It was a day like any other for the young prince, his leisure time spent by reading all the riveting encyclopedias of different kinds. Other than memorizing facts from the books and studying, there was nothing much to do in the palace so when he heard the feeble voice of his butler, asking Jimin to kindly come with him, he was beyond excited.
He knew it probably had something to do with being granted his own, personal knight that would stand by his side for the rest of his life. The rule was that knights always had to be older than the people they were protecting, but Jimin didn’t mind. The thought of having a new addition to his life made him giddy with happiness, impatient to meet the chosen one.
They arrived at the main hall where the staircases leading to ballrooms met, magnificent carpets spread in wide threads on the surface underneath them. Jimin could see his father's knight, Namjoon, standing in the doorway of their kitchen, chatting away with Seokjin.
“Those two,” he sighed, eyeing the slight tint of the medic’s cheeks as Namjoon explained what his last fortnight’s mission was about.
Only then did he notice the man standing by the knight’s side, leaning against the wooden panels stuck to the wall, overlapping each other and adding a luxurious touch to the already sublime chamber.
Ivory black was the shade of the person’s metal coverings on his body. The armour looked unnecessarily heavy in Jimin’s opinion but he paid no mind to it and looked up to the stranger’s face. Jimin startled when he locked eyes with the person who was presumably staring him down the whole time, and Jimin cast his gaze away the second it happened. They held each other’s eye only for a heartbeat yet the prince could feel his cheeks coloring, funnily worried about being judged by that relentless, scrutinizing gaze of the man.
Suddenly, Seokjin looked over Namjoon’s armour-bearing shoulder and noticed Jimin standing there. He pointed at him and muttered a few words to which the knight nodded and strolled over to the prince.
“Jimin-ah, good to see you again! How have you been?”
As Namjoon approached him, the stranger followed him, shuffling his feet lazily as he fingered the jewelled rings adorning his large hands. Jimin swallowed, clearing his throat before answering, “I’ve been very good, thank you for asking. Are you doing well? I haven’t seen you in a while.”
“Things have been going my way, so yes, one could say I’m very well. I’d like to introduce you to this man,” Namjoon gestured in the direction of the all-black stranger. Jimin fought the urge to gawk at his shoes in lieu of meeting the guy’s eyes, but years of good etiquette taught him that it would be impolite so he looked up as he offered his hand.
The man took Jimin’s hand, and instead of kneeling down and grazing his lips over Jimin’s knuckles like the prince was used to, he shook it almost violently and let go. Jimin was left staring at the stranger in disbelief, unhappily surprised by the behaviour which indicated the man’s rejecting of Jimin’s position as a prince.
He thought he heard Namjoon snort but he quickly covered it up by speaking again. “I think you know already what is this about. This person, Min Yoongi, is your knight.”
Jimin didn’t bother hiding his horrified expression, gasping when Namjoon finally introduced the man. “This person is supposed to be my protector? I refuse! Didn’t you see how rude was he just now?”
A bark of laughter echoed in the spacious place, and it came from none other than the stranger – Yoongi. “I never knew the prince would be such a brat, Joon, couldn’t you give this job to someone else?” Jimin felt a pang of shame in his stomach, offended by the, for him, foreign nickname.
“Who do you think you are talking to? My father could have your head whenever I wish!” He threatened and realized how childish, unsophisticated it sounded – protecting himself with his father’s authority over the citizens. Yoongi seemed to have picked up on that, too. “Using the king to shield yourself from insults? Pathetic.”
He flinched at the last word uttered and gave up on arguing at once, overcome with the need of making himself as small as possible and withdrawing from their war of words. He knew he was pitiful, hiding behind his father - he didn’t need to be reminded of that. He saw the blonde knight shove Yoongi harshly before saying rather desperately, “I don’t think there’s any need to argue. Jimin, please lead him to a spare bedroom where he will be staying.”
Jimin merely nodded, breaking out into a hurried stroll as he stormed through the great halls, clenching his jaw in order to will himself not to cry. He heard pants behind him, followed by, “Fucking slow down!” every now and then but he didn’t care.
He came to a halt in front of a pair of wooden doors, and knowing well the layout of the building, he didn’t have to check to know that the room was indeed an unoccupied bedroom. The entrance was left ajar which meant that no one was staying in it at the time. “Here’s your room.”
With that, he turned his back to Yoongi once again and rushed off to the safety of his trusty bedroom, his comfort zone where he was free of any more problems regarding his father or, from that day, his knight as well.
Jimin didn’t want to shed another river of tears – he ’d been crying enough over his arguments with his father, so he did his best to push back the tiny beads forming in his eyes. It didn’t take long for him to fall asleep, the disappointment from how it all turned out wearing him out and lulling him to a needed slumber.
All he wanted was a close friend but all he got was a conceited, arrogant knight in return.
The prince woke up to the sound of someone entering his room. He was a light sleeper, so even the quietest click of the door was enough to rouse him from his sleep. He felt his blood run cold as he spotted Yoongi sneaking around and settling in the furthest corner of the room, crossing his arms over his steel-plated chest.
Jimin’s heart was beating wildly all at once, partly scared – was this what knights were supposed to do? Wake up at some ungodly hour and break into their room to guard the ones they’ve “sworn to protect”?
“W-what do you think you’re doing?” Jimin stammered out, cursing his trembling voice when he did so. He felt exposed and vulnerable in his velvet robes which were transparent if you looked closely. Not to mention the fact that he wore nothing underneath.
He pulled the sheets up, covering his torso as well as he waited for an answer.
“My job,” was the reply Jimin got.
“Are you sure your occupation involves breaking into my room,” he spared a glance at the crevice in the curtains that hung loosely in front of the tall, narrow window, “when the sun isn’t even up?”
“Listen, princess,” the long-forgotten blush returned to the prince’s cheeks in full force at the remark, “you were the one who wished for a personal knight, so I don’t get what are you being so protective for. Besides, I’ve done this before.”
“I will claw your eyes out if you lay a finger on me.” Jimin gritted out, clutching a stray blanket laid over his pillows.
“Don’t call me that!”
No reply came after that - only a lingering silence. Jimin was still tired from the sea of emotions he went through the day before after being called pathetic, and his head bore a dull ache. With that in mind, he turned around carefully, his back towards Yoongi as he hugged the woolly duvet next to him, the soft, yellow texture soothing his skin as he started losing himself in the dreams of his mind.
Not an hour later he was already up, and for the first time in forever, he wished his body would crave for more sleep. The reason for that was the knight was still standing in the room in the same stance as if he hadn’t moved an inch the entire time, and when Jimin looked at him, they locked eyes in an awkward contact.
He tried to dodge the connection by looking down and, oh, his robe had ridden up whilst he was sleeping and oh, it was dangerously close to revealing his—
Jimin shot up, one hand flying up to force the robe down his thighs, the other one feeling around for his absent sheets. The dizziness that came at the sudden movement with the tightening flush on his cheeks made it all the more pressuring.
A sigh of needed relief left his lips when he finally took hold of the sheets, pulling them as close as he could in a matter of seconds. He glanced up from behind his naturally long eyelashes, and tears of embarrassment sprung to his eyes again.
What he didn’t expect was that Yoongi was respectfully looking down instead of ogling at him – he was used to that uncultured treatment. Whenever they had a ball or an arranged meeting that he attended, lots of men and women would gawp at him with no shame. He was aware of it, and that was the worst part – unless it was his butlers or maids, he didn’t feel comfortable with wearing something exposing in front of others.
So, as he looked at the knight to find his eyes trained downwards instead of on his frame, he felt an odd sensation unravel inside him, like a knot of apprehension being untied. Jimin shook his head to rid himself of the consuming, new-found feeling, and decided to make a conversation instead. “Do you plan on following me around the whole day and night?”
“As I’ve said,” he rasped, voice laced with a trace of tiredness, “it’s my job to assure that you are safe and protected from potential threats.”
“I don’t need that much protection, I’m not a baby.”
“You requested a loyal knight,” and with that sentence, their momentary talk died out.
Soon enough, a knock on the door was heard that shattered the tense atmosphere and in entered Jimin’s personal butler Taehyung. He had been friends with the butler ever since he was a tiny princeling, and considered him as a very close person - best friend, if you will.
Taehyung didn’t notice the knight standing in the room, so he dropped the calculated pretence of politeness and lunged into Jimin’s arms, enveloping the prince in a thick smell of his dated cologne. “Chim, I missed you so much! I couldn’t fall asleep the whole time I was away. I’m sorry, I didn’t know the trip would take so long.”
Jimin forgot about the knight, too, in a flash, and ruffled his friend’s sun-kissed, combed locks. “Tae, you’re heavy and smelly, get off me.”
“Is that how you greet your best friend?” He faked disappointment as he clutched his tuxedo to which Jimin responded with a light giggle. “As if you didn’t know me already.”
Taehyung did eventually scramble off his lap and stood up, strolling over to the large, beech closet. “What color do you feel like wearing today?” He asked, sweeping fingertips over the countless dozens of attires enriched with knitted threads of silk and cotton.
The prince thought for a good while, and Taehyung let him, only humming a foreign melody to Jimin’s ears which were still muffled with the after-effects of sleep. He eyed each of the robes with an eagle eye, and his hand unconsciously carded through the inky black hair at his nape as he thought of his preference.
Taehyung’s movements came to a halt when Jimin suddenly gasped out, “That one!” and his forearm sunk into the thick bundle of clothes, pulling out a brand new addition to Jimin’s wardrobe.
It was an azure blue gown, a beautiful one at that, made of unwrinkled, loose silk which reached all the way down to his ankles and was tinted with delicate, lilac purple at the hem of the long sleeves. The waistline of the dress was slit open and covered with a thin, translucent faille which toned flawlessly with the snow white beads of crystals attached to the neckline and shoulder part of the clothing.
Jimin had a mere second to think back to the number of gold coins he had to give up for the exquisite piece, but it still was so breathtakingly stunning, he couldn’t help himself.
“Alright, Chim, get up, we need to get you dressed up for the banquet.” Taehyung announced, carefully removing the royal attire from where it was squeezed in between the other ones.
Jimin was about to stand up, too, and his fingers were already hooked in the waistband of his robe when the sound of someone clearing their throat startled both of them.
Upon realizing that Yoongi was still in the room, he curled back up into the sheets protectively, but the knight didn’t waste too much time - he tipped his head forward in a polite gesture, hands flat against the sides of his thighs as he bowed. “I will wait outside.” With that, the raven-haired man stepped out of the room, his armoured legs accidentally scraping against each other and creating an uncomfortable, screeching sound.
When the doors closed again, Taehyung shot the other a questioning look, and with no further beating around the bush, Jimin explained what had happened in the past twenty-four hours.
“I don’t want him to follow me around all the time if he thinks he can be rude towards me for no apparent reason,” he reasoned, slipping into the flowy, graceful material of the dress. He knew that Taehyung, as a servant, was supposed to robe him, but he wouldn’t let his friend do any extra job if he didn’t have to.
“Well,” came a reply from the other, “I think this is partly your fault as well, Chim.” Jimin’s eyes widened almost comically, mouth agape as he glared daggers at his, most likely, former best friend.
“You’re telling me that I’m responsible for that attitude of his?” Taehyung remained unfazed by the deadly look and formed a boxy grin that had his chapped lips almost breaking by how wide it spread the skin. “I mean, we don’t know where is he from. Maybe it’s some kind of greeting in the country he lives in, and you jumped down his throat without asking him about it.”
Jimin finished dressing up and sat next to Taehyung on the bed, emitting a frustrated sound at the back of his throat as the butler laid his head in Jimin’s lap. “Do you think I overreacted after all, Taetae?”
“A little bit.” At times like those, he was always grateful for his friend’s honest, blunt opinions. It often helped him deal with things he thought were insignificant, and generally speaking, it was still better than if Taehyung lied to him.
Jimin nodded and became nervous when he realized what was about to come next. “You should apologize to him.”
He groaned, muscles tensing and relaxing as he let his body fall on Taehyung’s discarded tweed jacket, the material rough under the thin silk of his clothed back. “Tae, don’t make me do that.”
“Jimin, you have to,” Taehyung’s voice took on a hint of encouragement, as if telling Jimin it’s good to apologize. The prince responded with a whine, feeling his lips curl up into an unpreventable pout.
“He called me pathetic, though.”
“He called you pathetic after you called him rude without any reasoning.”
“Sometimes I hate just how many reasonings you have in every single topic we talk about,” Jimin muttered under his breath, spine bowing off the mattress before he stood up with Taehyung following him. Just as he was about to open the door, he turned back to Taehyung hesitantly. “He’s standing outside, Taetae.”
“I know,” he said, giving the prince a bit too strong slap on the shoulder, “that’s why you shouldn’t waste any time and say it the moment we walk out of this room.” And suddenly, the door was already opening- no, being opened by Taehyung and Jimin was shoved outside with no warning whatsoever.
Jimin tried punching his friend in return, but it ended up being a side fist-pump because the servant was already out of reach, grinning from one ear to another as he wiggled his fingers playfully. “Talk to you later, Jimin!”
He scoffed, hoping the other could see or hear the reaction. As he turned around, it got to him that Yoongi was staring at him, standing only a few steps away from him. Jimin swallowed thickly, the tension growing at the speed of light and forcing his eyes shut to avoid any more contact, be it an eye contact or the feeling of the palpably taut atmosphere.
Without any permission from his brain, his feet moved on their own and aimed for the first place that came to his mind - the greenhouse at the very back of the kingdom’s gardens, a line of opaque foliage of trees concealing the construction completely and leaving it a secret for people who were new to the kingdom.
Jimin didn’t have to look back to understand that the knight would, indeed, follow him everywhere. He knew by the soft clink Yoongi’s sheathed sword emitted every once in a while when it collided with his steel-plated thighs, as well as the creaking sound of the armour when the knight moved.
He was itching to talk, to at least say a word or two, because the burden of guilt from his, presumably, spurious prejudices was causing a growing, inner turmoil. He knew he had to say something first forasmuch it didn’t seem that the other would start speaking anytime soon.
“Is that ignorant behaviour normal for the country you come from?”
Great start, Park Jimin.
In spite of the prolonged silence, Yoongi didn’t get startled by the sudden question. His head, however, snapped up so quickly the prince actually stopped for a second to wonder whether the knight’s neck was intact.
As Jimin’s nonexistent luck would have it, their gazes caught on each other in the one millisecond they met. Jimin could see how the dark pupils, bound in its circular shape with a ring of a cinnamon brown iris, narrowed when the blinding rays of sunlight stabbed into his eyes upon looking up. Then the eye contact was no longer present - Yoongi disconnected it at that, most likely due to his eyes hurting from the unceasing light.
“Whatever it is that made you think of me as of ‘ignorant and rude’, I don’t care. I’m not going to argue with you like a kid,” calm, way too calm, that’s the way Yoongi answered, and it drove Jimin crazy although the reason was frighteningly unknown.
“Did you just call me a child?” He stopped walking altogether, heels of his flat slippers digging into a stray root of the berry bushes growing alongside the pathway, engulfing it completely with the untamed radicles.
Out of a nervous habit, he found purchase in the tips of his embroidered sleeves, tugging at them until they were coiled up in the balls of his fists. “Or an immature adult, if that makes it better.” Yoongi responded, yawning.
“Who do you think you are?” Irritation in Jimin snapped at the knight, barely keeping himself from shoving him off the pavement.
It was completely unheard of, for a- for an ordinary citizen like Yoongi to dare speak like this with the kinds of the royal bloodline. He had the audacity to address the prince of the country with such impudent names without thinking of the possible consequences!
“Oh, what now, are you going to threaten me with your father’s influence again?” The mock in Yoongi’s tone said it all - he was not afraid of whatever thought Jimin wanted to vocalize. The powerlessness began coursing through the prince’s veins painfully slowly, pulsing in each and every crease as if to tell him, “ you’re weak ”.
Jimin felt the sting on the skin of his palm before he realized what had happened - a sharp hiss from the other brought him back to reality, cutting off the provoked, angered daze he had been in. All of a sudden, there were few droplets of crimson substance travelling down Yoongi’s left temple, one of the beads straying away to his cheek.
The bitter, taunting laughter of the knight that reverberated through Jimin’s ears punched five more words out of the prince’s trembling lips: “Leave me alone for today.”
He wasn’t concerned about Yoongi knowing he was about to cry, that was if he registered his watery voice. He stomped off, making a beeline for the solacing greenhouse and he didn’t bother checking whether Yoongi was chasing him - he didn’t want to know and he prayed the knight would put two and two together and let him be.
It hurt, it hurt so much to be called weak, useless, pathetic. He had enough of that whenever he talked to his father - the king would always remind him of his negative traits, of his disinterest in swordsmanship or archery. He knew he wasn’t like his older brother Hoseok, married off to an affluent royalty of the neighbouring country due to his extraordinary language skills and unorthodox fighting strategies.
He knew he would never be good enough in his father’s eyes, but now that Yoongi came along and simply-
He jolted in surprise, tripping over his own ankles as the voice of the palace’s gardener echoed from behind him. He was already standing on the threshold of the narrow greenhouse, he noticed when he looked around for the source.
“Jeongguk,” he greeted with a slight nod, entering the greenhouse so the gardener could pass. The pruning shears he held indicated that he was about to trim the grapevines of the reddish clusters of grapes which perfumed the whole space with a sickeningly sweet scent. It was pleasant to Jimin’s sensitive nose, although it was a bit dizzying.
“Jimin-ssi, it’s unusual to see you here! Came to gobble up some grapes and strawberries?” He said as he popped one of the grapes in his mouth as well, setting the scissors down before that.
“No, I just needed to get my mind off… some things. Do you need help?” He gestured at the rust-covered pair of shears, making a mental note to tell the servants to buy Jeongguk new ones.
“I’ll handle it. Who was that guy you were with this morning?” Jeongguk asked carefully - he probably was there when their quarrel took place. He was one of the few people Jimin trusted with everything, so despite his annoyance, he explained the recent events all over again, just like he did to Taehyung.
Jeongguk was silent for a while. “So, you’re telling me that you got into a fight with this- uh, knight of yours, because of a handshake?”
“What’s a handshake?”
Jeongguk sighed exasperatedly, his palm slapping against his forehead in a gleeful yet annoyed manner. “Jimin-ssi, a handshake is when two people hold and shake each other’s right hand as a greeting!”
“Hold on,” he croaked out, head swimming in endless thoughts - had he been the cause of their falling-out after all?
“Why did no one tell me that handshakes exist?!” Jimin barked at Jeongguk, and retreated immediately - he knew the younger wasn’t at fault. It was just frustrating, knowing that this was all his fault yet he denied it and pressed on with his hostile demeanour.
“You don’t have to go and apologize right now, I guess,” Jeongguk told him, snapping his shears as he toyed with them. “Give it a day or two, and then try talking to him. But, from what I’ve heard, it’s unusual for knights to get exchanged, so unless you want the rest of your life to be uncomfortable, I’d swallow my pride and apologize.”
Jimin didn’t want to hear any of that anymore. He was already fed up with everything and the current situation wasn’t making it any better. Snatching a bunch of grapes from its grapevines, he stormed out of the greenhouse, throwing a rushed “see you” over his clothed shoulder.
The walk back to his chambers was excruciatingly slow, and his heartbeat picked up on speed with each corner to pass. There was a worried feeling settled deep in his gut that he would run into the knight and it was making him antsy, hands fidgeting and picking on the silk fabric of his gown.
He eventually made it to his room, slumping against the cold wall after entering. It had been so exhausting lately, and just when he thought that it was getting better, that he was about to befriend someone, it turned out to be an utter failure.
Jimin knew he had to apologize, and that was the worst part - he was fully aware of it and the knowledge ticked him off to no end. Groaning, he pressed his forehead, which was covered with a thin sheen of sweat, against the creases of his wrists. “This is going to be difficult.” He heard himself say, voice bouncing off the hollow walls of the palace.
Then there was a knock on the wood of his doors. He knew exactly who it was - there was only one person in the whole kingdom who tapped the wood the way his father did. Two barely audible thumps, followed by three harsh ones.
He felt anxiety and distaste swelling in the pit of his stomach, unpleasantly surprised that the king would come seek him out; it almost never occurred. His legs were trembling when he came up to the door and pulled it open, but then the iron handle was torn out of his grasp when the doors flew open.
“What did you do to knight Min?!” His tone, too, was harsh and it scraped against Jimin’s hearing receptors the second it reached his ears. The king was no longer a young or a middle-aged man; his brownish hair was long gone, replaced by few strands of grey which hadn’t fallen out yet, and his voice was scratchy and uncomfortable to listen to.
A shove pushed him backward. “I asked you a question, you-”
Oh, how he wished his mother was still alive. He wished she could be there to help him, hell, he wished he was the one getting crushed under the hooves of the royal palace’s draught animals instead of his mother. The woman was so, so kind-hearted and behaved, and she was the pillar who always supported him. Until her death two months ago.
“What is it to you anyway?” Jimin snapped back at him, swatting away the arm that had been gripping his shoulder, hard . The jewels on the top of Jimin’s rings dug into the king’s skin when their hands collided, and he yelped in pain as he withdrew his arm.
“How dare you speak to me like that, you disgrace,” it stung to be called a disgrace by your own father, Jimin knew, but he didn’t comment on it. He was used to it after all.
“He is my knight, not yours. We signed a contract beforehand, father, you cannot argue with me on this topic. Please leave if that is all you wanted to tell me,” he gritted out through his teeth which were clenched shut. He prayed, hoping that the king wouldn’t bring up that one topic he was so scared of, yet he did. “Why do you think you have the right to call me your father?” He snarled.
“You’re a childish good-for-nothing, you do not deserve to call yourself my son,” he was back at it again , his usual habit was to tell Jimin exactly how much hatred he stored for the prince. “Actually, wait, you don’t even call yourself a man anymore, do you? You wear robes sewn for princesses, so one could say you’re calling yourself my daughter , Jimin.”
He shuddered, his body breaking out in cold sweat when he felt the first waves of his well-known anxiety attack nearing. He hated it, the helplessness when he lost control of his body and was consumed with anxiety and horror, so he tried to push it away.
“Whatever. Get out,” Jimin shoved him back, and kept on repeating the action until the king, surprised by the prince’s abrupt actions, was standing on the threshold of the doorway. His mouth gaped like a fish stuck in a bundle of plants, left to die, and with a final sharp nudge, the king was practically thrown out of the prince’s room.
Jimin was trembling and sweating, his throat constricting when the nauseous feeling of bile rising up his throat appeared after he shut the entrance. From what he’d learned about himself, he was sure that deep breathing would help him the most, so with a final look on his surroundings, confirming that he was alone, his eyelids fluttered shut. He took a deep, long breath which breached his airways with a dull ache yet he tried to hold it in for as long as he could before exhaling. His eyes stung, and he didn’t bother holding the tears in. He let himself crash on the floor next to the bed, legs giving underneath him quickly.
It hurts, it hurts, it hurts , Jimin’s mind chanted like an orison being concluded. He couldn’t take it; what did he do? Was he not good enough for his father? Was it really so shameful for the king to have a son which doesn’t find swords or women interesting?
His body seized when a mantra of convulsing sobs ripped its way out of his lungs, fingers carving crescent, blood-filled shapes into the thin layer of skin of his knees. He felt ugly, useless, disgraceful, disappointing, and no matter how hard he tried to erase that line of thinking, it just wouldn’t go away.
With these echoing, present notions, he barely registered his exhausted body giving up, head falling backward against the mattress as he fell asleep. The tears were still streaming down his face, the brows knitted together in a frown even in deep slumber.
For what seemed like an eternity, Jimin couldn’t gather any of his usual cheerful spirit. In fact, two days had passed yet he knew it was expected - he was always like that after the exchange of words with his father. He exited his room only minimally but left the door ajar in case Taehyung decided to visit him, and as always, he buried himself in the dusty books of his bookshelf.
The letters and sentences of different composition wrapped around him and forced the forlorn thoughts out of his obstinate mind which found it hard to let go of them. The current novel he had been perusing was of a boy who had fallen in love with a girl he was destined to marry. The twisted turn of events, however, was that the girl was blind, and deaf, too, so she never learned how to trust someone other than her family, and the boy was devastated by the rare occurrence.
Jimin let his body curl in on the strong shiver that ran down his spine upon trying to put himself in either of their shoes. He ducked his head closer to the blemished page of the book as he tried to understand the context - the writer, who was a friend of the royalty, was very old, and his word use was a lot harder to decipher and comprehend. The work of art was prosaic and Jimin was glad for that seeing as poetry had a cornucopia of metaphors he was too exhausted to fully grasp.
As per usual, he was swallowed up in his blankets as well as the thirteenth chapter he had been reading when the, unfortunately, the familiar sound of metal tasset clinking and scraping against the sheath of Yoongi’s sword appeared. Faintly, it could be heard down the hall and Jimin knew if the door wasn’t left open, he wouldn’t have picked it up.
The prince, who had been lying on his belly, rose up on his hands, lifting the upper part of his torso as he peeked over the curve of his shoulder, eyes narrowing. The zone of his room was shielded with thick, veneered curtains which prevented any of the intense sunlight from slipping inside. But, the corridor connecting all the rooms, he could see, was engulfed in floods of the piercing light.
Then, the light was there no more.
Instead, a figure appeared in the slit of the double-winged doors, and Jimin’s eyes had to refocus properly in order to take in the knight’s full frame. His shoulders were as strong and broad as they always were, judging from the few times they interacted with each other, and his jet black armour was now polished, ridden of any corrosion and matching the locks adorning his head.
“Good afternoon,” Jimin found himself saying, undeterred by the previous futile attempts of starting a conversation. The greeting signified Jimin’s invitation for the knight to come inside, and he saw through it in a flash, pushing the door open with his left gauntlet.
Once Yoongi was close enough, Jimin winced at the sight of his temple and cheek - there was still a scratch from where Jimin’s nails had sunk too deep in the flesh. Patches of skin were forming over the tissue of the wound, and the area around it was painted with a blend of violet and yellowish color. Jimin never knew he would be capable of hitting someone so powerfully.
“Same to you,” Yoongi answered suspiciously softly, his monotone voice subdued as if hinting an apology.
Was he going to apologize? Before Jimin did?
The lone idea of Yoongi even uttering the one, five-letter word made his heart clench. He reassured himself it was only because of the guilt which hadn’t been digested since the time he found out it had been his fault all along, the way they talked to each other.
“Yoongi, I,” the name rolled off his tongue easily, much to his surprise, and he was so consumed in how to voice his regret that he completely forgot about any honorifics. He was aware of the knight being older seeing as the rule clearly stated that the prince’s protector had to be older than Jimin himself yet he completely shrugged off any necessary titles.
“I’m – ,” he cut himself off and willed his eyes to meet Yoongi’s unreadable ones. “I apologize for the commotion I caused between us,” he gestured all over the knight, then himself, then the space between us as he struggled to find any other suitable words. “Recently, I found out that I had been the one at fault because of, uh, I think it was called a handshake? Yeah, that - I didn’t know that it actually existed, so I thought you were rejecting my position as one of the royal bloodline when you shook it so violently.”
Yoongi’s lips parted around a, presumably, forming sentence so Jimin promptly raised a finger to show he was not done. “I’m going to be completely honest; I don’t want to argue with you like this anymore, it’s just that I thought you were trying to insult me ever since that day, so I took everything way too seriously.”
One deep, long intake of breath. “Again, I’m sorry.” Jimin had no clue where was all this coming from, but he was glad that he finally had the chance to put it vocally, and frankly, it wasn’t that difficult after all.
The whole time he was talking, though, his insides were in an inner battle, telling him to look away because the gaze of the knight was so observant and dark, it was unbearable. He didn’t cast his gaze on the floor which he was thankful for, but it was still confusing and it had his head spinning a little.
“‘S okay, I was about to apologize too,” Yoongi slurred a little and crouched down, the metal barely allowing him to move to such position as the bars creaked in protest. Upon gaining an even eye level with the older, Jimin could properly examine the wound on Yoongi’s face in detail and the guilt in his stomach swelled even more.
“I should’ve asked you why did you get angry in the first place instead of calling you a brat,” Yoongi seemed to be weighing his options of what to say with each syllable he emitted. His hands subconsciously came up, fingers crooked as he tried to explain his point of view. “It definitely wasn’t polite or nice of me to call you all those names. Sorry about that.”
Jimin hummed in response and when Yoongi didn’t say anything, he finally broke the staring contest and heaved a drawn-out sigh. A heavy, tense, but most of all awkward silence followed, the unknown feeling of peace settling into their surroundings all at once. Jimin wasn’t sure whether to try and make a small talk, and neither was Yoongi judging from the thick, audible swallowing of his throat.
At least there’s no more hostility , Jimin’s mind added quite unhelpfully, unable to supply with something of use. He shifted his feet out of habit, uncrossing them and lifting them up as he rested his chin in the palms of his hands. Legs moved back and forth in a swinging, nervous manner as he dared one more peek at the knight and oh, their gazes locked again.
It was awkward yet it felt new - in a positive way - and Jimin cleared his throat, squirming at the embarrassing crack in his voice when he asked, “So, uh, how is your face healing?” He fought himself not to groan and slam his head against the headboard of the bed. Again, it was a brilliant start of a conversation.
Yoongi snorted, and Jimin felt some of the tension fall off immediately upon hearing the noise. “You suck at talking to people, you know that?” Jimin huffed at the comment and freed one of his hands from under his chin to shove Yoongi off his balanced posture. It worked, though, because the knight wasn’t expecting it and ended up falling flat on his bottom with a dull thud.
“Didn’t we just establish peace between us?” The prince muttered through his pout, brows knitting together when he tried to glare at Yoongi. He wasn’t having any of it, though, and hopped up in a second. “Never said I wouldn’t pick on you,” he retorted smartly and Jimin scoffed, sparing a glance at the page he’d been reading - 159 - and closing the book. He threw one of his legs over the other, flipping himself around so he was lying on his back.
With one last look at Yoongi, he sat up in his bed, the sheets now pooling around his hips when he shrugged them off his shoulders. For a good long while, he just sat there as he took in the surroundings properly; he had been so engrossed in his books that he didn’t notice how the geranium plants by his window had wilted, the flowers now resting their petals on the rim of earthenware pot they’d been grown in.
“ – are beautiful,” Jimin heard and snapped his head in Yoongi’s direction. “What was that?” He asked to which the knight’s features strained for a heartbeat before replying, “I was saying that the – the flowers look nice. Did you grow them?” Jimin made a sound of agreement at the back of his throat and then Yoongi stood up, one hand resting on the pommel of his sword as he strode over to the window. In a quick motion, he pulled the curtains open and Jimin’s eyesight was not met with a pleasant scenery.
“What- Yoongi, no, draw the curtains, please!” He didn’t realize he whined at the knight, but honestly, he couldn’t care less - the light was burning and clawing his eyes out, for god’s sake!
“Come on, get up, you’ve been holed up in here for god knows how long. You had a couple of banquets to attend which the king took care of already,” he informed, leaning against the closet and crossing his arms in front of the metal breastplate he had been wearing. Jimin froze at the mention of his father and nodded stiffly, not quite in the mood to explain Yoongi why he had skipped them, or why had he been closed up in there the whole time.
If Yoongi saw the way Jimin’s shoulders slumped dejectedly, he didn’t question it and eyed the boy’s attire once instead. “Are you wearing that?” Jimin, too, examined his own clothing and shrugged, lip jutting in a carefree manner. It was the season of nature’s awakening; trees and flowers which had lost their leaves, needles or petals coming to life once again, and it certainly wasn’t freezing outside, so even with his flimsy, paper-thin robe of the color of crimson rose, he wasn’t cold. “Yeah, I want to.”
It took him some time to get adjusted to walking again - he hadn’t moved out of his bed for more than forty-eight hours, and all the food that had been carried directly into his room was left to rot on his desk.
“Have you eaten anything?” Concern was what he heard in Yoongi’s voice, and he secretly hoped the knight had actually been worried although that sort of seemed like a laughable thought.
“Well,” he started, fiddling the nearest accessible object - his rings - whilst keeping his head down, not daring to form an eye contact. Sauntering across the hall where the said banquet was supposed to take place, their direction of walking suddenly leaned dangerously quickly to the left when Yoongi’s fingers came up to wrap around the boy’s elbow, tugging on it impatiently. No words were exchanged, but both of them knew where the knight was aiming - the kitchens.
“I don’t want to eat anything, I promise I won’t faint on you here,” he tried to persuade the knight but he just- he wouldn’t let go, his grip way too strong for Jimin to wriggle out of yet gentle enough not to hurt him.
“Look, I swore to protect you, and if that means dragging your ass to the dining area every day then I’ll do it.” The inkling of Yoongi letting on less than he actually meant to say bloomed in Jimin’s chest, and for some ungodly reason, he felt his cheeks fill with blood and color ever so slightly as his mind repeated Yoongi’s vow.
Especially the “I swore to protect you.” part.
A whiff of what smelled like mutton broth breached Jimin’s nose out of the blue and the unexpected, enveloping feeling of the food mixed with overly warm, damp air made his head spin a little. Before his knees could buckle under him, there was a feeling of metal curling around his frame and he knew it was Yoongi’s arm that was preventing him from plummeting down onto the tiled floor. He shut his eyes regardless, only slitting one open when the knight coaxed him to move from where he was glued to the ground.
“Jesus, you almost collapsed from smelling the food,” he mumbled under his breath yet it was loud and clear enough for Jimin to hear the scolding frown linked in the remark. He gave up, letting the knight lead him through the wings of the large kitchen and dining area until they spotted Seokjin standing by one of the kitchen’s beginners. Yoongi was unusually familiar with the surroundings as well as the milieu of others and it was no surprise when he nodded his head in greeting towards the medic.
Aiming towards him, Yoongi’s hand never let go of Jimin and it had his insides flipping for mysterious reasons he had yet to uncover. “Jin,” he accosted him, pushing at the prince’s side until he was standing in front of Yoongi. “Give him something to eat.”
“Nice to see you too, Yoongi,” Seokjin squeezed out, scowling to show his disgust when he tasted the sauce the chef beginner had been working on. He stepped forward a little bit, scanning Jimin from head to toe and drawing an irritated breath. “Are we back to the same thing again? Jimin-ah, I told you not to starve yourself over that guy! Just don’t listen to him and you’ll be fine. You don’t have to attend the banquet feast tonight, I’ll talk to the king for you.”
Jimin thought he felt Yoongi’s hand twitch and strengthen the hold for a fraction of a second, but then the warm grasp was gone due to him retracting his arm. “Jin,” his presence, a stern one, matched his tone when he spoke, and the name itself made the medic jolt, rushing over to the nearest available source of food.
Not only did he bring a bowl filled to the very edge of its rim with the broth but also four slices of freshly-baked bread. The sight would’ve been mouth-watering had Jimin been in the mood to eat until the substance was leaking out through his ears.
“Here it comes, my special broth!” No one seemed to know why would a medic also be the head of the kitchen yet none of the chefs bothered to try and talk to him properly on the issue. “I don’t really think I can eat all this,” Jimin muttered and repeated himself when he saw that no one was listening. “I’m not telling you to eat all of it,” was Yoongi’s answer.
Jimin looked around, searching for that one person who would make him lose his appetite had he seen him. He heaved a sigh of relief when his eyes spotted no one but the labour force and he walked to the dining hall with Yoongi following him. The pot wasn’t too heavy but he still hadn’t regained all of his physical strength - it drained him completely to hide in his chambers. Yoongi probably saw the slight quiver in his arms because the bowl was suddenly gone and in Jimin’s hands were only the slices of bread on a tray.
Jimin chose not to comment on it and mouthed a silent “thank you” at the knight. He nodded in return and together, they pushed open the doors and were met with at least fifty pairs of eyes. “Your Majesty!” Some of the servants cried out - he was in a relatively friendly relationship with all of them and always told them to drop the honorifics but they just wouldn’t listen.
“If any of you have been worrying about me, then please don’t, there’s no need to. I’m completely fine!” He reassured them and the chirpy tone seemed to help because most of them sat back down. Yoongi then placed an arm around the prince again, leading him towards the only table which wasn’t occupied.
“Will you just get to it already? You can talk to them later, you know,” Jimin was rather entertained by the impatience almost seeping out of Yoongi, and before he knew it, a giggle left him. Ah, it had been a long time since he last laughed without forcing the sound to come out.
“What,” Yoongi snapped but no animosity was present. Jimin shook his head repeatedly, “nothing”, as he sat down on the oiled, lumber bench by the table.
The first few spoons had his stomach flipping uneasily, refusing the steaming fluid in its digestive system. He took his time, though, and Yoongi sat there and stared. And stared. And it was driving the prince insane.
“Tell me,” Jimin said around a mouthful of the bread crust, “where… why did you come here? I thought you were from another country?” He didn’t mean to sound too prying; it was none of his concern. What piqued his interest was that Yoongi leaned forward, stretching his hunched posture out as he told Jimin, “It’s a long story. I’d have to start from the very beginning.”
Met with silence, Yoongi propped his head in his palm, hissing when he leaned against his bruised temple as he began telling the tale of his life. “I was born to a family of three - my mom, dad and younger brother - Namjoon, as you probably know him. My parents were of a higher milieu so we didn’t have financial issues. Despite that, they wanted both of us to serve under the king,” there was one detail baffling Jimin - other than the fact Namjoon and Yoongi were blood-related, he was extremely perplexed by the man’s abilities. As he was explaining the entirety of his childhood, his eyes stayed alert. Alert in case enemies were to strike at any given moment.
“I wanted to be a pianist at some point in my life,” his voice turned wistful, distrait for a split second before he continued, “but I wanted to impress my parents first, so I had to follow my brother’s steps eventually. When I saw that you’d been looking for a knight, I quickly latched onto it and persuaded Namjoon to give me a chance.” His face betrayed him and flashed a sliver of regret when he recollected his thoughts and ended with, “I wasn’t taught how to behave around the monarchs, that’s why I thought a handshake would be appropriate.”
“Let’s just,” Jimin hurried to swallow the piece of chewed meat to reply, “forget that it happened. You didn’t know and I didn’t know either - our quarrels were just the outcome of one big misunderstanding.”
Jimin waited for Yoongi’s agreement on the topic, and when the latter nodded, Jimin spoke again, “I’m sorry for making your job very, uh,” the wild gesturing of his hands was there once more, “unpleasant. I think I didn’t express myself clearly before but I would like to start all over again, if you don’t mind.”
Jimin put his spoon away after the last sentence, the bowl full of broth now magically empty with only fractions of bones left from the meat. The knight was the first one to stand up from where he was sitting in front of the prince and circled around the table swiftly. He reached out one of his hands for Jimin to take, and when he did, Yoongi pulled him up from the seat.
What followed next was almost startling.
The older knelt down and drew Jimin’s hand closer so that the back of his palm was facing upwards. His head ducked ever so slightly, and when the rough skin of his lips made contact with the prince’s knuckles, Jimin felt the pretty blush of his coming back. Yoongi’s other hand was bent and tucked behind his plated back when he introduced himself for the second time.
“Min Yoongi. Your new , personal knight,” he uttered sotto voce, and it made Jimin’s skin break out in goosebumps. “Y-Yoongi, that wasn’t necessary,” he whispered back, looking at all the butlers and maids who had their mouth hung open. He played along nonetheless. “Park Jimin, the prince of The Cellenistial Kingdom.”
Jimin felt the grin against his fingers before he saw it, and then the knight braced himself against the table as he stood up. “That wasn’t so hard,” Jimin thought he heard the other mutter quietly.
The rest of the day - around four hours - rolled by fairly quickly, the pair never failing to exchange at least a word or two hither and thither. Jimin visited the library wing like he always would, and spent approximately one hour explaining the plot of his favourite book to Yoongi when the knight asked. It was heartwarming, he admitted, to establish this neutral borderline friendly status among them. He’d grown a little more comfortable around Yoongi, and he hoped it was all the same for the other.
They were in front of Jimin’s room, the large oak doors ajar just the way the prince left them before. He spared a glance at the knight behind him and pulled them open, shyness crawling on him when Yoongi followed him inside. “Are you going to,” he struggled, “stay here today?”
“I can go outside if you want – ”
“No!” He would’ve smashed his forehead against the ground had he not been so invested in reasoning himself. “No, I was just wondering. You can stay.”
“Or, actually,” Jimin started again, the heat in his cheeks returning, “could you- would you be so kind and leave for just a minute? I – I need to change,” he stammered out, scrunching up the black, laced layer on the waistline of the gown with his hands. Yoongi hummed, and although there was a shred of amusement in the melody, he politely exited.
For a short-lived moment, Jimin stared at the handle of the door. Shaking his head, he unfastened the lustrous ruby clasping his robe and let the wrinkled yet smooth garment pool around his ankles. He stepped out of it with ease, and shivered when a gust of wind lashed right against his skin, the source being the window of tinted glass. The weather was nowhere nigh glacial, that was true, but the night’s breeze was still a bit chilly.
Without looking, he snatched the first nightwear that was folded neatly on a pile of tens of other ones. It bore a seafoam green shade and luckily, it wasn’t as thin as the previous ones he’d worn whilst in the company of the knight, so he slipped it on. Nails caught on the fuzzy textile here and there, but other than that, he didn’t have difficulties with putting it on his narrow figure.
Uncertain, he jumped into the safety of his bed and sheets, pulling them up over his shoulders as he informed Yoongi, “You can come in.”
It was impossibly hilarious, just how nervous he was, unbeknown to him as to why exactly was he feeling such tingle. The knob turned and in entered Yoongi. He was careful, as if worried about scaring the prince, but he eventually slipped through the opening and stood in the corner just like before.
“When do you even sleep?” Jimin questioned upon remembering that Yoongi was going to guard him all night.
“I’ve been trained to rest my body without being fast asleep. I will probably lean against the wall and doze off. I’m still on alarm, though, I’m not that tired so don’t worry.” His tone, and his face, too, told a different story - his eyes were bloodshot, although the color wasn’t as harsh. Jimin wondered why he felt so guilty; the feeling had his muscles almost tightening when it appeared.
For an instance, Jimin thought about saying something, but after a brief, inner debate with himself, he decided against it and made a sound of acknowledgment. This time, however, he didn’t turn away. He pulled the sheets up like he always would, now covering both his shoulders and his chest as he lay down. The mattress was of a fine quality, the cotton filling fleecy underneath him.
“Good night,” he murmured, doubting that the knight had heard him but it felt right to say it. Flushing weakly, he turned his head around and buried his face in the cushion resting under his head.
A moment after, Yoongi replied. “Night, Jimin.”
Oddly enough, Jimin’s breath hitched when the knight uttered his name for the first time with such ease, and what was even stranger was that he didn’t mind the loss of honorifics. With an unfamiliar sensation of satisfactory blossoming deep inside him, he felt the blackness of night blanket his mind.
“Now that the discussion of the subject matter of taxes is done,” the king’s voice boomed in the high-ceilinged, capacious assembly room, “what shall we talk about? I hear you had some other topics to voice your thoughts on.”
The said banquet, which Jimin had been avoiding for longer than he should have, was taking place three days later. There were tiny bits of his conversation with Yoongi constantly replaying themselves in his mind; he had talked to the knight every day since “re-introducing” each other. It wasn’t much but even the most basic, insignificant details were new to him, and he was beaming about getting to know Yoongi properly, about throwing their beginning, which had started off the wrong foot, behind their heads. All this was pushed to the back of his mind, however; the feast was indubitably nerve-wracking and distracting.
Frankly, the prince was clueless about what were they conferring about. His hands, as per usual, were tangled in the golden tassels of rich, damask table linen, twisting and wearing the tufted cloth. He had been edgy and agitated ever since his father and King Jung met; they normally backbit everyone they came across, be it a maid, a noble or even the neighbouring acquaintances. Jimin was no exception, and although they never talked badly in front of the prince himself, he knew they did talk about him behind his back more than often.
Jimin shifted in his seat, uneasiness and nervousness making his skin crawl rather unpleasantly. In all likelihood, they would stumble upon the topic of the prince’s marriage, and the lone thought of being judged straightforwardly by the two elders had him full-body shuddering.
“-out you, Jimin?” Hearing his name fall from Jung’s lips made him flinch, unfocused eyes looking for a place to stare at as he asked, “May I ask you to repeat that, please? I was not listening.”
The King’s wrinkly face shifted into what seemed like a concerned frown. Had Jimin not known better, he would’ve thought the monarch was actually troubled by the prince’s mind trailing off. “I asked whether you’ve thought about marriage yet. Your age will soon surpass twenty-five years, after all.” It was as if thousands of tonnes of weight had been thrown at him, breaking all his bones as his body went rigid.
I was right, oh god, he is going to ask me about it , Jimin could hear only roughly - his ears were stifled with an unyielding pressure that had his temples flaring up in pain.
The question had been aimed at him, yet the first one to break the silence was not the prince. “Jung, you don’t have to ask him that. He won’t get a wife since he himself wants to be one.” Much to Jimin’s disgust, his father - he wasn’t sure whether to call the man that title anymore - barked a laugh, slapping the other king’s shoulder in a playful manner. Jimin’s stomach was lurching, pulsating sickness spreading inside and threatening to spill.
He wanted to say something, he needed to say something. Even so, nothing but ragged breaths made their way out of him, and the king continued. “Jimin, my friend, will never be suitable for anyone. He is nothing but immature, girlish sluggard who has the audacity to address me as his father.”
Stop, please, he begged.
“Not to mention that some screws in his head are loose, you know; he’s attracted to males! Such ignominy to share the same blood with someone like him.” King Jung, too, was grinning repugnantly, eyeing Jimin from across the set table like they were talking about weather. His father went on speaking, unbothered by the pale, nauseating hue of Jimin’s skin. “Had I not been gifted with Hoseok, he would’ve been thrown out the second I found out about this true nature of his.”
Shut up, shut up, please, just shut up.
“Soo-jeong was a beautiful woman, no doubt, but god was she blind... She loved him! He drove her insane, I bet that’s why she decided to jump under the hooves of those wild horses-”
He thought he could feel remnants of glass burrowing into his palm and fingers. He paid no mind to the stabbing pain and shot up so abruptly the chair underneath him flipped over, the contact of wood and tiled floor making the room’s atmosphere shake. His cheeks felt wet, drenched and cold, and oh , he had been crying throughout the whole conversation.
“I’m leaving,” his voice was hoarse, throat parched, and he was glad he managed to force the two words out of him before he turned around. Breaking out into hurried strides, he ignored the snickers and the two pairs of eyes which soared holes into his back.
His feet carried him to his room without him noticing it, and truthfully, he didn’t care about the countless times he tripped over his feet, the two occasions where he actually fell down. His knee popped uncomfortably as the weight fell on it, and he could feel the rip of his gown before he heard it - again, not that he cared.
His lungs were burning, refusing to accept any more of the lungfuls of dry, foul air in the palace which was filled with dust from the old statues in every corridor. Without realizing it, his mind briefly flashed back to Yoongi and for an instant, he thought of what the knight would say.
, his head told him.
He’d worry , his heart retorted.
Jimin’s eyes then spotted the familiar shapes carved into oak and without a second thought, his arms reached for the knob, turning it harshly and slamming the door once he was inside. Tiny beads of sweat traced the bridge of his nose, he knew with the way it tickled his nose and slid down, joining the waterfall of his tears. He didn’t bother looking in the reflection of the mirror to know he was a dishevelled mess; his hair was all over the place, the black strands sticking out in various shapes and lengths, cheeks flushed from exertion, the capillaries in both eyes filled with angry red.
Nearly barreling into the drawer opposite his window, he staggered over to his bed and let himself fall. Vaguely, he thought of all the time he spent in the room; most likely at least one third of his blue life. Scoffing at his own pathetic self, he made the mistake of evoking the things his father said.
His chest tightened excruciatingly so, and all he could do was curl up on himself as another wave of regret, pity and hatred washed over him like thousands of untamed seas. The sobs he emitted thrashed his body like a leaf in a tropical storm. His muscles were taut and screaming for release, for some kind of relief which the prince couldn’t provide them with, too preoccupied with drawing proper intakes of breath.
Undoubtedly, Jimin was babbling something along the lines of “ no ” and “ stop ” but everything was hooded, in a haze of some sorts, and his vision was losing its quality as the seconds passed by. Fingers reached up and pressed over his ears, begging for escape from the gnawing thinking of his head, the words of his father echoing like a requiem being declaimed.
He hated it all. Everything. Himself. His father. His life. His guilt. His tastes. His –
The prince’s entire figure jerked as if it had been struck by a lethal lightning strike, and he feared the worst - his father had come for him. Jimin whimpered, teeth digging into the flesh of his lower lip so painfully deep it took less than a heartbeat to draw blood. His nails, too, decorated the skin around his ears with crimson shapes of half-moons as his body trembled and quivered .
“Jimin, please look at me,” the sound was just a little clearer; the person could be identified as Yoongi. The discovery felt something akin to his body being rid of dozens of heavy, rusty chains which shackled his feet to the bottom of an ocean, and he finally could take a proper inhale.
Hands shaking - partially from the amount of glass stuck in them and cutting through the flesh - he dared uncover his hearing and the only sound that he could hear was the melody of leaves on the crowns of trees rustling- no, no, it was the sound of a person shushing...?
“Jimin, your father isn’t here,” Yoongi whispered, his calloused hands hovering over the boy until they settled on the top of Jimin’s bloody ones and cajoled them to retract slowly. “Shh, it’s okay, don’t you cry anymore.”
“Yo-Yoongi,” Jimin croaked, throat sore and rough as sandpaper with the way it hurt when he tried to mumble the knight’s name. “Yoongi, I’m- I’m sorry, I really didn’t m-mean to, she fell by herself, i-it wasn’t my-”
Yoongi’s finger swept over the prince’s lips delicately, lightly, as if he was dealing with a wounded cub of a wild animal. He shook his head, “ no ”, and brought one hand behind Jimin’s back, lifting his torso with impeccable ease. “I know it wasn’t. Come on, Jimin, you need something to drink.”
Yoongi handed him an ornamented jug of what seemed like water with few slices of lime soaking in the translucent substance. He helped Jimin, holding it in a steady position as the younger tipped it over and downed it in one go, letting his throat come to life again.
“Good, there you go,” the knight praised him and even ruffled his hair gently as he took the vessel away from Jimin’s lips. He was so, so caring and gentle, a contrast to his hitherto behaviour, and Jimin was too tired to make his body cooperate with his will. Thus, with a snivel, he let his torso collapse against the kneeling knight, and honestly, even the cold, rough mail armour was still far more comfortable than the lonely mattress.
Or maybe it had something to do with the fact that it was Yoongi.
“Yoongi,” Jimin tried again, a strayed stream of fresh tears piling up in the dip between his collarbones. He didn’t know what was it that he wanted, but the need of saying the knight’s name, of reassuring himself that Yoongi was still by his side was far too powerful to be ignored.
“What is it,” Yoongi replied, and his stance was so strong and stable Jimin pondered whether he would ever move from the position. The prince also noted that the other no longer wore gauntlets, and the harsh yet soft palms covering over his own made him feel a lot more better than he would admit. “Yoongi,” Jimin spoke in muted tones, murmuring his name for the fourth time that evening.
He hummed, the hollow armour reiterating the fine vibrations Yoongi’s chest made before it left his lips. To Jimin, whose head was pressed against the splinted chainmail, the tremor sounded as if the knight was crooning right next to his ear.
“I despise him,” Jimin found a smattering of strength in him to bring it all out, “I hate it so much that there’s nothing, nothing I can do - I can’t run away for they would come for me had I tried to. I don’t want to change to live up to his expectations, my m-mama,” his voice broke off right in the middle, and unsurprisingly, hot beads surfaced in his eyes when he swallowed and ended with, “my mama told me that I’m perfect and that it’s okay to do what I want as long as I’m content, and Yoongi, I’m trying to believe in that, I really am but-”
“But what ?”
The retort had his lips freezing around unspoken words, his eyes jerking up to meet Yoongi’s gaze. “Jimin, there’s nothing wrong with what your mom said. She wasn’t lying, and I strongly agree with what you just told me, so you, too, should believe it.” Yoongi’s grip was strong when he grabbed the prince and pulled himself away, but the loss of contact lasted only a fleeting moment. The older stood up, coaxing Jimin to follow him and he went with it, allowing Yoongi to link their hands, the hold tentative and unprecedented to the two.
Yoongi came to a halt in front of the enormous mirror which mounted the wall, spreading from the wooden floor all the way up to the palatial ceiling. Jimin had the urge to squirm away when Yoongi tugged at his arm until he was standing in front of it, the pair of his own, tawny brown eyes staring right back at his whole figure. “Tell me, what do you see in the reflection?”
Before the prince had the chance to wonder about how to put his thoughts out, Yoongi answered the question himself. “Despite being insecure, fragile and breakable, I still view this person in the mirror as someone who is worthy of love. Someone who is perfect just the way they are.”
Ah, what’s this feeling?
He thought his tear ducts weren’t capable of producing any more tears, and he thought wrong. This time round, though, they were different kinds of tears; the ones of nostalgy, of vulnerability and so much more, he didn’t even know where to resume the listing.
“...and no matter how many times I’ve called you a brat, or a pathetic, immature, childish prince,” Yoongi grabbed his chin, and Jimin didn’t have to be forced to move his head and meet the knight’s regret-filled orbs, “I didn’t mean it. I seriously had no idea just how fucking stupid it was of me to give you those traits without knowing a single thing about you.”
“Yoongi, it’s – really, it’s okay – ”
“No, it is not!” He snapped, growling and boiling with rage, “Jimin, you didn’t deserve any of the harsh treatment. I should’ve learned the manners and none of this would’ve happened!” His balled up fist, before either of them knew it, crashed into the polished glass, shattering it with a loud thud that had the prince jumping.
Involuntarily, a convulsing, strident mix of a cry and a sob left his lips, and although it wasn’t because of the knight, he took the blame nonetheless. “I’m sorry, god, I just… I didn’t– fuck, I regret it so much, I didn’t know what would it do to you…” In their time of sorrow, Jimin’s hands reached up, wrapping around the knight’s neck and his spine arched when he stood up on his toes and hugged Yoongi.
It was audible, the deep draught of oxygen sucked in by Yoongi. He, howbeit, looped his arms around the prince’s lithe waist and pulled him close, their personal space long forgotten as they craved for the proximity of one another. Yoongi buried his face in the juncture between Jimin’s neck and shoulder, and when he allowed the first sob to come out, the prince felt a painfully sharp, imaginary needle pierce his heart.
“I know you didn’t mean it, Yoongi, don’t blame yourself for it anymore,” he mumbled against the exposed part of Yoongi’s neck where the armour couldn’t reach anymore. He felt the dampening feeling beneath his eyelids from the outside, and he knew it was his tears soaking the knight’s skin.
They stayed in the locked position for a good while, neither of them daring to move an inch when they finally, finally could spill all their bottled up emotions out after such a long suppression. Yoongi’s grasp on the small of his back tightened and loosened every now and the prince understood it was to prevent any more of the substance from slipping out of both his and Jimin’s eyes.
Yoongi’s breaths danced on Jimin’s unblemished skin of neck, and weirdly enough, it helped Jimin - it soothed his irritated, spent sensory receptors. His heart rate was no longer at a skyrocketing speed, and he knew Yoongi’s had calmed down, too, for his ear laid flat against the knight’s even pulse.
“Jimin – ”
“Yoongi, I said it’s okay – ”
“I will take care of everything. If the king ever says anything about you, come to me. I’ll do everything to keep my promise. Even if it means taking a stand against the king himself.” Yoongi whispered, cupping the sides of Jimin’s face as his thumbs rubbed soothing circles into the supple flesh of his dried-up cheeks. Yoongi’s presence itself was warm enough to make Jimin’s heart flutter, not to mention the vow being recalled with it.
Where had he been all Jimin’s life?
“Yoongi,” the name was a new part of Jimin’s speech at that point. It felt natural to utter the name so informally which was a taboo, and he found it quite astonishing. “Stay here today, please.” He pleaded, fingers fisting into the little of textile of undershirt peeking out from beneath the plates.
“Of course I will,” he told Jimin, hands never leaving the boy’s cheeks until he moved to pull away. When the silence danced its way into the atmosphere around them this time, it was no longer tense or awkward. They shared a few quick, subtle smiles; the prince even giggled, sorrow falling off him in large, invisible chunks.
“Let’s get that treated,” Yoongi offered his hand at Jimin’s left one that wasn’t in the best shape, if the fractions of sharp material cutting into his palm were anything to go by.
The knight took him to the forgotten, not-yet-drunk jug of water and poured it over Jimin’s forearms and hands, hushing the younger when the stinging pain from lime invaded his blood. “It hurts,” Jimin complained, constraining his wrists not to tear away from Yoongi’s grasp.
“It’ll be over soon,” Yoongi assured him, taking the wounded hand and bringing it up to his mouth. Jimin’s breath stuttered when the knight pressed lips against the blobs of blood forming on the surface of Jimin’s skin, kissing it away ever so gently. “See, it’s okay now.”
Cheeks tinging a pretty pink, he ducked his head and held tighter onto Yoongi’s hand, fingers slipping to intertwine with the other’s hesitantly. “Thank you, Yoongi,” he said, voice shy and barely above a whisper. Yoongi flashed him a smile, teeth showing and lips forming a gummy smile that reached his eyes.
“I’ll wait outside for the whole night. If you need something, just ask me,” he informed him but the prince quickly caught hold of his entire arm and stopped him dead in his tracks.
“No! I said I want you to stay, please don’t leave me alone,” he told the knight, eyes squeezing shut as he feared rejection. Panic started tickling uncomfortably in his insides when he was met with silence, and before he could crack at least one eye open, his body suddenly felt too light and, oh. Oh, why was he no longer standing and why was he scooped up in Yoongi’s arms?
“You wouldn’t move, what was I supposed to do?” He teased, swaying the prince playfully as he walked over to the bed. Poleyns covering Yoongi’s knee sunk into the mattress upon laying Jimin down with utmost care and attention to the safety of his sheets.
What, indeed, is this sensation, he wondered.
His heart clattered against his rib cage when Yoongi fell over himself and trapped Jimin with his hands, supporting himself and avoiding falling on the prince. He was shocked by how his heart was seized by the closeness, refusing to pump less blood less quickly. “Sorry,” Yoongi said, heaving himself up and stumbling for a few seconds when the dizziness of standing up too quickly washed over him.
Jimin found it in himself to whine out an unsure, “ Stay in the bed. ”, before covering his own face and waiting for the mattress to dip again. It eventually did, but uncertainty was literally seeping out of Yoongi with every move he made. They were new to this proximity, and so the precariousness in their actions was understandable, but little did Jimin know he wasn’t the only one craving for a better, closer relationship.
Until Jimin fell asleep, and even after that, Yoongi wasn’t near at hand; he stayed in a respectable distance. Jimin could still see his chest rise up and down calmly, the mingling of their breaths only enchanting the peace settled deep between them. He suppressed a giggle when he caught the low, nearly inaudible whistle Yoongi’s nose made when he exhaled, and that exactly was what worked as a lullaby for him.
Jimin woke up when the sun was high above the conifers, the evergreen needles glistening with droplets of morning dew slipping off them. The sun was adorning the sky like a jewel in a bottomless lake, and it was beyond captivating to have the view from behind his duvets, his knight’s chest and his window. “It’s been so long since I slept this much,” he sighed to no one in particular.
Jimin refused to remind himself of what had happened the previous day not because he didn’t want to recall the words accompanied with sorrow, but because he didn’t want to shed any more tears. He knew he was in no mental state to summon an inner turmoil upon himself, so he pushed the thoughts into the depths of his mind and sat up.
He plucked up the courage and scooted closer to the knight, hands fisting the sheets in an attempt to pull them off his body. Just after doing so, he was close enough to study the man’s features. Finally , he huffed.
Jimin tried not to feel guilty about the still-present bruising of Yoongi’s face together with the scratch left behind, he really did, but the prickle in his chest just wouldn’t fade away. Regaining his composure, he searched for details that had gone unnoticed by the prince and, to his chagrin, he found some. The sprinkling of tiny freckles dusting his cheeks and nose was hidden very well, as was the hardly detectable scar beneath Yoongi’s left brow. It was covered wholly with thin, black hairs that were mussed up in all directions, perhaps from Yoongi burrowing his face in the bed’s cushions before.
Jimin found himself wondering about all the could-be mishaps which led the knight to getting the unfortunate mark, and he didn’t notice how the countless minutes had passed by whilst his imagination went loose.
“A fight amongst friends, a luckless morning incident,” Jimin pondered out loud, “or maybe a quarrel with his parents.” He finished meekly but oh so melancholically, feeling contrite about the uncalled-for evoking of his memories.
As Jimin’s not-quite-favorable luck would have it, the knight stirred, snapping from his sleep as if he’d been thrown off a cliff. Jimin yelped, a fusion of embarrassment of being caught staring and panic due to his heart’s decision to skip a beat when Yoongi rumbled, the sound resonant and frighteningly deep.
Okay, it’s not that nonexistent , he told himself upon realizing Yoongi hadn’t opened his eyes yet, and he swiftly leaned away from the knight, the distracting warmth in his cheeks making him flush all the more. Had he actually been gawking at Yoongi ever since he woke up?
“Yoon – good morning, Yoongi,” he choked out, stumbling over his own words as he tried to find an object to train his gaze on.
“Mornin’,” he mumbled, chapped lips sticking to one another as he spoke, “why didn’t you wake me up?”
Jimin’s eyebrows pulled into a confused frown, “Why would I disturb you in your sleep?”
Yoongi huffed, propping himself on his elbows which were still covered with the chainmail armour. “I have to protect you, I can’t just – ”
“Yoongi,” he felt his lip curl up into a satisfied smile, highly gratified by how eager Yoongi was to watch over him. “I’m not upset. I’m happy you got to have some rest. It must be tiring to be forced to guard and be around me all day long.”
“I don’t mind because it’s you,” it was a slip of the tongue, or at least seemed like it judging by the way Yoongi’s mouth clamped shut and was Jimin daydreaming or did the knight’s ears tint a bit pink?
There was a pause, replete with hesitance and a hint of regret dripping off the knight in palpable ripples whereas Jimin’s confidence intensified hundredfold. In spite of being nearly as red as the crimson robes he had worn once, he hummed in acknowledgment. “Thank you, Yoongi. It’s the same for me.”
Jimin couldn’t fight off the lopsided grin when Yoongi’s eyes widened, mouth just a little agape by the reply he received. “That so?” It wasn’t something to be answered; rather a lingering question hanging heavy between the two.
Jimin didn’t find the heaviness burdening.
“You dance?” Yoongi asked, voice laced with surprise as he toyed with his sword’s sheath.
They’d been strolling in the royal gardens for endless hours, enjoying each other’s company as well as the gentle breeze stroking their faces, brushing away any strands covering their skin. Jimin skipped a few steps on the stairway leading to the arbour situated in the middle of the yard; its wooden rafter was intertwisted with climbing vines of sundry species of plants, the wood completely engulfed by all the stems, leaves and colorful florets. It was a mesmerizing sight to look at, exceptionally so with the rays of dusking sun illumining everything around them.
Jimin nodded, bringing himself back to reality as he seated himself on the bench resting near the table in the middle of said construction. Yoongi made a sound of astonishment, and Jimin saw the exact second an unknown thought crossed the knight’s mind, eyes glinting with a new idea.
“Jimin,” the prince looked at him instead of answering. Yoongi stepped closer, posture flexing before dropping into a half-bow, right hand extending, “Shall we dance?”
“ Oh ,” Jimin echoed, and a blush that was, at that point, associated with anything Yoongi did mantled his face again, making his vision a tad blurry before he took Yoongi’s hand and whispered a shy, “ I’d love to. ” whilst leaning into the knight’s space way too quickly for it to be called an accident.
The arbour’s wooden tiles creaked under them when they started dancing; Jimin stepped back with his right foot, just like the numerous times he did during his dance lessons in the palace. Yoongi took control from that point, following Jimin’s foot with his left one as they broke out into an unhurried, lazy waltz.
One of the two hands of the pair were clasped together in a promising, strong hold, and Jimin’s other arm was resting on the knight’s shoulder. Jimin was amused by Yoongi being suspiciously incorrect; as far as the prince knew, the lead was supposed to hold the follow’s shoulder blade, not waist.
Without being aware of it, Jimin started humming a song; not just any song, but a melody he held the closest to his heart - the one his mother used to sing whenever he was at his worst. He promised not to utter a note of that song ever again and yet, here he was, unveiling the most concealed secret of his.
The most unbelievable part, however, was that he couldn’t bring himself to regret it. His silvery voice rose up in volume, the image of Yoongi becoming narrowed when he smiled fully, sincerely after what seemed like forever, eyes straitening into half-moons which reflected in Yoongi’s glossy pupils.
This is what being happy feels like , he confirmed in his mind.
I never thought I’d experience it again.
Jimin felt all his restrains and self-control falling off him when he relaxed under Yoongi’s gentle gaze and touch, and before he knew it, his hands were snaking around the knight’s neck and pulling him close, torsos and thighs connecting. Yoongi’s face washed blank, skin paling and breaths no longer passing, but then he recollected himself and loosened up, his neck muscles not straining around a lump in his throat anymore.
“What song is that?” Tender and, if Jimin dared say loving, that was the undertone to Yoongi’s voice, and the prince’s heart squeezed almost painfully at the affection exuding off the older’s attentive gaze.
“It is a lullaby my mother used to sing for me,” his voice trembled at the mention of his guardian angel, his mother, but he pushed past it and resumed crooning, swaying in the rhythm with the knight.
Yoongi’s hands slid down to hook under the jut of Jimin’s hips, tugging the boy impossibly close as if sensing the sorrow spreading like a plague in the prince’s heart and trying to cease it. His breath hitched upon being drawn so close to Yoongi, and he buried his tinged face into the crook of the older’s neck. The tune became muffled, vibrating against the metallic armour and Jimin was becoming irritated by how there was no warmth against his own body, the breastplate and legplates preventing any of it from escaping.
“Yoongi,” Jimin breathed out, turning so that he was facing the bare skin of Yoongi’s neck. “It annoys me,” he confessed, whining when the knight dissolved into a light chuckle.
“What does, angel?” Before Yoongi could even think of apologizing and retreating, Jimin’s grip tightened around the knight’s neck as he let out a contented sound at the name. He made every effort to sound vexed when he explained, “You wear this all the time.”
Jimin knocked against the back of Yoongi’s covering, signifying his displeasure. Yoongi snorted, “My armour? Of course I have to; your kingdom is known for its success and property. You could be hunted down or taken hostage any time, and I can’t allow that to happen.”
“Why do you care about me so much?” Jimin heard himself say although he didn’t quite register his mouth opening and speaking.
Like a faraway rainfall arriving too soon, suddenly, he was overcome with the urge to hear the three, venerated words fall from Yoongi’s lips.
Oh, now it all made perfect sense.
The squeeze of his heart that just wouldn’t get any rest in the presence of the knight.
The way he yearned for the knight’s undivided attention.
The proximity which seemed too distant whenever the knight wasn’t by his side.
Jimin’s eyes welled up with hot tears, palm reached up to cup over his quivering mouth. Something in him shifted, like a pressure unveiling , and he kept asking the same question in his mind; Had he fallen for the knight?
“Jimin?” Yoongi was concerned, it was audible. His hands rid themselves of the heavy gauntlets in less than a second and then the touch was there, on the prince’s rounded, dampened cheeks. As the skin-to-skin contact appeared, not only was it blazing hot but also far more intense; even the lightest press of Yoongi’s fingers into the soft flesh had Jimin’s stomach upturning. “What’s wrong? Did I do something?”
“No,” he croaked, watery and overwhelmed when he tried to reason it without spilling his feelings, “I, I realized something. Something very important.” A sob wracked his body and he could see the way Yoongi’s eyes flew between Jimin’s mouth and eyes, not knowing whether to try to decipher what the prince’s vulnerable stare told or listen to what he was saying. Yoongi looked beyond panicked, almost heartbroken by the scenery that was taking place.
“Jimin, what happened, tell me,” he pleaded, and Jimin’s heart swelled by the amount of devotion, fondness Yoongi had when he was around the prince.
In the depths of him, Jimin hoped the knight felt all the same.
Ignoring the itching feeling to tell Yoongi, to bring it to light, he shook his head, face pressing back against the knight’s skin as he choked out, “I’m all right, just-- please, don’t let go yet.”
Why am I crying, Jimin asked himself, finding it difficult to descry the reason. He knew he was more than radiant in the knight’s stark arms, so the only cause of his tears was the perturbation manducating at him, worried about the probably nonexistent reciprocation as well as the consequences if the king were to find out.
“Yoongi, I,” he cut himself off, jaw clenching as he worried about the knight’s reaction had he slipped and told Yoongi something rather bold.
“What is it?” He endeavoured to get Jimin to tell him just why was he crying, but the prince wouldn’t have it; his hand clutched one another, hard, and he took a shuddering, grounding breath. “You don’t want to know.”
“Jimin – ”
“Yoongi, stop it,” the prince’s heart stung harshly, miserably upon realizing the cruel way he snapped at the knight, and the next thing he knew he was pulling back, forcing Yoongi to let go of him. Yoongi’s gaze said it all; he was hurt and unpleasantly shocked, and Jimin was hurt, too, but he swallowed the unpalatable block of regret growing in his throat and turned around.
From the corner of his eye, he thought he saw a figure standing in one of the windows of the front of the palace, watching them, but he blamed it on his vision playing tricks on him and blinked away the rising tears forming in his eyes.
It is better to sort your thoughts out first, Jimin, the prince kept repeating in his head.
How Jimin wished actions were as easily done as they were uttered.
Two sleepless nights after, the prince was in no place to tell himself that he was calm and composed for his hands were unusually cold, as if entreating him to thread the fingers with a certain knight’s ones. A thing is missing , his brain kept supplying and he knew exactly what he needed- no, who he needed to make this itching disappear into thin air. Yoongi was dealing with some, to the prince, unknown difficulties and who was Jimin to refuse to let the knight leave his side for good few days?
I need space, he would tell himself to which there would be an echo in him, arguing with, you want and need Yoongi by your side.
To put his mind off the stride, he tried various activities - after what appeared like forever, he took out the yellowed books besmirched with thick layers of dust that contracted a hacking cough out of the prince. The extensive descriptions of outlandish meals as well as traditional ones were gracing the old pages which nearly crumbled under Jimin’s fingertips were alien to Jimin; he had never come across most of the dishes because his servants knew his preferences and cooked to his liking yet he wanted to enhance his appetite.
Everything was better than his mind trailing back to the warmth of Yoongi’s arms, after all.
However, despite his effort of distracting himself being stronger than any spell a mage or a witch could ever cast, his head would still give him no rest.
When he was stirring the fresh tomato puree Seokjin had asked him to look after whilst he was chatting with Namjoon, he brushed up against the blazing hot cookstove with his hand and withdrew it swiftly, sibilating a rushed curse under his breath. The realization of burning himself - although it was nothing of a severe matter - conjured up the memory of Yoongi treating his hand all those days ago when he had cut himself on the goblet’s glass during the feast, vaguely mulling over whether the knight would kiss the harmed skin once more.
The mere line of thought had him shivering contentedly, longing for the press of Yoongi’s lips against his sensitive skin, the need of having Yoongi closer growing with each tick of the tall-case clock in the corner of the kitchens.
Another time was when he was doing Jeongguk a good turn by assisting him with harvesting the alluring strawberries which were of a healthy, vivid colour. The prince wasn’t aware of the fact that Jeongguk had talked to Yoongi before, so when the gardener mentioned his name, the strawberry that had been clasped between Jimin’s fingers turned into a mush in a heartbeat.
“W-what’d you say, Gguk?” He stammered out, timid and shy as he popped one of the fruit into his mouth. It dawned on him that the sole goal of his was to avoid the man and still, he asked about Jeongguk’s sentence about Yoongi that Jimin’s ears had missed.
“I talked to Yoongi-ssi about the plants in the back of the garden; he was very interested in the flowers so I told him about the species we grow,” lips then upturned in a gleeful manner as he said, “when he saw the onyx hellebores, he stared at them for approximately fifteen minutes before whispering and I quote, ‘ It’s like Jimin. ’.”
Jimin’s knees felt weak under him as he struggled to grasp the fact that Yoongi was interested in flowers, let alone the quoted remark that elicited a squeak from the prince’s strawberry lips. “He – Yoongi compared m - me to a flower?”
“You can bet he did, and he was looking at the prettiest one when he said so,” he chirped, the tight-lipped smile of his breaking out into a grin at Jimin’s bewildered and flustered expression. “That man is a lost cause for you, Jimin.”
“Jeonggukie, please,” Jimin begged, pulling his knees closer although he was already crouching. He didn’t know what was it that he was pleading for; perhaps it was to stop the gardener from giving him a chance to pin his faith on something that may not be the truth.
Few mornings hardly rolled by before it was the season of his swordsmanship lectures; an effective way of getting himself sidetracked , he agreed.
Not being able to use a real sword did leave him crestfallen, his pride hurt, but he put his best effort into swinging the wooden sword in the angles his mentor had demonstrated to him. “No matter what sword it is, as long as you can hear the sound of wind splitting around it, you know you are moving it right,” Jimin parroted the wise guidance his tutor Si-hyuk had gifted him with, dabbing his forehead, which was spattered with beads of sweat, with the silken stripes hanging off his robes as he lifted the weapon once again.
The, according to Jimin’s counting, sixty-fifth slash was felt in the prince’s bones with the way his arms ached so unbearably. He settled on not submitting to the pain until his arms were numb, though, and as he swung the sword in the moist air, wind whistling upon being slit open, he could almost hear his muscles screaming in protest and discomfort. It was as if they were asking him why exactly was he suddenly pushing himself that hard, and he knew only his brain and his heart were conscious of the answer.
Lungs were swallowed with ardent flames, burning when Jimin sucked in as much oxygen as his body could possibly bear in one intake. The unexpected exertion that the prince had forced himself to suffer from was slowly taking a toll on him, his head swimming in the warmth flowing off Jimin’s dampened body.
Trembling arms rose once more, the wood almost slipping from them with how his palms were bedewed with perspiration. Nonetheless, he attempted to lift the sword and add the final, hundredth slash to his counting when a pair of hands closed in around Jimin’s sweat-slicked ones and squeezed, hard enough for the prince to jolt in surprise and drop the wooden sword.
His back collided with a male chest, and it was almost shameful, how he recognized the knight by the scent alone. “I leave your side for a few days and come back to you almost fainting again ,” Yoongi rumbled, the voice sort of coarser and thicker than Jimin was used to. He steadied Jimin when he tried to turn to face Yoongi, and upon doing so, his eyes were wide as saucers - never before had he seen the knight without his steel bearings, and now that he had the opportunity to, he was not going to tear his gaze away.
Yoongi’s previously worn chestplate did him no justice; his chest was defined, broad even under the sleeveless top hugging his torso. Legs were sporting a pair of pleated, plain brown trousers which hung low, barely holding itself on the knight’s hips. Jimin’s eyes trailed up, mind blank when his gaze traced the veins adorning Yoongi’s hands which were still joined in a hold with his own.
“Yoongi,” he whispered, lips trembling still as his pulse skyrocketed at the speed of light. Jimin’s legs were unstable, inviting him to fall forwards into the arms of the knight.
Not that he had to do much anyway.
Taken by surprise was Jimin when the two strong arms glided down the side of Jimin’s ribcage as though he was made of water. The movement was smooth until it drew to a close at the prince’s waist, the slender fingers almost engulfing its whole girth. Jimin passed a quivering breath, feeling its warmth coming right back at him when it bounced off Yoongi’s chest upon ceasing most of their distance and for heaven’s sake, how is this non-fictional?
“How have you been?” It might have been Jimin’s imagination poking fun at him, but for a transient moment, he thought he heard the unspoken, “ I missed you. ” reverberating through the question. Never the one to deny facts, he would admit that it made him a little teary-eyed, the idea of Yoongi pining for him.
‘Lonely ,’ he wanted to tell the knight, but instead, he opted for a shy “good” which was winded and high-pitched, like his own voice was mocking him and his reactions, too.
“I hope you solved the problems which were the cause of your furlough,” Jimin carried on with talking, “will you, um, after this…”
“No, I don’t plan on leaving anymore. Not for now, at least,” Yoongi crooned, speaking with a barely-there lilt which was the cause of his foreign accent. Jimin found it adorable, the soft rising and falling sound in his voice.
“Why are you wearing yourself out like this? I could see you shaking from ten metres away,” then it was hard, scolding and concerned, the tune of Yoongi’s speech. His grip was nearly crushing the boy’s lithe waist, and Jimin winced in pain but was undeterred by it, making no move to invite the distance between them.
“I was angry,” Jimin blurted, becoming conscious of the heat radiating off him, the droplets of sweat outlining his jaw with wet traces, the quivering stance of his own legs. He also understood that Yoongi’s strong grasp was the sole reason as to why Jimin was still standing.
“What happened, angel?” He was uncertain, and it hurt Jimin to know that he was the cause of the knight’s hesitance. Jimin flashed back to the day he had realized his feelings were not those of a friend, and to the harsh rejection he had offered Yoongi when he had shoved him back. He, too, was unsure when he lied, “It was my father again.”
“What’d he tell you?” Yoongi pressed on but it was clear that he was open to backing away the second he’d sense distress in the prince’s presence.
“It’s the same as always, Yoongi. How he treats me like a valueless chunk of garbage, how he ridicules me for not being the picture-perfect son like my brother, Hoseok.” Jimin knew he had stretched the truth; the prince had been pushing his limits to distract his own thoughts but the truthfulness was still partially there - he had been frustrated by the way his father laughed at him for not finding the swordsmanship as absorbing.
A sharp inhale. “Mind if I talk to him?”
“Yoongi, he’s not worth your time. Please, forget him,” he implored, hands awkwardly hovering in the air between them before settling against the rise of the knight’s solid chest. Yoongi’s heartbeat flitted under Jimin’s palms, and the prince, again, didn’t want to get his hopes up for nothing, but was the knight feeling the same whenever their bodies came to contact?
That’s probably just me , Jimin told himself.
“But you are worth my time, Jiminie,” Jimin choked on the gulp of saliva that was going down his throat, and with eyes wide and teary from struggling for air, he wrung Yoongi’s shirt in between his short fingers. Yoongi’s face was redder than normal but his stare was sincere and full-hearted. The butterflies fluttering in his stomach turned into overgrown hummingbirds which raked the prince’s insides.
A low whisper was tempting him, “ Tell him, Jimin, tell him everything about how you feel. ”, and there was an unfamiliar heaviness on his tongue. It was like the bottled up feelings were pushing down on the muscle, forcing it to speak but he clenched his jaw in defiance of it all, not daring to let a syllable out.
It was becoming difficult to keep any words at bay , Jimin noticed.
He nodded, sending a coy smile in the knight’s direction. “Thank you, Yoongi.”
Yoongi gave his waist a squeeze, the creamy robes of magenta hue wrinkling under the fingers. Neither of the royals moved nor spoke after that, the thickening atmosphere alleviating into endless beats of quiet.
Jimin pulled away too soon for his liking, and the desire to latch himself onto Yoongi’s neck was leaving a trail of burning need on his fingertips as though flames were licking at the skin.
How he wished things were simpler.
“Taetae, I need to ask you a thing.”
It had been an uneventful day, one could say. He had wanted to talk to Taehyung for quite a long time and debate about the emotional disarray, and whether it was just some ungodly fog in his brain or what he feared even more - love.
“I’m all ears, Chim,” Taehyung sing-songed from behind the prince - he had been playing with Jimin’s hair, threading through them with his soft fingers and pulling them back into an enmeshed braid. Snow white candytufts that the butler had plucked were woven into the messy plait, holding the delicate, silky locks together but only by a very small margin.
Blustery afternoon it was, and despite the prince’s liking of wind, the constant, undeterred flurries of blades of grass traveling with wind were fairly bothersome. Exceptionally so when the prince’s eyes constantly watered whenever a gust of wind attacked him or the butler on the meadow they had been resting on.
“How did you know you were in love with Jeongguk?” Concluding by the way Taehyung’s hand twitched, he already knew the butler had a self-satisfied grin plastered on his face. “Why would you want to know, Jimin? Any specific reason?”
The prince groaned, bringing his knees close to his chest as he mumbled, “Answer my question, Taehyung.” Even then, in the midst of talking to his best friend, there was an image filled with colors whenever he closed his eyes - the one of a certain knight. It was different each time his eyelids drew shut; there was an image of Yoongi sleeping, eating, talking, walking, sitting, practicing, running, writing, smiling. And then the one of his hurt, betrayed look from the day Jimin shoved him away in the arbour.
The prince would do anything to wipe each and every shred of sorrow, pain and vulnerability off Yoongi’s features and person in general, and yet, he knew he was the cause of it all.
“He was there when no one else was,” was the reply Jimin received.
“I know we have been friends for a very long time,” he continued, fingers never leaving the prince’s disarranged locks, “but there were times when I couldn’t turn to you due to your responsibilities. I didn’t want you to bear the negativity I had been going through, so I withheld my feelings and concealed them for as long as I could. But even I have my limits.”
Jimin didn’t need a mirror to know that both their faces were woeful; the prince was regretting not being there when Taehyung needed a shoulder to cry on, a person to wail to.
“It’s not true that I’m from the same village as Gguk,” Taehyung paused when Jimin tensed, sadness from being lied to proliferating faster than the reproduction of cells in his body. “I was a wanderer when he took me in and gave me a place to sleep, food to eat. We came to seek stable work in this palace but we never expected to stay for so long.”
Like a mirage appearing in some waters’ surface, his voice perceptibly turned tranquil, serene when he muttered, “I also didn’t expect to fall for him. At first, I thought that the need of being close to him was simply me being independent,” he seemed to be looking for a suitable form of putting his thoughts out, “but then, as time rolled by, I noticed that I wanted to be with him no matter what occurred.”
Knees falling into the grassland prairie with a soft crinkling sound of the weeds under him, Taehyung enveloped the prince in his arms, “You were a great help back then. I saw that the way you looked at me - like a sibling, a brother by heart - it was completely different from the way Gguk’s gaze held mine.” The low tone with which he spoke was soothing for Jimin, and he passed the butler a small smile, ushering him to go on.
“Deciding whether to confess or not was so,” the struggle to express himself was there again, but Jimin understood. He recognized the tumult more than anyone else. “I know, Taetae.”
“In the end, I told him how I felt when I was in my cups,” he chortled, probably remembering how it all went down, “I threw myself at him after he finished cutting the bushes in the garden. Now we both know that the berries are poisonous, so when he pushed me off in a second, I thought he had rejected me.”
Jimin gasped, the corners of his plump lips rising in glee and shock. “After that,” Taehyung let an airy chuckle breach his lips, too, “he spent around fifty minutes trying to persuade me that he loves me as well, but I apparently wouldn’t stop crying until I passed out. You can imagine how confused I was the next morning; headache, stinging eyes and Jeongguk accompanying me. But hey, it’s all right now.”
With a soft, light inhale, Taehyung queried, “Yoongi, am I right?” The audible catch in Jimin’s breath confirmed it, and Taehyung had the courage to coo at the prince.
“Tae, I’ve been avoiding him as much as I could for about a week already, and it breaks me but I don’t know what to do,” his tears were already threatening to streak his flushed face, “I don’t want to lose him by making a mess out of our, at long last, friendly and close relationship.”
“Chim, my sweet Chimmy,” Taehyung grabbed him by his shoulders, spinning him around so the two were facing each other, “I’ve talked to Yoongi before and trust me when I say that he has more than fallen for you. There’s no way out for him anymore.”
Jimin barely made out the second part; the talking part had him alarmed, “Taehyung, you talked to him? Oh my goodness, what did you tell him?”
“We approached each other,” the butler coaxed him to slump back down on the grass, “about eight days ago, he was carrying a tray full of the freshest food for you when we came across one another in the hallway near your chambers.”
The pleasantly uncomfortable tightening of his cheeks was there again but Taehyung didn’t let him off that easily. “He seemed very conflicted when I told him to wait; he kept mumbling,” with that, Taehyung’s fingers formed into air quotes, “‘Jimin needs to eat, what do you want?’ and I have to tell you, he didn’t seem happy about you not being content and well-fed.”
“Either way,” Jimin was silent the whole time, only letting out sounds of varied reactions as he gave ear to Taehyung, “I asked him why would he treat you like that and call you those inaccurate sobriquets. Chim, if you saw his eyes - they filled with regret, jesus, I could’ve sworn he was about to cry right there in front of me.”
“I didn’t even let him breathe, though, because after that I asked him whether he cares about you. Oh, let me tell you, he does - his head snapped up into a fervent nod so quickly I jumped and that’s saying something . I also may or may not have asked him why he cares and, woah, he said so many things all at once I could barely take it all in.”
Jimin’s mouth opened into a small ‘o’ shape, sharp inhale nearly cutting through his lip, “H – he, he said – um, what exactly did he say?”
“Hmm, I wonder.”
“Taehyung, I swear, if you don’t tell me – ”
“Why don’t you find out yourself?” The prince’s pulse stopped dead in its unstable tracks and his hands wandered to the hem of his jade green robes. “Taetae, you know that’s…”
“Jimin, you are too worried about rejection but, as your closest friend, I think I can say that you both just need to talk it out and the next thing we know you’re glued at the hip,” Taehyung whisper-yelled, fingers massaging Jimin’s scalp as if to get the words into the prince’s obstinate head.
Jimin crossed his legs, stretching them out as the blades of grass prickled at the exposed underside of his thighs, “Taehyungie, I’m a prince and he is a knight. There’s no way it can work out for us.” He was no stranger to how it functioned in the relationships and connections between those of different social status and by no means was he trying to wipe Yoongi off the surface of the earth.
“You’re forgetting a key detail here,” the blond boy tapped Jimin’s shoulder, nail deliberately scraping against the velvety skin as though to get him to understand, “he is one of your kind as well, Chim; he has been in the service of one of the neighbouring kingdoms for years and is named as one of the royals.”
The raven would be considered a liar had he denied the mellowness unfurling in his belly like an alacritous spark of fire catching on a withered haystack. He tried not to squeal at Taehyung but even his well-trained etiquette couldn’t stop him from yipping tiny bit. “Taetae! I absolutely – gods, you are a life-saver!”
Jimin was on his feet before he took notice of it, legs wobbling under the sudden pressure as he stumbled forward. “I need to – I need to make things right, Taehyung, I need to apologize, I’ve been avoiding him for so long…”
Only around a week, to be exact.
Yet it was agonizing and neverending for Jimin.
“Will you speak to him about your feelings, too?” Jimin gave him a gentle shake of head. “Not yet.”
Still, he let the butler embrace him at least twice, a squeeze passed onto his arms as Taehyung encouraged him once more, “Go, Chim. I’ll wait for you to tell me how it all went down.”
Jimin sent a meek smile in his direction, and with that, he was on his way to Yoongi.
He wondered where could Yoongi be; he wasn’t keen on going back and asking Taehyung or someone else for help in finding the knight. Thus, after few attempts of calling out Yoongi’s name and looking over the spots they would usually come across each day, he came to a close - he should just wait for the knight in his room, right? That way, they were bound to run into one another eventually.
With his head held high, he sauntered across each hall slowly, giving his all not to show the giddy and bubbly feeling in his gut. Jimin was not familiar with that kind of exhilaration - he had never wanted to see someone so badly. It was as if he was about to encounter a new well of fresh, untouched water, as though there was a new world behind the doors of the guest room which now belonged to the knight.
The prince himself was finally cognizant of the change in his, he dared say, harrowing and difficult life - since he was born, it was no secret that he was quite different from his flawless brother who had the reputation of a celestial creature. He was the revered among citizens, and when it was announced that he would no longer be seen strolling on the streets of the kingdom’s surrounding villages due to his marriage, it was a catastrophe.
People would protest, scream, curse the woman of the neighbouring country and call her derogatory evils, “witch” and “whore” being few of them. No one showed signs of interest about the other prince’s - Jimin’s - presence, however; he was something akin to the thinnest spectacle of foul, dry air for the residents.
Ah, all it took was one flashback and Jimin’s brow was set in a deep furrow, the already dulled pain stinging when wondering about how much of a good-for-nothing he had been.
He saw the alteration, though. It was slow, unhurried yet unpredicted when Yoongi came along and gave a turn to everything . Jimin was a fool not to notice that even when they fought, when they shouted, when they made peace, when they held one another - the lone actions made him a new person. His head which used to be filled to the very brim with miserable echoes of self-criticism and hatred was clear of all that, replaced with an oddly warm sensation.
Yes, they were at each other’s throats at first, irritated to no end even if they as much as locked gazes by an accident, but that was exactly what Jimin had missed before, it seemed. How could he be so blind? Despite being called disrespectful names by Yoongi, he found serenity in there, in the universe of theirs, now that he looked back at the previous weeks.
Jimin wandered back to the day Yoongi embraced him in his strong arms, made him feel like he was worth; he treated his wounds, told him what he sincerely thought of the prince, lulled him to a peaceful sleep instead of leaving him on his own with another, for him usual fit of anxiety.
A sigh of self-content left Jimin’s throat, head swaying into the rhythm of birds’ melodic chirruping and tweeting as the wooden double-door of Yoongi’s room came into the view. Jimin was, for an unknown reason, overpowered with a wave of doubt, an inkling of something messing up once he stepped in. He quickly shooed it away, both palms reaching up to turn the door handle.
What his eyesight was greeted with was neither the knight nor the emptiness of the room; the king’s clothed back was the first thing Jimin took notice of, and his guts were reduced to tightly tied knots of displeasure. His hands slipped, however, so the door was slammed shut when he stepped over the threshold.
The king jumped in surprise, hand reaching to clutch at his chest in mock disturbance as he laughed, “Christ, my heart almost – ” mouth was left slack-jawed when he spotted Jimin standing just a few metres away. His well-trained facade fell off like a chunk of snow getting shoved off a glacial cliff, and he fixed the prince with a leer of disgust, annoyance.
“What are you doing here, you disgrace?”
It still hurt.
“Why would I be explaining my actions to you,” he bit out, sharp and equally as irked as he took one hesitant step closer, refusing to let his vulnerability get the better of him. He imagined Yoongi standing by his side, murmuring praises and telling him how amazing he was. If Yoongi was the one who told him he was perfect, he would believe it no matter what.
“You think you can act all high and mighty with me,” the king said, fist connecting with the table next to him and eliciting an ear-splitting thud. Jimin held back a yelp but the twitch of his shoulders was enough for the king.
He huffed victoriously. “Look at you, scaredy-cat! Who do you think you are?”
The king really never knew where was the limit.
“Your repetitive insults aren’t helping you anymore,” Jimin spat, the poison in the words a contrast to his calm, emotionless features.
He was no longer weak, he was capable of defending himself and showing no more powerlessness.
The man was taken aback, it was visible, but he wasn’t disturbed by the sudden retort of his son. “Oh-oh, the little brat is learning how to mouth off to me,” a mirthless yet triumphant chuckle followed, “let’s see how much can you do when I force knight Min to leave.”
Jimin’s face fell. So did his whole world.
“You – he w – wouldn’t let you,” Jimin stammered out.
“We shall see who is the right one here, whether it’s you or me.” He sneered at the prince, overly repulsed when he bit out, “I don’t want you to lead him down the wrong path just because you went around the bend.”
Jimin couldn’t stop his mouth from asking, “What do you mean by that?”
He clicked his tongue, vexed. “Just what were you trying on him in the arbour? Clinging to him like the shameless pillock that you are. Can’t keep your disgusting taste in men off the knight, am I right?”
Jimin choked on his own spit, embarrassment and anger both clawing at his cheeks and making them redden. “I wasn’t – I was never trying to t – tempt him down any path – ”
“As if I would believe such nonsense,” the king said, “you are hungry for a man, and you know it. Such disgust, heavens, why are you blood-related to me?”
He carried on. “Had I not had conceived you, my life would’ve been so much simpler.” He sighed out, and each thing stabbed Jimin right through his frail self-esteem, breaching it and stopping at the very core of his heart.
“Your mother – ”
Jimin’s breath caught on the very tip of his tongue, unwilling to leave as he waited with subdued breathing for what the king would insult him with next. His mother was his kryptonite, however, and he could feel his resolve to withstand the assaults shattering as swiftly as a thin icicle breaking off the roof of a building and falling.
“I ask you not to finish that sentence,” overly familiar voice enveloped Jimin’s hearing, and soon enough, there was a hand on the small of his back, drawing him close.
My knight in shining armour, indeed.
“Min,” the king nearly toppled over in rush to pull Yoongi away from Jimin. Yoongi was unaffected by the tries, albeit he withdrew his arm which was unoccupied so that the king wouldn’t have the chance to grab him. “I have an offer to present to you!”
“Whatever it is, I don’t think I’m interested,” he spoke calmly, his grip more than tranquilizing on Jimin’s figure.
“Wouldn’t i – it be amazing? To be able to serve right under the king Jung instead of this?” His voice was luring, almost irresistible to deny. Yoongi was entirely unfazed by the king, turning his head in favour of whispering, “Are you okay, Jimin?”
Jimin managed to pass Yoongi a short, agreeing hum together with a squeeze of the hand which then rested on his hip. “I – I think I’m alright.”
“You filth,” the king scoffed at Jimin, approaching him with heavy, angered strides. “I see you’ve already corrupted him, you – ” His palm was straightened and hard when it swung at him with utter force, determined to leave a handprint on the prince’s face. Jimin, in spite of Yoongi’s presence, shut his eyes, convinced that the knight wasn’t fast enough to stop the hit from being delivered.
Jimin was wrong.
When after deafening fifteen beats of his frantic pulse nothing happened, he was brave to crack one eye open and scan what had gone down from the moment he closed them. What caught him by surprise was that the king’s hand was closer than a bare inch, and he struggled to process just what was stopping him from landing the blow.
It was Yoongi’s own hand curled around the man’s burly wrist, Jimin saw, fingers clenching around the joint so strongly they turned pale white.
The king’s attempts of wriggling his way out of the squeeze were futile. “Let me – ”
“As far as my memory goes, I think I have sworn to guard the prince against everything threatening, and as of now, you, too, are my enemy from which I have to protect Jimin.” He stated ever so slowly, collected and unresponsive to the king’s ugliest glares and thrashing limbs.
“I see how it is,” he snapped at the pair, “Jimin, you disappointment, have you seduced him to have your way with him? And to think the knight who was held in high regard in my head let himself stray this quickly...!”
Besides Yoongi’s grasp tightening forcefully on Jimin before letting go in favour of unharming the prince, the audible grind of his teeth against one another, signalizing the snap of his nerves like a withered twig being stepped on, sent chills down the spine of both the king and the prince Park. He tugged Jimin away, but only considerably gently, as though to tell him that it was safer at a greater distance.
“Listen here, you old fucker. I’m getting tired of you and your constant talking shit about Jimin, so if you don’t want to end up with your hand severed, I reckon it’s better for you to shut it.” The other was left gaping at Yoongi like a fish stuck in a calculated trap, and Jimin’s stifled gasp only scandalized the king.
“You are talking to your king!” Yoongi nodded in agreement. “And you are talking to Namjoon’s brother, you scum. I am one of you, and no matter what your position in this kingdom is, you don’t want to lose the most admired knights in the country, I take it.”
He opened up to retort but Yoongi never gave him the chance to do so for he shoved at the king’s shoulder, leaving him to tumble over his own feet. “Your reputation makes you think you are free to do whatever the hell you please, but that’s not how it actually is. You are a weakling, you are the disgrace here, and I dare you to show me one person who disagrees!”
Yoongi was in no mood to joke around, they all were aware of it; each exclamation was said with such seriousness, it was difficult to focus on anything else. The atmosphere was so tense, so thick, Jimin could cut through it with knives. He kept silent with baited breath, eyes flying from Yoongi to the king.
The eldest of the three was rendered speechless, either from the new-found fact that the knights were related or the forthrightness with which Yoongi treated him. Seeming to have been defeated, the king issued more threats at Yoongi in order to save his own pride. “We can solve this in a fight if you’re so eager to fight me, you kiddo!”
Not a second had passed before Yoongi’s right hand flew to the silver hilt of his sword, unsheathing the blade in one motion. “Let’s see how experienced you are since you think so highly of yourself when it comes to passing insults.”
He certainly didn’t figure Yoongi would be that keen on solving this with a fair skirmish, Jimin mocked the king internally, remaining in an unmoving position.
“Or you will back the fuck off and leave your son alone unless you want to tell him something positive,” Yoongi offered, eyeing the man with scrutiny and vexation. Met with silence, he tutted and dragged the edge of the blade against the mahogany wood of the closet, the scraping sound clawing at Jimin’s hearing.
Frankly put, Jimin adored this new attitude of Yoongi.
The king was red in face, irritation and shame puffing his features out as the provoked flush betrayed him. He was gripping at his sword, too, presumably torn between choosing the former or the latter option.
He is actually not frightening, Jimin heard his head conclude when the man bolted out of the room just like a bullet being shot, piquing a satisfied grin out of the prince’s face.
Now that he had the chance to take it all in, he realized Yoongi was the one who changed what always developed into an emotional breakdown of some sorts.
Yoongi did that. He saved him.
Overcome with giddiness from the, for once, fortunate turn of events, he felt his blood thump against the inner part of his ears, unable to fend off how his body released the excitement - arms hooking around Yoongi’s neck, he heaved himself up and threw his whole weight at the knight.
They staggered back together, Yoongi’s slender fingers closing around the underside of Jimin’s revealed thighs and punching a squeak out of Jimin. Not that either of them minded the longed skinship; quite the contrary.
Somehow, what Jimin’s lips let slip out not only did surprise his own mind but also the knight himself and Jimin was rather certain of that:
“Yoongi, I’m in the throes of love.”
He did cut himself off from saying “ because of you ” although the shock of intentionally confessing to Yoongi left him frozen to the spot, still clinging on the knight’s broad torso.
Jimin could feel under his splayed out palms that the knight had held his breath for a full minute, muscles tensing under the soft fabric of his black dress shirt for good measure. Only when they finally shifted and relaxed, Jimin could heave a shaky exhale, too.
What did you just tell him, his brain questioned his sanity. Jimin reacted to his own deeds with an involuntary whimper, sensing the additional change in the surrounding mood when the silence only expanded.
Yoongi pried the prince off his body and upon doing so, Jimin almost fainted right then and there as the shock of rejection spiked through him in the shape of prickling beads in the corners of his eyes. They stuck to his fluttering eyelashes, forming growing clumps but not streaking his fair features yet.
The inkling of a badly handled situation was pushed far into the depths of Jimin’s head when Yoongi cupped the boy’s soft flesh of cheeks and sighed in delight at the sight. “Can I say something real selfish?” Yoongi asked, equally uncertain as Jimin.
“Go ahead,” Jimin cursed the tell-tale wobble of his normally balanced, melodious voice.
“I really want it to be me,” Jimin was sure Yoongi was basking in the whole scenery before his very sight, especially the rapid width of Jimin’s pretty eyes. “The person you’re head over heels about.” The phrase was whispered as if sacred, forbidden to talk about yet so passionate, Jimin could dissolve into a puddle of affection.
Was it all a dream? Jimin hoped not.
“O – oh,” he vaguely thought back to Taehyung before shaking his head fervently to focus on Yoongi. He gnawed at his bottom lip out of nervous habit when his hand shyly reached out to link with Yoongi’s large one. His heart was racing a mile per hour when he confirmed, “I’m afraid y –y ou guessed it right, Yoongi.”
There was a moment where the two just stared; they studied one another despite doing so many times because this time it was completely different. This time round, they were allowed to openly look without feeling anxious about being caught watching everything the other did.
“What about you, Yoongi,” asked Jimin, explaining further when the knight only made a questioning sound, “is there a person you’re crazy about?”
The ecstasy of hearing it right from the knight’s thin lips had Jimin’s blood thrumming in his veins, and he prayed to all living angels that this was real life, not some fragment of his imagination being played.
Yoongi locked his hands behind the prince’s waist, coaxing him to cease the suffocating distance. “Do you want to hear it from me that badly, Jiminie ?” Teased Yoongi, and he threw his head back in joy at the prince’s puppy gaze. Jimin, too, wanted to hug the knight and nuzzle into him, but he stayed unmoving.
“Yes,” he muttered, fingertips connecting with the skin of Yoongi’s shoulders in a soft caress. He let the knight pull him close as possible, being reminded of the day in arbour when their thighs and chests were pressed flush against one another, much like right now.
Yoongi didn’t seem to be the one to listen, however. With a complacent smirk playing at his lips, his gaze flickered between Jimin’s glazed eyes and plush mouth until it was settled what he wanted to do.
The prince’s eyelids fluttered shut, heart hammering against his trembling rib cage when he felt Yoongi’s breath fan out across his face. His feeble grasp on the knight’s shoulders tightened and loosened with each second of their lips not connecting, but oh, when they finally did, it was so much more captivating than his vivid imagination.
Yoongi’s lips were far from chapped; they were drier than the prince’s spit-slicked ones, but they slotted just perfectly when they met in a close-mouthed kiss. Jimin didn’t dare open his eyes for he wanted to savour the feeling for as long as it lasted, and absentmindedly, his arms snaked around Yoongi’s neck to enhance the proximity.
What started out as one kiss turned into two, into three, into dozens of light pecks until the couple was breathless, luxuriating and bathing in each other’s ragged gasps. Euphoria , that was how Jimin would describe the pulsating prickle in the tips of his fingers, in his toes which curled happily.
“Yoon – ” he was interrupted by the knight’s hunger which devoured him in the form of yet another kiss. This one was different from the innocent ones they relished in until now, and Jimin knew it the second a wet muscle swiped his bottom lip tentatively.
He gasped into Yoongi’s mouth at the foreign feeling but his trust in the man didn’t falter even after being introduced to the peculiar act. His hands dipped into Yoongi’s coal locks, combing through them in attempt to distract his thundering heartbeat but it was – it was impossible with the knight being right there, everywhere.
His own tongue shied away into the back of his mouth, insecure about how to reciprocate the gesture. Yoongi smiled into the kiss when he noticed the prince’s bashfulness and gave him an amused pinch. Jimin yelped, and it caused his tongue to come forward and meet halfway with Yoongi’s. The sound he made upon connecting so, so intimately with the knight was embarrassingly high-pitched and needy, and Yoongi wasn’t complaining.
Jimin’s legs turned into rubbery ones, weak and quivering under the sheer force of Yoongi’s influence , if he could call it that. Woolly-headed, he was, and he could only do as much as find purchase in Yoongi’s shirt, holding on for dear life. Jimin was overwhelmed with something indescribable, but it was welcome as long as it was Yoongi who acquainted him with such thing as a ‘kiss’.
They detached somewhat reluctantly after a good while, and whether they were dizzy from the lack of oxygen or due to the wholesome sensation, they wouldn’t know. Regardless of the breath Yoongi had yet to catch, he splattered Jimin’s heated skin with feathery kisses, landing a few of them on the corner of the prince’s mouth or eye, or on the very tip of his nose.
“You have no idea,” Yoongi mumbled between the kisses, the bliss in his tone evident, “how long I wanted to do that.”
Jimin was not very fond of heart attacks, but he was sure Yoongi would eventually give him one if he continued. “Y – Yoongi,” he whispered against the crook of his neck, “since when?”
“I was a smitten man from the day one,” confessed Yoongi, breaking into a short-lived peal of laughter at Jimin’s bewildered expression. “If you weren’t so breathtaking, I would’ve greeted you with a kiss on your hand, but in my nervousness I forgot and shook your hand instead. After that, I insulted you because I panicked. I never meant any of it.”
That was the reason for everything that went down between them?
“You’re – You can’t be serious!” Jimin wheezed, tears of what he thought was mirth and joy springing to his eyes at once. Yoongi nodded through his ear-to-ear grin, equally as enlivened as the prince himself. “I’m more than dead serious, angel.”
“Oh my lord, is that why we fought for days? I can’t believe it,” he breathed out between his winded giggles, his whole frame shaking with laughter as he leaned against Yoongi’s chest, allowing himself fall into Yoongi’s attracting embrace.
“This fairy tale of ours ended up with the best finale, didn’t it? So it doesn’t matter anymore,” he murmured into the crown of his head, and Jimin couldn’t help but agree, burying his face against Yoongi in favour of preventing another titter from escaping his lips. “As your knight, and as a man who loves you, I will keep you safe and make sure you never cry again. Be it an enemy who wishes to strike you down or your father, I will be here to protect you.”
It was odd that for the first time, both Jimin’s heart and brain had its wits in unison, a simple thought that all his inner emotions were in sympathy with; Yoongi was his reason for being.
Jimin was free from doubt of Yoongi not feeling the same for he knew that when they looked at each other, they saw their everything.