!” Taehyung exclaims.

“Jungkook?” Jimin and Yoongi ask at the same time.

“He’s a witch,” Taehyung says.

“He’s a witch?” Jimin asks incredulously.

“Wait. If you weren’t worried about Jungkook, who were you worried about?” Taehyung asks.

“Namjoon! But now I’m worried about Jungkook too,” Jimin says.

“Is Namjoon a witch?” Taehyung asks.

“I don’t have any proof, but I’m pretty sure he is! I’ve caught him a few times using magic, but I’m not about to say anything when he basically runs the best bakery in town. And really not just because of that either - no one should get in trouble for what they are,” Jimin explains.

“Wait, wait, wait. You’re now telling me. I could’ve freed three people who are in actual danger and instead I chose you two!?” Yoongi asks.

A silence falls over the room. “Well you can still free one more,” Taehyung offers meekly.

“And I suppose you want me to save Jungkook now?” Yoongi asks.

Jimin and Taehyung look at each other. “Yes,” Jimin says at the same time Taehyung says, “No.”

Jimin blinks, “Tae! He’s our other soulmate!”

“Well Hoseok’s my soulmate, and it’s my decision,” Yoongi interjects. “So since it’s two against one, I’m gonna go do what I went down there to do in the first place!”

“No!” Taehyung says. They both stop to look at him, “I didn’t mean you should free Hoseok. I think you should free Namjoon.”

“What?” Yoongi and Jimin ask together.

“Yes I want to free Jungkook, but I really think you need to free Namjoon. He’s way more clumsy. I feel like if he goes to trial, he’s bound to slip up and get himself executed,” Taehyung says.

Yoongi groans because Taehyung wouldn’t lie about something like this. Still, he pushes the most important topic to him, “I need to free Hoseok because he’s the only one that really matters to me.”

“Well, what about Jungkook?” Jimin throws out again.

Taehyung puts a hand on his shoulder, “Babe. I know he’s our other soulmate, but really, he’ll be fine. Why are you trying so hard to save him all of a sudden?”

“Because,” Jimin says, “I spent who-even-knows how long pretending he didn’t exist. I even started to subconsciously dislike him. I need to make it up to him somehow.”

“Make it up to him somehow some other time! Right now, Namjoon is most important. Come on! If you get on my side, it’s two against one and Yoongi will cave eventually.”

There’s silence as he considers this. Yoongi realizes he’s right. He wouldn’t be able to hold his position as firmly if there were two of them telling him not to free Hoseok.

“No! No! No! This isn’t allowed. This isn’t a vote or something like that. This is for me to decide and I-”

He cuts himself off when he hears the sound of barking coming from somewhere. He stops everything and rushes out of his room to Taehyung’s. He hears the others follow behind him.

He throws the door open and stops in his tracks at the sign of a large white puppy wriggling around on Taehyung’s mattress.

“You actually got a dog?” Yoongi asks in awe. He had actually believed it was a joke. There could be no way Taehyung got a dog. He didn’t have time to get a dog. And yet. There is a dog.

“Yoongi, meet Soonshim,” Taehyung says.

Yoongi’s jaw drops.

-

Yoongi returns to the dungeons a little while later without telling Taehyung or Jimin with the intentions of finding Hoseok for real this time.

He gets stopped at the door, “No one is allowed inside at this time.”

“Why is that?” Yoongi asks.

“Executive orders.”

“Which is?”

“The king has ordered that all children under the age of twelve are to be freed immediately.”

Yoongi is confused, “What does this have to do with me being allowed inside?”

“Children of that age should not be allowed out on their own. The kids are allowed to leave with only one of their parents, but some of them got separated. They are trying to find their parents and once they find them, the parents have to go through a simple trial to determine if they are a threat,” he explains.

“Are you kidding me?”

“No.”

Yoongi groans. He wishes he had more authority sometimes. Or at least he would like to be given updates on the king’s plans instead of getting left in the dark. “Do you know when I will be allowed in?” he asks so he can know when to come back.

“There’s no way to know for sure. They are trying to clear out the kids in the next two hours since we are not legally allowed to hold prisoners this long without feeding them,” the guard tells him.

Yoongi feels sick. He realizes the kids aren’t being set free because his father wants to do something just. The kids are being set free because the palace cannot afford to prepare food for the number of people they imprisoned.

Yoongi leaves without another word.

 

— Seokjin —

Being locked in a prison cell gives you a lot of time to think. This was the last thing Seokjin needed. He had already spent countless minutes thinking and overthinking and most of his thoughts revolved around one thing. Or rather one person. Namjoon.

He presses his thumb into his wrist and rubs once again. It’s starting to become a habit for him. Seokjin wants the name on his wrist to be the one that finally sticks, but it’s far too good to be true. Every so often he tries to rub the name off again to make sure it’s not some kind of dream that when he wakes up becomes a nightmare.

He knows he was the one who kissed Namjoon. He knows he’s the reason Namjoon’s name is on his wrist.

However somehow, Seokjin starts to convince himself Namjoon isn’t his soulmate.

“Relationship troubles?” Seokjin is startled when the woman next to him speaks.

They’ve been in their cells for about an hour and he hasn’t spent any of that time taking in his surroundings and that includes those sharing this jail cell with him. Seokjin doesn’t really want to talk about his troubles with some stranger, so he just nods.

“I’ve been there,” she says.

Seokjin expects her to question him further and try to mentor him or something, but she doesn’t. He feels uneasy in this new silence. They had been in relative silence for some time now, but now that it’s been broken, it’s too awkward to slip back into silence.

“What do you mean?” Seokjin finds himself asking.

“You seem stressed,” she tells him. Seokjin feels as though he should be insulted. He also notes how she turned the conversation back on to him, but now curious for an answer, he plays along.

“I am stressed,” Seokjin admits.

“Stress isn’t good for you,” she states. Seokjin knows this is true.

“It’s not like I can choose to stop feeling stressed,” Seokjin replies, and there’s almost an underlying tone of annoyance, but Seokjin is too polite for that.

“Maybe to some extent.”

Seokjin feels himself getting more and more frustrated at this woman’s laid-back tone. “What’s that mean?”

The woman sighs, “Emotions can be difficult to control. So instead of trying to control our emotions, energy is better spent controlling the situations that affect our emotions.”

“How is that supposed to help me?” Seokjin finds himself asking.

“You didn’t seem like you wanted help,” she tells him.

Seokjin is taken aback because how was this woman able to see right through him like that? “Well, maybe I do,” he mumbles.

“I assume that tattoo on your wrist is new,” she says.

Seokjin takes a moment. Technically a few of the letters had been there for quite some time and weren’t really “new” anymore. But that wasn’t the question, so he nods his head.

“You’re probably wondering if it’s real?” she asks.

Seokjin squints at her, “Are you a mind-reader or something?” He knows given their current situation, joking about sorcery isn’t the best idea, but he does it anyway.

She just laughs, “I’m a mother. I’ve had four kids go through the same struggles you’re going through now.”

“You had four kids?” Seokjin asks, and he doesn’t mean to sound rude.

“I’ve had six. Two of them were gifted with enough innate trust in other humans so that when they found their soulmates, they didn’t doubt it.”

“So what did you tell the other four?” Seokjin asks hoping she can offer him some comfort.

“The truth,” she starts. “I told them it was very possible it could be fake. I told them these sort of things happen all the time. I was never in any position to tell them whether or not they found the real deal.”

“Oh,” Seokjin says, feeling disappointed.

“And then after they would respond just as you did, I would ask them one question; do you want it to be real?”

“Yes,” Seokjin says without hesitation. It was almost as if by reflex as he hardly had time to think before responding.

The woman just shrugs as if to say “There you go.”

Seokjin shakes his head because he’s still confused. That’s way too simple for him to ever just accept it just like that. “I’ve wanted it before, though,” he says and the woman looks up. Seokjin almost expects her to say something back but when she’s silent, he keeps going. “I’ve been in this situation before. Twice. I’ve been in love and I thought it was real.”

“Ah, but was that the question?” she asks. “I asked you if you want it to be real, not if you think it’s real. It can be difficult for the head and the heart to agree, so when they’re telling you different things, you need to know who to listen to.”

Seokjin ponders on this for a moment. Her words make sense. He wonders why he hadn’t thought of her solution yet. He thinks back to when he was in love the two other times. The first time he was thirteen. It should’ve been obvious to him that relationship wouldn’t last. The whole thing was built on Seokjin’s hope alone. Then there was his girlfriend. He can’t remember the last time was he thought of her. They had broken up… what was it? Five? Six? Months ago. In each of these instances, Seokjin thought they were his soulmates. He believed it was a fact simply because the letters were there. However, thinking back, he couldn’t ever remember actually wanting them to be his soulmate. He believed they were soulmates, so he found aspects of his personality that matched well to theirs. He tried to make it true, but he never felt a need for those specific people to be his soulmate.

At the time he wanted any soulmate. It almost didn’t matter who. This time he knew. He very very deeply wanted Namjoon to be his soulmate.

Seokjin doesn’t know how long he was quiet for, but he knows he’s been silent for some time. Though now, he has some more questions, “So just because I want him to be my soulmate, that makes him my soulmate?”

The woman takes a second before shrugging, “Probably.”

Somehow her noncommittal answer angers him. He just wants to be told Namjoon is his soulmate. Which, in turn, makes him start to believe that not just maybe, but yes, Namjoon is his soulmate. He shakes his head at her, “He’s my soulmate.”

She smiles.

He doesn’t feel any less stressed. Seokjin wants for Namjoon to be his soulmate. That’s all he’s discovered from this. He still holds that doubt in his mind that anything this good could be reality for him.

Seokjin wonders what happened to Namjoon. He saw him very briefly at the wedding. He was holding hands with Hoseok, and Hoseok didn’t seem to be doing too well. When everyone started to panic around him, Seokjin looked for Namjoon, but saw him nowhere.

He could only assume Namjoon was in the dungeons somewhere. This worried him.

Namjoon wasn’t exactly the best at hiding his magic. Seokjin remembers the first time he showed up at his door. The signs had been everywhere. It wasn’t just the book he had checked out that made him suspicious. The wind chimes at his front door made noise as he had walked up; there was no wind. The shrubs at the front of his house looked as if they were in the middle of trimming themselves. Not to mention the yellow and blue birds that always sat on top of his house. It was a lesser-known fact that certain kinds of birds are attracted to magic. Over the years witches have gotten better at disguising magic and keeping the birds away.

Honestly, Namjoon was lucky he had yet to be discovered. If any kingdom official who knew even the slightest bit about magic had walked up to Namjoon’s house, he would already be detained.

The longer Seokjin has time to think about this, the stronger his realization comes about.

He’s stressed out at the idea of Namjoon getting caught. He realizes he can’t stand the idea of never getting to see him again.

He knows he can’t ask to see him either. He wouldn’t want to draw attention to Namjoon. So all he can do is sit and wait and hope. He hopes that Namjoon is smart enough to not expose himself at a time like this. He hopes Namjoon will be okay. Most of all he hopes to see him again.

The door to his prison cell opens and Seokjin snaps out of his thoughts. He thinks maybe they’re all being set free for some reason, but after a few seconds he realizes that’s not the case.

“My son!” a woman calls out. It was one of the other people in Seokjin’s cell that he hadn’t bothered to talk to. There was a boy - probably around seven years old - standing at the open gate with a palace guard.

“Is this your child?” the guard asks as if he didn’t hear the woman call out just seconds ago. She was young looking - couldn’t be a day over twenty-five.

“Yes!” she exclaims.

“Come with us,” the guard commands.

“What about me?” another voice asks. It was then when Seokjin noticed the young woman was holding onto a guy. He looked about the same age. They looked like a couple. “He’s my son too,” the man adds.

“Only one,” the guard says.

The couple share a look and Seokjin feels the pain for them.

“Why?” the woman eventually breaks.

“Orders,” the guard replies. Seokjin notes his very curt attitude.

“You go,” the man says. Seokjin has to force himself to look away from the scene. It’s much too emotional for him even though these are strangers.

“Can I leave too or are you just freeing children?” Seokjin asks the guard.

“Just the children.”

“Well I work for the palace,” Seokjin brings up. He wasn’t too concerned about his own safety, but he thought that if he could get himself out of here, maybe there would be something he could do for Namjoon.

“Congrats. So do I,” he quips back.

Seokjin doesn’t like this guard, but he attempts his best at remaining polite, “So then you know. All palace staff go through magic trials.” This was a fact that was true, but technically didn’t apply to Seokjin. Since Taehyung got him his job, he didn’t really go through the same application process as everyone else. Because he only worked in the library as well, it didn’t seem to matter as much if he was a witch or not.

“I do know.”

“I’m not a witch,” Seokjin says.

The guard thinks for a moment, and for a millisecond, Seokjin thinks he might agree to let him out, “Orders are only to free children at this time.”

“Oh, come on. You guys don’t want to give every single person here a trial. There’s no time for that! And besides, the resources it’s going to cost the palace just to follow through are ridiculous.”

“I understand, but you’re asking me to disobey orders. Besides, you cannot prove you are palace staff.”

Seokjin feels like the argument is lost. He doesn’t want to argue too much in case they somehow use this as evidence against him in any kind of trial.

The couple is about finished arguing. The woman is being forced to leave. Seokjin can see the mix of emotions on her face. There’s relief - probably from being reunited with her child but also regret from leaving her significant other. The guard assists in helping her leave. Once she’s gone and once he can’t hear her sobs anymore, Seokjin risks looking at the man. He’s curled up into himself.

Seokjin feels like crying. He imagines himself and Namjoon in a situation like this.

This shocks him; that he was just imagining a future where he has to choose between Namjoon and their child. The worst part about that wasn’t the choice that had to be made, but the realization that he could see a future with him and Namjoon adopting a child one day.

Chapter Text

— Jungkook —

The updates are few and far between. Jungkook isn’t really too sure what’s happening, but he’s also not too stressed about it. He knows he didn’t do anything wrong - well besides being a witch - but there shouldn’t be any reason for him to still be in this cell.

Sure it would be bad if they found out he was a witch, but that wasn’t all too likely.

The first update Jungkook hears is when they start letting the children go as well as some of their parents. He wishes he was still a kid - not just to get out of his jail cell. Being a kid was so much simpler than this. He used to dream of having a soulmate, and now that he does, he’s not sure he likes it.

He supposes the problem must stem from the fact there are still two names on his wrist. He feels incredibly guilty about kissing Taehyung too. He thought kissing Taehyung would clear things up, but it’s only made things worse.

The next update comes when they start releasing the elderly. They’re given short trials. Jungkook hears that all they were asked for was at least two references that would testify they are not a witch. For most, this was fairly simple. Jungkook figures that even if some of them were witches, they probably didn’t have much life left in them to start up some kind of magic revolution anyways.

There was less than a dozen of the elderly crowd left after they started releasing them. These few were individuals who had grown so old their remaining connections were limited and probably imprisoned with them.

Jungkook felt bad for them and wondered if he would end up like that - lonely and without anyone. Of course, it was possible all this was just rumors. While being locked up, there wasn’t much else to do except talk.

Gossip spread like wildfire through the dungeons. There were rumors the king himself had been in the dungeons earlier with some sort of magic orb that would glow red if it got near a witch. Jungkook seriously doubted this rumor was real. If the king really had a magic orb that could detect a witch, all these people wouldn’t need to go through trials in order to be freed.

It feels like an eternity, but it’s really only been about a day. He’s not too sure since he can’t see the sun, but he has been fed three meals. Jungkook looks around him and notices a significant amount of people are gone. He’s not sure where they’re all going. Most of everyone left is between the ages of thirteen and thirty-five.

After the elderly, a lot of business owners were given expedited trials. Jungkook supposed it made sense. The kingdom still needs to be operating for those who weren’t imprisoned and if all the business owners were locked up, it couldn’t do this.

Everyone left over was either in school or a single adult. Not necessarily single as in without a soulmate, but single meaning they don’t have a family or kids of their own they need to take care of.

Jungkook is feeling hungry again and he’s thinking it’s probably almost time for dinner again. When the guard opens his cell, he’s expecting more food. Instead, the guard orders Jungkook and the other kid left in his cell to follow him. Jungkook notices the other boy. He couldn’t be any older than fifteen. He seems terrified. Jungkook gives him a gentle smile hoping to help.

They follow the guard and Jungkook takes note of how few people are left as they walk down the row. He tries to see if he can find Taehyung or maybe Namjoon as he figures they must be down here as well. Maybe not Taehyung because of his connections, but Namjoon should be here unless he decided not to go to the wedding last minute.

He gets doesn’t see either of them, but he’s eventually lead to a new sort of holding cell. Except this one is much nicer. Jungkook realizes he has no idea what’s going on and he probably won’t hear about it through the walls this time; since said walls are nicer and solid as opposed to the cage bars in his last cell.

“Wait,” he calls out to the guard as he’s leaving. The guard stops, “What’s going on?”

Jungkook realizes it’s not the best question he could’ve come up with, but he panicked when put on the spot. The guard replies, “Trials are set to begin tomorrow morning. Starting with you two.”

Oh.

The guard leaves and Jungkook feels a mild anxiety setting in. He wasn’t nervous before now. However, when he catches sight of the other kid in the cell with him, he feels his heart drop. The kid was pale and looked like he was about to faint. Jungkook’s never been the best at comforting others, but he’s the only other person here.

“Hey, are you okay?” Jungkook asks and cringes at himself. Of course, he wasn’t okay, that was a stupid question to ask. The kid meets Jungkook’s gaze for half a second but looks away as if simply looking at him burnt him somehow.

“I’m… My name’s Jungkook,” he says. He really has no idea what he’s going to say or do, but he wants to help this kid feel better.

“Dowoon,” the boy mumbles.

Jungkook isn’t sure at first if that’s the kid’s name or if it was just a sound he happened to make that sounded like a name. He decides it’s probably the former. “How old are you, Dowoon?”

The kid meets his gaze for a second time, but this time he holds it for at least three seconds before looking away again, “Fourteen.”

Jungkook nods, “I’m eighteen.” What follows is a semi-awkward pause. Jungkook knows he’s the one that’s going to have to steer this conversation. “Are you nervous?”

Dowoon visibly flinches and Jungkook realizes that was another bad question to ask.

He backpedals, “I just mean- I don’t think there’s any reason to be nervous.” He tries to say this with confidence, but his voice betrays him.

“You’re nervous,” Dowoon tells him. Jungkook frown because he might be right. He wanted to believe he wasn’t nervous.

“What about your family?” Jungkook asks suddenly. He’s decided to take things in a new direction. Maybe he should try to change the topic to avoid talking about tomorrow morning.

The kid looks taken aback, “My family?”

“Yeah. Your family. Do you have any siblings? Surely you didn’t attend this wedding alone,” Jungkook says.

Dowoon nods, “Yeah. I have a brother.”

“How old is he?”

“Um… eleven.”

“Ah, lucky… I always wished I had a younger brother. Or really a brother in general,” Jungkook says.

Dowoon scoffs, “You can have mine. He’s really annoying.”

Jungkook laughs. He knows siblings don’t always get along, but most of the time it’s just playful banter. He always wanted a sibling but never had one. “I don’t think your parents would like that very much,” Jungkook tells him.

“I only have my mom,” Dowoon says. Jungkook feels momentarily awkward. He’s not really sure if it’s okay for him to ask why this is, but then he keeps talking on his own. “It’s okay though. My dad hasn’t been around for a real long time. He was killed.”

Jungkook is a bit shocked, to say the least. Of all the things he was expecting to hear, this was not one of them. Especially not from this boy that was pale as a ghost just moments ago.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Jungkook manages out.

Dowoon lets out a sigh, “That’s why I’m nervous.”

Jungkook gives him a puzzling look, he’s really surprised how easy it was to get this kid to open up. “You’re nervous because of your dad?”

The kid looks around as if he’s being watched. “Someone blamed him for being a witch,” he whispers.

Jungkook feels a chill go down his spine. He’s always heard of people that were executed for being witches, but he’s never directly met someone with a connection to one of those people. Jungkook chooses his words carefully, “That’s awful… but I don’t think you should worry. It won’t happen to you.”

Dowoon shrugs. He appears to be clamming up again.

“Are you a witch?” Jungkook asks before he can stop himself. Dowoon turns his head sharply and looks at Jungkook as if he just recited every vulgar word in the dictionary. Jungkook panics a bit, “I just mean… I know, a lot - well, no some - people that are witches too. I think… They say that it’s pretty easy to hide. These days.”

Dowoon looks around the room once more. It’s a small room, but the walls seem pretty solid. He’s not sure that they could be soundproof, but whispers or even quiet talking shouldn’t be able to permeate through these walls. Jungkook is starting to think Dowoon isn’t going to say anything else now when he surprises him by speaking up. “Yes,” he says so quietly Jungkook isn’t sure he head him.

Jungkook tries not to let his excitement show on his face. He nods, “Really?” He’d go ahead and reveal himself as a witch now, but he’s a little wary of this boy and everything his mother has taught him tells him to withhold this information for just a bit longer.

He nods again, “Yeah. I um… I only know a few spells.”

“That’s cool,” Jungkook tells him.

“Still illegal,” Dowoon says, correctly.

Jungkook shrugs, “Not if you don’t get caught.”

“We’re literally in jail right now.”

Jungkook nods. He admits Dowoon is correct. They sort of have been “caught” at this current moment, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end. “We’re gonna be okay. I promise,” Jungkook says, and he knows it’s not a promise he can keep, but it’s one he wants to believe in.

Dowoon seems to pick up on the pronouns Jungkook used. “Wait… Are you…?”

Jungkook meets his eyes again and gives him a look that’s meant to say, you tell me.

The boy appears to understand. He nods simply and goes back to staring at the wall.

Jungkook isn’t really sure if he helped much or really at all, but the boy appears to be breathing normally at least, and so he tells himself that’s good enough.

-

When Jungkook is woken up the next morning, he sees Dowoon being led out of their holding cell. He’s not sure the time, but he knows it’s really early. Dowoon seems a little scared but doesn’t look nearly as panicked as he did the day before.

“Hey!” Jungkook calls out, “I’ll see you later!”

Dowoon looks at him and gives a definitive nod. Then he’s taken away and Jungkook is shut in the room by himself once again. About ten minutes later, the guards are back for Jungkook. He hopes that Dowoon’s trial went okay. It was fast which can either be a good thing or a bad thing. There’s really no way of telling which way it went.

Jungkook is caught up in his thoughts when he’s led down a hallway. He almost doesn’t notice when he’s put in front of the king and a small audience. He recognizes Prince Yoongi and for a second he’s expecting to see Taehyung there too. However, Taehyung is nowhere to be seen and that makes him a little sad.

The trial blows by with no problem.

“Occupation?”

“Baker.”

“Time employed at current job?”

“Two years as manager, four as an employee.”

“At the same location?”

“Yes sir,” Jungkook is nothing if not polite.

He answers all their questions, including the more difficult ones like, “Reason for attending the wedding.”

He didn’t think it would be appropriate to say how he’s sort of maybe kind of Taehyung’s soulmate, so instead, he said, “I’ve lived in the capital my entire life, I would never miss something as big as this.”

Once they were finished questioning him, everyone left the stands to deliberate and come up with his verdict. It was just Jungkook and the guards left in the center of this stage. A few minutes go by and Jungkook is surprisingly calm. He doesn’t really consider what he would do if they came back and ordered for his execution.

However, when they do come back, nothing like that happens.

“I, as King of the land, and with the guidance of the council, declare Jeon Jungkook innocent of suspicions of being a witch. For being unreasonably detained he will receive a small reimbursement and will be released immediately.”

Jungkook thinks he almost doesn’t hear right, but they’re going to be paying him for keeping him in jail. The guards lead him outside the castle and once he’s been released he almost can’t believe himself. It feels like it’s been weeks since he’s been outside, but in reality, it’s been less than two days.

Jungkook thinks he should go home, but he’s not far outside the gates before he sees someone he recognizes.

“Dowoon!” he calls out.

The boy turns and gives Jungkook a huge smile when he sees him, “We did it!”

Jungkook has never been a super touchy person, but he hugs Dowoon, “Yes, we did.”

Dowoon tells him he was waiting to see if Jungkook came out, but he wasn’t sure how long he would have to wait. Jungkook and Dowoon walk back to the city together and part ways when the times comes. Jungkook tells him where his bakery is and Dowoon promises to come and visit sometime. Jungkook really hopes that he does.

Once he’s alone again, his thoughts engulf him. Now that he’s free he has other things to worry about.

He thinks he should go talk to Taehyung… or maybe Jimin. He doesn’t know if he should go talk to Jimin because he still feels guilty for kissing Taehyung. He’s in this weird purgatory of emotions. Kissing Taehyung was one of the highlights of his life, and he wouldn’t say he regrets it, but at the same time he definitely regrets it because of the look he saw on Jimin’s face after the kiss and before he passed out.

It had been an awkward moment when Taehyung had looked between Jungkook and Jimin, unsure of what to do. Taehyung decided to help Jimin and the second he stepped towards Jimin, Jungkook was already going the other way. The guilt was already nipping at his heels and he figured if he ran away fast enough it couldn’t catch him.

He had been wrong on that one. All this put him in this awkward position where he hasn’t talked to either of them in a few days so he really has no clue where he stands. He’s not sure if Taehyung will ever want to talk to him again. He’s almost positive Jimin will never want to see him.

So naturally, he decides to go see Jimin.

He goes to Jimin’s house. He only knows where it is because every time he and Taehyung used to walk past it, Taehyung would be sure to point it out.

He knocks on the door, and it’s opened by an adult. He can only assume it’s Jimin’s mother.

He feels unprepared suddenly, “I um… is Jimin here?”

She lights up at his words and nods at him. She leans over her shoulder and calls, “Jiminie! You have a friend here!”

Jungkook cringes because he’s not really sure he would consider them friends.

“One second!” Jimin calls back. Jungkook rocks back and forth on his feet in anticipation. He tries to think of what he should say. He knows he needs to apologize, but he doesn’t know what his words will be.

“Lovely day, isn’t it?” Jimin’s mother attempts to make small talk while they wait for Jimin. Jungkook is just glad he hasn’t been invited inside. He doesn’t want for this encounter to be longer or more painful than it needs to be.

Jungkook nods. “It is.” He hadn’t paid much attention to the weather until this point, but now that it’s been pointed out to him, it really is a beautiful day out.

Jungkook hears footsteps and he almost holds his breath. Jimin comes around the corner next and when he sees Jungkook, he freezes. Jungkook thinks this was probably a mistake coming here. He probably should’ve given him more time before coming over here.

However, what Jimin does next thoroughly shocks him. Jimin smiles at him and then comes straight at him. Jungkook thinks for a moment he’s about to be tackled, but instead, he’s wrapped in a hug.

“Uhhh…” Jungkook utters in pure confusion.

When Jimin lets go of him, Jungkook sees Taehyung behind him now. His heart drops to his stomach. He thinks he understands what’s happening here. Taehyung and Jimin must be each other’s soulmates now. Jungkook feels close to tears. He wants to leave, but something anchors him in place.

“Kookie!” Taehyung exclaims. Jungkook becomes even more confused when he gets yet another hug. “You’re alive!”

Jungkook laughs nervously. He knows he and Taehyung had been close before, but he’s almost positive they should be angry with him. He’s starting to question his own sanity. He wonders if kissing Taehyung and watching Jimin pass out had all been a dream.

“Come inside!” Jimin says tugging him inside by his wrist.

Maybe this is some kind of dream. He half expected to wake up and find himself still inside the castle waiting for a trial.

“We have so much to tell you,” Taehyung says. They lead him into Jimin’s house. They go down past the living area and into a hallway. They end up in what appears to be Jimin’s bedroom.

Jungkook sits on the bed between the two of them, and he finally catches a moment to speak, “What’s going on?” Jungkook asks he’s feeling overwhelmed and quite frankly close to tears.

Taehyung and Jimin share a look that Jungkook doesn’t know what to do with. “Do you wanna tell him?” Taehyung asks.

“Why don’t you tell him?” Jimin replies.

“Can someone just tell me please!” Jungkook exclaims. “Please tell me whatever this is. Tell me why you both don’t hate my guts or want me dead or maybe something less extreme. Just… I’m so lost,” he looks desperately between the two of them.

“Jungkook!” Taehyung exclaims, taking hold of his wrist.

“What!?” Jungkook says in exasperation.

His gaze keeps switching between Jimin’s eyes and Taehyung’s eyes and back again and again until suddenly he realizes they aren’t looking back at his eyes anymore. They’re looking down at something. He follows their gazes and he notices Taehyung has taken his wrist and flipped in upwards to expose the letters.

He then looks at Taehyung’s wrist laying next to his. It’s similar to Taehyung’s in that it has two names, but both of his are full names. Park Jimin and directly underneath it is Jeon Jungkook.

Then he notices Jimin’s arm as well. He immediately recognizes the similarity between their wrists. Both Jimin and Jungkook have a neat Kim Taehyung written on top and three other initials below that. However, on Jungkook’s arm, the initials are P.J.m. and on Jimin’s arm, they’re J.J.k.

“What?” Jungkook hears himself ask. He doesn’t understand what’s happening.

“We’re all each other’s soulmates,” Jimin says.

Jungkook considers this for a moment. They’re both smiling with ear-to-ear grins, but Jungkook doesn’t feel this same sort of elation. He starts to wonder what this means. Are they going to choose which two of them are going to be each other’s soulmates? “What does that mean?” Jungkook asks, even though he’s dreading the answer.

Jimin and Taehyung share a mischievous look. “This is what it means,” Taehyung says. Before Jungkook even has time to think, both of his cheeks are met with a pair of lips. Jimin on his left and Taehyung on his right. He doesn’t have time to think because suddenly he’s filled with pure ecstasy.

Then they pull away and they’re laughing. He thinks they’re laughin at him.

Then he gets it. For the first time in awhile, he thinks he understands. He wants to make sure. “Wait so we’re not gonna have to choose or anything?”

Jimin shakes his head, “Why should we?”

“If we’re all each other’s soulmates, then shouldn’t we all be together?” Taehyung asks. He gets it. For once he understands and it fills him with joy.

He really thinks it must be a dream now. He looks between both of their smiling faces. Before he knows it, his eyes are leaking. He’s crying.

“Kookie!” Taehyung exclaims.

“What’s wrong?” Jimin asks.

Jungkook looks at them again and he can’t believe this is happening. He was worried about not having even one soulmate and now he gets two. He laughs and more tears fall out of his eyes, “Someone just hug me before I explode!”

They both laugh and tackle him in a hug at the same time. Jungkook doesn’t think he’s ever felt happier in his life. He almost doesn’t care if this whole thing ended up being a dream. But he knows it’s not. This is real.

 

— Hoseok —

Hoseok feels void of all emotions. He was scared at first, but as time went on he felt less and less scared, but also less of everything all together.

Yoongi doesn’t want him in his life. Hoseok was convinced of this. He watched Yoongi walk right past him in the dungeons earlier. He thought about calling out to him, but his voice caught in his throat. He thought that maybe it would be a bad idea to talk to him here and now.

Hoseok was caught up in his mind - which was never a good thing. He came to the conclusion that it was stupid for him to have feelings for Yoongi. He’d only met the guy a handful of times. Yoongi was the prince. It would be better for everyone if Hoseok simply moved on.

So that’s what he told himself he had to do.

Time seemed to move around Hoseok in a different way being down in his cell. He kept to himself and tried not to imagine another universe where he and Yoongi end up together. It felt like weeks had passed. Hoseok doesn’t notice when the people around him slowly start to disappear.

Eventually, it’s his turn. It feels like he’s been woken up from a month-long nap when he’s being guided into a courtroom. He keeps his eyes down, afraid of what might happen if he looks up to see Yoongi there.

“State your name,” a commanding voice says.

“Ju-,” his voice cracks, he hasn’t used it in days. Clearing his throat, he says, “Jung Hoseok.”

“Occupation?”

Hoseok frowns, “Um… unemployed?”

“Are you a student?”

Hoseok isn’t sure how to answer this, “I was kind of homeschooled.”

“And you’re not anymore?”

“Not really,” Hoseok says. He’s not too sure if he’ll ever go home again. He loves his aunt and uncle, but he needs to become more independent. He wants to start up a life of his own. Maybe he should go to school or try to find a job. Then he could get his own place. He could visit his family occasionally, but he doesn’t see himself going back there to live in his old room anymore.

“Ah, I see, so are you living with your parents?” The king asks.

Hoseok looks up for the first time. This was a mistake. He’s a little shocked, to say the least. The king - Yoongi’s father - looks exactly like Yoongi, but maybe twenty-five years older. However, his gaze doesn’t settle on this king for long. His gaze travels to his left where he locks eyes with Yoongi.

His face is expressionless. Hoseok tries to read his mind, but even with magic, he wouldn’t be able to do that. Yoongi makes no indication he even recognizes Hoseok. He tilts his head as he waits for Hoseok to answer.

This is enough to send Hoseok over the edge. He has been carefully building a wall around his heart, but one look at Yoongi has the wall imploding inwards on him. Hoseok remembers he has to answer the question.

“No. I don’t live with my parents. I don’t have parents,” Hoseok says.

“Please describe your living situation,” the king says.

“I’m living with a friend.”

“Alright then, can you give your reason for attending the wedding?”

Hoseok thinks for a second. He glances at Yoongi, who’s still staring straight at him. “I don’t know. I shouldn’t have gone.” He looks right at Yoongi as he says the words.

“Describe what happened from your point of view.”

Hoseok almost laughs, “You mean the curtains catching on fire?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t know. It’s all a blur. One second… the wedding was going on. I remember it was windy, then there was panic. I lost my friend I came with. Then I was in jail.”

The king is silent for a moment as if he’s waiting for more. Hoseok isn’t going to say anymore. When he seems to realize this, he speaks again, “Okay. Thank you. Is there anything else you wish to say on behalf of yourself in defense?”

Hoseok shakes his head, again looking at Yoongi. “No.” Yoongi’s expression changes for half a second. His eyes seem to widen. He wonders if he’s surprised Yoongi. Maybe he expected Hoseok to break down or cry. He wasn’t going to do that. Not here. Maybe later. The distaste - this hate - he felt towards Yoongi was enough to keep him afloat. He’s not sure if hate is the right word, but he doesn’t have a better one.

“Thank you, Mr. Jung Hoseok, the council will discuss your sentence and return shortly,” the king informs him.

Everyone gets up and files out of the room. Hoseok continues staring at Yoongi. He’s still trying to read him, but more than that, he refuses to be the one to look away first. Eventually, he wins because Yoongi has to go wherever it is everyone else went.

He wonders what they’re talking about. Will they come back and order for his execution? Is Yoongi in there defending him? Would he let that happen?

He’s sort of calm - all things considered. Whatever his sentence is, he doesn’t mind. He thinks he’d rather be dead than live in a place where his soulmate doesn’t love him.

When they come back out, Yoongi is the last one to return. Hoseok tries to read his face or make eye contact again, but Yoongi’s gaze is downwards. He won’t meet Hoseok’s eyes.

Hoseok frowns but looks away. The king is holding a piece of parchment. He clears his throat. The room is silent.

“I, as King of the land, and with the guidance of the council, declare Jung Hoseok still under suspicions of being a witch,” Hoseok’s heart drops with the words. He’s not sure what this means, but then the king tells him, “An additional trial will be carried out at the end of the week.”

Hoseok swallows and he feels himself being led away. That probably wasn’t the worst sentence he could’ve been given, but it definitely wasn’t the best.

He doesn’t pay attention where the guards take him, but he knows they’ve been climbing stairs for quite some time. He’s led into a new room entirely different from the last two. It’s almost much nicer. It’s small, but it has a bed and a small desk and chair. There’s also a tiny window. It’s almost nicer than his room back home was. He suddenly wishes he had his plants.

Out of nowhere, he becomes homesick. He thought he had been doing fine away from home, but he left so much behind him.

He wants to see his aunt and uncle one more time. He wants to water his plants. Maybe he even wants to reread one of his old textbooks.

He lies down on the bed and it’s incredibly soft. He feels like he wants to cry, but he’s done way too much of that lately. No tears come and he ends up falling asleep before dinner.

-

Hoseok dreams he’s a tiny ant. He doesn’t realize he’s the thing that’s gotten smaller and instead he thinks everything else has just gotten bigger. He tries to find his way back home, but the journey is impossibly long. He almost gets stepped on a few times. Just as he’s climbing his way up a tree, he hears a voice. It’s coming for him. It’s odd because it sounds similar to Yoongi’s voice.

“Hoseok! Hoseok!” the voice whispers.

Hoseok jolts awake. He almost chokes on his own spit.

Yoongi is here. He rubs his eyes hard, trying to figure out if he’s still dreaming. He squints at him. He’s a lot different from how he was yesterday. He looks like he actually owns a soul right now.

Hoseok has a lot of questions and a lot of things he wants to say to Yoongi at this very moment. However, he chooses instead to say, “Why are you here?”

Yoongi looks embarrassed, but he replies anyways. “I don’t have a lot of time. I need you to listen-”

“Why should I listen to you?” Hoseok is surprised by the authority in his own voice. He’s angry at Yoongi and he wants him to know. A small part of him thinks he might still harbor feelings for Yoongi, but he’s choosing to ignore that part of him.

“Hoseok, please,” Yoongi starts, and he looks desperate. Hoseok bites his lip and waits for more. “I know you probably hate me, and that’s my fault. I need you to get through this next trial.”

Hoseok frowns at him and wonders why Yoongi is suddenly concerned for him. “Yeah? How am I supposed to do that?” Hoseok spits at him.

“Say you’re friends with Seokjin. I heard you know him now. Tell the council he’s the friend you’re living with. He was released after the first set of trials almost immediately after he told them he worked in the library.” 

“How is that supposed to help me?”

“Trust me on this. They don’t want unnecessary blood on their hands. I’m trying to convince the king magic isn’t actually a bad thing, so he’s agreed for now to hold off on the executions. That’s why you’re all in these rooms-”

“Who?” Hoseok asks.

“I don’t… everyone that they didn’t release after the first set of trials. There are about a hundred of you guys - little less than that.”

“Oh.”

“So please Hoseok. We’re trying our best, but if we fail… I don’t know what I’d do if you…”

He doesn’t finish his sentence, but Hoseok knows what he was going to say. He ignores that part of his statement and instead points out another part, “We?”

“Hani and I,” Yoongi says.

“Oh right. Your fiancé.”

There’s an awkward tension in the room. “Actually… not really,” Yoongi says slowly.

Hoseok pauses for a moment. He wonders if they went and got married in all the time he’s been imprisoned, “What? Is she your wife now?”

Yoongi bites his lip, “No.” Hoseok looks at him and tries to read the expression on his expression on his face. He looks like he wants to say more, but is holding himself back. Hoseok wants him to say more as well. Yoongi opens his mouth and Hoseok anticipates his next words, “I have to go, Hoseok.”

Hoseok frowns, but Yoongi makes no movement towards the door. He lifts his arm for a second as if he’s about to reach out to Hoseok’s shoulder, but his fingers curl in and his hand drops. Finally, he takes a step backward.

“I’ll return later tonight,” he says. Then he adds as an afterthought, “I promise.”

-

Hoseok sits in silence for a long time after Yoongi leaves him. His brain is in overdrive and his heart is in shambles. He thought he could barricade his heart from the outside world and block out his emotions, but seeing Yoongi brought that all back down.

There was a lot left unsaid between the two of them. Like the thing with him and Hani. If they were no longer engaged, but also not married, what did that mean? Hoseok doubts the wedding would just be called off altogether. He wonders if that means there is still a chance for him to be with his soulmate. He tries his best not to get his hopes up, but unfortunately, that is what he’s known best for.

There was also the fact that Yoongi seemed a lot more like the Yoongi he first met. It was as if Yoongi and Prince Yoongi were two different people.

Hoseok tried to come up with a question or two he could ask if or when Yoongi returned later, but he couldn’t pin down a question that would give him answers to everything he was wondering.

He doesn’t realize how much time had passed until suddenly there’s a gentle knock at his door. He looks out the window and realizes it’s night time now. He sees the meals that were brought in for him sitting on the desk beside him. His eyes travel back to the door. He watches as a figure steps into his room and quietly shuts the door behind him.

“Yoongi?” Hoseok asks quietly.

The figure jumps at his voice. “Shit, I thought you’d be asleep,” Yoongi answers back.

The room is dark and Hoseok can hardly see him. He watches as Yoongi blindly stumbles his way towards Hoseok. He sits in the chair.

“Hoseok, did you not eat anything all day?” Yoongi asks, clearly noticing the untouched, cold food sitting on his desk.

Hoseok looks up, “I guess not.” He frowns, trying to pick out where Yoongi’s face is, but it’s really much too dark in the room to see anything. “Can’t we turn on the lamps?” Hoseok asks.

“No,” Yoongi says, “The lamps are much too bright. I’m not supposed to be here. It wouldn’t be good if I was caught.”

Hoseok frowns and considers his next actions. He holds his hands together until they start to get warm and slowly opens his palms up until a small, dim orb of light is glowing in the room. Using magic in the castle while in the middle of being on trial for being a witch was definitely not the brightest idea, but Hoseok was at a point where he was tired of being cautious.

“So why are you here?” Hoseok asks the same question he asked him earlier in the morning. There was an edge to his voice, and he almost sounded like he didn’t want Yoongi there. He tried to believe that was true.

“Hoseok, you should really eat something,” Yoongi says looking at all the food at his desk.

Hoseok just shrugs, he’s feeling close to tears for some reason, “Yoongi, why are you here?”

“I just… I thought that- I dunno. I missed you,” Yoongi says and his voice is so quiet and soft that Hoseok almost believes him.

He feels his eyes grow hot with tears threatening to fall. “If you… if you really missed me, why did you completely ignore me?” Hoseok asks. He tries to sound menacing, but his voice betrays him in the worst ways.

“Hoseok, I- I didn’t want to ignore you,” Yoongi starts.

“Then why?” Hoseok asks.

“I don’t know. It’s confusing. Politics and shit. I’m sorry. I’m so fucking sorry for everything.”

Hoseok looks at him and really does seem remorseful. Hoseok believes him, and because Hoseok also believes in the good in people, he decides in that moment to give him another chance even though he might regret it. “Why did you have to be the prince?”

Yoongi laughs darkly, “Believe me, I ask myself that every day.”

There’s a pregnant pause. “Yoongi? What’s going to happen?” Hoseok asks quietly.

Yoongi takes this moment to get up from his chair and take a seat next to Hoseok. He’s close, but not too close. Hoseok is okay with this distance. He’s not sure he’d want him to any closer yet. Even though he’s mentally decided to forgive Yoongi, he’s not completely over the emotions of distrust he feels towards him. “I don’t know, Hoseok. That depends on what you’re talking about.”

Yoongi left his statement open-ended but Hoseok thinks he knows what he was trying to pick at. Were they talking about the future as in tomorrow or five to ten years from now?

Hoseok sighs, “You know… I was always terrified at the idea of having a soulmate. I thought they would turn me in for being a witch. Then when I met you, I completely changed my mind. I thought I was so lucky. But now here we are. I’m on trial for my life and it’s all because of my supposed soulmate.”

“What do you mean supposed soulmate?” Yoongi asks carefully. He sounds a little hurt and Hoseok is only a little sorry about that.

Hoseok holds out his wrist. He looks at the letters he had been avoiding looking at or even thinking about for some time now. “Yoongi, how can I even know if you’re my real soulmate? I used to be so sure, but lately, I’ve been less sure.”

Yoongi bites his lip and his gaze flickers around the room. He seems to be thinking over something and Hoseok can physically feel the seconds ticking by. Finally, he looks up and meets Hoseok’s gaze. “Hoseok…” he starts.

“What?” Hoseok asks.

“Tell me to stop,” Yoongi says, and Hoseok is confused until Yoongi starts shifting closer to him. Hoseok has half a mind to say stop, but at the same time, his heart is beating way too fast.

Their lips meet and Hoseok feels like the tide has swept over him and he’s drowning. He barely processes what’s happening. Yoongi pulls away after a few seconds.

Hoseok blinks, Yoongi’s face is almost unreadable. A few seconds of silence and staring at each other pass until Hoseok unfreezes himself somehow. He reaches forward and grabs Yoongi’s chin to kiss him again. He thinks it’s hardly fair Yoongi got to kiss him, but he didn’t get to kiss him back. Yoongi immediately melts into his touch. The kiss breaks when Yoongi is smiling too much. Hoseok pulls away and frowns.

His frown doesn’t last long at the sight of Yoongi’s smile. He’s looking down at his hands and seems to be in a state of disbelief. Hoseok thinks he looks cute and can’t help but smile as well.

Yoongi looks up at Hoseok, still smiling just as wide. The eye contact doesn’t last long because Yoongi hides his face in his hands. Hoseok almost laughs at him. Yoongi peaks through his fingers and quietly he says words that make Hoseok’s heart stop, “I think I’m in love with you.”

Hoseok’s smile drops and he looks at Yoongi in pure disbelief. There was no way he heard those words right. Hoseok wants to say it back, but he finds his tongue tied.

Hoseok swallows the lump in his throat and asks the question that’s really been picking at his brain, “Yoongi, do we have a future together?”

Yoongi drops his hands and nods, “Any future you want.”

“How can you be so sure?” Hoseok asks.

Yoongi just shrugs, “I can do whatever I want, right? I’m the prince. If you wanted we could leave this room right now and just run away together.”

Hoseok laughs, it’s such a ridiculous notion, “Yoongi, you’re the prince.”

“Yeah, I just said that.”

Hoseok shakes his head, “You can’t just abandon your kingdom.”

“I mean-”

“And what about Hani? Or the fact I could never give you an heir to the throne? And you can’t forget my trial tomorrow. There’s just too much in the way,” Hoseok tries to reason.

“We’ll get through the trial and figure out everything else as we go,” Yoongi tells him.

“Yoongi-”

“No, I’m serious. I don’t know a lot of things, but I do know things will work out.”

Hoseok nods and leans his head against Yoongi’s shoulder. He doesn’t really believe him, but it doesn’t really matter what Hoseok believes at the moment. They stay like this for some time until Hoseok’s stomach grumbles.

“Seriously, Hoseok, you have to eat,” Yoongi says. “I can go get you something warm from the kitchens if you want.”

Hoseok shakes his head, taking one of the plates into his own hands. “I’m a witch, remember?” He heats up the plate in his hands and begins to eat. He wonders how he went the entire day without eating because now he feels like he could eat a horse.

“Okay, but at least for tomorrow just pretend you’re not,” Yoongi tells him.

Hoseok nods. He thinks he can do that.

 

— Namjoon —

Namjoon’s first trial does not go well at all. They had asked him where he was from and he found that hard to answer. He told them how he wasn’t sure the name of the town or which place was technically his first home. Of course, this naturally led into him telling about how his parents moved around a bunch when he was a kid. This was a mistake since the reasons for him moving around were all the magical incidents he had.

Pharmacists were not a typical profession that moved around a lot, so when he was asked his parent’s occupation he should’ve lied and made something up.

It was too late now. Namjoon was placed into a new type of confinement. The room was nicer and he was provided with food three times a day - so that was nice - but at the same time, he was one step closer to his execution so that was not so nice.

He gets a surprise when Prince Yoongi walks into his room around lunchtime. He recalls that time they met at the bakery just as he was closing the shop for the night. In a way, it was Yoongi that reunited Namjoon with Hoseok. It was also Yoongi’s fault Hoseok was heartbroken and living on Namjoon’s couch.

He wasn’t sure how he should act towards him.

“I’m here to inform you the time of your second trial is at 1:15 PM tomorrow afternoon. You may have noticed, but we will be bringing food to your room three times a day. If you-”

“What the hell is going on?” Namjoon interrupts.

“Excuse me?” Yoongi replies.

“Don’t you recognize me?”

Yoongi frowns and tilts his head. “No.”

“I work at that bakery. Namjoon. Hoseok’s friend. I know you know Hoseok,” Namjoon says.

Yoongi perks up at this, “Oh! Right! Namjoon, hi.”

“Have you see Hoseok at all?” Namjoon can’t resist asking.

“I have actually. He’s also… in one of these rooms,” Yoongi tells him, he sounds upset.

“Fuck, that’s not good, did he seem okay?” Namjoon asks.

Yoongi shrugged, “He seemed mostly like he hated my guts.”

“He has good reason to,” Namjoon tells him.

Yoongi frowns, “I just don’t know what to do.”

“Well apologize, for one thing. Then tell him whatever it is that’s actually going on.”

Yoongi nods, “Yeah, yeah, I know I need to apologize. It’s just that whenever I see him I forget everything I was thinking before. I had this whole big monologue planned for when I found him, but as soon as I found him I forget every word of it.”

“Don’t you have the authority to free whoever you want?” Namjoon asks.

Yoongi sighs, “No, not really.”

“Aren’t you the prince?” Namjoon asks.

“You would think I’d have that sort of power wouldn’t you?” Yoongi replies.

Namjoon doesn’t know what to say to that. He has another question tugging at his mind, he’s dying to ask, “You know Seokjin, right?”

“Yeah, the library guy,” Yoongi replies.

Namjoon nods, “Do you know where he is?”

“He’s been released. Pretty much anyone employed by the palace has been let go.” Namjoon feels himself breathe a sigh of relief. Now he just has to figure out a way to get out of here alive.

Namjoon hardly knows Yoongi so their conversation seems to have died out again. Yoongi takes this opportunity to dismiss himself. “I’m not supposed to go around telling anyone this, but there’s a chance the trials won’t happen at all. However, I wouldn’t rely on this. If I stop by again, chances are, the trials got cancelled,” Yoongi tells him and slips out the door.

Namjoon wonders what that could mean, but decides not to dwell too long on it. Yoongi didn’t make it sound very likely.

-

Namjoon spends the long hours in his cell tracing the letters on his wrist. He tells himself that when he gets out of here, the first thing he’s going to do is find Seokjin and ask him out on a real date.

 

— Yoongi —

Yoongi found himself spending a lot of time with Hani lately. Yoongi might even consider her a friend. However anytime they would meet up to talk it was hardly ever about anything nice.

They found some odd sort of comfort in sharing their shitty situations with each other.

Their first meeting like this was the night before their wedding. Hani had received a letter from Hyojin - her soulmate.

“She broke up with me,” Hani says immediately as Yoongi opens his door. It was past midnight and Yoongi was up anyways with anticipation for the upcoming day.

It took Yoongi a moment to process her words before understanding. He invited her in and offered as much comfort as he could. He told her maybe something would change and she would come to understand how this marriage was necessary. He hardly believed his own words at the time, but they seemed to help Hani. Yoongi feared Hoseok would do the same with him. He wasn’t sure if he could even consider Hoseok his boyfriend, but the thought of never reaching that point at all was heartbreaking.

The next time they meet up to complain to each other is about twenty-four hours later. So much had happened in that short span of time, so that yesterday hardly felt like yesterday.

This time, Yoongi complained about how his father gave him a chance to save three people and he blew it. He ended up freeing Taehyung and Jimin and by the time he went back for a third, he wasn’t allowed in. He wasn’t even sure Hoseok was in the dungeons, but if there was any chance he was, Yoongi wanted to make sure he was out of there as soon as possible.

The next day Yoongi doesn’t get a lot of time to complain with Hani. He is summoned by his father to attend a bunch of trials. After the majority had been released for being either under the age of twelve, over the age of fifty, or a business owner, they had about three hundred people left over.

They begin trials at 10 AM. Each trial had to be short, but they still needed to gather enough information to determine whether they could be a witch. It wasn’t a perfect process. In fact, it was a largely flawed process, but it’s all that the king could come up with in order to single out those with magic in such a short amount of time.

After about two minutes of questioning, the council would gather in a back room to vote whether to release them or keep them for further questioning. Yoongi voted every time to release them. He thinks his father noticed this trend.

Because of the number of trials they were set to hold in one day, each trial is limited to about three minutes. They don’t intend to go through everyone by midnight, but they were going to finish within twenty-four hours.

Yoongi was getting so bored after just two hours that he doesn’t notice when his soulmate walks into the room. When he heard Hoseok’s voice crack when he first said his name, Yoongi felt his heart drop. He forced himself to remain emotionless as he looked at Hoseok. At the time he wanted Hoseok to look up at him, but he regretted this wish the second Hoseok did look at him. His eyes were dark and he had bad under-eye bags. He looked tired and malnourished.

Yoongi felt like he was breaking. He forced himself to remain seated and not let his emotions break him. When it was time to vote on whether to keep or release him, Yoongi voted the same as always. Almost everyone else wanted to keep him. Yoongi wished he had been able to listen to Hoseok’s words better to argue on his behalf.

The next time he saw Hani was around 2 AM that night. He told her how completely helpless he was for his soulmate and how he hated himself for it. She told him it wasn’t his fault. They stayed up and talked about what they could do.

Hani had been at all the trials as well. However, since she wasn’t a part of the council, she wasn’t allowed to have a vote.

Hani recalled Hoseok’s trial and told Yoongi what all of his answers were. They come up with some ideas that might help save Hoseok.

The next morning he rushed to the tower all the remaining prisoners had been taken to. He didn’t sit through the rest of the trials because his father knew no matter what the prisoners said about themselves Yoongi would be voting to free them.

At the tower, a guard stops him. He tells the guard he wants to inform the remaining prisoners of their rights as well as when their trials are going to be. He doesn’t know which room Hoseok is being kept in, so he has to go to all of them to find out. Eventually, he finds him and the same moment he set his eyes on him, he forgets everything he and Hani had come up with the night before.

He met with Hani over lunch to tell her about how awful it had been. Hoseok appeared to hate him. She told him the same thing Namjoon had told him just a bit earlier.

“Yoongi, you need to apologize. He doesn’t know which side you’re on and he needs to know you’re on his side,” Hani said.

The next time Yoongi met with Hani is after he had kissed Hoseok and told him he loved him.

“You love him!?” Hani asks with certain kind of glee.

Yoongi breathes out, “I guess I do.”

“I’m so happy for you, Yoongi,” she tells him.

Yoongi’s smile falters, “But what if-”

“Don’t,” Hani stops him from finishing.

“Hani, I’m serious. It could happen,” Yoongi says.

“We’re not going to let it happen,” Hani replies.

“I have to talk to my father then,” Yoongi says.

Hani sighs, “If you think that will help.”

“I really don’t,” Yoongi says and he feels close to tears. He keeps promising Hoseok things will be okay, but he’s not too sure of that himself. “What if after doing everything I possibly could for him, they still decide to execute him. I couldn’t live with myself after that.”

“Yoongi, that won’t happen,” Hani says, and it’s not at all what Yoongi wants to hear.

-

The next morning Yoongi goes straight to the conference room, even skipping breakfast. He sees the name on his wrist by accident. He pauses and notices how it’s all there - the whole thing. He smiles and lets this give him strength.

He’s shocked when he shows up only to see Taehyung is already there.

“Taehyung?” Yoongi asks.

Taehyung turns around and smiles at Yoongi. Yoongi wonders what’s got him in such a great mood.

“Hi Yoongi!” Taehyung basically sings. Yoongi squints at him and then looks to his father.

“Taehyung was just asking if he could sit in on the second round of witch trials,” he sends a tired look at Taehyung. Yoongi looks at Taehyung who’s giving him a mysterious grin. “Did you need something?” the king asks.

Yoongi clears his throat. He wasn’t expecting Taehyung to be here, but maybe that’s even better since he might back him up. “Release everyone,” Yoongi says.

The king frowns, “Why would I do something as ridiculous as that?”

“The people we’ve imprisoned are not criminals,” Yoongi says.

“Ah, but they might be,” the king says, and his tone is really starting to piss him off.

“No!” he exclaims. “Why is magic illegal in the first place!? I’ve seen hundreds of crimes committed and not a single one of them was done with magic! People steal every single day, but the punishment for that is a forty-eight-hour imprisonment. The punishment for magic - no matter what kind of magic it was - is death!”

“Do not raise your voice at me,” the king says as a warning. Yoongi looks at Taehyung who seems to be excited at the fact Yoongi is getting worked up over this. He doesn’t look like he’s about to say anything.

“No! I’m tired of being told what to do and when to be where! I’m the fucking prince and I’m more powerless than anyone else in this kingdom! I want you to start listening to me!” Yoongi yells. The lights around them flicker, but the king holds his stare. He seems calm, but his face is pale.

“What do you want?” the king asks, tight-lipped.

This upsets Yoongi even more. He thought he had made it perfectly clear what he wanted, “I want the laws to change. Magic shouldn’t be illegal anymore.”

“No,” he answers.

“Why?” Yoongi shouts, “All this because my mother died twenty-three years ago?”

“Yoongi, that’s enough,” his father tells him, seeming angry himself.

“No. My mother is gone and we’re never getting her back. You can’t blame hundreds of others for something you did. I wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for magic!” Yoongi says. He’s panting now, becoming physically fatigued from all the yelling. However what Yoongi doesn’t notice is how the papers, the maps, and the vase of flowers on the desk between them are all floating.

Yoongi is still seething when Taehyung speaks up for the first time, “Um, Yoongi?”

Yoongi breaks eye contact with his father to look at Taehyung. When he does this, all the floating objects fall to the ground. The lights in the room stop flickering as well. Yoongi realizes what’s happening.

His eyes widen as he looks from Taehyung to the king. His father is wearing a similar expression. Yoongi looks down at his hands. When he takes them off the desktop, there are his handprints scorched into the wood. He backs up, unsure of what’s going on.

“I have to go,” Yoongi says quietly. He doesn’t move and looks at the king.

He nods, “We’ll talk later.”

Yoongi nods back and ducks out of the room. Once outside, he rushes down the hall. He hears a set of footsteps following close behind - probably Taehyung.

When he gets back to his room, Taehyung enters right after him.

They sit in silence for some time. Yoongi sits in a chair, staring at his own hands. He can hardly believe what just happened. He wants to believe that it wasn’t him who caused that, but all the evidence points in his direction.

Eventually, Yoongi finds his voice, “What the hell was that?”

“I don’t know, but it was cool as hell,” Taehyung replies.

Yoongi sits up in his chair and looks at Taehyung, “Am I a witch or something?”

Taehyung shrugs, “Maybe?”

Yoongi shakes his head, “No, it’s impossible. I couldn’t have gone twenty-three years in my life without knowing something like that.”

“Hmm… you know who you should talk to? Namjoon. He’s like the smartest guy I know,” Taehyung says.

Yoongi looks at him, “Really? You think so?”

Taehyung nods, “Yeah. That’s what I would do?”

“And tell him what? I maybe just made some shit float around and burnt my hand into a wooden desk?” Yoongi asks.

Taehyung shrugs, “Yeah, something like that.”

Yoongi shakes his head, “You’re not very helpful, sometimes. You know that right?”

Taehyung just grins at him.

Yoongi sighs, “Well then I guess I’m going to see Namjoon.”

-

Yoongi pauses at his door. He knows he told Namjoon if he sees him again before the trials it was likely they would be canceled altogether. He doesn’t want to give him that sort of false hope. However, his main hesitation is the anxiety.

He grabs the doorknob anyways and pushes open the door.

Namjoon jumps when he enters, and Yoongi supposes he should have knocked.

“Did they cancel?” Namjoon asks, but he doesn’t seem hopeful - in fact, he seems confused and very doubtful.

Yoongi shakes his head, “No, I uh… I came here to talk to you.”

“Me?” Namjoon asks.

Yoongi nods, “Yeah, I hear you’re smart, and I think you might be able to help me.”

“Um, okay? Thanks, I guess,” Namjoon says, sounding unsure of himself.

Yoongi clears his throat, wondering where to begin. “So, like… magic?” Yoongi says.

Namjoon laughs a bit at him, “Right, what I’m on trial for?”

Yoongi nods, he feels embarrassed. “You’re a witch, right?”

Namjoon frowns at him, “I don’t think I should be telling the prince whether or not I’m a witch.”

Yoongi feels even more embarrassed now, “No, no I mean… I think magic should be legal. Hoseok told me you were a long time ago. I swear I won’t have you executed.”

A pause follows his words, “So what’s your question?” Namjoon asks.

“How did you know… you had magic?” Yoongi finally manages to voice one of his many questions.

Namjoon laughs, “Well… I guess I always sort of knew. My parents were both witches.”

“Okay, but when did you first… do magic?”

Namjoon frowns, “I don’t remember. Ever since I was a baby I guess.”

Yoongi nods even though this information is not really helping, “Is it possible to get magic later in life?”

Yoongi is trying his best to beat around the bush. Namjoon considers this carefully before answering, “Well the way magic works - actually, there’s a couple of ways and some of them are just theories, but they’re reliable theories. The first way is that there’s this theoretical “magic gene” that everyone has. In people who perform magic, this gene is said to be active. In those who do not, the gene is dormant. Just with all other genes, it sort of varies. Some people have two parents that were both really powerful witches, so their magic gene is more pronounced. I think Hoseok is one of these people. They’re the type of people that have a lot of magic in everything they do and it doesn’t take very much effort to do magical things. Make sense so far?”

Yoongi nods, “Yeah, I think so.”

“Okay. So then, when the magic gene exists in a weaker, but not completely dormant state, the witches typically have to rely more on potions or runes to channel magic. My parents were both this kind of witch, so I am too.”

“Does that mean you have to have certain objects in order for magic to work for you?” Yoongi asks.

Namjoon kind of nods, “Sort of? Like the crystals and charms I use definitely help, but magic is possible without them too. It’s just a bit more unpredictable and often more dangerous.”

Yoongi thinks he follows. “Okay. Is there more?” he asks because Namjoon didn’t sound done explaining yet.

“Yeah. So you asked if it’s possible to get magic later in life, right? I think theoretically, yes it is. A magic gene could exist in someone as dormant or mostly dormant for a good portion of their life. Someone could also go their entire life without knowing they have magic. Or maybe they perform magic without recognizing it as such if it’s such a simple act. There’s a lot of possibilities.”

Yoongi considers this, “Okay, so say someone had this mostly dormant gene… what activates it? Where does the magic actually come from?”

“Well a lot of things could activate it I guess, but the main thing we sort of see is emotions,” Namjoon says.

“Emotions?” Yoongi asks.

Namjoon nods, “A lot of magic is linked with emotions. In individuals who have a more powerful magic gene, their emotions can cause big outbursts of magical energy. I’ve found if I get angry, I can cause things to break or crack incidentally. Anger and fear are often the most powerful emotions so they typically result in the larger magical outbursts.”

“Anger and fear, huh?” Yoongi asks, really thinking about this. He had been really angry with his father earlier.

“Some happier emotions work as well, but you’d have to be really happy or excited about something to get a magical outburst from that kind of emotion,” Namjoon goes on. “The magic also typically matches the emotion. Like anger might make something break, but happiness might make something glow…”

Namjoon pauses as Yoongi takes in this information. He hardly thinks before his next words leave his mouth, “I think I might be a witch.”

Yoongi immediately puts a hand over his mouth and Namjoon’s eyes widen. “Seriously?” he asks.

Yoongi figures there’s really no harm in admitting it to him. It’s not like he was the one on trial, “Yeah, maybe? Except that that’s completely absurd and there’s no way.”

Namjoon nods, “Right. So which one is it?”

Yoongi shrugs, “I really don’t know, to be honest.”

 

“Well, what happened?” Namjoon asks.

“I don’t know… I was sort of yelling at my uh- at someone, and I got really angry so I didn’t notice right away, but the lights were flickering and some stuff floated and such.”

“I see… Is there any chance it was someone else? Maybe someone in the room with you was a witch,” Namjoon tells him.

Yoongi frowns he seriously doubted his father or Taehyung had some kind of hidden magic, “Well there was also my handprint.”

“Your handprint?”

“Yeah, I had my hand on the desk while I was sort of yelling and then when I took it away, my handprint was kind of burnt into the desk.”

“Yeah, that definitely sounds like magic,” Namjoon tells him.

“Does that mean I’m a witch now?” Yoongi asks, in disbelief.

Namjoon nods, “Probably.”

“But I’ve never made anything like this happen before. And how am I supposed to do it again? I really don’t think I’m a witch,” Yoongi says.

“Well there’s this other theory you should know about,” Namjoon says.

“What’s that?”

“There’s a theory that anyone could be a witch. Like literally anyone. There’s a lot of people that are more naturally witches and have more magic than others, but the idea is that anyone can learn to use spell and potions and other magical artifacts to do magic,” he tells him.

“Oh…” Yoongi says.

The more he listens to Namjoon talk about magic in this logical manner, the more he’s convinced it should be legal. To Yoongi it sounds like it’s a part of the natural world and there’s no reason to condemn those who have it (or maybe just have more of it).

“Thanks, Namjoon,” Yoongi says. “I should be going now.” Namjoon nods at him and Yoongi gets up to leave. He has a few more questions on his mind, but they aren’t as urgent.

-

Yoongi returns to his room to find he has company.

“What’s up witch boy?” Hani asks as he walks in.

Yoongi shoots a look at Taehyung who’s also in the room. He wonders how many people Taehyung’s already told by this point.

“I’m not…” Yoongi trails off. He’s still on the fence.

“You’re not a what? A witch? Because according to Taehyung here you created some sort of paper tornado in the king’s office,” Hani says.

Yoongi frowns at Taehyung. Taehyung avoids eye contact. “That’s not at all what happened,” Yoongi says.

“So something did happen then?” Hani asks.

Yoongi rubs his face, “I guess.” He turns to Taehyung, “Have you heard anything from my father then? Or have you just been going around telling everyone about this?”

Taehyung’s jaw drops in mock offense, “Have a little faith in me! I was minding my own business in here when Hani showed up and wouldn’t leave until I told her why I was here.”

“Well, of course, I’m gonna ask for an explanation when the first thing you said to me was, ‘you’ll never guess what Yoongi did,’” Hani says.

Yoongi wants to dissipate into thin air. “My head hurts,” Yoongi says.

“So what did Namjoon say?” Taehyung asks.

“A lot of stuff,” Yoongi says, finally grabbing a seat. “Like some theory that says anyone can do magic or something.” Yoongi looks to Hani to see if she’s heard of this theory.

“Does that mean I can be a witch?” Taehyung asks, getting excited.

Yoongi shrugs, “I don’t know. He said some people need certain objects to do magic while others don’t.”

Hani nods, “I’m not sure about the first part, but there are different levels of witches. Some are elemental witches that can control things like fire, wind, and water. There are also naturalists that have influence over living things like plants or animals. Potionists that have to use potions, the list goes on.”

Yoongi nods, “I guess that’s similar to what Namjoon was saying. But the thing is I didn’t use a potion or lucky charm earlier.”

“A lot of witches are multiple types at the same time where some are more pronounced. So it’s possible you have a tiny bit of elemental magic, but maybe you’d be better with rune magic,” Hani suggests.

“What the hell is going on?” Yoongi says, mostly to himself. Twenty-four hours ago if someone had told him he’d perform magic accidentally in front of his father today, he would have laughed in their face.

“Don’t you think this is really cool?” Taehyung asks. “I sort of wish I was you.”

Yoongi just frowns at him, but addresses Hani, “So what? Should I try to use other types of magic to see if before wasn’t some kind of fluke?”

Hani shrugs, “I suppose. I have no idea where you’d find crystals or runes at the moment since you’ve imprisoned a couple hundred people just for potentially having magic. Any witches that aren’t in your dungeons have probably gone into hiding.”

“Fair point… I think we need to focus on the real goal here,” Yoongi says.

“What’s that?” Taehyung asks.

“Getting the laws changed,” Yoongi says. He feels a tiny flicker of determination in his chest. Maybe he has some leeway now that he might be a witch. His father has never outright contested him, so this scenario was very interesting.

-

The trials have begun and Yoongi is sitting powerless next to the king. When a familiar face is lead into the courtroom, Yoongi’s heart begins to race.

Yoongi feels somewhat confident he will be let out of here no problem. When they question him where he’s living he makes sure to mention Seokjin’s name just as Yoongi suggested to him beforehand.

The trial is going better than he could’ve hoped. However, things start to take a turn. There have been about ten minutes of questioning - or Yoongi isn’t completely sure how long exactly - but it feels like a long time. Then the king announces a verdict has been reached. Yoongi isn’t sure how this is possible since they didn’t talk about his trial at all.

“...hereby find Jung Hoseok,” Yoongi holds his breath, “guilty.”

“What!?” Yoongi stands up from his spot, he feels his heart racing. Hoseok looks at him, scared.

“He’s guilty,” the king repeats.

Yoongi feels like he’s about to start crying. He jumps down from the stands and races to Hoseok’s side. Hoseok is crying too. “You can’t execute him!” Yoongi exclaims. The king stares at him, expressionless. “He’s my soulmate!” Yoongi reaches down to grab Hoseok’s hand.

The king considers the display in front of him for a second. He sighs, “I guess we’ll have to execute you too, then.”

Yoongi’s eyes widen in shock. He turns to Hoseok, but no one’s there anymore. Just the executioner. Then there’s nothing. Only darkness.

Yoongi sits up abruptly.

He’s in bed.

A nightmare.

He can’t say he hasn’t had this nightmare before, but that doesn’t mean his heart isn’t racing just as fast. However, in past versions of this dream, he was never added to the list to be executed. Yoongi wants to go see Hoseok, but the sun is rising. Hoseok deserves to sleep. Besides, he doesn’t need to be burdened with Yoongi’s dream.

Instead, Yoongi goes somewhere he hasn’t been in a long time. He used to go this way all the time as a child when he was awoken by a nightmare or bad dream.

When he reaches his father’s door, he pushes it open gently.

His inner child comes out when he steps into the room and is hit with the nostalgia. “Papa?” Yoongi calls out quietly. He hasn’t called his father by this name in well over a decade. He reaches the bed and taps on his shoulder.

Yoongi realizes how much taller he is now. This bed used to tower over him and Yoongi would struggle to go on his toes to wake his father. Then his father would typically scoop him up and set him on his lap so they could talk about Yoongi’s nightmares.

Now he looks down at the bed and his father as he rolls over and wakes up. “Yoongi?” he asks as if he’s unsure if he’s awake or not.

Yoongi doesn’t notice he already has tears in his eyes until he begins talking and his voice sounds thick, “You wouldn’t kill me would you?”

His father seems much more awake now, but also much more confused, “What? Yoongi, no. What are you talking about?”

Yoongi hiccups, “I had a dream that you would’ve.”

His father frowns. “Yoongi,” he says seriously, so he get’s Yoongi’s undivided attention, “why would you ever think such a thing?”

Yoongi thinks for a second, but an answer is not really hard to come up with. “Because I’m a witch, and you hate magic?”

His father puts a hand on his shoulder, “What makes you say that?”

“Because it’s true! You’ve always hated magic,” Yoongi says.

A beat passes. His father makes room for him on the bed. Yoongi accepts the gesture and takes a seat next to him. “Not that. What makes you say you’re a witch?”

Yoongi frowns. “Didn’t you see what I did earlier? Wasn’t that magic?” His father doesn’t say anything so Yoongi keeps talking, “I have friends that are witches.” He doesn’t know what led him to admit to this.

“Oh?”

Yoongi nods. “Yeah. They’re good people too. I think a few of them could be scared of me. They think I’ll turn on them someday or something.”

His father considers this. “How do you know they are witches?”

“They’ve shown me. I’ve seen them do magic.”

“They must have a lot of trust in you,” he says.

“They do. I don’t want to let them down,” Yoongi says that last part mostly to himself.

“So are they the ones that made you into a witch?” The question is so far out of left-field that Yoongi is taken aback.

“What? No!” he shakes his head. “I think it’s possible that I… I’ve always been like this?”

“Why have you never told me?”

“I just found out myself,” Yoongi says.

His father laughs and gives a big yawn, “You’re going to have to explain this better, I’m a bit tired.”

Yoongi pauses to gather his thoughts before explaining some of what Namjoon had said to him before. “Basically, there’s a magic gene and supposedly everyone has it, but some people have more of it. I probably have less of it and because of that, I’ve never… done magic… until…”

Yoongi doesn’t say anymore and his father looks into the distance with a thoughtful look on his face, “So you’re telling me magic comes from genetics?”

“Yeah,” Yoongi nods, even though he’s not completely sure of it himself.

“And there’s this science behind it?”

Yoongi nods again.

“I think I’d like to talk with someone who knows more about this.”

Yoongi feels hopeful for the first time in a long time. He thinks about recommending Namjoon, but at the same time, he would hate to put his friend in danger by exposing him as a witch in case his father goes through with the executions. “Hani-” the name slips out of his mouth by accident.

His father turns to him, eyebrows raised, “Hani?”

Yoongi swallows - it’s too late now. “Yeah… Hani is pretty smart.”

“And she’s a witch?” he asks.

Yoongi nods slowly.

“Huh,” he says, mostly in wonder. “I was going to have you married off to a witch, and I had no idea.”

“That’s because they’re not all evil,” Yoongi says. Feeling good about this conversation, he decides it’s also a good place to leave off. He says goodbye to his father and makes his way back to his room.

He’s pretty sure Hani will still be okay even if the king decides to throw her in jail. That would be a dumb move on his part because Hani’s kingdom would wage war and though their kingdom is much smaller than Yoongi’s, they’ve spent much of their resources on this witch-hunt and they cannot afford a war at the moment.

-

When Yoongi had returned to his room after seeing his father, he decided to go back to sleep. Waking up a second time that morning made it feel like a completely different day. Except for how he woke up - which made it feel like a completely different life.

“Yoongi!” a voice exclaims right before he’s hit with a heavyweight.

When he opens his eyes, he see none other than Jung Hoseok hovering above him. His cheeks go red and his heart is racing, but then the confusion hits him. This has to be a dream.

“-seok?” Yoongi mumbles.

Hoseok’s grinning so wide, Yoongi is positive his face is going to crack. “I don’t know what you did, but you did it!”

Yoongi blinks a few times, “Did what?”

“The let us go. All of us. Taehyung was with the guard that came and got me and he brought me here,” Hoseok explains.

Yoongi’s heart swells as he looks up at Hoseok. He doesn’t believe it’s real.

He reaches up to pull Hoseok down for a kiss, but they break apart because they’re both smiling too wide to actually kiss. Instead, Hoseok brings their foreheads together and beams at him and Yoongi could swear he’s staring at the sun.

Or maybe it’s that other glowing thing in the room. Yoongi looks over Hoseok’s shoulder to watch the spectacle unfold in front of him. Hoseok turns around to see what’s got Yoongi’s attention.

On his windowsill, there’s a tiny vase holding the orange flower Hoseok had given Yoongi a while ago. Lately, it had been wilting as Yoongi didn’t know how to care for flowers and he was too preoccupied with other business.

The whole thing had an orangish glow around it while it magically healed itself. His flower had never looked prettier.

Hoseok got up and walked over to inspect it. He touches it gently and looks from the flower to Yoongi. “I didn’t do this,” he says. He leans over the window to look for other people around the area.

Yoongi can’t hide the grin on his face. He knows he’s the one who caused this.

Hoseok seems to catch on, “Wait. You’re-”

Yoongi shrugs, “Yeah maybe… jury’s still out on that one.”

“No way,” Hoseok says in awe.

Yoongi doesn’t know how to respond because he’s still sort of in shock as well, “Yeah, I only found out yesterday really.”

Hoseok’s shaking his head, “No. I mean, I gave you this flower. This is my chrysanthemum.”

Yoongi looks up to see Hoseok staring intently at the flower. Yoongi nods. “Yeah, they’ve always been my favorites,” Yoongi says and makes sure to note the word chrysanthemum in his mind.

“I can’t believe you still have this.”

“Of course I do. You gave it to me,” Yoongi says, starting to feel embarrassed.

“Yoongi, you’re a witch,” Hoseok says and Yoongi is confused how they keep switching topics so easily.

“Excuse me?”

“This flower should’ve died a long time ago. Magic has been keeping it alive and unless you somehow have a maid that’s a witch, I’d say it was you,” Hoseok says.

Yoongi’s standing up now. He wants to see for himself. “How can you tell magic is keeping it alive? I thought water and sunlight do that.”

Hoseok laughs, “Yeah maybe, but not when it’s a clipping. Those should only last a week or two at best. I wanted to be a botanist, remember? You should listen to me.”

“Wanted?” Yoongi picks up on the key phrase. “Past tense? What do you wanna be now?”

Hoseok pretends to think for a moment, “Your boyfriend?”

Yoongi’s heart lurches in his chest at the words. The smile on his face grows along with the blush. “You’re so cheesy,” Yoongi says, stepping closer to him.

“So, is that a yes?” Hoseok asks with a hint of hopefulness in his voice.

“Of course it’s a yes.”

Chapter Text

— Epilogue —

The magic reform takes well over a decade, but it’s a welcome change. When the first decree went out announcing it is no longer against the law to practice magic, many witches were skeptical. Lots of them believed it to be a trap in order to capture and kill more of them.

However, after about a year of seeing no new persecutions take place against those performing magic, some started to believe it. The first to believe it was the children. Occasionally, magic might make its way into their games. One kid might kick a ball straight into the goal, but magically it would be diverted last second to miss. The kids would argue, but no one gets in any real trouble. Some are even too young to understand what magic is.

A few years after this, magic becomes more and more prevalent. Scholars start to write and publish more books on the subject. With more research than ever put into this topic, magic itself beings to advance in new ways.

One of these new ways magic advances is with the creation of wands. It’s a huge step forward and allows more people than ever before to practice magic. It happens about six years after magic is made legal. Wands allow those with less natural talent for magic learn to control it as well as help those with this natural talent stabilize their magic.

About ten years after the legalization of magic, the kingdom looks completely different.

Of course, a lot is still the same.

Jimin, Taehyung, and Jungkook are all living together in a house of their own. Yoongi might not admit it out loud, but he misses having Taehyung live down the hall. Of course, he still comes by often.

Jungkook still works in his family’s bakery, but he has full ownership over it now. His life didn’t change much except for having an additional soulmate now. Since Jungkook was now able to use magic more openly, he didn’t really need Namjoon working in the store. Namjoon had more important things to tend to as well. Jungkook ran the bakery by himself, but he found this to be sort of lonely. He ends up hiring Dowoon to take care of the deliveries for him. Dowoon becomes Jungkook’s sort of adopted brother.

Jimin eventually comes across an internship that works out far better than the first one had. This leads to him becoming an actual physician, as he always dreamed. His parents accept this career path for him and decide to pass their weaponsmithing shop to Jimin’s younger brother instead of him.

A few years down the line, Jimin opens up a practice of his own. He mostly relies on the old remedies, but with some help from Namjoon, he incorporates a few magical remedies into his arsenal. He trusts the non-magical medications more, but he can’t deny that occasionally magic is more powerful.

Taehyung was still Taehyung. He had tried and failed to convince his boyfriends that they could quit their jobs since Taehyung could provide for all of them, but they wouldn’t listen.

“Please, we can all just stay at our house all the time and never leave!” Taehyung whined.

His boyfriends laughed at him. “That would be fun for maybe a week,” Jungkook tells him.

Jimin agrees, “I can’t just abandon all my clients either.”

Taehyung would pout, but all it would take was a kiss on both his cheeks from both of his boyfriends, and after that, it was game over - he could never keep a smile off his face then. Taehyung thinks that for all the stress he experienced at first by having two soulmates was ultimately worth it. He wouldn’t trade either of them for the world.

Taehyung became the stay-at-home boyfriend that focused on raising Soonshim, their big white puppy dog. With Jungkook’s help, Taehyung also dabbled in a tiny bit of magic. Mainly he learned spells that could clean up the house for him because he hated to do it himself. He had to use a wand because his magic wasn’t very strong at all, but he didn’t mind. Taehyung was excited when he found out he was able to do any kind of magic at all.

Like Taehyung, Seokjin was still mostly the same. He still worked in the library, but he has since moved in with Namjoon. Namjoon ended up proposing to Seokjin about a year after they had started dating. However, things didn’t go so smoothly for them straight away.

It had been awkward at first - dating. When Namjoon had been set free from the castle, he had gone straight to Seokjin to ask if he would be his boyfriend. Seokjin didn’t say no but he told him the term boyfriend made him too uncomfortable at the moment. He told him they could maybe try going on a few dates first. A month or two of this passed where they were dating but they weren’t “together.” Namjoon had been dying to ask the question, but he was patient and eventually, Seokjin had asked instead, “We’re basically boyfriends, right?”

“Can we be?” Namjoon had asked a little too enthusiastically. Seokjin laughed at him and conceded. That was the night Namjoon counted as the official start to their relationship.

A year later, Namjoon felt certain he wanted to live the rest of his life with Seokjin. Namjoon wanted to do something big and flashy at first, but the more he and Hoseok schemed his proposal, the more nervous he became. The night he proposed he wasn’t actually planning on proposing at all.

Namjoon had invited Seokjin over to his house for dinner. He cooked a meal - which he wasn’t very good at. He refused Seokjin’s help and endured all the mocking comments he received as he tried not to ruin all the food. His Plan B was to use magic to fix everything, but he really wanted to prove to himself (and to Seokjin) that he could do this.

After dinner, they snuggled together on his couch and Namjoon couldn’t stop thinking about how he never wanted this to end. Seokjin kept alternating between complimenting him on the meal and complimenting him in general.

“I love you,” Namjoon said, suddenly. He had held himself back from saying those three words for some time now. He knew Seokjin was sensitive and it took him a little while to trust Namjoon.

Seokjin had smiled at him when he said those words. “I love you, too,” he replied without hesitation. He had come such a long way in just a year. Seokjin lets go of his past and allowed himself to love Namjoon. This time, he was sure it was real.

“I want-”

“Seokjin-”

Namjoon and Seokjin both started talking at the same time. Little did they know, they were both thinking the same question.

“You go first,” Seokjin told him.

Namjoon took a deep breath, he felt the weight of the ring in his pocket - it had been in there for about a week. “I just… I wanted to say... With you, things feel right. I’m sorry if this is out of the blue. It’s not that exciting either… I can do the whole grand gesture thing if you really want me to but I-I’m getting off track… Seokjin, will you marry me?” Namjoon reached into his back pocket and pulled out the simple wedding band.

Seokjin had smiled at him, “Did you read my mind?”

“So is that a yes? Or do you want the grand gesture?” Namjoon asked.

Seokjin kissed him, “Of course it’s a yes.” He didn’t need a grand gesture. All he needed he already had.

They had a small wedding in the woods and with Hoseok’s help, it was truly magical.

It ended up being just them and five of their closest friends. Namjoon invited Hoseok of course, and Hoseok brought Yoongi as his plus one. Namjoon tried to tell him that Yoongi was invited as well, but Hoseok liked to think of him as his plus one. Seokjin had to invite Taehyung since he was basically his closest friend, so naturally, Jungkook and Jimin were invited as well.

It was at this wedding where they all found out how interconnected all their lives were. The seven of them have since made more efforts to get together as a group.

Yoongi especially is grateful for the new friends. He can’t decide whether it’s a blessing or a curse they don’t seem to mind he’s the prince. Sometimes he threatens to lock them up in the dungeons forever, but they always just laugh in his face when he says this.

Taehyung, Jimin, and Jungkook talk about the prospect of getting married as well. However, things turn far too complicated and they can never come to an agreement.

“Okay, but who would propose to who?” Jungkook asked. “Would one of us propose to the other two? Or do two of us propose to one person?”

“Well we all need to propose to each other, so maybe we take it in turns,” Jimin suggested.

“What if I propose to Jungkook, Jungkook proposes to Jimin and then Jimin proposes to me?” Taehyung chimed in.

“How would that work? Do we all go at once?” Jungkook asked.

“Yeah and then we flip the direction so Jungkook proposes to me, I propose to Jimin, and Jimin proposes to Jungkook,” Taehyung explained.

“Why do you even need to propose at all at this point?” Yoongi asked. “You know you’d all say yes, so what’s the point?”

Jimin pretended to be offended, “You can’t get married without proposing! People are going to ask about how we proposed and I’ll have to tell that story for the rest of my life.”

“He has a point though,” Jungkook conceded.

“Ooh! I have a question,” Hoseok joined in. Yoongi sent him a warning glance, but it was too late, “How do you decide who walks down the aisle?”

The three of them turned to each other at once. Hoseok laughed at them. “Well, Seokjin walked down the aisle for his wedding so I think I should get to,” Jimin said.

“What does Seokjin have to do with you?” Jungkook asked.

“Well, no offense to Namjoon, but Seokjin’s prettier than him. The prettiest person should get to walk down the aisle,” Jimin said.

“Hey, wait! Then I should get to walk down too,” Taehyung said.

“Okay! We both can,” Jimin agreed.

“Wait, that’s not fair,” Jungkook complained.

“Life’s not fair.”

Jungkook frowned. Then he got an idea, “Wait! I’ve got it. What if we have three aisles. That way we can all walk down an aisle and we meet on this center stage together.”

“You want to have our wedding in an arena?” Jimin questioned.

“I, personally, love the idea,” Taehyung said.

“You need more guests for that to work,” Jimin said.

Taehyung would argue that he knew plenty of people and could easily fill an entire arena, but then Jungkook mentioned how he would prefer a smaller wedding like Namjoon and Seokjin had.

This said, for the time being - they would hold off on getting married. They were happy as they were and the logistics of a three-person wedding became far too complicated when they tried to actually talk things out.

After moving in with Namjoon, Seokjin decided to write a book. He wasn’t interested in doing magic himself, but he wanted to write a book about it. He had always wanted to write but was never particularly inspired to do so.

He wrote about how it was evident everyone contained some sort of magic gene in their DNA just by looking at soulmates. If the names that appeared on people’s wrists when they meet their significant other can be attributed to magic, then anyone with a soulmate has magic within them. There were a few exceptions like witches who don’t have soulmates, but he attributed that to timing. He was especially interested in writing about how the genetics work. Namjoon helped him as much as he could with writing the book.

Namjoon himself got a job teaching ten-year-olds about magic. It’s perfect for him, and his kids love him. A few years after magic had become legal, the king decided maybe it’s a good idea to teach a course about magic along with all the regular coursework. At the time witches were still often cautious to come forward and identify themselves as a witch, so filling these teaching positions proved to be difficult. Namjoon had never been a teacher in his life, but he feels at home with it now. These classes mainly provided kids a safe environment to learn about magic and how to control it. Magic classes weren’t really offered for older kids, so if they really wanted to pursue magic, they would have to do it on their own. This idea came about as a way to sort of limit individuals with magic.

Though it wouldn’t be illegal to learn magic, requiring kids to do so on their own past a certain level dissuaded them from it because of their already busy lives.

This meant Namjoon would be teaching younger children, and while he sometimes wishes he could teach older kids and have more intellectual conversations, he believed children were often a lot smarter than they let on. Either way, Namjoon was proud to use Seokjin’s book in his class to teach the kids and he wouldn’t change a thing about his life.

While everyone else was busy building their relationships and getting closer Hoseok had decided to take things a bit slower. He didn’t move in with Yoongi right away - nor did he return home.

He decided to get a job and a house of his own in the capital. He figured he had lived most of his life in an incredibly sheltered space, that perhaps it was time for him to do something on his own. He opened a flower shop where everything he sold was grown right in his backyard.

Every flower, herb, bouquet, or other plant came with a booklet of special instructions on how to take care of the plant both with and without magic. He also included lists and instructions for things the plants could be useful for. For plants like flowers that didn’t have as many uses, this part of the booklet instead would say something along the lines of, “This flower can be used to brighten even the darkest of days! Gift it to a friend to let them know you care about them or keep it on your windowsill as a reminder to think positive!

Yoongi teased him for the cheesy captions, but he shut right up when Hoseok turned around and gifted Yoongi a light purple larkspur flower. It could technically be used in some medicines to help with insomnia. However, it cured insomnia by slowing the heart and in large enough doses, larkspur could slow the heart too much and cause lung failure. Since it was also mildly toxic, Hoseok thought it best not to encourage others to attempt to use this flower in any home remedies.

“You’re going to want to plant that in the ground somewhere,” Hoseok told him as he read the cheesy caption on this particular flower, “it grows up to four feet high.”

Yoongi couldn’t keep the blush from rising in his cheek. “Thanks, Hoseok,” he inspected the plant in his hands, “Couldn’t you have gotten something smaller?”

Hoseok shook his head, “Nope. Had to be this one.”

Yoongi frowned, “Why this one?”

Hoseok smiled, he loved when people gave him the opportunity to share his knowledge about plants and flowers, “Well the purple color symbolizes first love and well…” He paused for the effect and it definitely worked. Yoongi was turning redder by the second. “Larkspurs also represent affection, lightheartedness, and my favorite: desire for laughter. So obviously it had to be this flower because I desire to make you laugh every day!”

Yoongi was rendered speechless. After a few seconds of staring at Hoseok, he couldn’t help but laugh. He was in disbelief Hoseok was real and that he was really his boyfriend as well.

“There’s the one!” Hoseok said.

“I love you,” Yoongi replied.

After that Hoseok sporadically brought Yoongi flowers based on his mood. He brought him sweet peas when he was feeling down to remind Yoongi he was there and that he believed Yoongi was strong enough to handle anything. He’d bring red tulips on days he was feeling particularly affectionate for Yoongi. Or he’d bring his favorite - chrysanthemums to remind Yoongi about their beginnings together and that above all, he would always be here.

Yoongi loved being surrounded by the flowers. However, his father often questioned him about the flowers and when he would get to formally meet this boy.

Truthfully, Hoseok was scared of Yoongi’s father. For this reason, Hoseok didn’t visit the castle much at first. Yoongi had to be the one instead to go to Hoseok’s house or his flower shop. Yoongi wanted Hoseok to meet his father and tried to talk him into it, but at the same time, he didn’t want to force him to do anything he was uncomfortable with. Hoseok did live over two decades in fear that the king would find and execute him and his family after all - Yoongi didn’t blame him.

It took two years and a lot of persuasion on Yoongi’s part to convince him, but eventually, Hoseok agreed to meet his father. The tradeoff was that if Hoseok was going to meet Yoongi’s father, then Yoongi was going to have to meet Hoseok’s aunt and uncle first. They decide to take a weekend trip back to Hoseok’s old home.

It had been over two years since Hoseok first ran away from home to find Namjoon. Yoongi was nervous about meeting Hoseok’s aunt and uncle, but Hoseok was potentially more nervous. He liked to believe he would be welcomed back with open arms, but he was sort of unsure.

When the door creaked open and Hoseok’s aunt stood on the other side, Hoseok held his breath. His aunt’s eyes widened in disbelief as if she was staring at a ghost.

“Hoseokie?” she asked, unsure of herself.

Hoseok bit his lip, unsure of what to say. Should he apologize for running away? Should he introduce Yoongi? He stood there frozen instead, indecisive.

“You’re alive!?” she wrapped him in a hug quickly and Hoseok was taken aback by her actions. Yoongi stood awkwardly to the side as he watched the scene unfold before him.

“Yeah… um hi,” Hoseok said. He felt bad for never having written to them. He knew he should’ve, but he never had to heart to write down everything he would’ve wanted to say.

His aunt was crying now, “We thought they got you! We thought you were gone forever. Ah, I wish your uncle was here now! You’ll stick around until he gets here, right? Who’s this?”

She seemed to notice Yoongi finally who was standing off towards the side. Hoseok wasn’t sure which of her questions to address first. “We’re um… visiting for the weekend - if that’s okay. This is Yoongi. My boyfriend,” Hoseok said unable to keep himself from smiling. He always smiled when he said those words out loud.

“Nice to meet y-,” Yoongi held out his hand for a handshake, but instead he was brought in for a hug. He supposed it made sense - Hoseok had to have gotten this trait from somewhere.

“I trust you’re the one that’s been taking care of our Hoseokie then?” she asked him.

“I guess,” Yoongi said. “Hoseok’s been taking care of himself lately, though.”

She looked to Hoseok for an explanation to that and he began to tell her how he’d opened a flower shop in the capital, and how he had his own house that he (mostly) paid for all by himself. They were soon invited inside to sit down and talk. They talked for hours until Hoseok’s uncle returned home and then they talked for several more hours - retelling all the stories again for Hoseok’s uncle.

Hoseok kept apologizing to his family for how he left them without any notice and never wrote them, but they kept brushing him off and insisting it was okay. They were just glad to have him back.

By the end of the weekend, Yoongi’s basically family as well. Hoseok’s aunt makes an offhand comment about how he’s her “future son-in-law” and Yoongi might admit he kind of liked the sound of that.

There was still the issue of Hoseok meeting Yoongi’s father. They go right away after leaving Hoseok’s house.

When they entered the castle Yoongi suddenly felt nervous as well. Hoseok picked up on this and took hold of Yoongi’s hand. Yoongi felt he should be the one comforting Hoseok, but this was okay too.

He knocked carefully on the door to his father’s office. He hadn’t given him any warning this would be happening today.

“Come in,” a voice sounded on the other side. Lately, his father has been less busy as there was more widespread peace across their kingdom and their neighboring lands. However, he still went to his office to stay up to date on current events. If there was nothing else to do, he would go up there to read.

Yoongi carefully turned the door handle and pushed open the door. He stepped inside and Hoseok followed seconds after.

“Um, there’s someone I want you to meet,” Yoongi spoke quietly. His father was still looking down at the time. At Yoongi’s words, he looked up. He didn’t say anything as he looked at Hoseok. Hoseok felt awkward and unsure if he should introduce himself. Thankfully, Yoongi did it for him, “This is Hoseok. My soulmate.”

The king smiled and Hoseok felt calm inside. “We should have lunch together!” the king had exclaimed.

Lunch ended up being really nice and enjoyable. Yoongi’s father was a lot kinder than he had imagined he would be. He knew at first his father had been against Yoongi and Hoseok dating, but as he saw that’s what Yoongi wanted, he eventually came around. After lunch, Hoseok left to go tend to his plants and shop. Since they had been gone for the entire weekend, Hoseok had to get back and make sure they were doing okay.

As he left, Yoongi’s father smiled at him. “I like him,” he said simply.

This made Yoongi smile, “Really? You do?”

He nodded. “Yes. He reminds me a lot of your mother. She loved gardening also,” he said. Yoongi never knew his mother, but somehow his words have a strange effect on him. He feels proud.

A few more years after this, they have to start discussing the issue of the future heir to the throne. The law basically stated that if Yoongi did not produce an heir, the kingdom would go to Taehyung and his progeny. However, as Taehyung’s only child was a dog, they had a bit of an issue.

Hani had long since returned to her own home and was living happily with her soulmate. She and Yoongi had kept in touch, but even still asking her to give him an heir to his throne was all kinds of awkward. He told her that thanks to magic they wouldn’t have to “do it,” and she would basically be sort of a surrogate.

By some feat of actual magic, she agreed to it.

Two years after that, Yoongi assumed the throne. His father retired at an older age than most kings do, but both he and Yoongi were okay with it. Hoseok moved into the castle a bit after this. He continued to run his flower shop, but he was only there part-time. He hired others to help him out.

Over the course of several years, the anniversary of the date magic was legalized slowly turned into a holiday and then into a week-long festival.

At the end of this festival on the tenth anniversary, Yoongi and Hoseok get married. It’s a lot like the first wedding Yoongi almost had to Hani a decade ago, but this time when he sees his fiance at the end of the aisle he’s filled with nervous excitement instead of actual nervousness or dread.

Their son is the ring bearer. He’s five years old now, and it’s adorable watching him walk down the aisle with Hani guiding him down.

Taehyung, Jimin, Jungkook, Namjoon, and Seokjin all stand at the front with Yoongi and Hoseok. They had argued for a bit which of them would get to be whose groomsmen and of course which of them got to be the best man, but in the end, it didn’t really matter.

At the end of the day, it feels like any other day. Yoongi goes with Hoseok to tuck their son into bed and give him goodnight kisses. His room is littered with lots of toys as his parents tend to spoil him. That night when they go into his room Seungmin tells them he wants to show them both something. Hoseok and Yoongi share a look, unsure of what this could mean, but they follow their son anyways.

“Look!” he says pulling something off his shelf.

It’s a little-potted flower. One Hoseok had put in the child’s room the very day of his birth. Because of the nature of this plant, it went through cycles of blooming and wilting. At the moment, it was preparing to bloom.

Seungmin held the plant firmly in his hands and stared it at intently. Then the flower started to bloom. It unfurled until it’s petals to reveal the white and pink insides of the dianthus flower.

Seungmin looked up proudly at his parents. “I’ve been practicing!” he told them.

Yoongi and Hoseok shared a look. A lot of unsaid words passed between them. It should’ve come as no surprise that their son would be a natural born witch, but until this point, he has shown no signs of magic.

They told them how they were proud of him, and tucked him into bed as always. Hoseok looked at them proudly. He had never really considered himself any sort of royalty. Just that he was now the king’s husband and his son was the new prince. He felt some kind of fondness knowing that the future king and all future generations in this kingdom wouldn’t have to experience a childhood of fear as he had.

Hoseok looked at his wrist once more - an old habit. He would always admire the way Yoongi’s name looked there. Yoongi noticed him lingering and walked over to him. He grabbed Hoseok’s arm gently in his hand then placed a gentle kiss on their names. Even after all this time he still felt his heart beat faster when Yoongi showed him this sort of affection. He hoped things would stay this way forever.