Chapter 1: Prologue: Exordium
Kim Seokjin stared forlornly at the place that he called home drifting further away in the distance. A small and rusty old village drowning in poverty and deprivation. People—alpha, beta and omega alike— were starving and many have already perished. There was famine in the land and the village leader had to take desperate measures to survive this desperate time.
An ongoing war was stirring between the Five Kingdoms and the Outlands. The Five Kingdoms consisted of the North, East, West, South and the Central Kingdoms. They were allied forces that venerated the Bathala—the almighty entity that created the universe—and lived according to the rules of their ancestors. The Outlands, on the other hand, were rebellious outcasts that refused to bow to any law and worshiped no god.
The war has always been there since time immemorial and the beginning was lost in the burned pages of history. But there was one thing certain at the moment—people were suffering.
Seokjin’s village belonged to no Kingdom for they followed no rules and did not worship the Bathala. However, they also weren’t Outlanders who were savage and barbaric in their ways, purging small villages and stealing whatever little means they have to live. His little village was caught in between the ongoing war, starving and oppressed.
Outlanders came to their village nearly every day to abuse their people, force their alphas and betas to battle, mount their omegas and enslave their children. Many tried to fight back—often alphas who were weak from malnutrition—and they all lost their lives, leaving their omegas and children to fend for themselves.
But the village leader had enough of seeing his people suffer in the hands of barbarians, thus he opted for his last resort—to submit to the Five Kingdoms.
That is how Kim Seokjin found himself sat atop of their beat-up calesa, drifting further away from his home. There were alphas stationed around him, the strongest ones from their poor village brought to protect him in their journey to the North Kingdom—the strongest and wealthiest among the Five Kingdoms.
He closed his eyes, visualizing the image of his small home with his thin and weak mother and her calloused hands weaving blankets to provide warmth for them in the coming winter. His little siblings—two betas and one omega like him—huddled in one place, trying to warm themselves for the cold night and sleeping with empty stomachs. He thought of finally giving them a chance to live a better life, to give them warmth and food to eat and most importantly, to keep them safe from harm.
Kim Seokjin wiped away the tears at the corner of his eyes and braced himself as he accepted his fate. The tall and intimidating gates of the North Kingdom was in sight and he watched the place that would soon bring them salvation. He could only hope that things would go in their favor.
His home was falling apart and in order to save it, a sacrifice must be done. That sacrifice was Kim Seokjin himself.
Bathala n.- the almighty entity that created the universe.
Calesa n.- horse-drawn calash or a small two-wheeled carriage
This is still short but it's only the beginning. There will be more in the next chapter.
Thanks for reading!
Chapter 2: Chapter I: Omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis
Omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis
All things change, and we change with them
The North Kingdom was exactly what the rumors say—impenetrable high walls, intimidating gates, a formidable army, and a wealthy and influential royal family. The moment the dark gates have opened, Seokjin had immediately recoiled as he was hit by the strong and overpowering scents of alphas all over the place. His eyes were shut as he started trembling, fists clenched tightly and holding his breath. If he wasn’t sat atop of the calesa, he was certain that his legs would’ve given out with how much he was trembling at the moment.
Seokjin was, by no means, a coward. With his family and people’s lives in the line, he did not hesitate to agree to become a sacrifice. Seokjin was brave. But bravery did not mean that he was fearless.
Kim Seokjin was utterly terrified.
Who could blame him though? He was to be taken away from the only home he knew and thrust into this foreign place where he was to be sold—a price to pay to feed his village and give them protection against their oppressors. As he peeked between his lashes, he could see the iron-clad alpha men positioned at every corner they passed. He could see the North Kingdom’s insignia—a silver howling wolf—carved on their strong armors.
As he became braver enough to take a few more glances, he could see the perfectly structured and sturdy brick homes that were a far cry from their poor and fragile huts back at his little village. He also noticed that a few civilians paused in their respective activities just to watch him with curiosity. They had beautiful, warm robes that looked expensive in comparison to the one he was wearing—a faded-blue robe that was the best his village could adorn him with.
All of a sudden, Seokjin was even more scared and intimidated than he ever was earlier. Seeing their flawless and sophisticated states, his second-hand clothes and the tattered ones the alphas who guarded him wore seemed very much out of place. He felt like he and this beat-up calesa were an eyesore to this otherwise perfect kingdom. A spark of jealousy ignited within him as he wished that he was born with the same privileges these people enjoyed living their lives with.
It was unfair. They were all the same people, the same wolves yet why did it feel like he was worlds apart from the rest of the crowd? He felt like an insignificant man in the presence of the gods that ridiculed over his inferiority. How was he supposed to impress and sell himself to the King if there were so many others who were better than him?
No, Seokjin thought to himself, shaking his head and his thoughts away as he tried to build up his confidence, I mustn’t let my thoughts get ahead of me. This is not about my insecurity, this is about saving my family and the village.
His family. That’s what all this was for—his kind and loving mother, and his obedient younger siblings that deserved everything in the world. There was nothing that they weren’t worthy of and Seokjin was going to make sure that they would be given everything—food, warmth, and safety. Most of all, the chance to live a life of freedom, a life without having to fear for their lives—a life of peace.
In the midst of his thoughts that reminded him what he came here for, he barely noticed that they were entering another high, intimidating gate. Unlike the black gates from earlier, this one was silver in color and shone under the light of the sun. The big gates soon opened and Seokjin held his breath as he was met with a sight that even his dreams couldn’t compare.
Those sturdy, bricked walls from earlier suddenly felt bland in comparison to the ornate picture of the palace that stood before him. It had an architecture like no other he had seen—not that he had many to compare, to begin with. It had many pointed towers giving a semblance of an eccentric crown, and a huge clock that was more beautiful than the broken watch he found abandoned in the woods a few years back. The structure was white like the cold snow that accompanied him on the winter nights but it looked exquisitely warm under the light of the sun.
They were welcomed to pass through the gates and as he approached closer to the palace, he couldn’t take his eyes off of the flag that was proudly showing off the honored insignia of the North. Seokjin held his breath. This was a very nerve-wracking experience for him but all beautiful things that he had the chance to see made up for it. He wanted so badly for his mother and younger siblings to see the beauty that he has seen. And one day, Seokjin hoped, they will see it.
He bit his bottom lip, tried to control his trembling and calm his fast heartbeats as he thought with determination, I have to succeed.
The notion of selling oneself was a scary thought, but the image of his mother being abused by the Outlanders and his little siblings getting forced against their wills were scarier. And that was going to be his driving force.
Gathering all the courage he could find within himself, Seokjin took one deep breath, eyes closed and chest out before exhaling. He opened his eyes and saw that the village leader had his hand held out for him to which he took as he slowly got off the calesa. He glanced at the side to see the exhausted forms of the alphas who traveled to guard him before turning back to face the village leader who looked equally exhausted.
Everyone was tired and they were all probably as afraid as Seokjin was. But they still came to guard him in the journey for the sake of their loved ones. Seokjin clenched his fists, he must not fail. Many lives were depending on him, whether he liked it or not, he had to make sure not to disappoint the people who placed their faith in him.
Three omegas had been selected in their village—all of them chosen as the most beautiful according to varied opinions. But one was a barren mate of a late alpha and thus, could not bear a child. Another was a virgin like Seokjin so the choice had come down to the two of them. The only problem with that was the fact that the other omega was Seokjin’s thirteen-year-old little sister. By then, there were no hesitations.
Seokjin volunteered himself.
“Seokjin,” He heard the village leader call him. The man was old, his hair was as white as snow but his eyes were sad. Back at their small village, everyone knew everyone and Seokjin knew this man by heart. After their father had left them, this man stood and supported his poor family with the best he could offer. It’s only right that Seokjin pays back all the help he has given. The old but ever kind man asked him, “Are you alright?”
He was not. No one in their right mind would be alright with this. But Seokjin had little choice. It was either he suffers or the rest suffers, and he chose to sacrifice himself. With a gentle but sad smile, Seokjin nodded, “Yes, I’m alright.”
The old man placed a hand on his shoulder, gripping it tightly as he stared straight into his eyes as if he was searching for a weakness in them. Seokjin held his gaze, concealed all the fear he felt as he said, “I’m going to be fine.” He breathed deeply, “I need to do this for everyone. The Outlanders cannot hurt us anymore.”
A conflicted look passed the old man’s face, making him look older than he already was. After a few seconds ticked by, he pulled him into a tight embrace that was their very first and, Seokjin knew, would be their very last. “Thank you,” the man had whispered into his ears before he pulled away and schooled a stern expression.
The village leader turned to the rest of the alphas and gestured them to follow closely. There were men clad in iron clothing surrounding them and Seokjin was anxious as he took a glance at the weapons they had in their hands but he willed himself to calm down. At the very least, being surrounded by the familiar faces of the alphas he grew up with comforted him in the slightest.
They passed through long corridors that stretched almost infinitely, beautiful paintings attached to the elegant walls, marble floors polished and clean that Seokjin was afraid that his own shoes had dirtied them. The palace was more than anything he had ever seen and Seokjin’s heart was beating fast with every step he took.
Eventually, they had stopped by in front of a huge door with fiberglass and intricate designs carved beautifully around its corners, lavished by a shiny gold. It was a testament to this royal family’s wealth for Seokjin guessed that this door alone could feed the entire village for months to come.
A man stood before the door, adorned in a silken robe and brought himself sophisticatedly that it made Seokjin feel smaller. The golden doors were pushed open and his mind started buzzing that he failed to realize that the sophisticated man had started speaking.
“Alpha Chief of Lost District Four, You are in the Presence of King Bang Si-hyuk,” Seokjin took a peek at man sat atop of the majestic and regal throne between his bangs. He had a dark hair and equally dark eyes. He was heavyset yet he had an intimidating presence with the way he sat gallantly on his royal chair and looked down on them from his high position. “Ruler of Naerys, Sovereign of the Most Noble Order, Protector of the People, Defender of Bathala’s Temple and His Grace of the North Kingdom.”
After having introduced the King and his many titles, the sophisticated man turned to the regal and bowed, “Your Majesty, I present to you the Alpha Chief of Lost District Four and his companions,” Seokjin barely registered that the village chief and the other alphas who came with him had bowed in respect. He only noticed when one of the alphas had nudged him, and he hastily bowed with them as he realized his mistake. Seokjin took another peek in between his bangs to see the King’s expression but there was nothing in his dark eyes that he could decipher.
When the village chief had finally stood, Seokjin followed him. He kept his head bowed, both his hands placed at his side as he tried once again to control his breathing and erratic heartbeats. There was a ringing in his ears as he listened to the village chief start making his negotiations—sell their most beautiful omega at the price of the North Kingdom’s protection and financial support.
As soon as the village chief had finished taking, silence reigned over the throne room as every single person present awaited the king’s reply. After almost like an eternity when it had only been a few seconds in reality, Bang Si-hyuk spoke, “You’re saying that I should buy your most beautiful omega in exchange of your small village’s protection and sustenance?”
The tone of the King’s voice was calm and contemplating. It scared the omega for he did not know whether the King was willing to take up their offer or reject them. He could feel his village chief stiffen beside him as he affirmed the King’s words, “Yes, Your Majesty.”
The King hummed at his reply as he shifted his contemplating gaze from the chief to the presented omega. Seokjin kept his head bowed and the King soon called him, “Omega,” Seokjin flinched at the authority and power in his voice, “Raise your head so that I may see your face.”
At the King’s command, Seokjin should raise his head but he didn’t. He was frozen in place, heart beating wildly and hands shaking. He had told himself a million times before coming here that he would be alright, that he is willing to do anything for his family and his village. But right now, in the presence of the King, the reality crashed down on him and he suddenly realized that he can’t. He is not alright. He is never going to be alright with this. He wanted nothing more than to be home with his mother and his siblings. He didn’t want to be here.
“They say that you are the most beautiful in your village,” the King continued as he gouged the omega’s trembling figure with his piercing gaze, “But seeing as you are hesitant to show yourself, could it be that you are not?” The dark-haired ruler turned to the village chief, his voice cold, “He doesn’t seem to be very responsive. Are you planning to give me an omega like this?”
“Your Majesty, no.” The village chief tried to defend, his hand reaching out to hold Seokjin’s hand and grip it hard to wake him from the trance he was in, “He was just nervous.” He started tugging slightly on the omega, “He truly is beautiful. I promise you that his beauty is unmatched.”
Lies. Seokjin thought. If his beauty was truly unmatched, they wouldn’t need to have three omegas chosen. In fact, most of the villager's choices had leaned in favor of his little sister. If Seokjin hadn’t volunteered, it would be his sister in his place. And it was that thought that awoken Seokjin from his stupor. That’s right, Seokjin told himself, I came here for her. For my mother and for my siblings. I can’t just back out now.
Swallowing all his fears and doubts, Seokjin slowly raised his head to meet the King’s gaze and as if time itself had slowed, the King’s dark eyes widened in the slightest. There was a glint in the King’s eyes that held interest before it disappeared as soon as it came. The ruler’s cold gaze was back as he frowned, “He seems too young.” He inquired, “How old is he?”
“Twenty-three,” the village chief replied, once again prompting the King’s eyes to widen in surprise and if Seokjin wasn’t imagining it, awe. “I know that he may seem to look younger but he is at the right age, Your Majesty.” The village chief’s hand was trembling against Seokjin’s but the omega trusted the village chief. He believed that the man knew what he was doing, “In our village, rumors have spread that he is a deity. Despite being one of the oldest omegas in his generation, he has the most youthful and fresh-looking face. He is truly beautiful.”
Once again, his village chief was feeding the King with lies. Their village was suffering from hunger and abuse, they had no privilege to even marvel topics such as beauty. To them, beauty is a curse. If Seokjin’s mother hadn’t covered Seokjin’s and his sister’s face with charcoal whenever the Outlanders came, they would’ve both be seen and might’ve been assaulted.
“He is indeed beautiful,” The King nodded and agreed, however, he added, “But I do not need another omega. I already have five wives so why would I need more?” Seokjin’s heart dropped and he felt his hopes crushed at those words. “Besides, he may be beautiful but he’s not as beautiful as you say. There are many other beautiful omegas in our Kingdom and they do not require as much payment as you ask.”
The village chief was about to open his mouth, probably to come up with another set of lies but the King raised his palm and dismissed them. “Return to your village,” he said, “I do not need your omega.”
The iron-clad soldiers soon approached them to escort them out of the throne room. Seokjin turned to the village chief in panic only to see that despaired look on the old man’s face. He then glanced at the alphas that went with him, crushed hopes and disappointment plastered on their expressions. Pain and guilt filled Seokjin’s heart at the rejection they met.
He thought of the people in the village—all of them sending them away with hopes in their eyes. He thought of his mother who raised them alone and his little siblings who were all vulnerable to the danger the Outlanders bring. He thought of all these and that’s when he felt something snap inside of him.
As an iron-clad soldier lay a cold hand on him, he shrugged them off and pushed in between them as he rushed to the bottom of the throne. He could hear the surprised yell coming from the village chief as his knees dropped on the floor, both palms placed flat on the ground and his forehead against the cold marbles. “Please,” he begged, voice broken yet desperate. “I’ll do anything! I don’t need to be a wife—I can be a servant if you wish.”
“Seokjin!” he heard the village chief’s call but he ignored them as he continued.
“Your Majesty, you can even take me as your slave and I can clean the entire palace for you if you want!” Tears started gathering at the corner of his eyes, “I’ll be willing to do anything and everything as long as you agree to help our village. I won’t ask for anything else in return!” He gripped his hands as he shook in his place, “You can take everything! Take my body, take away my life if you want! Please—just please save my village.”
He was trembling uncontrollably at this point, his tears flowing down his cheeks yet he kept his eyes shut. The soldiers came beside him and forcefully pulled him to his feet, dragging him away from the throne. But Seokjin was relentless. He struggled in their hold, squirming away from them even as the alpha pheromones they exuded tried to make him submit. Seokjin refused to follow his wolf instincts. He cried his pleas and made his desperation known.
Seokjin was willing to sacrifice everything at this moment—his body, his dignity, his life. The many people who placed their faith on him were the people he grew up with. They were also the very people he did not want to disappoint nor bare to see hurting. He wanted to protect them. And his desperation and great desire had reached the King.
“Release him,” The King said, voice filled with power and authority that had the alpha soldiers release him in an instant. As soon as their hands left him, Seokjin immediately returned to his previous position, bowing deeply to the King as sobs racked his body. Soon enough, the King’s voice came, softer and kinder than it previously had been, “Rise, omega.”
The omega hesitated but he gradually stood from his kneeling position, legs shaking and body trembling. He tried with all his might to stop the tears cascading down his cheeks when the King had asked him, “Pray, tell me. What is your name?”
“K-Kim Seokjin,” he replied, voice slightly hoarse from his previous pleading and bit hushed but reached the King’s keen ears nevertheless. He kept trembling in his place, fists clenched at his side as he bit his bottom lip to prevent another broken sob coming out.
“That’s a beautiful name.” The King said, voice still ever so soft. However, there were inquiries at the tip of his tongue that needed to be asked, “Why are you so desperate to sell yourself away?” He questioned, pausing for a moment before he added, “Does your village matter that much to you?”
“Yes,” Seokjin answered in a heartbeat. His voice was soft and broken but it held all the desperation and emotions he wished to convey. He gathered his courage as he lifted his tear-filled eyes to meet the King’s dark ones, “There are many people there that are suffering from poverty, hunger and abuse. We are being oppressed by the Outlanders, our alphas and betas are forced to fight, omegas are raped and children are enslaved. We wish to defend ourselves but our people are broken and afraid.”
The King kept silent as he listened to the Omega, finally hearing the truth from his lips as he unveiled the reality of their village’s suffering, “We only turn to you,” the omega said, “You are the defender of your people. You have the power and wealth to save us too. We will wholly submit to you and your reign if you save us from the suffering we are subjected to.”
Silence once again reigned the throne room. Long, agonizing silence as the King weighed out his options. Seokjin drowned in his thoughts and his erratic heartbeats as he awaited the King’s decision. The clock continued to tick and with every second that passed, Seokjin is reminded of the impending danger that his family and village suffer from. It is with that thought that he once again bent his knees and pressed his palms and forehead against the marble floors and cried, “Please.”
Footsteps echoed from the long stairs that kept the throne high from the rest and soon those echoing sounds stopped in front of Seokjin as a soft command told him to stand up. Slowly and hesitantly, he stood from his place and came face to face with the King for a brief moment before he bowed his head in humility.
“I see it now,” The King spoke, “You are indeed very beautiful.” Seokjin hesitantly took a peek between his bangs to see the King smiling at him faintly yet ever so kindly. “Never have I ever seen an omega look as beautiful as you with tears in their eyes.” The King told him, “And never have I seen an omega as valiant and selfless as you are.”
He turned to the sophisticated man from earlier, “Sejin,” he called and prompted the other to bow respectfully in his call, “See to it that this omega is taken care of.” He turned to Seokjin whose eyes were wide with surprise, “Send Prince Hoseok to his village with a group of elites. See to it that the people there are given enough food, water, and protection.”
The King smiled at Seokjin, “It was perhaps Bathala’s will that brought you here.” He gestured towards the sidelines and a few maids came near them, “As the Defender of Bathala’s Temple, I must defend His people as well. Rest assured that from now on, your village will never have to live their lives in fear anymore.”
“Your Majesty,” Seokjin was filled with gratitude and joy from those words as he bowed, “Thank you!” A new set of tears welled up at the corner of his eyes as he repeated like a mantra, “Thank you, thank you, thank yo—“
“It is enough,” The King intercepted him, voice now filled with authority but not as harsh as Seokjin expected him to be. “What I said earlier was still true, however,” the King stated, prompting Seokjin to look up at him in confusion, “I have five wives and I do not require another.” He stated disappointedly but soon added, “Nevertheless, a beauty like you would be a waste to only become a servant. Thus, I have another purpose for you.”
Seokjin blinked at his words, glancing behind him to lock eyes with the village chief for a brief moment of confusion before turning to face the King once again. “In our Kingdom, it is a custom that once an alpha royalty reaches the age of eighteen, he must claim his first omega.” The King informed him, “My youngest son has turned eighteen a month ago and in a few days, he must pick an omega to claim. Along with that, the Crown Prince is also looking for a partner. If any of them claims you,” The King smiled at him, “Then your village will have the full support of the Kingdom.”
Seokjin sat on the softest surface he has ever sat on in his entire life. He ran a hand on the smooth fabric and it made him smile a little. He was told that this would be his room for the meantime. Closing his eyes, he gently laid on the soft mattress with an equally soft sigh coming out of his lips.
The bed was comfortable. It was heaven in comparison to the poor state of the mats they used to lay on back at the village. A sense of fulfillment flooded Seokjin’s entirety as he thought about how his village would be saved from now on. He ran a hand on the soft mattress and thought about how his mother can finally rest comfortably and how his little siblings will be warm enough for the night. He thought about how they would be fed with proper food from now on and will live their lives peacefully under the King’s reign.
But of course, all of this came with a price.
Earlier, after he said his final goodbye to the village chief and the alphas who came with them, Seokjin was accompanied by several maids and the sophisticated man who he discovered was named Sejin. He was the king’s personal servant and he was told to teach Seokjin of the many things he needed to know.
Apparently, as the King had said, if an alpha royalty turned eighteen, he must have his first omega. But another part of the tradition is that all of the families in the kingdom must send their most beautiful omegas as a tribute to the royal family. The Alpha will then choose one of the beautiful omegas as his partner and the family of that omega shall be paid with wealth and honor to their names.
“This is the very first time that an omega not belonging to this kingdom is a candidate for the prince’s first omega,” Sejin had told him earlier, voice calm yet somehow still made Seokjin nervous, “And if the kingdom knew that an outsider like you has participated then it would certainly cause a commotion.” He turned to gesture one of the maids and a young woman came, holding a small chest in hand.
Sejin opened the chest and inside laid a silver bracelet with a flower carved beautifully on it. The omega observed the detailed curves of the leaves and the silver vines and marveled at the effort put on this luxurious ornament. He shifted his gaze from the silver bracelet to Sejin who was looking at him. “To avoid a commotion, the King has made a decision.” The taller man took the bracelet from the chest and delicately placed it on the omega’s wrist, much to his surprise.
“What?” Seokjin was dumbfounded. He turned to Sejin, wide-eyed, shaking his head, “I can’t accept something like this.” He turned to the bracelet, almost afraid to touch it in fear that he’ll dirty it. The silver on his wrist almost felt like a burn on his skin, “The King has done so much for me, I cannot—“
“You shall do this for the King.” Sejin intercepted him with a firm voice, “In order to avoid a commotion, you shall pretend to be a son of one of the wealthiest and influential men in Naerys.” He traced a hand on the flower carved on the silver band on Seokjin’s wrist and informed him, “This pretty silver flower is the insignia of the Ahn family. You shall become a tribute to the prince not as yourself but as the son of Ahn Jae Hyun.”
Seokjin blinked at his words, dread filling his heart as he stared deep into the flower carving that was an insignia of the name he was going to fake. “Kim Seokjin,” The call of his name prompted him to raise his head and gaze at Sejin’s serious eyes, “The moment you enter this kingdom, you’re no longer a person. You shall not have a voice nor a right,” His voice was firm but it left Seokjin shaken to the core, “Your mind, your body, and your soul. Forget everything. Nothing will be yours. Not even your own life.”
“If any of the princes claim you, your village will be guaranteed all the things you asked for. In exchange, you shall blindly follow whatever your alpha says without a question. You will submit to their every whim.” The man’s gaze wandered to the bracelet, “From now on, your name is not Kim Seokjin. You shall be known as Ahn Seokjin, son of Ahn Jae Hyun.” He stared deep into the omega’s eyes and asked, “Do you understand?”
No, Seokjin wanted to say. He wanted to question everything but he thought of his mother, his siblings, and his village, and despite all the hesitations and fear he held within, Kim Seokjin nodded and said, “Yes.”
“What’s your name?” Sejin asked him, testing whether he understood his place and what was asked for him to do, and despite his hesitance, Seokjin told him, “My name is Ahn Seokjin, son of Ahn Jae Hyun”
“Good,” Sejin nodded before he gave him a small, almost pitying, smile as he said, “By tomorrow, I’ll teach you the things you need to know and introduce you the Ahns. But for now, take a rest. You had a long travel from the Lost District to this kingdom, I am certain that you are exhausted.” He turned to one of the maids and said, “Accompany him to his room,” one of the maids approached Seokjin and bowed to him as she offered to escort the omega away.
Back to the present, Seokjin laid on the soft mattress, weighing out the consequences of his submission to the King. In the end, he had come to a conclusion that he was willing to endure anything for the sake of his family. If he had to throw away his name, then so be it. In the midst of his desperation, he had told the King that he would do anything and everything. Although he has his fears and hesitations to hold, in the end, he will fulfill that promise for it is only a small price to pay for what the King will do to his village.
With that in mind, he slowly closed his eyes and succumbed to sleep where he shall say his last goodbye to his mother, siblings and the rest of the village in his dreams. And despite the fact that it had been a melancholic dream, it was the happiest he has had in a long time.
From now on, nightmares of his mother’s and his sibling’s pain and death shall no longer haunt him. Even if it’s a goodbye, he knew that from now on, he shall not fear for their lives anymore. They’re finally at the warm embrace of safety, away from the claws of the Outlanders.
For the first time in a long time, Seokjin smiled in his sleep.
“You’re holding the cup the wrong way, Seokjin.” Sejin reprimanded him, causing the omega to flinch and in result, spilling a little bit of the tea on the table. The sophisticated man sighed as he has failed once again. “Palms.” The man said, a thin leathered whip in hand as Seokjin hesitantly placed the cup on the table and offered his hands to the man. Two loud smacks were heard and Seokjin visibly flinched at the pain inflicted.
His palms were hurting and there were several red marks on his hands. It was already mid-day and Sejin had spent the whole morning teaching him how to act like the noble he was going to pretend to be. Although the sophisticated man had told him that it would be impossible for him to learn everything in a few days when other nobles had to learn everything since childhood, he’ll try with the best he could to help Seokjin.
The omega appreciated the effort but the whole discipline thing was hurting him in all honesty. Sejin was a traditional man and he told Seokjin that when he was a child, his parents hired someone to train him proper manners and every time he got something wrong, he received a hit. He said that it helped him learn better thus why he’s doing the same to Seokjin.
“From the top again,” Sejin said as he placed his whip down and looked at Seokjin in the eye, “Follow how I do it,” he delicately placed the saucer holding the cup in the palm of his left hand and moved it forward to rest on the four fingers, which are slightly spread apart. Sejin then paused for a moment, watching as Seokjin followed his actions, albeit less gracefully. The omegas hands were a little shaky and unconfident but Sejin decided to forego his mistake as of now.
The sophisticated man then steadied the saucer with his thumb rested on the rim. The handle of the cup is held with his index finger, the thumb just right above it to support the grip and the second finger below the handle for added security. Seokjin had trouble following this part of the steps so he gracefully placed his cup back on the table and told Seokjin to continue. He aided the omega by adjusting his fingers to the proper places and it is then that he noticed that Seokjin’s fingers are crooked.
The omega seemed ashamed of it so Sejin decided not to comment on it. When he made sure that Seokjin was now following the right procedure, he picked his cup once again and demonstrated the next step. The next two fingers naturally followed the curve of the other fingers. The little finger raised in the slightest but not to the point that it seemed conceited. “Don’t raise your pinky too high,” He said as he watched Seokjin’s mistake, “Just enough so that it won’t seem too pompous. Remember to always keep humility and grace.”
Seokjin’s eyebrows are scrunched in concentration as he adjusted his finger according to Sejin’s instructions. Once he was done, he looked at the other uncertainly, waiting for his approval to which the man gave with a nod. “Now,” Sejin started as he pulled the cup close to his lips, “Only take small sips. Don’t be too noisy and obnoxious about it. Like I said, keep humility and grace.”
Seokjin followed his instructions, taking only the littlest sips he could take from the cup before placing the cup down with a grace he tried to imitate from Sejin. This caused the other man to nod in approval as he said, “You’re improving.” There was a faint smile on his face before he frowned, “but we still have a long way to go.”
He proceeded to discuss regarding the utensils on the left and right of Seokjin’s plate, telling him of the difference in their uses and when he should use them. The omega was slightly confused but Sejin quizzes him after the introduction and it helped the omega to learn faster. “Take note that it’s important to remember this Seokjin,” Sejin said, “If you get chosen by any of the princes, a ceremony will be held for both of you and right after that, you two will dine in private.”
“The Crown Prince is kind but he is strict when it comes to table manners,” The sophisticated man said, “It is best if you do not disappoint him. He is the calmest among the princes but the scariest when angry.” Sejin’s words did not help in calming Seokjin’s anxiety, in fact, those words made them worse. “As for the youngest prince,” Sejin paused for a moment, drawing his words carefully, “He is the most observant. He is also calm and quiet. No one has ever seen him frown, smile or even get angry.” The man’s eyebrow furrowed as he tried to describe the prince, “I rarely see him and nor does everyone else in the palace but to most of us, he is the scariest. Even scarier than the Crown Prince when angry.”
Seokjin gulped at those words, his heart beating erratically in his chest. Both of the princes seemed frightening for him. He wanted to hope that he won’t be chosen but he was afraid that it would affect his village. Although the King has promised to help his village, Sejin had implied that he will gain the kingdom’s full support if any of the princes choose him. He had promised to himself to give his family everything and he truly wanted to fulfill that. With that thought in mind, Seokjin was filled with determination as he listened to Sejin’s instructions.
“Now for rules,” Sejin picked up a scroll and gave it to Seokjin, “It is all written there what you should and shouldn’t do when you’re dining with the prince.” The omega quietly received the scroll from him and opened it. He started at the written characters in confusion before gazing back at Sejin, face blank.
It took a while for Sejin to decipher the meaning of his expression but when he did, his eyes widened in surprise, “Wait,” he trailed, “You know how to read, right?” He was met with silence and a shake of a head from Seokjin, causing the man to panic, “You don’t know how to read? Not even a little?”
“I only know a little.” Seokjin mumbled, his voice soft as he was ashamed of being admittedly illiterate, “I know how to write my own name a read a few characters but I can’t fully read.” He bowed his head, downtrodden, “My mother said that my father was a poet and he loved writing. He taught my mother how to read and my mother taught me a little but we didn’t have the luxury of time because of our circumstances.”
Sejin sighed in frustration at his words but he decided to make do. “Fine,” he huffed, “You’re supposed to meet the Ahns tonight and I was supposed to teach you table manners today. It’s going to be difficult because you’re supposed to be the son of the Ahn, one of the wealthiest and as their supposed son, you’re assumingly supposed to have one of the best educations.” The man looked frustrated but he tried to mellow it down and Seokjin appreciated that “Nevertheless, I’ll do my best.”
“Thank you,” Seokjin bowed his head to the man. “I really appreciate it.”
This caused Sejin’s eyes to soften and the crease on his forehead to smoothen. With a sigh that was less frustrated than the previous one, Sejin said, “We’ll make do, Seokjin. At the very least, you know a few characters.” He took the scroll from Seokjin’s hand and scanned it himself, “Forget about reading for now. Your table etiquette is our main concern as of now so let’s focus on that.”
“Yes,” Seokjin conceded as he straightened his back to listen attentively to Sejin’s words. The first instruction given to him was alright, Seokjin was not allowed to speak at the dining table unless he is addressed. That was alright. It’s not like Seokjin wanted to do so in fear that he might say something wrong.
The second instruction was that he is supposed to wait for the alpha to take the first bite before he can begin eating. That was alright but what was surprising was,” You are not allowed to pick your own food.” Sejin told him, “Only your alpha can choose what you will eat. If the meal is served, you are supposed to wait for your alpha to place food on your plate. You are also expected to eat it without a complaint.”
Seokjin was about to voice his concern but Sejin beat him to it as he reminded him, “The moment you enter this kingdom, you’re no longer a person. Remember that. You do not question the way things are, Seokjin.” The man proceeded, “Also if your alpha finishes eating, you are also expected to stop eating whether or not you’ve finished your food.”
The sophisticated man continued with the rest of the rules and Seokjin listened to all of them with dread. He repeatedly told himself, It’s alright. You’ve had worse, Seokjin. This is nothing. Seokjin closed his eyes for a brief moment of reflection, At the very least, you aren’t starving in the cold right now. Your family is in good hands and something like this is nothing compared to what happiness they could receive. It’s alright.
“Seokjin,” Sejin called his attention and as the omega’s eyes met his stern gaze, he said, “Focus.” He held his hand out, holding the whip on the other, “Palms.”
This was nothing if it meant his family’s happiness.
They proceeded with the lessons for the rest of the day and eventually, they had to stop when Seokjin’s hands started bleeding and bruises were appearing. Sejin told one of the maids to patch him up as he apologized to the omega for being too harsh. Seokjin shook his head, saying that he understood despite the fact that his hands were hurting.
After the incident, Sejin decided to let Seokjin rest and prepare himself as they would be traveling to the Ahns in a few hours. It was enough time for Seokjin to take a break and mentally prepare himself for the change he was about to face. Soon, he would be meeting new people who would be his family in the midst of his pretense.
Seokjin stared at his bandaged hands and couldn’t help but think about his mother. Oh, how much he missed her and it’s only been a day. At the very least, he thought, they’ll be safe and happy now.
The travel to the Ahns was shorter than Seokjin had expected. He got the chance to ride a beautiful carretela that was a far cry to the beat up calesa he rode on his way to Naerys. Inside the comfortable and warm transportation, only the sound of the galloping horses outside was heard and Seokjin was deep inside his thoughts. And he barely had time to organize and fully prepare himself when the ride had come to halt and Sejin opened the door for him, announcing that they’ve arrived.
Seokjin’s eyes were wide, mouth dry as he realized that he has come to the place where he had to throw away his name and past for the sake of pretense. At the back of his mind, he told himself that he had already thrown away his entire being the moment he sold himself to the King but nevertheless, his entire world was shaken by this whole change that happened in a span of a day. Seokjin was not ready if he had to be honest. But what other choice did he have? None. Ready or not, he has to face the consequences of his plea. It was either this or his village suffers.
And anything was, without a question, better than having his village suffer longer than the pain and tragedy they are subjected to on a daily basis.
How dangerously powerful love was, Seokjin realized, that made him push himself to go beyond his limits and the boundaries of his comforts for the sake of the ones he loved. But no matter how dangerous this love was, it was the same love that kept Seokjin alive. His mother’s love that covered and protected him away from the dangers of the Outlanders. If it hadn’t been for his mother’s wise idea to cover his face with charcoal, he’d be raped and taken like the other beautiful omegas in their village.
The war between the Five Kingdoms and Outlanders stemmed from territorial, political and religious factors as Outlanders refused to follow their rules and religious practices and beliefs, however, there was one belief that the Outlanders held onto. Outlanders believed that people whose skins were as black as the night was an aswang—a family of ghouls. Rumors had it that the Lost Districts had these creatures living in people’s homes and pretended to be humans. Seokjin’s mother often covered him with these as they instill fear into these Outlanders and prompt them to leave him alone.
Everyone in the village could’ve done the same but the problem was, even charcoals were a luxury for them. The poor state of their village reached the point that even the most basic things are deemed too costly for them. Thus why they had to take extreme measures to get resources and overall, a better living condition.
Yet here he is, in front of a beautiful house or, he should say, mansion. It was clearly more expensive than the brick homes had seen earlier but not as affluent as the palace. Still, he was not one to judge for he knew that this whole mansion alone would cost higher than his entire village sold.
“Seokjin,” Sejin cleared his throat from beside him, offering his hand to which Seokjin took as gracefully as he could remember from the practice, “Stop slouching.” He reprimanded in a low voice that had the omega immediately straightening his back.
They slowly entered the big doors of the mansion, the intricate and beautiful designs never ceased to fill the omega with awe as he repeatedly wished within himself that his mother and his siblings would one day be given the chance to see the beautiful things he’s seen.
Another set of doors opened and Sejin started speaking, announcing his presence and greeting the Ahns, immediately making Seokjin hold his breath as he realized that he was now in the presence of the family he was going to pretend to be a part of. The doors opened and the omega’s head was bowed, eyes trained on the floor as he was afraid to see the faces of the wealthy people he was going to meet. Sejin once again reprimanded him for his behavior and it took all his might to raise his head and meet the gazes of the members of the Ahn family.
With the exception of the servants that were stationed at the sides, four members were sat gracefully by the table. They all looked beautiful like paintings when they were sitting in their place, an image of elegance and class sketched on their figures. Seokjin’s breath was caught in his throat as he was offered a seat to which Sejin nudged him to get his attention.
There were four, he assumed were very important, people in the room based on their silk robes and expensive ornaments and headdresses. On his left was a young lady who was clearly an omega based on her scent, although her cold and sharp eyes begged to differ, and a man who Seokjin knew was an alpha for his strong demeanor and overpowering scent. The two of them looked close to his age and he assumed that they were probably this Ahn Jae Hyun’s children. On the right sat a middle-aged woman who was nevertheless beautiful with her pale skin and blonde hair. She was clearly an omega judging from her fragile and delicate features as well as her mellow scent.
The one who sat in the middle was an alpha man who had the most intimidating eyes that Seokjin has ever seen and it made the omega feel smaller as fear bubbled at the pit of his stomach. It was clear to him that this alpha was the head of this family and Seokjin recognized quickly that he was Ahn Jae Hyun. The man opened his mouth, words coming out of his lips yet the ringing in Seokjin’s ears made it impossible for him to hear what the alpha was saying. He failed to realize that the alpha was addressing him until Sejin tapped him gently.
Blinking, he panicked deep inside as he realized that they were speaking to him and he failed to listen. All of a sudden, the lessons and information that Sejin taught him earlier flew out of the window and he blurted out, loudly and definitely without a trace of elegance, “Ahn Seokjin, son of Ahn Jae Hyun, I—“ he paused when he realized that he wasn’t supposed to introduce himself unless he was asked. The problem was, he didn’t know what was told to him for he failed to hear in the midst of his thoughts, in result, he blurted out the first thing that came into his mind and that was—
"It is likely that the first thing they ask from you is your name so you should get used to introducing yourself like this."
But of course, Seokjin realized belatedly that this was his supposed family and they obviously wouldn't ask for his fake name, would they?
Sejin looked surprised by his side and Seokjin too was surprised and horrified as he realized how he had messed up. His heart was beating too loud as he bowed his head, afraid that the alpha was going to get mad and consider him disrespectful for clearly not listening. However, what he didn’t expect was for a loud and inelegant laugh bursting out of the cold and sharp-eyed omega lady sat on the left.
“Sorry,” she apologized, covering her mouth yet still failing to block her boisterous laugh. Her figure was hunched and one hand was on her lips and the other was on her stomach as she laughed in her place. What was most surprising was that no one seemed to reprimand her for her “bad table manners” as Sejin had put it earlier. And if Seokjin remembered correctly, omegas were supposed to behave during meals.
And yet this omega was being liberal and unladylike and no one seemed to reprimand her. Seokjin wondered if the whole being strict and disciplined thing was only limited to him because he was an outsider. Seokjin glanced at Sejin’s way but it seemed that the man, too, was dumbfounded by the lady’s odd behavior.
“It’s just that,” she said in between giggles, “You’re so uptight and nervous, it’s actually adorable.” She turned to Seokjin, flashing him a bright and beautiful smile that made her face glow, “I like you already.” She turned to Ahn Jae Hyun who now had a smile on his face and Seokjin was surprised to say that he didn’t look as intimidating as he did earlier. “Appa,” she called, “Can we keep him?”
“Heeyeon,” the alpha spoke softly, slightly amused, “You can’t keep him. He’s not a pet.” He turned to Seokjin, eyes kind without a trace of his previous daunting look as he smiled at him, “He’s your new brother. You should treat him well and not laugh at him. He's relatively new to the place so you should excuse him.” A gentle smile crossed his otherwise cold features, "After all, you're not exactly well--behaved yourself."
“Of course I don’t mean it that way, appa.” The lady now Seokjin knew was named Heeyeon replied with a sweet smile that was a stark difference from her previous behavior. She turned to Seokjin with a playful smile and an excited glint in her eyes. “Seokjin, right?” the addressed omega could only nod a little before Heeyeon smiled wider at him, “Welcome to the family!”
Seokjin blinked at her words, blushing slightly as his gaze traveled from Heeyeon’s beautiful face to the rest of the members of the Ahn family to see that they were all giving him warm and welcoming smiles. The dread and anxiety that settled within him dispersed ever so slowly as he felt his own lips curl into a smile.
Perhaps, Seokjin thought, things wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Aswang n. - a shapeshifting type of ghoul that typically acts as quiet, shy and elusive regular townspeople by day and transform into creatures such as a bat, bird (usually a crow), wild boar, black cat, or most often, a big black dog by night.
Caratella n. - a carriage pulled by four horses with one driver
That’s the first chapter for now. It’s just the beginning and not much is happening but we get to know the characters more by the next chapter. The princes shall all be introduced in the next chapter, please anticipate.
Thanks for reading ^v^
Chapter 3: Chapter II: Magnas inter oper inops
Magnas inter oper inops
A pauper in the midst of wealth
Things weren’t as bad as Seokjin had expected.
The Ahn’s were really warm and kind, unlike the omega’s first impression of them. The head of the family, Ahn Jae Hyun—or Appa, as he told Seokjin to call him—was a good alpha. It was strange to call another man as his father after his very own had abandoned him, but Ahn Jae Hyun was a very calm and composed man. He was kind with his words and was patient enough to understand and overlook every single mistake Seokjin made.
It’s not that Seokjin meant to do wrong—he tried his best to apply what Sejin had taught him beforehand. But in the presence of warm and delicious food, which were a far cry from the cold scraps shared by his family at home, everything that was taught to him was thrown out of the window. Table etiquettes were all lost to him the moment he took his first bite, his teeth sinking into the tender meat and the delicious taste melting on his tongue. It was an absolute heaven he never knew he was deprived of.
Before he even realized it, he forgot about utensils and was eating with his bare hands. Stuffing everything in his mouth inelegantly and devouring the food whole. It almost felt like he was choking, but the feeling of getting his empty stomach full—almost as if he never starved in his life—was an absolute satisfaction. However, as soon as his plate was empty and his stomach was full, the satisfaction only lasted a moment before he felt dread and humiliation.
He finally noticed that everyone—horrifyingly, even Ahn Jae Hyun the Head Alpha— had long finished their food and were all staring at him. Sejin looked surprised, annoyed and very much disappointed in him. There was a deep frown on his face and his eyes did not hide how dissatisfied he was. It’s not that Seokjin wanted to disappoint him, he just couldn’t help it. But he knew that that was not a reasonable excuse. The omega stared at his dirty fingers, sticky with the sauce and oil, and he felt shame grow. He does not know what the Ahn’s think but they must’ve been disgusted by him.
In comparison to the graceful and elegant ways of the rich, Seokjin was like a pig. He felt so low and he felt ashamed. He bowed his head, feeling tears pull at the corner of his eyes as his lips trembled. This is it. They’re not going to accept him as their adopted son. He would only bring shame to them if they take him.
Seokjin is done for.
He closed his eyes and envisioned his family and the village. He felt dread. Just imagining it—failing everyone just because he didn’t have any self-control in front of a delicious meal, Seokjin was ashamed. It should have been very simple. He was taught about it the whole morning and afternoon, and his bruised and bandaged hands were a testament to that. But he was just such a starving idiot that he couldn’t stop himself. And now, his family and village are going to be disappointed in him.
“Seokjin, right?” He heard a calm yet firm voice call him and the omega visibly flinched at the mention of his name. However, he knew that if he did not respond to an alpha’s call, he would be deemed disrespectful—as if he wasn’t disrespectful enough. Thus, despite the utter fear and humiliation, Seokjin raised his head and met the Head Alpha’s gaze.
He expected to see anger, or disappointment, or even disgust, and he braced himself for those gazes. But what he got instead was a kind and patient look coming from Ahn Jae Hyun. There was a faint smile on his lips as he asked, “Did you enjoy the food?”
Slightly taken aback, he was tongue tied and the only thing he could muster as a response was a subtle and shy nod. He averted his gaze down on his messy plate, felt his cheeks and ears burn as he heard Sejin start speaking up, apologizing for his behavior. “I don’t know what got to him,” the man tried to explain, “I’ve taught him everything earlier this day but you must understand that it’s hard for someone like him to adapt to our practices in a day.”
Someone like him.
Seokjin was not going to lie. Those words stung and it hurts. He knew he was an outsider. All of this—they were done because his family and village were so poor that they have to beg the North Kingdom for help. They were as low as the dirt itself and these people he was dining with were equivalent to gods. Seokjin was ashamed. This was not his world. He knew that but to be reminded of it, to have it uttered by Sejin really hurt. He was far too inferior and he felt the insecurity grow.
“Sejin,” Ahn Jae Hyun started, his voice was as calm as the clear evening after vernal rains yet firm like the mountains back at home. “It is not a problem.” The omega looked up in a mix of surprise and relief at his kind words. “Seokjin is a part of the Ahn’s now, therefore a son of mine.” Ahn Jae Hyun smiled softly, “Please do not speak of him like he’s an outsider.”
Sejin opened his mouth, about to say a few words, however, Ahn Jae Hyun raised his palm and effectively made the other man close his lips and bow his head. The Head Alpha’s gaze was on Seokjin, a soft smile on his face, “Seokjin,” he called, startling the omega.
Seokjin’s heart was beating fast as he was anxious and uncertain. His eyes darted to the side in search for Sejin to help him but the man did not meet his gaze. He turned back to Ahn Jae Hyun and saw that the man’s eyes were still on him. Insecure and embarrassed, Seokjin bowed his head and uttered in the softest voice, “Yes?”
He was not even sure if it was the right response. Was he too rude and disrespectful? Was a simple ‘yes’ too straightforward? Will Ahn Jae Hyun punish him for anything? Seokjin can only hope not. “Raise your head, Seokjin.” He heard the Head Alpha say and, despite his worries, he gingerly raised his head and hesitantly gazed into the man’s eyes.
“Do not be afraid,” the Head Alpha said, “The King has gifted you to me. From now on, you will bear my name and are a son of mine.” His smile was tender and soft and Seokjin felt himself calm down in the slightest, “Everything I have is yours and you do not have to feel uncomfortable for anything.”
Seokjin did not know what to feel for those words. He was ashamed, yes. He felt like he was intruding on this family and he did not deserve this kind treatment. But at the same time, he remembered the father who abandoned him and his heart ached at the thought. Is this how a father treats his child? With as much kindness as Ahn Jae Hyun is giving him? Before he could even prevent it, there was envy blooming in his heart. Ahn Jae Hyun was a kind man and his children were truly fortunate.
He could only wish that he and his siblings were as fortunate as they were—to have a father that was there for them. He did not want to put the blame on his beautiful mother. It was no secret to him or to his siblings that they all had different fathers. It was not an uncommon thing for their village. His mother was beautiful and in a community as poor as theirs, beauty was a curse and his mother was a poor, unfortunate beauty.
Seokjin’s father, according to his mother, was the only man she loved. Until he disappeared to who knows where, and left her and Seokjin when he was still a baby. After that, he and his mother tried to survive on their own—two omegas fending for themselves and it was a miracle they lived through it. That was until he was around nine or ten years old when food was harder than ever to find, and they were both starving and struggling.
It reached the point where his mother had to sell her own body in exchange for food. She kept it a secret to Seokjin. ”Stay here for a moment, Seokjin-ah.” She had said, “Hide behind those alleys and wait for eomma to return. I promise I’ll have food for us when I come back.”
And he waited for her all night. Never closing his eyes no matter how heavy and tired they were. He was starving and shaking and tired but he waited for his mother, unmoving because she told him she’d come back.
She did return the next morning with cold scraps that were barely anything when divided between the two of them. Seokjin was young but he was not innocent and ignorant of the world’s cruelty. And so, it did not go unnoticed to him how his mom was limping, bruised and looked like she was in pain. However, like how he was exposed to this cruel world, this was a familiar image and he knew that it was better not to ask when his mother doesn’t want to open up. So he kept his mouth shut.
A few months after that, his little sister was born. It became harder for them—three beautiful omegas on their own. That’s when the village chief came in to help. He gave them a few rags, not warm enough but at least they had something. He gave them the little cottage they had, rundown but at least they had a roof over their heads. They didn’t have anything so everything given to them was appreciated. They did not complain. They accepted everything gratefully.
A year after his little sister, his mother gave birth to two beta twins. Seokjin was baffled and he felt betrayed. He did not understand why his mother kept doing this and the question was at the tip of his tongue. But he never got to utter it out because his mother placed a hand on his hair and gently patted him, a soft yet sad smile on her face as she said, “I have to do it for you, Jin-ah.” Her voice strong and warm yet Seokjin could hear how hard she trying not to break down, “Everything comes with a price and I’m willing to pay for it all just for you and your siblings.”
She then whispered three words and Seokjin was bawling like the child he was. Like the child, he was supposed to be if it hadn’t been for this cruel world raising him harshly. A response was stuck in his throat, the “I love you too” he wanted so much to say back but he never got to because he was incoherent amidst his tears. That night, Seokjin slept in his mother’s embrace.
That night, he thought, if his father was there for them, would they be living a better life? And as soon as that thought passed, he felt anger and hatred grow within him. He felt anger towards the man he never met and he held onto that anger as he grew.
Ahn Jae Hyun was a kind man and, from what he could see, he was a good father. Seokjin envied his children.
“Seokjin,” came the same calm voice of Ahn Jae Hyun calling his name. The omega’s eyes met the alpha’s as the latter smiled. “Do not be shy,” he said as he gestured to the food—a simple movement yet it was done with elegance and grace that Seokjin can only dream of attaining, “You may eat as much as you like.” He paused for a moment before adding, “Would you like some more meat? I can ask the chef to prepare more for you. Or would you prefer to have your desserts?”
“No, thank you.” Seokjin shook his head, his cheeks flushed and his eyes innocently wide. He was too ashamed to ask for more, despite the tempting offer. He bowed his head, trying to hide his reddening face, “I’m already full. Thank you, s-sir—.”
“Appa,” Ahn Jae Hyun interrupted with a smile. Seokjin was a bit confused as he heard the man but the Head Alpha’s smile was one of fondness. “As I have said, you bear my name and are a son of mine. Thus, I want you to call me Appa.”
“Ah, no.” Seokjin shook his head, embarrassed and feeling too small. He can’t just say that. Especially not in front of Ahn Jae Hyun's actual children. Seokjin knew that if someone called his mother eomma in front of him, he wouldn’t like it. How much more for the Ahn’s who were basically like gods in comparison to a piece of dirt like him? He said, “I can’t just—“
“Seokjin.” This time it was Sejin intercepted his words with a reprimanding tone. The omega turned to the man who gave him a pointed look, “You are speaking to an alpha. Besides,” He added, “You are to be the child of the Ahn’s therefore, you need to act your part.”
Act your part.
That’s right. This was all a pretense. He needed to address Ahn Jae Hyun as his father otherwise people would know that he’s a fraud. He needed to act his part for his village. What was Seokjin thinking? This is not about him. This is about finally giving his family and his village a better life. He shouldn’t consider how he feels, should he? Seokjin doesn’t think so. He told himself that he was willing to do anything and everything for his family.
Here is anything and everything. It did not matter if Seokjin felt embarrassed or felt inferior. Those feelings shouldn’t matter, he told himself. What should matter is that his family gets what they deserve. And Seokjin was going to do anything to give them everything.
Even if he had to do something he doesn’t want to.
The word was at the tip of his tongue yet somehow, no sound would come out. He was hesitant. He was afraid. He was ashamed. He tried to push the words—simply two syllables—out of his mouth but to no avail. Thankfully, it was Ahn Jae Hyun that pulled him out of his misery as the alpha turned to Sejin, "No," the man had said, "I do not want to force him like that."
The Head Alpha turned to him with a small smile, "If you do not want to address me as your father, I won't force you." His voice was still as calm as ever and held all the patience in the world, "I understand that it is very difficult. You barely know me after all. So how about this," he started up a suggestion, "You may call me however you like—sir, alpha, uncle if you want and I'll be fine with it. And when you finally feel comfortable enough to call me as your father, I'll be waiting patiently."
Ahn Jae Hyun gave him one last smile before he turned to his wife, “Well, with that said, I think it’s time for the water, right?” His wife nodded, her beautiful hair in place and a captivating smile on her lips. She looked like the epitome of beauty and so was her daughter, Heeyeon. But Seokjin wondered about Ahn Jae Hyun’s words—would it really be fine to act as if he was truly their family? Just thinking and saying that he’d do everything for his family is harder than it seems.
But somehow, Seokjin thought, he’ll get through it.
The omega watched as maids came in with large wooden bowls filled with water. They slowly placed those bowls in front of Ahn Jae Hyun, his wife, Sejin, the Ahn’s children and even Seokjin. The omega blinked, confused as to what he was supposed to do with the bowl of water placed before him. He turned to Sejin with a questioning look as they had not finished their lessons earlier and he hadn’t been taught about this part yet.
However, he did not need to voice his concerns and dwell on his worries as it was Ahn Jae Hyun who spoke, explaining the purpose of the bowls. “It is a part of our culture that once we finish with our meal, we wash our hands before we leave the table.” He then dipped his hands on the bowl of water and the clear waters rippled in his touch. He started washing and cleaning his hands—a simple gesture yet it was done with so much grace and elegance. “There’s a belief in this kingdom that spirits settle on everything, even on our food.”
“Spirits are jealous beings for they wander the Earth without a body. So they settle on anything and try to possess mundane things such as plants, furniture, and even our food in hopes that they can find a more capable body by attaching themselves upon touch.” Ahn Jae Hyun finished washing his hands and took the soft cloth presented to him by the servant to dry his hands, “So we need to wash them away before they attach themselves to us and possess us.”
Seokjin listened in wonder and slight fear of Ahn Jae Hyun’s words. He looked at his hands—at the remnants of the sauce and oil—and wondered if there was a spirit settling on his fingers, trying to possess him. It was a fascinating information yet also a little scary—Seokjin didn’t want to be possessed!
However, the pretty omega daughter—Heeyeon—once again laughed a little beside him. Seokjin looked up from staring at his fingers to gaze at Heeyeon in mild surprise. The omega lady smiled at him and said, “You’re so cute,” she said, her voice light, “I really like you.” She turned to Ahn Jae Hyun with a bright smile, “Do we really need to send him to the prince? I would really prefer it if he just stayed and lived with us.”
“It depends on the circumstances,” Ahn Jae Hyun replied, gazing at Heeyeon with his ever-patient yet calm expression, “If he gets chosen by one of the princes, then it is his fate to be with them. But if he doesn’t,” he turned to the omega with a smile.” Then you are most welcome to come and stay with us.”
Heeyeon’s eyes lit up in glee at those words as she turned to Seokjin with a wide grin. The stars in her eyes were twinkling and she was so beautiful that Seokjin had to look away. To stay in the palace or to stay in this place—both options were too good to be true. Seokjin felt like his luck was finally raining down on him after years of drought. But just like rain—the pour will end and Seokjin will be left drenched and shivering from the cold for Sejin’s next words were less kind.
“Unfortunately, Lord Ahn,” the man started as he finished washing his own hands and was wiping them with the cloth, “Things do not work that way.” He turned to Seokjin with a slightly strained voice before facing Ahn Jae Hyun once again, “As you were informed earlier, Seokjin is an outsider and therefore the thought of him getting chosen by the princes is deemed unfair by the people. But the king has decided to give him a chance, hence why he should attend the ceremony as your child.”
Sejin sighed, “However since he came due to a request, there needs to be a price paid. If he does not capture the attention of any of the princes, the agreement between the King and Seokjin will immediately be terminated.” This caused the omega to look up with eyes wide in surprise. The agreement—it hadn’t been fully discussed to him yet because Seokjin had been dismissed earlier, “All the help that the King shall offer his village will be forfeited and Seokjin will have to return to his village.”
Heeyeon’s smile dropped at those words and he glared at Sejin, “That’s unfair!” Sejin appeared to be taken aback by her sudden outburst but the young lady paid no heed, “You speak as if Seokjin is just an object sold and if the princes do not like him, he’d be returned just like that. I don’t like it,” she said, the intensity of her gaze so fierce that Seokjin almost forgot that she was an omega, “Regardless of who you are, you have no right to treat him like this.”
“Heeyeon,” Ahn Jae Hyun called her out, his voice low and serious. Seokjin turned to look at him and the previously kind expression on the Head Alpha was one of seriousness. His tone was reprimanding as he said, “That’s no way to speak to an alpha. Sejin is in a higher position than you are as he is a high ranked individual in the palace.”
“But Appa, you said it yourself,” the young omega continued, “Seokjin is an Ahn now, thus he’s a son of yours. You cannot allow someone like that to speak to him like he’s a rag doll that can be thrown away.” She reached her hand and held Seokjin’s dirtied fingers—uncaring of the fact that he had yet to clean them off.
Seokjin was surprised and embarrassed at the same time. His hands were greasy and hers were clean—he was afraid that he might dirty them, although he already had. But Heeyeon held his hands and stared at him with emotions he could not fathom, “You’re my brother now,” the young lady stated, “I won’t allow you to be returned just like that.”
“Heeyeon, that is enough,” Ahn Jae Hyun’s tone was heavy and this caused Seokjin to flinch as he felt the disappointment laced in them. Heeyeon didn’t seem to mind as she directed a glare towards her father, stubborn and defiant. She was undeniably beautiful and the fire in her eyes was mesmerizing.
Seokjin can’t help but think that Heeyeon was a strange character. If she had this amount of courage and stubbornness as an omega in their village, she would not live long. The Outlanders who frequent their village does not like an outspoken omega—they’ve killed every last one who thought they had a fight in them. It’s not that Seokjin was an overly submissive type but he was one who knew when to bow and when to fight.
In their village, fighting meant death and Seokjin, despite the difficulty of living, chose to live and survive. If he fought back, he would die. He cannot allow that. His thoughts of death were always filled with worries not because he was afraid of the pain it would bring, but because he was afraid that there’d be no one to help his mother take care of his younger siblings.
Seokjin was not the strongest but he was definitely not weak.
It’s just that, he knew that he lived in a place where fighting fire with fire leads to ashes on the ground, and those ashes will not save his family. But if he bent the knee and thought with his head instead of his pride, he could help his family. And that’s why he was here right now, sitting amongst the Ahn’s and watching as fire was fueling in Heeyeon’s eyes. The same fire that had been caged and forgotten within Seokjin for years of self-preservation.
“Enough,” Ahn Jae Hyun said, his voice was ice cold and a far cry from the warmth and patience he displayed earlier. He stood from his place and told Heeyeon, “This is not for you to decide, Heeyeon. Return to your room and reflect your actions, child.”
Heeyeon’s eyes widened at the name she was called as she released her hold on Seokjin and stood up with her hands clenched at her side, “I am not a child.” She defended, but Seokjin could hear the tremor in her voice. Her hands were shaking and so were the rest of her body. Slowly, as if she was breaking down bit by bit, she added in a smaller voice, “I’m not a child anymore.”
Ahn Jae Hyun’s stern expression immediately softened as he replied in a lighter voice, “I know,” he sighed, almost as if he regretted his words, “So please act your age, Heeyeon.” He glanced at Seokjin with melancholic eyes and the omega felt like he was lost. There was obviously something going on yet he did not know—their faces were filled with something sad—something akin to longing— and it was starting to fill the room with tension. “Just go back to your room first. Your mother and I will discuss with Sejin here regarding Seokjin.”
Heeyeon opened her mouth slightly but no words came out. She closed her lips and glanced at Seokjin as if she was contemplating about something. However, before she could dwell more on her thoughts, Ahn Jae Hyun’s other child—the alpha son—took hold of Heeyeon’s hand and slowly guided her outside of the dining room. Heeyeon was hesitant as she kept looking at Seokjin—a longing look on her face and something alike to guilt, Seokjin was not sure, was plastered on her pretty face. Eventually, Heeyeon left with her brother.
The only ones left on the dining table was Ahn Jae Hyun, his wife, Sejin, and Seokjin. The young omega was lost in what he should do next, thus he averted his gaze downwards and stared at his dirty fingers. He glanced at the bowl of water before him and wondered if he should start washing his hands or if he should wait for orders to start. Seokjin bit his bottom lip as he felt anxiety grow within him once more.
However, a soft, melodic voice belonging to a lady spoke, prompting for Seokjin to look up and meet the gaze of Ahn Jae Hyun’s wife. Her lips were curled into a pretty smile as she told Seokjin to wash his hands along with her. She presented her hands before him and demonstrated as she slowly dipped it into the water, encouraging Seokjin to follow. He slowly did according to her instructions.
The water was not cold, nor was it warm—it was just the right temperature. He slowly washed away every single dirt and oil left on his fingers as he followed the older omega’s graceful movements. When he was finished, he gingerly took the soft cloth offered to him by one of the maids, awkwardly nodding his head in gratitude before he proceeded to dry his hands.
As soon as he was finished, he wondered about Heeyeon’s hand that touched his—did the spirit attach itself to Heeyeon’s hand? He cannot help but be worried—especially when it would probably be his fault if it did. But before he could dwell deeper in his thoughts, Ahn Jae Hyun spoke and inquired about the terms of Seokjin’s agreement with the King.
It is then that Sejin laid everything out for all of them—first and foremost, Seokjin’s request was to have his village saved by the King and in exchange of that is all of these pretenses as well as the prince’s acceptance. However, it was not guaranteed whether one of the princes would choose him. If none of the princes chose Seokjin, he would have to return to his village and the King will have nothing to do with his village.
Secondly, if the either of the princes does accept him then he is expected to act according to the tradition—to which Sejin promised to teach him. Aside from that, Ahn Jae Hyun has offered to hire teachers for Seokjin if he needed them. The alpha and his omega wife were both visibly relieved when Sejin had stated that as soon as Seokjin got accepted by the prince, then the young omega will be considered an Ahn from then on.
As for the moment, Sejin will have to fake Seokjin’s records to get past the system with the King’s help. But if he gets the prince’s acceptance, then they will have to process Seokjin as an official citizen of the Kingdom as the Ahn’s child. Sejin said that it will be a lengthy and strenuous task but since the King knew about it, then they might be allowed to speed up the process. Ahn Jae Hyun had stated that he would be willing to help in any situation—he just seemed happy at the news that Seokjin would be an official Ahn as soon as he gets chosen.
Lastly, the news about Seokjin being adopted and being an outsider should remain a secret. If anyone would learn about this lie then it is punishable by death according to the law. And most importantly, no one should know that the King is involved because it could cost His Majesty his throne.
Hearing all of this, Seokjin was extremely nervous—who wouldn’t be? Especially with his life and others at stake. But at the same time, he felt extremely grateful for the people involved—the Ahns, Sejin and the King, even—that they were willing to help him despite the given consequences. There was nothing special about him—a poor omega trying to save his poor village. But he was grateful for their help and he thinks that he will forever be grateful.
After Sejin had finished informing them, they stayed for a little conversation over a cup of tea before they deemed that it was time for Sejin to return to the palace. Ahn Jae Hyun had allowed Seokjin to speak with Sejin alone before the man left. It is then that Sejin had told him, “Do not get attached with the Ahns yet,” the man stated, “We’re not certain whether any of the princes would take you. So it’s best that you don’t get attached to them.”
“I understand.” Seokjin nodded solemnly. The Ahns were great, the omega would admit that, and they were more than what he had expected. Yet at the same time, he couldn’t help but be a little worried. If none of the princes chose him, he would be back at his village and if they did choose him, he would be at the palace and he’ll barely see the Ahns. He understood that it was better not to be attached to them. “But,” he said, “the Ahns are very kind and I’m very grateful that the King chose them as my foster family.”
“About that,” Sejin sighed heavily, “you need to be careful with the Ahns during your stay here. Follow their rules, be obedient and always be understanding.” The man‘s gaze wandered from Seokjin to the door where Ahn Jae Hyun left with his wife. “They may seem like a perfect and happy family but that’s not the case here. As you saw earlier, there was a little tension between Lord Ahn Jae Hyun and their youngest, Lady Heeyeon.”
“Oh,” Seokjin said as he recalled the scene. It was out of the blue but it got him curious. There was definitely something that he didn’t know but he’s aware that it was none of his business and he didn’t want to pry. However, Sejin decided not to keep him in the dark for too long.
“Not many know about this and I’m not authorized to tell you everything, but I’ll let you know this.” Sejin said as his gaze returned to Seokjin, “The Ahns are just using you the same way you are just using them.” The man’s words stung Seokjin’s heart but he kept mum for he saw the solemn look on Sejin’s face, “Lady Heeyeon was not their youngest child.”
“They had another son—an omega just like you. He was exactly your age too and he was supposed to be the one sent to this ceremony but there was an ambush one day and things got out of hand. Before they knew it, it was too late and the young Ahn died.” Sejin paused, sighing heavily as he let those words sink in.
Seokjin was quiet. He was deep in his thoughts and he recalled Ahn Jae Hyun’s kind eyes, his wife’s soft voice, the calmness of the quiet alpha son and Heeyeon’s bright eyes. They all seemed so happy. Seokjin would never have guessed that something like this had happened. He thought about his own mother and siblings—just the thought of one of them dying scared Seokjin. He couldn’t even imagine the pain of losing one’s family.
“I think it’s cruel if you ask me,” Sejin commented after the silence, “The incident was just five years ago but the scar it left was still fresh in the hearts of the Ahns. The King thought it would be a good idea to have you—like some kind of replacement. In all honesty, I was extremely worried. The Ahns didn’t like the King’s suggestion but they had to abide by His Majesty’s will.” He sighed heavily before he added, “But when they saw you, I guess they changed their minds. Because, Seokjin,” Sejin faced him, “you reminded them of that child.”
“The way you acted shyly earlier, the way you looked uncertain and stared in wonder at Ahn Jae Hyun’s words,” Sejin stated, “I could see it in their eyes. They saw their son in you. Especially Heeyeon who now sees you as her brother.” The man reached out and placed a hand on Seokjin’s shoulder, “I know it’s too much to ask but even if it’s just a short amount of time, indulge them. They haven’t fully recovered yet and who knows what pain their hiding behind their masks but even just for a bit, just help them be happy.”
“But Sejin-hyung,” Seokjin started, confused, “What am I supposed to do?” He wants to help the Ahns. But at the same time, he was still unsure of his place, nervous of how he could get the princes attention and most of all, how could he act like he’s someone else’s son after knowing their history? The Ahns have lost a child and Seokjin doesn’t feel well at the thought of replacing that son.
“You don’t have to replace their son or anything,” Sejin sighed, “Just be with them. Listen to Ahn Jae Hyun, spend time with Heeyeon and her brother—it’s only for a little time. Just make them happy while you’re here.” The man said, “On the other hand, I’ll do my best to help you too.”
He patted Seokjin’s hair before he finally bid him goodbye. That night, Seokjin was given his own room and the softest and warmest bed he has ever laid on. But that night, he barely had any sleep.
The very next day, Seokjin stood awkwardly as the maids slowly changed his clothes for him. It had embarrassed him the very first time to have other people see him naked but apparently, the nobles don’t change their clothes on their own in the Northern Kingdom. Seokjin found it extremely strange but he had to act his part, thus he had no other choice but to remain embarrassed as they slowly undressed him.
They then brought him to the bath where he dipped himself to the warm and relaxing water filled with rose petals and the wonderful aroma in the air. As soon as he was fully submerged, a sigh left his lips for it felt like all the stress from yesterday left his body. The bath was relaxing and it was probably going to be Seokjin’s most favorite experience in the Kingdom next to the food from last night. Although the aftermath of both the bath and the food did leave him embarrassed, it was a wonderful experience, nevertheless.
It felt wonderful to be gifted with these opportunities. Seokjin wondered if his mother and siblings would be enjoying life as lavish as this one if he succeeded. If he succeeded. No, Seokjin thought, there must be no if. All of these that he was experiencing—his mother and siblings deserved to have it as well. He was going to give it to them. There will be no ifs. Seokjin will do his very best—he will do everything to give them the life they deserve.
Today, he was going to have another lesson with Sejin. They were still going to focus on table manners since it’s going to be the very first thing he’ll have to do with the prince if they chose him. He still had a week, according to Sejin, before the ceremony and before that time, Seokjin was going to give his very best.
“Seokjin-ah,” the said omega turned at the mention of his name. Standing by the door was Heeyeon with a kind smile on her face and an excited gleam in her eyes. “Are you enjoying the bath?” She sauntered across the marble floors to come close to him and only then did Seokjin remember that he was in a bath and that he was naked.
His face reddened as he instinctively covered his private parts in embarrassment. The water was clear and the petals barely hid anything. Seokjin’s eyes were wide as he stared at her pretty face. She didn’t seem to be bothered by his state of undress as she casually leaned closer to him, uncaring that the ends of her silky dress were getting soaked by the puddles of water Seokjin had caused earlier.
“I was thinking today,” she started, “Let’s spend some time together. I know a very good spot in this manor where we could hide all day and no one notices.” She giggled mischievously, “You could ditch your lessons and spend some time with me. I promise we’ll have so much fun. I even prepared a few things for you!” She dug through a pouch Seokjin didn’t notice that she had and pulled out a bejeweled bracelet. Heeyeon wiggled her eyebrows suggestively at him as if she was trying to tell him something but Seokjin understood nothing.
Seokjin was just confused, embarrassed and his state of nudity was bothering him greatly. All of a sudden, the warm waters were not relaxing enough as he was tensed. “Seokjin-ah,” Heeyeon started again as her eyes raked over the male omega’s body, “You have one hell of a wide shoulder, don’t you?” She casually slid a hand over his shoulder, not even noticing that he flinched, “You could easily pass as an alpha if it weren’t for your pretty face.”
She started massaging his shoulders, her fingers doing miracles as he felt all the tension seep away, making him sigh in pleasure. Heeyeon giggled lightly as she continued to massage all the stress and tension away. “I brought this little gift for you.” She pulled away as she took the bracelet from earlier and offered it to Seokjin, who gingerly accepted it. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
“It is,” Seokjin replied. Compared to the beaded bracelet that was given to him a few days back and the insignia of the Ahns, this one was simpler. It was a wooden bracelet with intricate carvings. Seokjin ran a finger to trace the markings on the accessory, marveling at its every single detail. There seemed to be a story going on, for there were men with spears and women with their children carved on the bracelet. He turned to Heeyeon in question, “What are these carvings for?”
Heeyeon gave him a small smile in return as she said in a hushed voice, as if she was telling a secret, “Well, this bracelet is no ordinary bracelet. It’s a holy one—blessed by the Bathala.” She explained, “It contains a story from our past, they all say. You see this man here?” She pointed to the man holding a spear and leading the other men to some kind of war.
Seokjin nodded at her as she continued, “According to our folklore, this man was the very first king of our Kingdom. In the past, the world was in chaos and people were hurt everywhere.” She turned the bracelet around and stopped at the little carving of a woman holding a child. Heeyeon pointed to that image and said, “The story started here—it started with a woman who protected her son.”
“Protected?” Seokjin blinked before he turned to Heeyeon, “Why? Was the baby in trouble?” He was fully invested in the story even before it began. In their little village, there was no such thing as little tales and folklore. However, his mom used to tell him little tales that his father once told her. Even if it were stories about men and women falling in love or how plants were named the way they were, Seokjin loved hearing stories. They made him forget, even for a moment, about the reality he was in. And even now, Seokjin loved hearing stories from others.
This caused Heeyeon to smile at him fondly before she resumed her tale, “You see, in the past, spirits were said to be vicious and scary. Remember what father said yesterday about sticking to stuff so they could possess us?” Seokjin nodded and the girl continued, “Spirits were people who could not move on from life, thus they continued to haunt those who are living. One day, a prophet told the people that one day will come and the spirits shall take over little kids and taint their kind souls. They will grow up as killers and slaughter their own families. Fear consumed the people and every single child was to be killed.”
Seokjin’s eyes widened at her words and he glanced down at the bracelet as Heeyeon turned it slightly. The next image was people slaughtering the children and Seokjin watched in horror at the unmoving picture. “But the mother defends the child, right?” Seokjin turned to Heeyeon in question to which she nodded.
She opened her mouth, about to continue her tale but the doors opened once more and in came Heeyeon’s alpha brother. “Heeyeon,” the man said before he stopped himself at the sight of Seokjin naked in the bath. His face turned crimson red as he turned away with an apology. The omega once again remembered his state of nudity and scrambled to cover himself.
“I told you several times,” The alpha said, addressing Heeyeon, “Don’t disturb others when they’re taking a bath.” He pulled the lady omega by the wrist and started dragging her out. He did his best not to look at Seokjin’s way in respect for the omega. Meanwhile, Heeyeon kept whining that she was not finished with her tale.
In the end, a red-faced Seokjin was left embarrassed and curious at the same time. He stared at the bracelet that Heeyeon left and wondered what had happened next.
The day went by uneventful. He spent it on lessons with Sejin and he also met a few mentors hired by the Ahns. With the presence of several tutors who were all helpful in their own ways, Seokjin learned several new things and he was grateful for their assistance. Everything was flowing well at the moment thus they allowed him to take a break. A break to which he used to spend time with Heeyeon and her alpha brother, who he now learned was named Jaehwan.
He learned later on that despite being the son of an Ahn, Jaewhan’s full name was Lee Jaehwan. Out of curiosity, Seokjin inquired about his different surname to which he discovered that in this kingdom, the surname depends on power. The Ahns are a powerful family however, Jaehwan married the daughter of the Lee Household—a family more powerful than the Ahns, hence why Jaehwan was the one to change his surname.
“In this Kingdom,” Jaehwan explained, “Power and money run everything. The wealthier you are, the more power you hold. At the moment, the King is the most powerful man in this Kingdom.” The alpha had a thoughtful look on his face as he added, “Because of power, it’s a very cut-throat place to be in, honestly.”
“Cut-throat?” Seokjin titled his head slightly as he asked, “Why?”
“You see because everyone wants to be wealthy and powerful, it’s almost as if this whole world is a contest.” There was a solemn look on Jaehwan’s face that Seokjin couldn’t decipher. He glanced at Heeyeon to see that she had a look of concern on her face, “It’s a little suffocating if you ask me. People make relationships not because of love, but simply because they saw that it was beneficial for them.” The alpha sighed as he finished, “It’s kinda sad.”
Seokjin can’t help but agree with his words. It is truly sad. It reminded him of himself at the very moment. He was to be given to some alpha not because they shared special feelings for each other, but because it benefited them. Because it was needed to save the people that Seokjin treasured. Although the omega knew that what he was doing was for the sake of his people, he still can’t help but feel a little melancholic about this whole ordeal.
However, being too sad won’t change anything and so he buried those thoughts deep under as he turned to the Ahns. Jaewhan shook his head and let out a small laugh, “Never mind about that,” he turned to Seokjin, “Since it’s your break, it’ll be the perfect opportunity to get to know you.” The alpha turned to his younger sister, Heeyeon, who now had a smile on her face. “What do you suggest we do?”
”I think before anything else, we should show him around the place.” Heeyeon’s eyes lit up at the thought, “Since he’ll be living here for a while, we could show him our special places and even our hiding spots.” She winked at Seokjin’s direction and earned a small laugh from her brother before he disagreed.
“Seokjin is still fairly new, you can’t just teach him our mischievous ways on his first day.” Jaehwan turned to the male omega with a smile on his face before he patted his head gently, “Besides, he seems like an absolute angel compared to both of us.”
“Hey!” Heeyeon exclaimed, “Are you implying that I’m a bad influence?” The lady turned to Seokjin’s direction and said, “Don’t listen to him, I’m a very nice person. Besides,” She smirked at her brother’s way, “if anyone’s a bad influence, it would be him because he’s the one who taught me his ways. There was this one-time eomma wanted to bring us to the Temple for prayers but brother and I always hated going there—I tell you, it’s boring!” She rolled her eyes at the thought before smiling, “So he took me with him and we hid inside our secret hideout for the whole day. Appa and eomma ended up going there without us.”
“It was fun,” Jaehwan smiled before he groaned, “But I can’t say the same thing when appa and eomma found us. They were so mad.” The siblings both winced at the memory before the alpha turned to Seokjin, “You’re a good kid so I guess it’s better to stay that way. You remind me so much of—“Jaehwan paused mid-sentence, eyes wide before his expressions changed to pain, guilt before he masked them with a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. He turned to Seokjin and patted his head, “Nevermind, what do you want to do today?”
Beside them, Heeyeon’s smile mellowed down but her lips were still curved up. Seokjin could tell however from the lack of luster in her eyes that she was affected by the words that Jaehwan uttered. Seokjin felt a little guilty about the fact that he understood what those words probably meant. It was just like what Sejin said—Seokjin reminded them of their deceased brother. He might not say it out loud but the thought of it kind of hurt.
I'm terribly sorry for the slow updates. There was supposed to be more of this chapter, however, I haven't used my laptop for over a week now and when I opened it earlier, the bottom half of this chapter was blank. I don't know how that happened or if I could retrieve the other half of this but I will try. But if I can't find it, I'm afraid that I'll have to rewrite the scenes again. So I'll post this for now and then I'll update this chapter later on when I finish typing the bottom half. I'll tweet when I finish writing the other half. As for now, I hope you guys enjoy what I have thus far.