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“So, your animal thing.”

Jimin blinks, turning away from the bubbling pot of blue-tinged potion he’s been asked to look over until Hoseok returns from the woods with Namjoon. He’s not quite convinced he’s equipped enough to be in charge of a potion halfway through the brewing process, since his usual tasks around the house consist of things like cutting up stems, taking vials out of the cupboard, or trying to prevent everyone from inhaling funnily-colored powder, but there’s no one else to do the job. Seokjin is in the next village for a patient and Jungkook, last time Jimin saw him, mentioned something about wrestling a bear.

Taehyung is also out of the question, since he doesn’t really deal with magic. He’s more taken with a different kind of art, specifically sketching. A single glance at him informs Jimin that the younger is sitting cross-legged in a corner of the room, the drawing pad that Hoseok oh so lovingly put together for him (spine hand-sewn without any aid of magic, the cover bound with leather Hoseok travelled four villages over just to get, Taehyung’s initials etched in small print on the bottom corner) balanced on his lap. He’s frowning at the uneven wooden planks that make up the floor, appearing to be deep in thought.

Jimin turns his gaze back to the potion in case something went awfully wrong in the five seconds it took him to turn away. “What about it?”

A large bubble forms on the surface of the potion before popping noisily. Oh dear. Is that supposed to happen? Jimin doesn’t think that was supposed to happen. He squints. Should healing potions even look this… murky? He doesn’t think so. Bravely, he grabs a wooden ladle and dips it into the bubbling mixture. It comes back up dripping slowly, the potion clinging thickly onto the ladle’s surface, and oh no. It should not be doing that. It should be turning a clearer blue by now, transparent and with the consistency of water. Where is Hoseok? Does it really take this long to gather flowers? Why didn’t he ask Jimin to gather the flowers instead? Or better yet, why didn’t he stay and just trusted Namjoon to gather the flowers himself, since it’s his fault anyway that all the aster petals over-boiled and ended up disintegrating?

“How does it work?” Taehyung’s voice breaks Jimin out of his increasingly panicked thoughts.

He pushes his worries away as he sets the ladle down, lower lip caught between his teeth. “Well, animals trust me immediately?” he says, scratching the back of his head and trying to think of a better way to explain it. “I don’t know, Namjoon told me my aura is particularly calming towards animals.”

He hears Taehyung hum like he’s processing this information. Another bubble forms on the potion’s surface, bigger this time, and it doesn’t pop immediately. Jimin considers pulling out his mirror and contacting Hoseok.

Taehyung asks, “Has it worked so far on every single animal you’ve encountered?”

Jimin frowns at the question, but nods.

“What’s the wildest animal you’ve met so far that fell into a trance with you?”

Finally, Jimin looks away from the potion to give his best friend a proper glance. Taehyung has a serious expression on, and well. Jimin is used to his questions, really. Sometimes they lead up to something so incredibly profound Jimin is left speechless after, and sometimes they’re just questions asked for the sake of being asked, because Taehyung has a beautiful brain filled with beautiful ideas that need to be voiced always. Normally, Jimin can tell when the questions are just that and when they’re connected to something else entirely; right now, he has a feeling that it’s the latter.

“They don’t fall into a trance with me,” he corrects first, pursing his lips in thought. “Like I said, they just see me as someone trustworthy, but there’s no manipulation involved. I don’t control their mind to succumb to my will or anything. Jin also mentioned something about intent, on my part that is—it works well because I never mean any harm to them. The moment I try to take advantage of it in a malicious way, then they’d be able to sense it and run away. Or attack.” He places his hands on his hips. “And to answer your question, I once went swimming with the sharks when Hoseok asked me to gather seaweed.”

Honestly, it’s a little strange that of all the fifteen years they’ve known each other, it’s only now that Taehyung has inquired about his peculiarity. Or ability, as Namjoon likes to call it. It’s just something that Taehyung has always accepted as fact, as part of the whole package that is Jimin, so for him to be so belatedly invested in the details can only mean that something is up.

“Taehyungie, what’s wrong?” Jimin decides to ask.

Taehyung blinks very, very slowly. And then he says, “I need you to help me settle something with a dragon.”

Jimin is glad that he decided to set the wooden ladle down, because he would’ve dropped it onto the floor in surprise otherwise. But then again, the gasp he lets out isn’t quite enough to convey the full weight of his shock at Taehyung’s statement, so he probably should’ve kept holding it. Jimin likes his dramatics sometimes, sue him.

“A dragon?” he whisper-asks. Taehyung nods solemnly. “And what business do you have with a dragon?”

Jimin has seen a dragon, once. But just from afar. He had been taking a walk in the woods with Jungkook when the younger gasped and pointed up, and there the dragon was, hundreds of feet above them. He’s always held a certain kind of awe towards the creatures, always thought of them as majestic, but as with most things that are way, way, way bigger than Jimin himself, that awe comes with a tinge of fear.

There hasn’t been a case of a dragon hurting a human in recent history, though. At least, none so gruesome that it warranted a hunt. They’re the type of creatures to keep to themselves, preferring to fly at night and feeding on animals instead of people. Plus, they’re really rare. So there’s no reason at all for Taehyung to have run into one, which is why Jimin is having a hard time wrapping his head around his friend’s request.

“It stole something from me,” Taehyung says, finally, as explanation.

That gets Jimin to pause. “It—it stole from you?”

“Yes,” Taehyung says. “It’s probably a hoarder, you know how they are.”

Well, Jimin doesn’t know much, save for the very general and very obvious fact that they like to hoard. Obviously.

“You think I’m the best person to approach for this? Hoseok would be more than happy to help you—”

“No,” Taehyung is quick to turn that idea down. “I can’t ask him.”

Something about his tone suggests to Jimin that this is a point he can’t possibly contest. So he doesn’t, instead just sighing and pinching the bridge of his nose as he thinks. “And this item that has been stolen from you, it’s something that you absolutely must get back? Can’t you just let it go?”

Taehyung squirms a little, averting his gaze. “I can’t do that. It’s too important for me to let go.”

“What could possibly be so important that it’d be worth risking your life to face a dragon—oh.” Something clicks. He stares at Taehyung. “Oh no, don’t tell me.”

He stares at his best friend, taking his appearance in. He’s in his usual clothes, his hair as effortlessly meticulous as ever, and his usual jewelry are all present save for one thing—

Jimin gasps. “You’re not wearing Hoseok’s necklace.”

Taehyung’s lips press into a grim line. “Indeed I’m not.”

Jimin gasps again. “The dragon stole the necklace?”

Taehyung nods. Then he pauses. “I’m quite sure the dragon stole my necklace.”

Jimin could’ve smacked his head at that, had he been near a flat surface. As it is, he just settles with putting his face in his hands and releasing a long, long sigh. “Taehyung,” he begins, voice muffled against his palms, “you can’t just go accusing anyone, human or otherwise, of doing a wrong without being completely certain of it!”

“Wait! Hear me out.” Jimin peeks between his fingers and sees Taehyung setting his drawing pad aside, shuffling around until he’s sitting on his knees. He looks like someone who’s about to make his case in front of an entire court, and it would’ve been a funny sight if Jimin weren’t still reeling over the fact that Taehyung is asking him to go on a trip to confront a dragon. A dragon who may or may not have stolen Taehyung’s necklace, a gift from Hoseok for their anniversary last year (though, in Taehyung’s defense, it is a very valuable necklace, and not only for the sentiment attached to it; the pendant is of a rare firestone, something that burns bright orange in the sunlight and glows deep red in the dark, surface smooth and perpetually warm, with a smaller jewel engraved in the center). “I have good reason to believe that this dragon is indeed responsible for stealing my necklace.”

Jimin pulls his hands away from his face. If he’s going to hear this out, he’s going to do so while looking at his friend properly. “Alright, go on.”

Taehyung looks at least relieved that Jimin is going to listen. He takes in a breath. “Alright. Remember when I went out for a late night walk two weeks ago?”

Jimin nods.

“Well, I decided to be a little more adventurous and went off the usual trail. I didn’t think anything bad would happen because we’ve lived near this woods for years now, and nothing bad-bad did happen, I guess, since I didn’t get hurt. But I ran into the dragon.”

Jimin’s mouth falls open at that. “You just—you ran into the dragon? Randomly? In the woods? On land?

“Yes,” Taehyung confirms. “Strange, right? What’s a dragon doing there in the dead of night to begin with? It didn’t look like it was hunting for food, either. Everything was really suspicious, looking back. But I ignored it at the time and just continued on my way, but I swear the dragon followed me with its eyes until I disappeared behind some trees.” He frowns. “Then I went back here to sleep, but I remember hearing some rustling coming from outside. It was late the day after when I realized my necklace was gone.”

Jimin processes this for a moment. Admittedly, it is quite odd for a dragon to be randomly taking a stroll, if Taehyung’s story is to be trusted, which Jimin does trust. Taehyung would never fabricate a story on purpose, after all. Blow it out of proportion and dramatize it the way he experienced it? Yes. Misinterpret certain events and confuse some stuff up by accident? Also yes. But outright lie? No, never. Still, “I don’t think that’s enough proof that the dragon stole your necklace. You could’ve—”

“Dropped it while I was walking, misplaced it, yes, yes, I know,” Taehyung cuts in. “I’ve already considered these possibilities, Jimin. But here’s what makes me believe the dragon is guilty. When I finally managed to track down its lair to confront it—”

“You went to the dragon?!” Jimin interrupts in an incredulous tone. “By yourself? Taehyung, what in heaven’s name?”

“I know, it was risky, but please let me finish.” Taehyung tries to go for a reassuring smile. Jimin just huffs and crosses his arms, nodding once for Taehyung to continue. “Alright, so, I found the dragon. And I asked it, very politely, if it had my necklace and if I could please get it back. And I kid you not, Jimin. It rolled its eyes at me.”

That, Jimin isn’t expecting. “What?”

“The dragon. It rolled its eyes at me and then laughed, before turning away. It’s not even the slightest bit sorry!”

“Dragons can’t laugh,” is what Jimin ends up saying after a short pause. There are too many things going through his head right now.

“Well this one can,” Taehyung insists. “So please, Jimin. Help me out. I was thinking, we could go back there together. Animals like you, right? Maybe it’ll listen to you and give my necklace back before Hoseok can find out.”

This is insane, Jimin thinks. “You know this is insane, right?”

Taehyung just grins at him. “But a lot less insane than going back there alone and bugging the dragon until it gets annoyed enough to either return my necklace or bite my head off, right?”

Darn it. That makes the decision for Jimin, then. He sighs, long and loud, rubbing a hand over his face. Just the thought of actually going out there and confronting a dragon is making him feel tired all over. “Fine. When are we doing this?”

“Two days from now, I was thinking,” Taehyung answers, in a way that suggests he’s been putting some thought into the matter for a while now. “The others are going on that trip to get more supplies in the next village, remember? And Jungkook won’t say a thing if we’re gone.”

Jimin thinks about it. Then he says, “Alright. We’re going.”

Taehyung claps. “I knew I could count on you! You’re the absolute best—um. Jimin?”

“Yes?”

Taehyung points. “Is that pot meant to be bubbling over like that?”

Jimin wheels around just in time to see the potion spilling over the rim of the pot and onto the (newly-polished, Jungkook is going to throw a fit) floor. At the same time, the front door is thrown open and Hoseok cheerfully announces their return, before his eyes settle on the giant dirty blue bubble now forming from the pot. They all barely have time to make a sound of horror before it bursts, splattering half-brewed potion everywhere.

Stunned, Jimin wipes a hand over his face to clear his sight.

Taehyung is slumped on his corner, looking like he’s shielding something, and when he pushes himself up he happily yells, “I managed to save my drawing pad!”

Hoseok puts his blue-stained face in his blue-stained hands.

 

*

 

Two days later, Jimin has managed to finally scrub all the blue stuff out of his hair and body.

Oh, and he’s on his way to a dragon’s lair with Taehyung. That, too.

“How certain are we again that this dragon won’t eat us?” he asks, after Taehyung informs him that they’re close. The lair isn’t as far as Jimin had initially thought it would be, maybe a three-hour walk plus the quick breaks they took in between. He still has a fair amount of water left in the flasks he’s packed, and half a loaf of bread plus a bit of cheese remain uneaten. Taehyung himself has packed water of his own and some apples, so going hungry or thirsty is the least of Jimin’s worries right now.

Hopefully, the dragon would be neither hungry nor thirsty as well.

Taehyung turns around and starts walking backwards, unmindful of the fact that they’re starting to ascend a steep mountainside and, apart from the thin line of trees along the edge of the path, there’s not much that will stop him from rolling down onto the ground who-knows-how-far below if he were to trip. “I’m still alive, aren’t I?” he says, gesturing at his perfectly healthy self with a wide smile.

Which is true, but it isn’t very reassuring considering how dragons tend to have an unpredictable nature (Jimin has done some reading during the entirety of yesterday in preparation for this, thank the heavens for Namjoon’s book obsession that gave birth to a mini-library in their cottage, really). Deciding to let Taehyung skip off with his head still attached to his shoulders one day could very well mean setting them on fire the moment they step within twenty feet of the dragon the next. Still, there’s no point in turning back now, considering they’re almost there.

Jimin sighs. “What does this dragon look like, by the way? Because I’m going to have to prepare myself if I’m getting the fright of my life.”

At this, Taehyung pauses. Very abruptly. Jimin almost runs into him.

Wonder settles over Taehyung’s face, wide eyes getting a faraway sort of look in them, the kind he gets whenever he encounters an artwork that he finds infinitely fascinating. “It was really pretty, Jimin.”

Jimin’s nose crinkles in confusion. “Pretty?”

Well, that can’t be right. Dragons are meant to be ominous, daunting, and… not pretty. At least not generally. Grand, majestic, and breathtaking, possibly yes. Maybe even beautiful, in the intimidating kind of way. But pretty? It’s not something Jimin would’ve ever associated with a dragon.

“Sparkly, too,” Taehyung adds, nodding solemnly. He starts walking again, still backwards, as he waves his hands around. “It’s not as big as the dragons you would think of, but still larger than us both combined. I almost thought it was an ice dragon, really, except the temperature was obviously higher once I approached its lair.”

A frown settles on Jimin’s face. “This is one peculiar dragon.”

“Very,” Taehyung agrees.

“And you’re absolutely sure it won’t eat us?” Jimin asks again, just for the sake of it.

Taehyung simply rolls his eyes in response and turns around to begin walking properly once more. The rest of their trip is spent in silence, with brief one-minute breaks in between for water and a bite of food. Jimin isn’t quite sure if it’s only because of the upward journey, but the closer to the peak they get, the hotter he feels. He’s started sweating at some point in the last five minutes or so, causing him to drain the rest of the water in his flask (fortunately, Taehyung has informed him that there’s a lake near the dragon’s cave with clean, drinkable water).

“We’re here,” Taehyung says, finally, half-eaten apple in his hand. “Just beyond these trees.”

They duck past branches and carefully step over fallen logs. The atmosphere is quiet here, the air still save for a rare bird or two that immediately take flight upon landing on a tree. Throughout their journey, Jimin hadn’t noticed the sound of the woods so bright and alive around them, the air filled with the constant noises of rustling bushes and trees, animal life evident with every step. Only when the sounds have vanished does their former presence occur to him, and the sudden silence is startling. He isn’t sure if that should be taken as a bad sign or not.

What does it say about a dragon, after all, when movable life seems to have strayed far from its resting place?

They break from the trees and into a clearing before Jimin can think of his answer. Ahead of them is an expanse of overgrown grass, towering almost above them, and beyond it Jimin spies the shape of a large cave. They dive into the grass, Jimin silently thankful for his decision to put on clothes with sleeves that cover the entirety of his arms, saving himself from potentially itching. Even though he can definitely feel the temperature shift now, he would rather sweat than scratch everywhere.

Oddly enough, the grass starts to shorten after a minute of walking, as though someone has attempted to keep them trimmed down. Jimin is greeted with the sight of bare dirt surrounding the mouth of the cave, now looming over them in silent warning. In the near distance, just a short way beyond the cave, a lake glitters beneath the sunlight. The trees are still present but noticeably more sparse in this area as well, the view of the sky clear.

Jimin takes all of this in with wide eyes.

Taehyung, meanwhile, goes on ahead and, in an attempt to give Jimin a heart attack, calls out, “Oh, sir dragon! I’ve returned for my necklace!”

Jimin hisses “Taehyung!” to no avail. Resigned, he trudges after his friend, but more warily.

Taehyung stops a few feet from the mouth of the cave, hands on his hips. Besides dirt and a few rock boulders, there’s not much Jimin can see inside it. Everything beyond is shrouded in shadow.

He gulps nervously. “Maybe we should turn back after all—”

“Dragon, sir!” Taehyung yells, even louder, causing Jimin to wince. “Is anyone home? I really need my necklace back, so if you’ll please be so kind as to return it to me, that would be greatly appreciated, sir!”

Jimin is just deciding whether Taehyung is more bravely dumb or dumbly brave when a gentle vibration stirs the earth beneath them, and suddenly, he can sense movement from within the cave. Oh, heavens. The dragon is home.

Holding his breath, Jimin watches the cave with wide eyes, catching faint movements in the shadows. For a moment, nothing happens, the air even more still than it had been seconds before.

And then, finally, the head of the dragon emerges from the dark, slowly followed by the rest of it.

Jimin gasps very, very loudly.

The drawings in the books he’s read are not enough to prepare him for the actual experience of coming face-to-face with a dragon.

Neck stretched and face slightly elongated, its nostrils widen as a sniff is taken, before settling once more into narrow fixtures on the snout. The scales are white, but as they come into contact with the light, specks of pale blue and ash gray gleam across its exterior, almost like embedded jewels. The talons taper off into pale blue points, and even with the wings folded into the slim and smoothly curved body, Jimin can tell that they’re of an impressive width when unfolded. Protruding scales, also blue, line its spine until the very tip of its tail, looking like sharpened gems.

When the eyes open, Jimin is pinned in place with an ice-colored gaze.

Dear heavens, Jimin thinks, Taehyung was right. The dragon is pretty.

But more than that, it’s absolutely stunning. Jimin gapes up at it, fear forgotten for the moment as awe fills his chest. If Jungkook were here, he thinks faintly, the younger would flip. The dragon gazes back at him calmly, almost curious in the way it tilts its head the slightest bit, and Jimin gets the sudden urge to find out whether its scales are as sharp as they look.

And then Taehyung shouts, “Hello, dragon, sir!”

Jimin blinks. The dragon breaks eye contact with him, turning its gaze to Taehyung before—Jimin swears on his grave—rolling its eyes. It retreats into the cave slowly, as though telling them that it has no time for their nonsense, but Taehyung is persistent. Which, really, is understandable to an extent; if Jimin had something precious given to him by his significant other stolen, he would also metaphorically walk the depths of hell to get it back. Not that he has one, though. A significant other, that is.

Anyway. Dragon.

“I brought a friend!” Taehyung says before unceremoniously pushing Jimin in front of him.

Sputtering, Jimin throws a wide-eyed look over his shoulder, but Taehyung just gives him a thumbs up, code for go do your thing. Jimin takes a deep breath and turns to face the dragon, slight apprehension making his shoulders tense despite the fact that the dragon has exhibited no signs of being aggressive. But it still is intimidating standing before it, especially since the head alone, now that Jimin is closer, seems to span the length equal to that of the top of Jimin’s head down to his waist.

There’s something human-like in its eyes, though, almost. It seems to be regarding Jimin with a mild sort of curiosity, which is enough to make Jimin gather the tiniest amount of courage in himself. He can do this. No animal before has ever turned him away, ever. He practically cuddled with a shark, once. He can do this.

He carefully lifts his hand, palm facing forward, in both a greeting and a signal that he means no harm.

For a second, the dragon looks as though it is going to bump its head against Jimin’s palm, giving him the chance to graze his fingers over its glinting scales.

But then the second is over, and the dragon snorts, warm smoke coming out of its nostrils and blowing Jimin’s hair back. Then it turns around and goes back into its cave, leaving Jimin standing there and feeling like an idiot.

Taehyung appears by his shoulder seconds later, whistling lowly. “Well, that didn’t work. No worries though, Jimin! I’m going to find another way to get my necklace back. Sorry for dragging you all the way out here.”

Jimin says, “It laughed at me.”

Taehyung blinks. “What?”

Jimin whirls to his side, and now Taehyung looks concerned. Jimin would be, too, if he weren’t too occupied by the fact that not only did his so-called ability not work on the dragon, but it also laughed at him. As though Jimin is some petty mortal not worthy of its time. “Taehyung, that dragon bastard laughed at me.”

For the first time, a flicker of nervousness appears in Taehyung’s expression. His eyes glance to the side quickly before returning to Jimin, a nervous chuckle escaping him. “Jimin, I don’t think it’s wise to be calling the dragon a”—his voice drops—“bastard while we’re in its territory.”

Jimin frantically waves an arm to the side, indicating at where the dragon has disappeared off to. “Did you not see what it did?”

“Jimin, friend, just two days ago you told me dragons couldn’t laugh.”

“Yes, but now it very clearly laughed at me and refused my invitation of friendship!” Jimin turns to the cave with his hands on his hips. “Big mistake you did there, dragon sir.” The last word drips with venomous sarcasm. “You just made it personal!”

A muffled kind of snort sounds from the cave.

Jimin screams in frustration.

 

*

 

“Oh gods, he’s lost it, hasn’t he?”

“Unfortunately.”

“Stop talking about me as though I’m not in the same room,” Jimin says with mild heat, inspecting the contents of his sack. He has comfortable clothes and a thick quilt, along with an extra sheet and enough water to last him the journey back up to the dragon’s lair. His flask he can just refill from the lake, and he has fruit that will be good for a few days, a small pouch of nuts, and enough bread to last him a week. He’s ready. “I’m doing this for Taehyung.”

Jungkook blinks from his spot on Jimin’s cot, sitting cross-legged atop the unmade sheets. He’s the only one who’s been filled-in on the situation, though not by choice; he just happened to catch the word “dragon” while Taehyung and Jimin were exchanging a whispered conversation during yesterday’s supper and asked what was going on.

Taehyung, for his part, is pacing the room. “Wouldn’t it be suspicious to go by yourself? Even if we were to say that this is a spontaneous camping trip, going alone is still odd.”

Jimin pulls the string of his sack shut and stares at Taehyung dead in the eyes. Flatly, he says, “I’m in the process of finding myself. Tell them that.”

“Namjoon is going to believe it,” Jungkook says, nodding once.

“Good enough.” Jimin returns to making sure he has everything. “I’ll be back in a week. Taehyungie, I’ll update you every two days through the mirror. If I fail to do so, assume that I have been devoured.”

“You really don’t need to go this far, Jimin—”

“You need that necklace back,” Jimin says.

Jungkook snorts. “Are you really doing this for Taehyung or for yourself, since you got rejected by that dragon?”

Jimin points a finger at the youngest. “You. Hush and cover for me.” He hikes his sack over his shoulder and prepares to leave. “Goodbye.”

A hand closes around his arm, preventing him from leaving for a moment. He turns his head and spots Taehyung looking at him with concerned eyes. “Take care, alright?”

Jimin feels his shoulders loosen slightly at his friend’s worry. He didn’t even realize how much tension he was holding in them. “I will, Taehyungie.”

Taehyung looks at him for a while longer, before smiling. Jimin smiles back, and then they share a hug which Jungkook joins a few seconds later. Then he goes.

 

*

 

He arrives at the lair a lot faster this time, only taking the minimal amount of breaks.necessary. His feet ache slightly from the hike, but he pays it little mind as he stands in front of the mouth of the cave for the second time, posture confident and determined. If the dragon turns out to be in a bad mood today and blasts him with fire, then so be it.

“Dragon, sir!” he yells into the cave, very similar to how Taehyung did a few days prior, “I’ve returned!”

No response. Frowning, Jimin takes a step forward and tries to call again, holding his breath as he waits.

A minute passes. Still no response.

Now that he’s paying attention, actually, the temperature around him isn’t as high as he remembers it being the last time. Maybe… the dragon isn’t home?

Well. Jimin doesn’t know the etiquette for visiting a dragon’s home and finding it empty.

Then he remembers, right, yes, the dragon has Taehyung’s necklace. It wouldn’t technically be stealing if Jimin is just getting it back on behalf of his friend, the original and rightful owner of the item, right? And it’s not technically breaking and entering if the cave is wide open for anyone to walk into, right? If the dragon were to return before Jimin could find the necklace, then he’d just hide somewhere. Maybe behind a rock. He’s (he begrudgingly admits) small, and it’s dark. He could probably make it if he moved fast enough. If he moved now.

Taking in a deep breath, Jimin walks into the cave.

The first and immediate thing he notices is that the cave doesn’t smell of rot or neglect like he partially expected. The next thing he notices is that it’s really, really dark. Which should’ve been obvious enough just from what he’s able to see from outside, but Jimin overestimated his ability to find his way in the dark. He places a hand on the cave’s walls and takes careful steps forward, squinting in order to make out the shadows in front of him.

It doesn’t stay dark in the cave for long, however. After a few more steps, he spots a turn in the path which he follows, and then he’s sucking in a breath.

He finds himself in a wider area. There’s a small opening above this part of the cave that lets a bit of the sun stream in, and Jimin takes in the small but numerous piles of treasures scattered about. Even in the sparse amount of light, each pile glitters bright in various colors—blazing reds and pale pinks, icy blues and deep greens, and, most prominently, blinding golds and burning oranges. At the very center of the space, directly below the opening, is a mix of leaves and quilts, which makes Jimin frown in confusion. He also spies what suspiciously looks like spare clothes haphazardly strewn about.

Taking a tentative step forward, Jimin inspects each pile. Even if he moved quickly, it would take him ages to find Taehyung’s necklace amongst all the treasures. Frustration bubbles in his chest; obviously, the dragon doesn’t need the necklace seeing as it already has all of this in its hand (claw? talon?), but it still refuses to give it back. It really is just a hoarder, after all.

“You shouldn’t be here.”

Jimin isn’t proud of the way he screams at the sudden voice that comes from behind him. Spinning around quickly, he sees a man standing just by the area where the turn in the cave ends, half-thrown in shadow. All Jimin can make of him is the dirty color of his trousers, torn in places to reveal glimpses of smooth, pale skin, and his bare feet stained by the earth. His presence is, quite frankly, unsettling.

Jimin didn’t even hear him approach. His footsteps should’ve at least echoed in the cave, this close to Jimin, shouldn’t it?

“I’m not going to steal anything,” Jimin says, the first thing out of his mouth. He doesn’t want to be accused of being a thief. That would be too ironic.

(Though, a part of him thinks, what’s to say that this man in front of him isn’t?)

A snort echoes through the cave, loud and indelicate. “Never said you were. I just said you shouldn’t be here.”

Jimin frowns. The bizarreness of the situation is making him feel braver, so instead of backing down and going back the way he came, where it’s brighter and more open and there’s no threat of the dragon catching him snooping around, he squares his shoulders and faces the man more properly. “What are you doing here? And if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to see your face. It’s quite unsettling, the way you’re standing in the dark there.”

He swears the sound that the other makes is highly amused, though Jimin can’t quite see the humor in the situation. Nevertheless, the man obliges and takes a few steps forward, just until he’s standing more in the light. What Jimin sees throws him slightly off.

The rest of the man is also pale, and the clothes he’s wearing are very rumpled and haphazardly thrown on. The top is too baggy on his slender frame, though the way he holds himself up suggests a kind of confidence and self-reassurance that Jimin doesn’t quite know what to make of. Most striking, however, is the man’s hair, a frosted white that’s very unnatural-looking. When the light hits it, however, it almost shifts color into a very, very pale blue-green.

And then there’s his face. Jimin did not quite expect such a pretty face to accompany the voice he’s been talking to. Where he sounds slightly rough and low, as though he hasn’t really been using his voice much, he looks soft and smooth. He can’t possibly be that much older than Jimin himself. Small jewels seem to adorn his earlobe, only noticeable when they glint in the light, and his eyes, when they meet Jimin’s, are striking.

It almost feels like deja vu.

Perhaps sensing Jimin’s momentary state of speechlessness, the man says, “I could be asking you the same thing, you know.”

“What?” Jimin blinks.

The man gestures around them. “Why you’re here.”

Huffing, Jimin crosses his arms against his chest. “I do not owe you an explanation.”

At this, the man nods thoughtfully. Then he says, “Neither I to you.”

Who is this person? Jimin battles with himself for a moment as to whether he should try to get an answer out of the other, or if he should just leave it and get out of the cave before the dragon could return. Now that he knows searching by himself is futile, the latter seems like a smarter thing to do.

Gathering himself and pushing his curiosity away, Jimin gives the man a curt bow and stomps past him. Their shoulders brush briefly as he does, and Jimin represses a shiver at the quick burst of warmth that has erupted over his skin at the contact.

“Take care out there,” the man calls after him, though Jimin can’t quite tell how sincere the words are.

Allowing himself just one last moment of curiosity, Jimin glances back over his shoulder. The man has not moved at all from his spot, though he’s now looking after Jimin with that intense gaze of his. Jimin isn’t sure if it’s just a trick of his imagination, but the cave suddenly seems warmer. “What’s your name?”

The man just continues watching him.

Jimin tries again. “I’m Jimin.”

After regarding him for a second more, the man nods in acknowledgement. Then he says, “Yoongi.”

“Yoongi,” Jimin tries out loud. He nods. “Goodbye, Yoongi.”

Then he leaves the cave.

 

*

 

Jimin falls asleep underneath the shade of a tree by the lake, the exhaustion from the early morning’s travel catching up to him. It’s already late afternoon when he wakes up, judging the position of the sun, and he pushes himself up from the ground with a stretch. His stomach grumbles as he does, reminding him that he hasn’t eaten much aside from the single apple he had for lunch, so he pulls out the bread he’s packed and pinches off a portion of it.

While he eats, Jimin notes a slight change in the temperature around him. He sits up straighter, eyes scanning around him in search of the dragon, and he finds it emerging from the cave slowly. He sucks in a breath; the creature is still as majestic and stunningly pretty as he remembers it to be, all glittering scales and slender yet powerful frame. It expands its wings slightly and shakes them off, causing Jimin to gasp quietly in awe at the sight. And then it approaches the lake.

Jimin scrambles to make himself look friendlier, more casual. The dragon catches sight of him and, Jimin swears on his life, rolls its eyes.

He doesn’t let that deter him. “Hello, dragon sir!” he waves, holding up his half-finished bread as though a dragon would accept such an offering. “Lovely weather we’re having today, aren’t we?”

The dragon doesn’t pay him mind. It simply takes a drink from the lake, dipping its mouth gently into the water and causing ripples on the previously still surface. It’s quite a sight, Jimin admits. Had he been an artist like Taehyung, he might’ve sketched the scene.

It’s quiet for a few minutes after that. Jimin keeps on eating, and the dragon keeps on drinking. Jimin tries not to be too obvious that he’s watching, waiting for a perfect opportunity to… to do whatever it is one does when trying to befriend a dragon into returning a stolen item. But judging the few glances he’s received, looking more skeptical than amiable, Jimin guesses he fails at being subtle.

But no matter, he tells himself. After all, the dragon hasn’t blasted him with fire just yet, has it? Certainly, that’s a sign that even though it might find Jimin’s presence a peculiarity at best and a mild annoyance at worst, it’s not enough for it to want to actively drive him away. That’s definitely an indication that fostering a bond with the creature is a possibility, regardless of how slim said possibility is.

Finally, the dragon finishes drinking and delicately shakes its head to get rid of the remaining moisture on its mouth. When it turns around to retreat to its cave, Jimin hastily shoves the remaining bites of bread into his mouth and pushes himself up.

The dragon takes a few steps. Jimin follows. The dragon stops, turns its head to glance at Jimin. Had it been human, it might have raised an eyebrow at him. Jimin swallows the barely-chewed remains of his food and tries not to violently cough at the dry drag in his throat, offering the dragon a smile even as his eyes tear up.

A puff of smoke is emitted from the dragon’s nostrils as it huffs, but it could’ve been one of amusement just as much as it could’ve been one of annoyance, so Jimin takes it as safe to keep following the dragon when it starts walking again.

Wordlessly, they make it back to the cave. The dragon turns narrow eyes at Jimin just as it’s about to enter, which Jimin interprets as you’re not allowed inside. Lifting both of his hands up to indicate that he means no harm, Jimin counts ten paces away from the mouth of the cave and decides to set camp there, especially since the sun is going to set soon.

He opens his bag and pulls out a thick sheet that he lays on the ground. The spot he picked has short-trimmed grass sprouting from the dirt, which gradually turns into bare soil where he can build a campfire on. Jimin lays his things down onto the sheet and pulls his flask out, drinks the rest of the water inside, and then scurries back to the lake to refill it.

The dragon has settled itself by the mouth of the cave when Jimin returns. It seems like the sight of a human running around and setting up a sleeping place has piqued its curiosity, enough for it to not head back inside completely just yet. Jimin counts it as a win.

“Mind if I sleep out here?” he asks, to which the dragon, predictably, does not respond.

Jimin does not falter. He keeps chattering away as he fixes his things, counting his remaining food and deciding on how much he should eat for dinner tonight. The lake, oddly enough, seems to have fish swimming in it. Maybe he can catch his own food if his supplies run short and cook it over a fire.

Speaking of fire.

“I’m just going to gather some firewood,” Jimin tells the dragon, only to find it dozing off. Huffing a breath, Jimin rolls the sleeves of his top up to his forearms and sets off for the trees a few minutes away. “Just you wait, you dragon,” he mutters underneath his breath as he starts gathering wood into his arms, along with a few stones to keep the fire contained, “we’re going to be friends by the end of the week.”

The dragon is still napping by the time Jimin returns. Letting out a huff, he sets the wood down and begins sorting it out. He’s never actually built a fire by himself before, since one of the other boys has always been there to help him get the fireplace going or start the flames beneath the pot, usually Taehyung and Jungkook (who he doubts can start fires by themselves, either). Hoseok and Seokjin can just start the fire with their magic, though the latter prefers to do it the traditional way, as he likes to put it, claiming that food tastes better that way. Since none of them have ever complained about Seokjin’s cooking, Jimin guesses there’s some truth to his claim. Namjoon, too, can create fire from magic, but due to more than one Incident in the past, they’ve all refrained from giving him that task.

How difficult could it be though? It’s just a small fire. Jimin can do this.

 

*

 

Jimin can, in fact, not do this.

The sun has almost completely set by now, but he still hasn’t started a fire. Despite the chill that has settled over the surroundings, sweat drips down his face from the effort of trying to get a flame to start. Arms aching, he throws the sticks onto the ground and collapses onto his back with a groan.

This was a horrible idea.

A noise catches his attention, and when he turns his head he sees that the dragon is now awake and watching him. He swears it almost looks amused, and Jimin is beginning to reevaluate his entire plan of befriending the dragon completely if this is all he’s going to be: a form of entertainment, mainly through his suffering.

“Do you think this is amusing?” he asks, pushing himself back up and grabbing the sticks once more. A petty kind of determination urges him to keep trying, just to wipe that almost-smirk off of the dragon’s face. “I’m going to build myself a fire, and it’s going to be an amazing fire, and you are going to be completely blown away by it, you dragon.” He ignores the burn in his muscles, tired as he is, feeling the dragon’s gaze on him the entire time.

The sticks snap in half. Jimin slumps back onto the ground, defeated.

The sun sets completely, and the stars begin glittering overhead one by one. Jimin watches and tries to count them as they appear within his sight, silently resigning himself to a night of possibly shivering to death. Maybe if he’s lucky, he’ll make it until the morning and have enough energy left in him to walk back to their cottage. Surely, Seokjin can make something to help him, right? He’s one of the best witch doctors around, after all.

The ground vibrates slightly beneath him. Blinking slowly, Jimin lifts his head to see that the dragon has moved slightly out of its cave. At first, Jimin thinks it’s just trying to get a better view of his misery (he doesn’t think this particular dragon has much going on for entertainment, really, considering how solitary it seems to be), but then something nudges him gently on the side, causing him to jump up into a sitting position. Looking down, he sees the dragon’s tail nudging him.

Jimin is stunned frozen for a few seconds.

The tail nudges him again, more insistently this time, and Jimin scrambles to move to the side. He looks up at the dragon with wide eyes, trying to figure out what exactly is going on. The dragon seems to be letting out a long, exasperated sigh, and before Jimin can even begin to try and piece together what its intentions are, the dragon spits.

It sounds a lot less elegant than it actually is, but Jimin doesn’t know how else to describe it.

In the next second, the wood that Jimin has been trying to set fire to lights up and starts burning. The most peculiar thing about it is that the flames are blue.

“Oh gods,” Jimin hears himself say, watching as the flames start to grow. Hurriedly, he gathers the stones and sets it around the fire to prevent it from spreading, feeling so relieved he could almost cry. He turns his head to look at the dragon and catches it looking almost smugly at its creation, thin wisps of smoke still coming out the sides of its mouth.

It glances at Jimin with one piercing eye for a second, before turning around and heading back to its cave. It pauses by the mouth for a moment, as though contemplating something, before it shakes its entire body and then disappears completely inside.

Jimin blinks after it. And then, a bit belatedly he shouts, “Thank you!”

He doesn’t see the dragon again for the rest of the night, but Jimin is fed and warm and the dragon has helped him with his fire, so he counts it as an overall win. He curls up on the sheet he laid out with a quilt wrapped snugly around him. The fire continues to blaze a little way beside him, close enough to keep him comfortable and far enough to prevent him from rolling over in his sleep and accidentally setting himself aflame.

Eyes fluttering shut, he bids the stars and the moon and the trees around him goodnight. And then, after a short pause, he whispers goodnight to the dragon as well, even though he’s certain it can’t hear him and is probably already asleep amidst all its treasures.

As he drifts off, his sleep-hazed brain thinks of the mysterious man he met earlier, Yoongi. The last thought he remembers having before completely succumbing to unconsciousness is whether the other man is feeling warm enough to sleep on this night as well.

 

*

 

“Good morning!”

The dragon doesn’t seem surprised that Jimin is still there the next morning. It barely acknowledges him either, instead heading straight for the lake after a mere second’s glance at his direction.

Not letting it bother him, Jimin cheerfully returns to his breakfast and thinks of what to do for the day. He’s not overly tired since he was able to sleep through the entire night, though his arm muscles still ache from the strain of trying to get a fire started for nearly a full hour the afternoon before. He only allows himself a very brief moment to think about how much he would like to have a nice, warm soak in their makeshift tub back home right now, maybe rub some ointments afterwards too, the ones Seokjin personally crafted for soothing muscle pain.

Letting out a small sigh, he pushes those thoughts away and makes a mental plan instead. He’s going to use today to see if the dragon has any routines; the very first time Jimin got here with Taehyung, the dragon had been home, but yesterday it was not, even though the time Jimin arrived was roughly the same. It’s still fairly early today, about an hour or so since the sun has settled enough in the sky, so Jimin opts to just observe for now and see whether the dragon will leave.

If, by the end of today, he’s able to sense a pattern to the creature’s daily activities, then he might consider using whatever amount of time it spends away from the cave trying his luck out in searching for the necklace himself.

(Briefly, his mind wanders to Yoongi, and he wonders what the man had been doing in the cave exactly. Where had he even come from?)

Of course, the plan to befriend the dragon is still in motion. Jimin will admit that it’s less for the sake of Taehyung’s necklace and more for the sake of his own bruised ego, but it’s also going to be useful if the search proves to be fruitless. Which is likely, really. Jimin may be an optimist, but he also knows how to be realistic when need be.

Once he’s done with his breakfast, Jimin sets about cleaning up his sleeping place and making sure the fire is completely out. He takes his flask and drinks from it, draining it completely in almost one go. He also has to contact Taehyung tonight, he makes a mental note of, as he rises to his feet and heads for the lake where the dragon still is, seemingly soaking up the early sunlight.

When Jimin is close enough, he sees that the dragon is splayed out almost lazily beside the lake, one wing unfurled just enough for it to be able to swirl patterns over the water. It looks absolutely beautiful like that, glittering beneath the sun, and Jimin has to forcefully tear his eyes away in order to not be caught staring. Not that the dragon would mind, he thinks. It’s probably used to having humans stare at it. Or, Jimin doesn’t know. Maybe it’s never really encountered that many humans before, though it doesn’t seem to particularly care about Jimin that much.

He winces as he gets down on his knees, dipping his flask into the lake and waiting for it to fill up. He closes it after and proceeds to cup his hands into the water, wincing even more visibly as he lifts his arms up to his mouth. He lets out a quiet groan when he drops them back to his sides, one hand coming to rub and squeeze at the other.

The dragon makes a noise. Jimin looks up.

It has its head tilted at Jimin curiously, wing having paused its ministrations on the water. Jimin sends it a smile, though the fresh wave of pain that shoots up his arm makes it look a little strained.

“My arms are sore from yesterday, when I was trying to start a fire,” he says, though he doubts he’d get an actual response. That’d be slightly terrifying, actually. Jimin may be used to most things magic, but having a dragon suddenly speak is still going to spook him.

The dragon regards him for a moment.

And then it pushes itself up into a slow, lazy crouch. Jimin thinks it’s going to return to its cave, already bored of the human’s company, so he’s surprised when it heads for the other direction instead and begins to disappear into the trees. Jimin follows it with his curious gaze, stiffening slightly when it stops and turns to look right back at him.

They stare at each other.

And then it tilts its head, almost imperceptible had Jimin not been looking closely. It seems to say, follow me.

Without thinking too much about it, Jimin does.

This part of the woods is one Jimin has yet to explore, so he blindly trusts the dragon not to lead him to his death. He doesn’t think it’s planning on eating him, especially not when it had the chance to the entire night while Jimin was asleep and defenseless, but didn’t (also, Jimin likes to think that after the day that they’ve spent in each other’s presence, some semblance of mutual trust and polite respect has been established between them). The dragon seems to know its way well, and judging the wide trail and the spacing between the trees, enough for the dragon to comfortably pass through without bumping into branches, it appears that wherever it is they’re heading is a place the dragon frequents.

Finally, the dragon stops. Jimin nearly stumbles and bumps into its leg. The dragon glances at him once, and then turns its head forward. Jimin follows its gaze.

There’s another lake here, but a lot smaller, perhaps only a third of the size of the one near the cave. Jimin isn’t sure why he had been brought here. But before he could voice this out to no one in particular, the dragon opens its mouth and breathes out fire.

Jimin’s mouth drops open at the sight. The flames, bright blue along its edges and oddly ice-like in the center, curl over the surface of the lake. It looks like an intricate sort of dance almost, the way the flames tease and touch the water. Slowly, the surface begins to stir. Steam starts to rise as it heats up, and after a few more seconds the dragon stops blowing its flames.

It looks at Jimin.

Jimin looks back.

The silence stretches between them, until the dragon’s face twitches into something akin impatience, and Jimin scrambles to piece the situation together.

The lake is still steaming when he looks back, though it doesn’t seem scalding. Then it clicks.

“Do you want me to take a soak in the lake?” Jimin asks.

The dragon almost lifts a nonexistent eyebrow, but it tilts its head once.

Jimin gapes. “You can actually understand all the words coming out of my mouth?”

The dragon rolls its eyes. Then it nudges Jimin forward with its tail, making the human yelp.

“U-um, thank you?” Jimin says, stumbling towards the lake. He kneels beside it first, dipping in a hand to check the temperature. He’s pleasantly surprised to find that it’s just the right amount of warm. Carefully, he sheds himself of his clothes and steps into the water, releasing a long, pleased sigh as he soaks his aching muscles. “Oh, this is really nice.”

He turns his head to thank the dragon again, only to find it napping with its back turned to Jimin. Stifling a smile, Jimin settles in the water and lets himself relax. There are enough trees surrounding the lake for him to be provided with shade, dots of sunlight filtering through the small gaps in the branches. It’s quiet save for the soft breaths coming from the dragon and the occasional rustle of leaves when a breeze passes by.

Jimin shivers pleasantly and, once his ache has been soothed enough and the water has cooled down slightly, he dips his head under the surface and sets about scrubbing the dirt and dust off of his body. He splashes around for a bit, enjoying the peaceful atmosphere, and once his skin starts pruning up he lazily pulls himself out of the water and dries himself with his clothes.

His spare clothes are in his sack, but since they’re alone in the woods anyway, Jimin decides that there’s no harm in waiting to get to it. He puts on his undergarments and leaves the rest of himself bare, before finding a nice spot under one of the trees and settling himself down for a nap.

His companion is still dozing off, blissfully unaware of its surroundings. Jimin finds himself smiling at the steady rise and fall of the dragon’s back with every breath it takes. “You’re not so bad, are you?” he whispers to himself, words lost in the wind. “You’re just a soft-hearted giant looking for a friend. I’m sorry I called you a bastard.”

The dragon’s wing twitches once, before stilling again.

Jimin giggles into his hands. “What would the others say if they were to find out that I’m in the company of a napping dragon right now?”

The dragon continues napping, uncaring of Jimin’s musings.

Jimin releases a yawn and settles in for a nap of his own. His eyes begin falling shut. “You’re not a scary, mysterious creature at all, sir dragon,” he murmurs as he feels himself begin to drift off. “You’re just like a—a cat. That’s right.” He yawns again. “Just like a cat. Except bigger. A lot bigger.”

Then he falls asleep, tension from his muscles gone, completely comfortable in his place and in the dragon’s company.

 

(He wakes up later to the dragon gently nudging him with its nose. Jimin jumps into consciousness and looks around him frantically, taking a moment to remember where he is before relaxing once he realizes that it’s just the dragon waking him up.

Then he freezes when it sinks in that the dragon is waking him up, more specifically by bumping its nose into his side repeatedly, carefully, and something like wonder unfurls in Jimin’s chest as he looks at the creature with wide eyes. The dragon pulls away once it sees that Jimin is awake, and Jimin doesn’t stop the smile he can feel forming on his face. The dragon huffs at this, a short burst of hot smoke coming out of its nostrils, and Jimin laughs as it begins walking away, albeit slowly enough for Jimin to catch up.

Taehyung almost can’t believe it when Jimin tells him about the day’s events through their mirrors, after he’s done eating dinner and setting up his sleeping place, blue fire once again blazing quietly in front of him.

“Are we sure we’re talking about the same dragon here?” Taehyung asks.

Jimin nods. “Positive.”

“And you’re also certain that your thing isn’t taking effect?”

Jimin shakes his head at this. “Normally, I can feel when this ability, or whatever it is, is cause for the animal’s trust of me. I didn’t feel anything like that earlier.” He shifts slightly, runs a hand through his hair and smiles. “I think the dragon was just shy before, or not too used to human company. But it’s slowly opening up now!”

Taehyung makes a pleased noise at this. “Do you think this means it’ll give my necklace back?”

“Hopefully,” Jimin responds. “If this keeps up, then I might not have to resort to looking for it myself, after all. Which is a massive relief, considering the size of that treasure cave.”

Taehyung cheers. Jimin does, too.)

 

*

 

Two nights later, the biggest change yet happens.

The night has been chilly so far, even more so than usual, and Jimin has taken to pulling his sleeping things as close to the fire as possible without completely scorching himself. He rubs his hands together and pulls the quilt tighter around himself, trying not to let his teeth chatter as he greedily absorbs the heat coming from the flames.

A shadow passes overhead, and Jimin looks up.

He sees the dragon flying above him in its full majestic glory, slender body stretched, wings completely spread. The sight is breathtaking, the dragon’s frost-colored form a stark contrast to the ink of the night sky. The jewel-like scales on its body glint even brighter than the stars, and Jimin is unable to look away.

It finally lands in front of the cave, shaking its wings off and stretching much like a cat would. Jimin giggles at this, even as he continues to shiver from the cold, and the dragon regards him curiously.

“Good evening,” he calls out, lifting a hand in greeting while the other keeps his quilt wrapped tightly around his body. “Had a good flight?”

He had seen the dragon take off hours ago, late into the afternoon as the sky began turning orange. It’s the first time since coming here that Jimin had seen the dragon actually leave; they haven’t been spending much time together, not quite, but the dragon hasn’t really left its cave either aside from the afternoon naps it would take by the lake with Jimin just a short distance away.

Now it regards him again, probably noticing Jimin’s shivering form.

“It’s really cold tonight.”

The dragon makes a sound which Jimin interprets as one of agreement. Then, instead of heading back into its cave like Jimin expected it would, the dragon stalks towards him instead.

Curiously, Jimin watches as the dragon inspects his setup. Then it moves again, walking behind him before lying on its stomach. Its body curls around Jimin, tail swishing lazily as it settles over Jimin’s lap, and the human lets out a quiet gasp—both in surprise at the dragon’s proximity, and at the sudden warmth enveloping him.

Carefully, he leans back against the dragon and waits to see if it’ll make a noise of protest. When it doesn’t, he allows himself a small sigh and makes himself more comfortable against the dragon, eyes fluttering shut as the cold is chased away. With hesitant movements, he lets his fingers run over the scales on the dragon’s tail, letting out a noise of fascination when he realizes that it isn’t as rough or hard as he initially thought. Instead the texture is smooth, not quite soft but close. Somewhat flexible, too.

He glances at the dragon’s face to see its reaction.

He finds it already settling down, eyes falling shut like it’s getting ready to sleep.

Smiling, Jimin settles further and closes his eyes as well. Right before he drifts off, he feels the dragon’s tail hug tighter around his waist, and then everything fades into dreams.

 

*

 

He wakes up the following morning to a face, decidedly non-dragon, looking down at him.

Jimin screams in surprise.

The man above him startles at the noise and seems to quietly panic, and in Jimin’s still sleep-heavy state, it doesn’t immediately register that the face is a familiar one. As soon as it does, some seven seconds later, his screams abruptly stop. Then he blinks. “Yoongi?”

Yoongi stares at him wide-eyed.

What, Jimin thinks. Why is Yoongi here? Where is the dragon?

Confused, he pushes himself up into a sitting position. It seems that at some point in the night, the dragon has managed to slip away completely without waking Jimin up. His quilt is draped over him, the fire beside him stomped out, and the sheets arranged beneath him so that he hadn’t been lying completely on bare dirt. Jimin is very, very confused.

He looks at Yoongi, hoping to get answers from the other man. He’s dressed a lot differently today compared to the first time they met, clothes simple but clean—white top with a wide collar, a length of what Jimin assumes to be leather cinching the fabric around Yoongi’s narrow waist. His trousers are free of rips but obviously rumpled, the bottoms rolled up as though they’re too long for him. His feet are still bare. Everything else about him is the same as Jimin remembers. Soft face, piercing eyes, unnaturally white hair, and earlobes adorned with pale, glittering jewels.

There’s an odd tug of familiarity at Jimin’s gut.

“What are you doing here?” he asks. He tears his gaze away from Yoongi’s face with a little difficulty and scans the area around them. “Where’s the dragon?”

When he looks back, he sees that Yoongi is watching him very closely. Jimin tries not to squirm, being pinned beneath that intense gaze, but he’s not sure how successful he is at that front. He can feel heat slowly rising in his cheeks the longer Yoongi remains silent, eyes never straying away, and—and Yoongi is so odd, Jimin decides.

It’s almost like he’s never really encountered another person before, and therefore has no idea what the proper etiquette is for conversations. One of them being, when a question is asked, it’s normally polite to offer an answer in return. Another being, it’s rude to stare, as it can make the other person highly uncomfortable.

(And, no, Yoongi’s incredibly attractive features have nothing to do with it.)

(Alright, that was a lie. It has a little do with it.)

Finally, Jimin can’t take the silence any longer. “Can you please stop staring at me?”

At that, Yoongi’s head shifts back a little, eyes blinking slowly as though he’s coming out of a daze. His mouth falls open but no words come out, and it takes him a second of throat clearing before he can say, “The dragon isn’t here.”

This only plays into Jimin’s theory more, about Yoongi not being too used to social interaction. It seems like it takes him a while to remember how to speak, and his voice is just as rough from disuse as it had been the first time they talked.

“What do you mean the dragon isn’t here?” Jimin asks, gaze flicking towards the cave before settling back on Yoongi. “Did you see it fly?”

Yoongi, after a moment, nods.

“Oh,” Jimin says. Then he shifts, not really knowing what to do next. He eyes his sack and quickly tries to remember how much food he has left, before tentatively offering, “Would you like some breakfast?”

Yoongi blinks. Then something resembling a smile graces his features, making him look even softer in the early morning light. “Sure.”

Breakfast is a quiet affair. Yoongi eats slowly, quietly, and he has a curious way of inspecting his food before every bite. Jimin glances at him every now and then, wondering just what in heavens is going on for him to be having breakfast outside a dragon’s cave with a stranger, but he also finds that the human company is more than welcome after having spent days in the presence of a dragon.

Don’t get him wrong. Jimin appreciates the dragon’s company, and even now he misses the sight of the majestic creature lazing by the lake or quietly watching him go about his daily human activities. He’s even confident enough to say that they’re good friends now! But being able to talk and get a verbal response, one that he can make sense of, is something he’s definitely missed after five days of seeing no other human but his own reflection in the lake’s waters.

Once they’re done with their food, Jimin takes a drink from his flask and then offers it to Yoongi. Yoongi looks curiously at the object, turning it in his hands for a few moments before tipping it up, lips pressed against the opening. Water drips down his chin slightly, and Jimin giggles.

“You are very odd,” he says.

Yoongi frowns at the container and hands it back to Jimin. “Thank you.”

“I hope breakfast was alright,” Jimin says, pulling his sack close and looking inside it. He only has a single loaf of bread and a small pouch of nuts left, which he thinks will be enough to last him the day. Unless. “Um, will you be staying here?”

Again, Yoongi doesn’t give a response immediately. Instead he stares at Jimin in that same intense way he’s been doing all morning (since that first encounter in the cave, really), looking like he’s either deeply contemplating what to say or searching for something on Jimin’s face. Either way, Jimin tries his best to meet that gaze, but after a while he feels a blush come on his cheeks and he has to look away.

Finally, he gets, “I don’t really have anything to do.”

“Oh,” Jimin says. “You can stay if you want?”

Slowly, Yoongi nods. The food will have to be enough for them both for lunch, then. Maybe they can catch fish for dinner and cook it over a fire.

“You wouldn’t mind when the dragon comes back later, though, right?” Jimin asks. He shifts slightly, making himself comfortable, and stretches. He’s feeling lazy this morning. “It might act weirdly around you at first, or it might just completely ignore you. It did that to me too, but we’ve bonded now!”

Yoongi snorts at that. “The dragon won’t come back tonight.”

That gives Jimin pause. He blinks at the other man slowly. “What do you mean? And how do you know that?”

“Just a feeling.”

Really, at this point, Jimin should give up trying to get straight answers out of the other. Even their exchange in the cave, no matter how quick, had been full of cryptic messages that Jimin still can’t decipher. Yoongi’s mere presence right now poses so many questions as well, but at the rate they’ve been going, Jimin doubts he’s going to be given an explanation soon. For now, he’s just going to accept that Yoongi seems to be here out of boredom.

It surprises him when Yoongi asks, “Did you not want to get something from the dragon?”

Blinking, Jimin replies with a question of his own. “How did you know that?”

“You were in the cave, but you claim to be no thief. Still, you must want something.”

Jimin chews on his lip as he thinks about what to say. The missing necklace is technically a secret, but only because Hoseok shouldn’t know. Jimin doubts Yoongi, this strange but gorgeous man who seems to never have a particular destination or reason to anything, will ever get the chance to expose the situation to Hoseok. There’s little to no chance at all of the two knowing each other. So there’s no harm in being honest, right?

“My friend,” he begins slowly after coming to a decision, pulling his knees up to his chest, “he claims that the dragon stole his necklace. It’s something really precious, since the pendant is of a firestone, but more than that this friend values the necklace because it’s a gift from his lover.”

Yoongi seems to be processing this, a thoughtful expression settling over his face. Then his eyes turn blank, so sudden it startles Jimin. “The cave is empty right now. Why don’t we go in there and try to look for it?”

Which had been an option Jimin considered in the beginning, but… it just feels weird now. And wrong.

(There’s also something really odd about Yoongi’s tone, flat but calculated, almost like Jimin is being tested. But for what exactly, he doesn’t know.)

“I can’t do that,” he says, finally, shoulders lifting in a shrug. “I mean, I will admit that it crossed my mind at first, but the amount of treasure I’d have to look through discouraged me.” He laughs a little, runs a hand through his hair as he thinks his next words over. “Besides, that would be an invasion of privacy, I think. I know you might say it’s just a dragon that lives in there, but the past few days have proven to me that even their kind is capable of complex thought, and I think that they have their rights as well that should be respected.”

He turns his head and sees that Yoongi is watching him, even more intently this time. Jimin almost shudders.

Another thought occurs to him. “I also think going in there to snoop around now would be betraying the dragon’s trust, and I don’t want that. I like to think that we’ve become friends, the dragon and I, and I’m just going to have faith that when it comes back, it’d be willing to listen to me and return my friend’s necklace.”

Yoongi tilts his head slightly, barely blinking. “Will you leave? Once you get the necklace back?”

The question startles Jimin. He hasn’t really thought about that, even though the answer is obvious. Of course he’s going to leave after. This isn’t his home, after all. Home is the cottage he shares with the others, Taehyung and Jungkook and Hoseok and Namjoon and Seokjin, all of whom he already misses the company of. The answer is obvious.

Yet he finds himself faltering, something like hesitation creeping into his mind. He doesn’t understand why he’s being questioned right now. He doesn’t understand why Yoongi is looking at him like that, as though he’s trying to stare right into Jimin’s very soul. He doesn’t understand why the thought of leaving makes him hesitate.

He says, words stumbling from his mouth, “I’ll be going back home. My friends—no, my family, they would want me back.”

Something flickers in Yoongi’s eyes. Jimin manages to catch it and understand it for what it is. Sadness.

“But,” he says, reaching out and squeezing Yoongi’s arm, taking in the mild surprise that settles over the other’s features, “I’m going to visit again. The dragon is my friend, and I’m going to miss it a lot. And, well.” He feels himself flush, and he turns his gaze away but keeps his hold on Yoongi. “I’m assuming you stay near this area, too, and I wouldn’t really mind seeing you again. So. Of course I’m going to be visiting a lot.”

It’s quiet.

Jimin counts the seconds in his head, manages to make it to a full minute, and finally gives in. He looks at Yoongi.

And the sight that greets him is something that makes his stomach swoop suddenly, taking in the way Yoongi is looking down at Jimin’s hand on his arm, an almost unbearably gentle smile adorning his face.

Jimin doesn’t understand Yoongi at all.

But he finds that he doesn’t quite mind the thought of spending time with the other until he does.

 

*

 

They catch fish for dinner.

Jimin leaves Yoongi to handle cleaning their catch and tasks himself with gathering more firewood. He thinks amusedly of the conversation he had with Yoongi just minutes before as he bends down and gathers fallen branches.

“Wood?” the other had asked, blinking at Jimin slowly.

“For cooking the fish.”

“Cooking?”

Jimin had blinked back at Yoongi in a mix of confusion and amusement. “Yes. We can’t eat the fish like that.”

Yoongi had looked down at their small catch and simply said, “oh,” as though that had never occurred to him before. As though he just lived his entire life thinking that one could immediately eat fish after catching them, without having to go through the process of cleaning and cooking.

Yoongi is really, really odd. Taehyung would probably find him fascinating, Jimin muses to himself. Namjoon, too. Maybe Jimin could invite Yoongi over sometime.

The thought makes him smile.

Yoongi has managed a fair job of cleaning the fish once Jimin returns, sitting cross-legged on the grassier area near where Jimin has been sleeping for the last four nights. He gazes up at Jimin with slightly wide eyes as though asking if he did all right, which Jimin finds quite adorable. He looks a lot younger in the fading light, hair slightly tousled now from how the two of them somehow ended up playing an impromptu game of tag to pass the afternoon. But he also looks slightly more ethereal, and it feels as though the longer Jimin stares, the more his eyes trick him into thinking that Yoongi’s skin is actually glittering in certain places.

Shaking his head to himself, Jimin gives the other a reassuring smile and sets the firewood down. Then he pauses as a realization sets in. “Oh, oh no. I don’t know how to start a fire.”

An amused kind of noise comes from Yoongi at that.

Jimin narrows his eyes. “Do you know how to start a fire?”

Yoongi eyes the pile of wood, lips pursing as he thinks. “I should.”

Jimin doesn’t question the odd response, or the way it’s phrased. He just motions for Yoongi to go on ahead and get started. Picking up a stick, Yoongi turns it around in his hands as though he’s dealing with an incredibly foreign object, and after a while of this Jimin heaves a sigh and gets to work himself.

They still have no fire after fifteen minutes, at which point Jimin throws himself back-first onto the ground. “The dragon usually makes the fire for me.” He stares at the sky, now mostly orange, and loudly wonders, “Why hasn’t it returned yet?”

He hears Yoongi shift slightly, but he gets no response.

Jimin thinks the situation over for a moment. “Well, it is quite early still. We can wait a while longer and see if the dragon will come back, then I can ask for a fire. Are you hungry? I still have a bite of bread left in my bag.”

Yoongi shakes his head. Then he stands up.

Jimin pushes himself into a sitting position. “Where are you going?”

“I’m going to look for food for you,” Yoongi says, shifting slightly, and—is that a blush? Jimin thinks that’s a blush. Yoongi wrings his hands together and smiles timidly at Jimin, and oh. Oh dear. Jimin’s heart does this skip, the way Taehyung would always describe would happen to him whenever Hoseok is being particularly sweet, and oh. Oh dear. Jimin needs to talk to Taehyung as soon as possible.

“You don’t have to!” he says, maybe a little too loudly. “Um, I’m still not hungry anyway, and I’m sure the dragon will be back soon.”

But Yoongi shakes his head, adamant. “I’ll find us food.”

“Oh, well, if you can’t be stopped then I’m coming with you—”

“No,” Yoongi says, too quickly. His eyes are wide. “You stay here.” Jimin can almost see the cogs turning in the other man’s head, and he’s just about to ask why when Yoongi adds, “If the dragon comes back while we’re both away, it might not realize that we need fire and just go to sleep or fly off again.”

Oh. That makes sense. Still, Jimin isn’t quite completely comfortable with the idea of just letting Yoongi wander off by himself to find the both of them food, but… oh. Oh, wait. He’ll get some time alone to himself, too. Maybe even enough for him to contact Taehyung.

Reluctantly, he agrees. Yoongi shoots him a brilliant smile, making his face look even softer, and yes, Jimin absolutely needs to talk to Taehyung.

The moment Yoongi disappears into the trees, Jimin pulls his small, circular mirror from his sack and taps on it three times. The frame of it glows, and Jimin says Taehyung’s name out loud. He waits a few moments as his own reflection contorts and then swirls in the glass, before the shape rearranges itself into Taehyung’s figure. The background slowly shifts into warm brown colors, letting Jimin know that the other is at home.

“Jimin!” Taehyung greets, though there’s a slightly confused tilt to his mouth. “Why are you calling? We just talked yesterday, is something the matter?”

Jimin doesn’t know how to start. He presses a hand to his face, the one not holding the mirror up, and lets out a sigh. “I met someone.”

“Did they pose a threat?” Taehyung asks, before he squints to take a closer look at Jimin and gauge his expression. Jimin doesn’t say anything, absolutely certain that his best friend will be able to gather what is going on after a few seconds. They know each other too well.

Taehyung gasps. “Oh! Oh, you met someone.”

“That is what I said, yes,” Jimin confirms.

“How in heaven’s name did you manage to meet someone near a dragon’s lair?” Taehyung asks, completely bewildered.

Jimin sighs. “There’s something I didn’t tell you the last two times I called.”

Taehyung just quirks an eyebrow.

“Remember how I went into the dragon’s cave the first day I got here?” Taehyung nods, and Jimin continues, “Well, there was someone else in the cave. He found me there, and he’s really odd, Taehyungie. And not odd like you boys back there, because I think we all have our particular quirks. This man—Yoongi, his name is Yoongi—he’s just really odd in a way I can’t figure out.”

Wide-eyed now, Taehyung leans closer into his mirror. “Are you sure this man is safe?”

Jimin waves his friend’s concerns away, though he does appreciate it. “We’ve spent the entire day together. When I woke up, he was just there.”

Now Taehyung is blinking rapidly. “And you don’t find that strange at all?”

“I do, is the thing,” Jimin admits. “But I really can’t sense any threat from him. He seems awkward? Like he isn’t quite sure how to talk to another human being. But he’s also sweet.”

“Jimin,” Taehyung says, “you’ve known him for a day.”

“I mean, well, not counting the other day, then yes.” Jimin frowns. “But, I don’t know? There’s something familiar about him. It’s strange. I can’t explain it.”

Taehyung processes this. His gaze drifts up, lips pursing, and Jimin patiently waits for his friend’s input. He certainly isn’t expecting Taehyung to ask next, “Is he attractive?”

“Oh, gods.” Jimin presses his face into his hand for a few seconds, feeling a blush come on. “Incredibly so. It’s almost unnatural, really.”

“How so?” Taehyung asks eagerly, excitement taking up his previous concern. He’s always been one for this type of talk.

Jimin pulls his hand from his face and waves it around. “There’s just something really striking about him? And his eyes are so intense, but his face is also soft? And his hair, it’s literally white, Taehyung.”

“How white?”

“Like frost,” Jimin says. “But sometimes, in the light, it looks like a really pale blue? Green, sometimes?”

“Oh, like the dragon?” Taehyung pipes up.

Jimin snaps his fingers and points. “Yes! Just like the dragon…”

And then he trails off, blinking slowly.

A thought makes itself half-known in his head, vaguely taking shape but not yet achieving a certain definition. It’s mostly a feeling, a feeling telling him that something is off. Taehyung’s words bring some kind of awareness at the back of his mind, something that Jimin tries to grasp, but before he can do so a loud flapping noise catches his attention, the air around him suddenly stirring. Glancing up, Jimin sees the dragon circling overhead a few times, before landing in front of him.

The sight of it effectively pushes all half-formed thoughts away, Jimin perking up and smiling instead. “You’re back!”

“Who is?” Taehyung asks.

“The dragon.” Jimin looks down at the mirror. “Tae, I have to go. I’ll get back to you, alright?”

Taehyung nods and waves goodbye, and then Jimin taps the mirror again before slipping it back into his sack. The dragon just sits there, watching him silently the entire time, and Jimin almost trips in his haste to get up on his feet and rush towards the creature. It lowers its head in acknowledgement and, without thinking too much about it, Jimin throws his arms around its snout in a hug.

“Hello!”

The dragon blinks at him, seeming surprised at the action, but not at all displeased. In fact, it seems to relax further, nudging Jimin back.

Laughing, Jimin pulls an arm free and pats the dragon on the nose. “I need your help, yeah? I have another friend with me right now, I hope you don’t mind the added company.” Jimin worries his lip as he waits to see if the dragon will respond negatively to that, but it only blinks once. Jimin smiles. “We caught some fish to cook for dinner, but we can’t get a fire started. Would you please help us?”

He pulls away completely and gestures at the pile of wood lying sadly on the ground. The dragon turns to it and spits easily.

Jimin decides to get started on cooking the fish while he waits for Yoongi to return. The dragon settles down beside him as he does, so Jimin talks to it about the day’s events. He still isn’t sure if the dragon can actually understand him word for word or just get a general sense of whatever it is that’s going on, but Jimin finds that it’s nice to talk freely like this, too.

“Yoongi, he’s really odd, you know?” he’s saying, turning the fish speared through with a stick over the fire. “But it’s also quite intriguing. I think you two might get along as well! I’ll introduce you when he comes back.” He feels a mild flush settle on his cheeks as he adds, “He said he was going to find food for me. I think that’s sweet of him.”

The dragon makes a soft noise Jimin can’t quite interpret. When he turns to look, he’s surprised to see that the creature almost looks bashful.

Huh. This is certainly the most expressive dragon Jimin has ever known of (not that he’s really met any other dragons, but the point still stands). “I wonder where he is now. I think he’s been roaming these woods longer than I have, since I’ve never really had reason to leave the cottage much except for the occasional walk or trip to the main village for errands, but I can’t help but worry. It’s also starting to get really dark.”

The dragon makes another noise, but this time it sounds a little frantic. All of a sudden, it gets up on its feet and then paces away, much to Jimin’s confusion. He calls out to it but gets ignored, and before Jimin can even push himself up to follow after it, the dragon breaks into a run and then takes off, wings unfolding. The air stirs around them, causing the fire to flicker for a few seconds before settling once more.

“Where are you going?” Jimin shouts after the dragon, watching with wide eyes as it disappears into the early evening sky. He’s left there by himself, fish half-cooked, staring at the stars and wondering if he said anything that made the dragon want to run—or rather fly—away.

 

*

 

Yoongi returns just as Jimin finishes cooking all the fish, clothes looking rumpled, arms laden with fruit.

Jimin perks up, pout disappearing from his face to be replaced with a smile. “Yoongi!”

There’s an attractive flush on Yoongi’s cheeks, eyes bright and smile in place as he sets the food he managed to find onto the sheet Jimin is sitting on. Jimin eyes the apples and bananas, wondering where and how on earth Yoongi managed to find these in the woods. When he voices this question, Yoongi merely shrugs noncommittally and unpeels a banana. Jimin, much like with most things having to do with Yoongi, decides to let it slide.

They eat well together, though they set aside some of the fruit for the next day. Yoongi quite literally tears into the fish, seeming unmindful of the bones despite Jimin’s warnings. Jimin maybe stuffs his own mouth of too much at once, but it’s a pleasant dinner all in all. Strangely, though, Yoongi doesn’t inquire about the unusual color of the flames, nor does he ask how Jimin got the fire started. He barely even took a look at the campfire after having sat down.

Jimin decides to explain, anyway, without being prompted. “The dragon came back.”

Yoongi stiffens slightly, but in the next blink he looks relaxed once more. Jimin passes it off as a trick of the imagination.

“It flew away so suddenly, though. I’m still puzzled as to why.”

Yoongi just makes a vague noise in response, biting into an apple. Jimin sighs and lets the subject drop.

Once they’ve cleaned up and rested, Jimin starts fixing their sleeping place, only to pause upon the realization that they only have one quilt they can use, the spare one having been laid out on the ground for Yoongi to sleep on. It’s not as chilly as it had been the previous night, but still enough for Jimin to want to wrap himself tightly as he sleeps. He glances at Yoongi, who appears to be spacing out by the flames, and wonders whether the other would be comfortable with sharing. The blanket is big enough for two people to be able to use, but only if they lay down close to each other. The thought makes Jimin blush.

“Um, Yoongi?”

Yoongi makes a small noise in response.

“Would you mind sharing this when we sleep tonight?”

Yoongi blinks, lips parting slightly. Then he says, “Oh.”

Jimin takes that as a maybe, yes. He continues setting up their sleeping place.

Eventually, he feels Yoongi approach. Trying to calm the nervous fluttering in his stomach, Jimin smiles at the other and motions for him to lie down first. “You must be tired. You were gone in the woods looking for food a while, after all.”

Yoongi frowns, even as he lies down. “I’m fine. You must be even more tired than me, though.”

“I think I’m alright,” Jimin says. He bites his lower lip for a moment as he watches Yoongi blink up at him, and then, willing his shyness away, he lies down beside the other, leaving about a foot’s space between them. He pulls the quilt over the both of them, tucking the edges of his half into his back to keep it from going loose throughout the night, letting Yoongi do whatever he pleases with his half. After shifting around for a few seconds in search of a comfortable position, he turns his head slightly to Yoongi and asks, “Is this fine?”

Yoongi is quiet for a moment. Then he says, “Yes.”

“Alright then.” Jimin turns his face to the other side, watching the flicker of shadows in the field. “Goodnight, Yoongi.”

He hears Yoongi hum. This close, Jimin can feel warmth radiating off of him, strangely comforting and almost familiar. He hears, “Goodnight, Jimin.”

Jimin closes his eyes and wills his heartbeat to slow.

 

(In the morning, he wakes up to see that the both of them have somehow managed to turn onto their sides in their sleep so that they’re face to face. The small distance between them remains, but it doesn’t change the fact that the first sight Jimin sees when he opens his eyes is that of Yoongi’s peaceful, serene face lost in sleep, lashes flickering gently with dreams unknown to Jimin.

His heart stutters on and on and on, as though it never really slowed down since the night before, just as Jimin was drifting off to sleep.)

 

*

 

The dragon doesn’t return for an entire day.

Jimin is concerned, though Yoongi’s company keeps his thoughts from straying too far. Jimin even forgets to worry for nearly the entire afternoon, all because of a butterfly’s sudden appearance in the grassy field behind them, Yoongi chasing after it relentlessly as Jimin laughs and laughs and laughs.

When they fall asleep that night after spending hours working on a fire (and managing, by some miracle), still with their backs to the ground and their faces exposed to the stars, they’re slightly closer, enough for their shoulders to be pressed together.

Neither of them say anything about it.

 

*

 

On the seventh night, the last one that Jimin had originally intended on spending by the dragon’s lair, there’s still no sign of the creature returning.

Jimin distracts himself by telling Yoongi of what he knows of the stars.

Which, to be completely honest, isn’t much.

“I think that might be Orion’s belt,” he says, pointing at a row of stars. At least, they seem like they’re in a row.

Yoongi hums doubtfully. “This is the third time now.”

Jimin drops his hand and slaps Yoongi on the chest with it. The other lets out a huff, but otherwise doesn’t comment, so Jimin lets his hand just stay there. Right on Yoongi’s chest.

It’s a nice chest, Jimin thinks. He doesn’t know how they got here, how they ended up laying on the ground side by side like this, when just hours before they were splashing around in the smaller lake hidden in the trees until Jimin’s teeth started chattering from the chill. Yoongi is warm, though. Very pleasantly warm, enough for it to be a little odd. This close, it feels like Jimin is sitting right in front of the fireplace back in the cottage, sipping some of their homemade tea and listening to the quiet sounds of a late evening. He tells himself that the only reason he scoots closer to the other is because he’s cold.

Yoongi turns his head. They’re a lot closer than Jimin had originally thought. There’s a glimmer of something in Yoongi’s eyes, barely visible in the moonlight, but it seems like a question so Jimin shrugs, shifts himself even closer, hands gripping his own elbows. “It’s really cold.”

Instead of responding, Yoongi just moves around. Jimin yelps in mild surprise when he feels Yoongi’s hand trying to slip into the sliver of space between his back and the ground, and after a while Jimin lifts his body just enough for Yoongi to be able to pull him in with an arm around the waist. He ends up fitting snugly against Yoongi’s side, cheeks hot. When he chances a glance at Yoongi’s face, it’s obvious that the other is blushing, too.

That certainly makes Jimin feel somewhat better about the way his heart is starting up a rapid rhythm in his chest, knowing that he isn’t the only one affected. It also gives him a hint of bravery to slide the hand he has on Yoongi’s chest, where he can faintly feel the thudding of Yoongi’s own heartbeat, up towards his shoulder. He’s practically hugging him, like this. If Jimin moved his head just an inch, he’d be laying it on Yoongi’s shoulder, too, though the curve where neck meets shoulder seems a lot more inviting.

When the silence has stretched on for a few minutes, Jimin says, “You’re really warm.”

Yoongi makes a vague noise in response.

“How come you’re so warm?” Jimin thinks it’s unnatural how warm Yoongi is, just as unnatural as the color of his hair. Maybe he’s not all human, Jimin thinks with a small internal laugh. That would certainly explain a lot.

Another silence stretches over them, this time completely comfortable. Jimin has stopped watching the stars and is instead watching the slope of Yoongi’s shoulder, the jut of his collarbones where the collar of his shirt has slipped a little. Jimin imagines pressing his mouth against it, and blushes.

Dear heavens. Yoongi is so, so beautiful and Jimin is so, so attracted to him. This scene right here also feels oddly familiar, like it’s happened before, as though Jimin has been wrapped up in Yoongi’s warmth on more than one occasion.

There’s this feeling of familiarity that Jimin has been trying to place since Yoongi showed up, this almost instinct-like voice in his head telling him that he can trust Yoongi, and it’s probably a little (or a lot) too soon, but Jimin really wants to kiss him.

Yoongi turns his head, tips his chin down slightly so that he’s looking at Jimin.

Jimin swallows the lump in his throat and then surges up.

There’s a burst of warmth as their lips meet, and he feels more than hears the small, surprised noise Yoongi makes. But then there’s a nudge back less than a second later, the pressure against his mouth letting him know that Yoongi isn’t opposed to this. That he maybe wants this, too.

Jimin’s fingers twitch, slide back down over Yoongi’s chest and clutch at the fabric there. He feels warm everywhere, from every point of contact their bodies are making down to the tip of his toes. His lips part open in a pleased little sigh, loving the way Yoongi’s sharp teeth graze over his bottom lip. The hold around his waist tightens once before relaxing again, then there are fingers tracing lazy patterns over his hip.

Jimin feels a little like melting. It feels like there’s a slow, lazy kind of fire dancing over his skin everywhere Yoongi is touching him. When Yoongi nudges him upwards, enough for him to be able to press a hot mouth against the skin of Jimin’s throat, it feels like the flames have spread to lick pleasantly over his veins.

Yoongi’s hair is soft. Jimin’s fingers find themselves tangled in the strands, tugging in appreciation every time Yoongi presses fluttering kisses over his pulse point or goes back up to kiss him breathless. Jimin is dizzy, so incredibly dizzy in the best kind of way, so when Yoongi pulls back slightly and traces over his mouth with a thumb, all Jimin can do is stare, completely dazed.

Yoongi seems just as dazed as Jimin feels, gaze flickering all over Jimin’s face like he can’t quite believe Jimin is there. His touch is gentle, fingers grazing over Jimin’s cheeks, eyelids, the slope of his nose and the curve of his eyebrow. Jimin doesn’t know how they got here. He doesn’t think he particularly cares right now, either.

Eventually, the moment is broken. A shrill piercing noise cuts through the atmosphere, and they both blink, bodies still pressed together. When it registers to Jimin what the noise is, he lets out a nervous little laugh, feeling a heavy blush settling over his cheeks. “Sorry, um—that might be my friend? Taehyung?”

Yoongi blinks a few more times. Then he nods, arms loosening around Jimin so he can free himself and get his mirror. Jimin has to scramble around to find his sack, still feeling somewhat disoriented from the kiss. He makes a noise of triumph once his hands close around it, causing Yoongi to smile fondly at him.

“Taehyungie?” Jimin asks after he taps the mirror, his best friend’s face swimming into view. “Is there something wrong?”

“Jimin!” Taehyung greets too loudly in return, a nervous twitch to his smile. “So, uh, funny story that happened today!”

Jimin frowns immediately. “What happened?”

“Uh. I finally did my laundry with Jungkook’s help! Hoseok and the others were busy doing work so we decided to stay out in the back for a while to not disturb them and, you know, be productive while at it. So I gathered up my clothes, and I honestly don’t remember when I got to own that many? There were so many clothes, Jimin. So many.”

“Alright?” Jimin blinks, still not knowing where this is going.

Taehyung laughs nervously. “You’ll never guess what I found in one of my trousers’ pockets.”

“What?” Jimin asks.

Taehyung doesn’t answer, just stares at him. Jimin stares back.

And then, “Oh, oh no. Oh no. You did not, Kim Taehyung.”

“I did,” Taehyung confirms with a wince. “And I’m really sorry.”

“You said the dragon stole your necklace!” Jimin exclaims. “I went out here to help you get it back but it turns out you just misplaced it?”

Taehyung winces again, then offers meekly, “In my defense, this camping thing was not my idea. You mainly wanted to heal your wounded pride.”

Kim Taehyung.”

“I’m sorry, Jimin!” Taehyung claps both hands in front of his face. “Please forgive me!”

Jimin huffs.

Taehyung tries again. “But hey, at least you can go back now! Come home, Jimin. I really miss you! We all do. This place just isn’t the same without you.”

Jimin narrows his eyes, even though hearing his best friend’s words make him soften up. He still has to put up a front, because this entire situation is just an entire new level of careless. “I’m not done with you yet, Taehyung. We’ll talk more when I get back.”

Taehyung just makes a horrified face in response, and then Jimin taps the mirror. He drops it back into his sack and looks up to find Yoongi, who has undoubtedly heard everything, watching him with an unreadable expression.

Jimin lets out a frustrated sigh. “Can you believe the necklace was with him all along? And he kept accusing the dragon of being a thief!”

“Well, now you finally know the truth,” Yoongi says.

In Jimin’s frustrated state, he doesn’t completely register the implication of Yoongi’s words, of what finally could possibly mean. Instead he just goes on, “I spent a week out here because of him, I just wish he would be a little less careless next time so that things like this wouldn’t have to happen!”

Yoongi is quiet. The small fire they’ve managed to build crackles in the silence.

Then Yoongi asks, “Do you regret it?”

“Regret what?” Jimin asks. It suddenly feels like the distance between them has grown bigger without him realizing it.

“Going here? Spending the week with me?”

“Oh, no!” Jimin rushes to say, upon realizing how Yoongi could’ve taken his words, how they might sound like to the other. “Not at all, Yoongi, I don’t—”

And then he abruptly cuts himself off. Replays Yoongi’s words in his head.

A dawning of sorts begins to form in his mind, and suddenly he’s looking at Yoongi with wide eyes. “What do you mean the week? This is only the third day since you appeared. The days before that I spent with… with the dragon.”

Taehyung’s words from before echo in his head, Oh, like the dragon?

And Jimin had agreed so quickly, so easily, because it made sense. Yoongi is just like the dragon. And now it’s sinking in just how true that statement might be.

It all clears up, really. It makes sense. Yoongi’s unnatural hair color, the way his skin sometimes seems to glimmer in the light, how it’s always so much warmer close to him, and this sense of familiarity in Jimin’s chest—suddenly, it all makes sense, and Jimin feels like he’s about to pass out on the spot.

“Y-Yoongi?” he hears himself say.

Yoongi just watches him, looking so, so sad and so, so lonely. Like he’s already resigned himself to returning to how things were before Jimin arrived, where he lives a life in constant solitude.

“Yoongi,” Jimin tries again, forcing his voice to come out even. When did the distance between them get to be this big, when just moments ago they were all tangled up in each other, learning the shape of each other’s mouths? “Yoongi, you’re…”

“The dragon,” Yoongi says, finally, nodding once. He pushes himself up. “And you’re leaving.”

“Wait, no.” Jimin’s mind is slow to catch up, but he does know he shouldn’t let Yoongi go. He feels faint, even as he tries to reach out for the other. “Yoongi, let’s talk, please?”

Yoongi just shakes his head, eyes downcast. He smiles shakily at Jimin for a second, before bowing in something like a goodbye. “Please have a safe trip on your return home.” Then, before Jimin can even say anything else, he starts running, feet carrying him into the night until his shape seems to distort in the distance, shadows playing over his body. Jimin blinks, and then suddenly there are wings fluidly sprouting as fabric rips, frost white in the dark. The rest of the body follows, shifting into something bigger, less human.

And there the dragon is in Yoongi’s place.

Jimin tries to call for him to come back, but the dragon simply takes off, disappearing into the night sky.

Jimin stares at the space in between the stars where Yoongi’s figure has faded into for hours after.

 

*

 

“Dear gods,” Taehyung says, “when you said you were going to befriend the dragon, I didn’t expect you to go ahead and make it fall in love with you.”

“He,” Jimin says numbly in reply, staring at his scattered things on the cot. He meant to clean up the moment he got back, but the longer he kept the thing about Yoongi to himself, the more it felt like his chest would literally burst. So the moment Taehyung timidly knocked on his door and asked to be let in, Jimin told him everything. “He’s—the dragon. He’s Yoongi.”

“Yeah, I got that,” Taehyung replies.

Jimin blinks at his best friend. Then he says, “Oh gods,” and horrifyingly enough he feels a few tears slip out of his eyes.

Taehyung gapes at him for a second. And then he rushes over to Jimin’s side, pulling him into a hug and whispering comforting noises into his ear.

Jimin doesn’t know why he’s crying. “I don’t know why I’m crying?”

Taehyung hugs him tighter. “It’s alright, Jimin. Let it out. I’m here, alright? I’m here.”

Jimin scrubs furiously at his eyes, allowing Taehyung to swing them back and forth in something like a dance right there in the middle of their room. He tries to take comfort in the familiar, in the feeling of his best friend’s arms wrapped around him and in the sight of the flowers painted onto their otherwise dull wooden walls.

Once he feels calmer, he opens his mouth and lets the flood out. “I’m really sad? That he just flew away like that? But I get that he was sad as well since to him, it might’ve seemed like I regretted going up there in the first place. But I don’t. I really don’t. I wasn’t planning on just leaving him, either, and I want to tell him that I really want to know him even better and kiss him again and that it doesn’t matter to me that he’s some kind of human-dragon creature—”

“Which is strangely attractive,” Taehyung comments, unable to stop himself.

Jimin doesn’t disagree. He sniffs. “When my muscles got all tired from trying to start a fire, he boiled the water of a lake for me to soak in. An entire lake, Taehyung. And he built me a fire every night, even when he was a lot worse at it in human form. He made sure I wouldn’t freeze to death and helped me find food and—and. He’s so sweet, Taehyungie. What do I do?”

Taehyung strokes his hair and hums in thought. They stay like that for a moment, Jimin waiting quietly for his friend to say something.

Finally, he gets, “I think what you should do is give him some time and space, first.”

Jimin whines, because he already misses Yoongi, but doesn’t really offer any real protest.

Taehyung hugs him tighter. “Then you get yourself together, sort those feelings out, and woo yourself a dragon.”

Jimin laughs wetly at that. “You really think I can woo a dragon?”

“Please,” Taehyung says, “you already made him fall in love with you within, what, a week? Wooing is easy. You got this.” Jimin feels a kiss get pressed against his head, and he smiles. “Just let that dragon cool his head for a few days, then you’re going back. I’ll even help.”

Jimin squeezes his friend in a hug. “Thank you, Tae.”

“Of course Jimin,” Taehyung laughs. “This is partially my fault, anyway. And besides.” He presses another kiss against Jimin’s head, and Jimin smiles wider. “You know I’d do anything for you.”

 

*

 

But first, Jimin decides to tell the others.

Hoseok almost passes out.

It’s Namjoon who manages to recover from the shock first. “A dragon?” he asks, dramatically whispers more accurately, staring at Jimin with wide eyes. “An actual dragon?”

“Yes,” Jimin says, nodding once. “An actual dragon. You can even ask Taehyung.”

“You know about this?” Hoseok turns to his partner, voice a little pitchy.

Taehyung pouts at Jimin for exposing him, but dutifully nods. “Yes. I was the reason Jimin met the dragon in the first place.”

“What?” It’s Seokjin this time, who seems to have finally found his voice again. The witch doctor looks from Taehyung to Jimin with gradually narrowing eyes, looking like he’s trying to decide between giving a lecture (which he probably only feels the need to do, as the oldest) or demanding for more details.

Jungkook, having had the sense to foresee all of this happening, is standing stock-still in a corner of the room, barely breathing so as not to draw attention to himself and be questioned, since he also knew.

In the end, Seokjin’s desire for gossip wins out. “How did Taehyung lead you to this dragon that you are now, and please correct me if I misunderstood, trying to woo?”

Jimin blushes. His resolve not to appear flustered and only matter-of-fact is now steadily crumbling as he’s put under interrogation, but he’s proud of the way his voice comes out still somewhat steady when he says, “No, that is correct, you didn’t misunderstand.”

“Details,” Namjoon says, shock now having faded for pure curiosity. “Tell us what happened.”

Jimin stares at Taehyung.

Taehyung stares back. And then gives in. “I accused the dragon of stealing the necklace Hoseok gave me and asked Jimin for help to get it back.”

“It stole the necklace?!” Hoseok looks like he’s really about to faint.

“No, no, it didn’t!” Taehyung is quick to reassure, rushing over to Hoseok and making him sit down on a chair. Hoseok’s face, already flushed from trying to process the information being thrown at him, turns a deeper red when Taehyung plops down on his lap. “It was a misunderstanding, look, I found the necklace in one of my trousers the other day. The dragon is innocent.”

“Wait,” Namjoon cuts in, “is that why Jimin was gone for a week? You were with the dragon?”

“Jimin got slightly insulted when his thing didn’t work on the dragon, so he set off by himself to befriend it and prove a point,” Taehyung explains. “I think he overdid it, and now the dragon is in love with him.”

“Good heavens,” Hoseok breathes out.

“Good heavens, indeed,” Seokjin agrees, but he sounds impressed.

“But the dragon, his name is Yoongi by the way,” Taehyung continues, “thought Jimin was just going to leave for good. And now Jimin wants to find a way to let the dragon see that he isn’t going anywhere.”

It’s quiet after that, as everyone processes the events that have happened in the past week. It’s a very eventful week, really, so Jimin allows them all the time they need, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t fidget in place while waiting for their verdict.

Finally, Seokjin says, “Do you have a plan?”

Jimin lets out the breath he’s been holding. He looks at the faces of his friends around him and finds that they’re all willing to support him, despite still being skeptical about the logistics of forming a romantic relationship with someone not exactly human.

He feels a smile tug at his lips at that. He loves his friends so dearly, he really does.

“Yes. I have a plan.”

 

*

 

The treasure room still looks as impressive as the first time Jimin saw it, perhaps even more so now that there’s a dragon lying in the midst of everything.

Carefully, Jimin approaches where Yoongi is curled up asleep beneath where the light is coming in. He looks so beautiful and serene in that moment that Jimin is almost loathe to disturb him, but part of the human doesn’t want to wait any longer. It’s been four days since he returned home, had a quick crying session with his best friend, and made up his mind to show Yoongi—this mysterious, majestic, but all too human creature that Jimin has grown so achingly fond of—that he isn’t going anywhere. He’s waited long enough.

“Oh, Yoongi,” he says in a soft murmur once he’s near, taking in the steady rise-and-fall of the dragon’s body as he breathes. He wonders if dragons can dream. Then he wonders what Yoongi is possibly dreaming of right now.

Carefully, he places a hand on the side of Yoongi’s head. Yoongi stirs in his sleep but otherwise doesn’t do anything, still unaware of Jimin’s presence, so Jimin begins humming quietly as he runs his palm over the smooth scales that make up Yoongi’s exterior. He traces over the places where the scales glimmer brighter, flutters his fingertips above the eyelid where an eyebrow would be, before finally finding his hand near Yoongi’s nose.

The dragon sniffs. And then his eyes flutter open slowly.

When that icy blue gaze lands on him, Jimin doesn’t feel himself freeze or tense up. Instead he smiles warmly and presses his hand more firmly over the space between Yoongi’s nostrils. “Hi Yoongi.”

Yoongi lifts his head gently so as not to dislodge Jimin’s hand, but there’s something cautious in his gaze. Almost like he isn’t sure whether Jimin is actually here, or if he is, then he thinks Jimin will disappear if he glances away.

“I’m glad I found you back here,” Jimin says, still smiling, trying to convey to Yoongi that he isn’t leaving. He laughs softly. “Though if I had to search the entire woods in all the mountains to find you, I would’ve. It might’ve taken longer, though.”

Yoongi makes a noise. It sounds like a question.

In answer, Jimin just presses a kiss against Yoongi’s nose.

When he pulls back, Yoongi’s eyes are wide, and if dragons could blush the other would probably be red right now. The sight makes Jimin giggle, but he has to reign it in so that he can say, “Do you think you can shift right now? So we can talk?”

Yoongi just keeps staring at him for another minute. Jimin waits patiently, trying to hide the way he wants to shift from foot to foot nervously. Finally, Yoongi nods, and Jimin watches in awe as the body before him glows in the sunlight, before shrinking down.

Then there Yoongi is, standing in the dragon’s place, just as beautiful.

He’s also very, very naked. Coughing, Jimin politely averts his gaze as Yoongi scrambles around for clothes. Only when a throat is cleared does Jimin look again to find that Yoongi has put on simple muddy brown trousers and a top that has seen better days. There’s something almost self-conscious in the way he stands there, waiting for Jimin to say something, and Jimin wonders whether Yoongi has specifically set out to get better clothes the second time they met in this form in order to impress him.

The thought makes Jimin blush, but it also makes him feel a rush of fondness for the other. Yoongi’s strangeness, he’s now come to understand, stems from his awkwardness with human interactions. It’s honestly endearing.

Eventually, it’s Yoongi who speaks first, in that same gruff voice he gets after a period of not speaking at all, “You came back.” It sounds disbelieving, but also hopeful.

“Of course I came back,” Jimin says. “I still have things to tell you, and you just flew away from me last time.”

Yoongi blushes like he’s embarrassed, but otherwise doesn’t offer a response.

Jimin isn’t deterred. “Why didn’t you just tell me from the start that you and the dragon are one and the same?”

Yoongi’s face turns an even redder shade. He turns his gaze away, staring instead at one of the treasure piles scattered around them. When he speaks, Jimin has to strain his ear in order to hear, “I still wasn’t sure if I could trust you. You came here with your friend yelling about how I stole something I didn’t.”

Now it’s Jimin’s turn to blush in embarrassment. He still hasn’t apologized for that. After all of this, he’s going to introduce Yoongi to his friends and make Taehyung apologize ten times. “I’m really, really sorry about that. There wasn’t really a way for me to know whether you had it or not since you were in dragon form for the most part, and—wait. You could’ve just told me that when you were human!”

“Like I said, I wasn’t sure if I could trust you yet,” Yoongi mutters stubbornly.

“Even after the first day?”

Yoongi still won’t look at him. He says, “I was scared you would leave once you realized there was nothing here and forget about me.” His lips press into a line after that, before he lets out a long, tired sigh, and finally turns to Jimin with sad eyes. “I guess that counts as actively tricking you, and I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have kept you here any longer than you would’ve wanted. I was selfish.”

Jimin processes this for a second. Carefully, he says, “I wanted to be here.” Yoongi’s eyes widen slightly, but Jimin holds a hand up to indicate he’s not done yet. “While it’s true that it wouldn’t have been good if you just never told me you didn’t have the necklace, me going here was my choice. Still, I would’ve been mad if you dragged it out longer without letting me know, since I would’ve liked to go back home to my friends eventually.”

“And you can,” Yoongi says, still with those sad eyes, and Jimin wishes he would just look at Jimin properly and listen to what he’s saying. “You don’t have to worry about me.”

“But I do!” Jimin reaches a hand up to push his hair back and tug slightly, feeling mildly frustrated. “I do worry, Yoongi. I care about you! And if you would just listen, then we wouldn’t be going around in circles. So please listen to me.”

Taking in a deep breath, Jimin calms himself down and closes the distance between them. Yoongi just stands there, frozen, looking wide-eyed at Jimin like he doesn’t quite know what’s going on. Jimin wants to grab him by the shoulders and frantically shake him until he understands, just as much as he wants to pull them both down onto the warmed ground and kiss until Jimin can’t breathe.

Instead of doing any of those things, he just settles with hugging Yoongi around the waist and burying his face against the other’s neck.

He’s warm, Jimin notes. Not as warm as he had been the night they were holding each other beneath the stars, and certainly not as warm as when they were kissing, but Jimin still soaks it in like a man who’s been stranded in the middle of winter for too long. Yoongi is stiff in his hold, but he makes no move to push Jimin away.

“I care about you,” Jimin begins, voice muffled slightly by Yoongi’s skin. “I don’t regret any of it. I don’t regret going here and spending the week with you. I don’t regret getting to know you, both you as a dragon and you like this. I don’t regret any of that, and I’m frankly slightly hurt that you keep assuming I would just carelessly throw all that away.”

“I’m sor—”

Jimin squeezes Yoongi around the waist and shushes him. “Let me finish. I like you, Yoongi. I like spending time with you, whether it be taking a swim in the lake or trying to start a stupid fire or just napping together. I like dragon you, and I like human you. I like you you. And I... I like kissing you, and holding you like this, and being held back like you did when I was cold. I want to keep doing all of that.” He feels himself blushing, but he pushes on, keeping his face hidden. “I want to know you more, Yoongi.

He exhales shakily, feeling as though he’s just ran all the way up the mountains and back down after laying his heart out. He holds his breath as he waits for Yoongi to respond, but after a few quiet beats, he still gets no answer.

Jimin’s heart begins to sink. Slowly, he loosens his hold around Yoongi and pulls back, preparing himself for the worst. But when he catches the look on the other’s face, the gradually-building sense of rejection in his chest immediately vanishes, his expression morphing into one of shock instead.

Yoongi is crying.

But it doesn’t look like he’s in pain, physical or emotional. On the contrary, there’s something like wonder on his face that almost borders on disbelief. He’s staring silently at Jimin, lips parted and eyes wide even as tears silently fall from them, and it takes a second for Jimin’s brain to kick in and respond. Frantically, he holds Yoongi’s face in his hands and wipes the tears away, thumbs brushing over the skin beneath the dragon’s eyes.

“Why are you crying?” Jimin asks, feeling slightly panicked. “Yoongi, what’s wrong—”

“Do you mean it?” Yoongi asks, voice croaky. He blinks, finally, and seems that he only realizes then what’s going on. He reaches up and wipes at his eyes, stares at the moisture that comes away with his fingertips as though he’s never seen tears before. “I’m crying?”

Jimin makes hushing noises, gaze sweeping over Yoongi’s face. “You are,” he confirms, sighing softly. “Are you hurt? How are you feeling?”

“Happy,” Yoongi answers without any hesitation.

Jimin’s heart does several skipped beats in response. He sputters slightly, wondering how in heaven’s name he’s supposed to respond to that, before realizing that he’s still holding Yoongi’s face. Feeling a blush come on, he tries to pull his hands away, only to be stopped by Yoongi’s fingers wrapping around his wrists and keeping his hold there.

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“What?”

Yoongi blinks again, causing a few more tears to spill out. “Do you mean it? Wanting to know me better. Wanting to… to be with me.”

“Oh,” Jimin says dumbly. A sudden surge of shyness makes him bite his lip and look away. “Yes, I do.”

He feels Yoongi squeeze his wrists. “I want that, too.”

“Oh,” Jimin says again. When he turns his gaze back to Yoongi, he sees that the other is smiling brightly at him, wide enough to expose his teeth and a hint of his gums. Jimin feels pleasantly dizzy at the sight, and before he can think it through, he’s leaning forward and kissing Yoongi square on the mouth.

Yoongi makes a soft noise of surprise in response, but kisses back immediately. His grip falls from Jimin’s wrists, only for him to put his hands on Jimin’s hips instead. Jimin could sing right now, honestly. He lets out a happy little sigh, one that turns into a small yelp when Yoongi nips at his lower lip.

“Wait, wait—” Jimin pulls back, head spinning. “Before we get too carried away, I just—I brought you something.”

Yoongi blinks at him, head tilting in question.

Jimin ungracefully shoves a hand into his collar and tugs at the thin chain hanging around his neck. When he pulls it out, he shows Yoongi the pendant—a single white flower, barely the size of Jimin’s pinky nail, encased within crystallized ice. He walked the woods for hours in search of the perfect wildflower, with help from Taehyung, Namjoon, and Jungkook, while Hoseok and Seokjin worked together on making the crystallized ice that will hold it. Feeling slightly breathless, he slips the necklace off of his neck and presents it to Yoongi.

“For you,” he blurts out.

Yoongi looks surprised. “For me?”

Jimin nods. “I just… I wanted to show you that I’m really serious. I wanted to give you something. I know you already have so much treasure in here—”

“Offerings,” Yoongi cuts in, a bit dazed as he takes the necklace. “They’re offerings people have given. Tribute. Humans fear me. They think I’ll harm them if they don’t ensure I’m pleased. I have absolutely no clue what to do with any of them.”

“This isn’t an offering out of fear,” Jimin says, ignoring the way he can feel his cheeks flush. “This is out of fondness and affection. I don’t fear you.”

Yoongi cradles his flower pendant with utmost care, as though it’s the most priceless artifact he’s ever seen. As though all the very real treasures around them don’t compare. There’s a smile on his lips, bright and beautiful, and Jimin feels like he can just melt right there. Carefully, Yoongi slips the chain over his head. The frozen flower sits right in the center of his chest, looking like it completely belongs there.

“Thank you,” Yoongi says. He reaches out and touches Jimin’s hand, fingertips grazing over the skin of his knuckles.

Jimin links their pinkies together, uselessly trying to bite back a smile of his own.

 

*

 

Yoongi shifts in the backyard the first time he visits the cottage upon Namjoon’s subtle display of curiosity and Jungkook’s blatant request. This time, Hoseok does pass out, but Seokjin is there to catch him before he can hit the ground. He comes to half a minute later and promptly starts shrieking about how cool and absolutely terrifying Yoongi is. Namjoon screams his agreement while Jungkook gapes, stunned speechless.

Yoongi, in dragon form, rolls his eyes at everyone’s antics.

Jimin smiles behind his hand as he watches the scene fondly. Grinning from ear to ear, Taehyung sidles up to him and bumps their shoulders together.

“So,” his best friend says, “it all worked out, didn’t it?”

Jimin nods, eyes trained towards where Jungkook is literally just staring at the end of Yoongi’s tail held in his hands as Hoseok, very slowly, tries to approach Yoongi with a trembling hand raised. His smile widens. “It all did.”

Taehyung hums. Jimin leans his head against the taller’s shoulder.

“So,” the younger asks after a moment, “have you tried riding that yet?”

“Taehyung!”