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The Beauty and the Beast

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“One day your antics are going to come back to bite you in the ass, Taehyung.”

From across the table, Taehyung raises a glass of wine, as if toasting his companion. With a smile so wide it turned his lips into the shape of a box. “You’re just jealous because you don’t have hordes of women throwing themselves at your feet!”

His friend shakes his head in disbelief. “You’re impossible. Ever since you and your family took ownership of the castle, you’ve been strutting around here like some prince.”

Taehyung grins, leaning across the wooden table. “Maybe I am.” He says, waggling his eyebrows.

With a roll of his eyes, his friend slaps a hand against his forehead. “You’re family may be wealthy, but you’re far from a prince.” He sighs, taking a sip of the dark amber liquid. “But for real Tae, you need to be more careful. You’re going to break the wrong heart and find yourself in more trouble than you can handle.”

“You worry too much, my friend.” Taehyung says with a nonchalant shrug. “What’s the worst that could happen? They run off and tell their fathers? Those idiots wouldn’t dare touch me, knowing the power my parents hold.”

“You’re a cocky bastard, I’ll give you that.” There was genuine concern in his friends voice, but still Taehyung lets his words of caution go in one ear and out of the other.

An hour later, both men go their separate ways. Taehyung finds it difficult to walk straight, his weak tolerance for alcohol quickly catching up  to him. The castle in which in parents bought and now reside within, is situated at the top of a hill; sitting on the edge of a cliff. During the day, it was a sight to behold. But in the middle of the night, with little light, the looming stone pillars and carefully sculpted statues, could be terrifying. Even after living there for the better part of 2 years, Taehyung still found it chilling.

Thankfully, due to his inebriated state, he found the ominous building, easy to ignore. It took enough concentration just to put one foot in front of the other.

“Excuse me, sir.” The softest voice he’s ever heard in his life comes from behind him.

Taehyung  doesn’t stop to turn around, in fact, he thinks the voice is nothing more than a hallucination brought on by his drunken state. Choosing to ignore it, he waves a dismissive hand, offers a low grunt, and continues on his way. Only to stop short as a thin, graying woman no taller than his shoulder, appears as if out of the air, before him; effectively blocking his path.

Taehyung squints his eyes, hoping to focus them on the newcomer. “Sorry, I’m not interested in whatever it is that you’re selling.” He says, giving up on trying to bring the two women into one single form. “It’s very late and I’ve spent all I have drinking tonight.” This was a lie, he had more money than he could ever spend in one lifetime, but she didn’t need to know that.

“I’m not here for your money.” She says, her voice soft and velvety. “I’ve come on behalf of my daughter. Though, I’d be surprised if you remembered her.”

Maybe he felt a tad bit guilty at the fact that there was truth to what she said. Taehyung rarely remembered any of the girls he became involved with. “Are you here to scold me? Tell me what a horrible man I am and that I should be more careful? That breaking young hearts is wrong?” He rolls his eyes at the woman and moves around her. “I’ve heard it all before, lady. I’m sorry I hurt your daughter,” He wasn’t, really. “And I’ll be a better person in the future.” Telling these parents what they wanted to hear usually did the trick, getting them off his back.

“No,” She says, suddenly appearing once more to stop him from going further. “I’m not here for any of that.” Before Taehyung has a chance to say anything in response, the woman has lifted her right hand and blows a cloud of foul smelling powder into his face. It stings his eyes and burns the hair in his nostrils. 

Sputtering and coughing, Taehyung stumbles backwards away from the woman, wiping fervently at his face, trying to dislodge the dust from his eyes. “What the hell!” He cries out, blinded by the powder, he could no longer see which direction he faced. “You’ll pay for this woman!”

“Oh, I don’t think so.” Her voice, much deeper and more gravelly speaks right against his ear, causing him to flinch away from the warmth of her breath against the shell of his earlobe. “I curse you, Kim Taehyung,” She says, the young man freezing as a static sensation goes through him. “I curse you to live as the beast you are. When the moon is full you will be forced to change into an animal, to think as the animal you portray yourself as. No woman will ever love a beast, and on the night of the total lunar eclipse, you will no longer turn back into a man.”

Chills make the hair along his body stand on end, fear grips him, but the woman wasn’t finished. “But,” She goes on to say, a lighter tone to her voice. “Should you actually manage to find the love of another, you can break this curse.” A terrifying laugh fills the air around the pair. “Too bad you’re incapable of something as fragile as love .”

“You’re talking nonsense.” Taehyung growls with annoyance. Though he was unable to focus on the woman, his head still turns towards the sound of her voice, so close to his ear. “I’ll make certain you’re severely punished for this.”

She begins laughing again, though now it sounds further away. “50 years from now, the total lunar eclipse will cast the earth into absolute darkness. Until then, you will remain young while those around you grow old and die. They will shun you and you will be utterly alone.”

The cackling of the woman fades into the darkness of the night, and as soon as she’s gone, Taehyung’s eyesight clears, allowing him to see once more. Blinking several times, Taehyung looks around, searching for the woman, but finds nothing. Crickets chirp all around him and somewhere in the distance an owl hoots. With no signs of his attacker, Taehyung turns towards the castle situated on top of the hill looming over the village below. 

3 weeks after Taehyung’s encounter with the strange woman, the full moon rises and the arrogant young man goes through his first change. The process unbearably painful, bones rearranging themselves to take on a more animalistic form; thick black fur burst from his skin to cover his entire body. Face distorts and elongates into the muzzle of a wolf. Every one of his senses are heightened beyond any mere humans.

The first time is the hardest. His human side completely overpowered by the predator. A hunger he’s never felt before grips him, driving his new instincts to hunt. He won’t remember much after the change, just the sounds of screaming and the excitement of chasing his prey. When he wakes up the next morning, it would feel like nothing more than a bad dream. Only, the coppery taste of blood on his tongue, and the stickiness covering his entire body, would say otherwise.

Later, he would find the bodies of his parents and their servants, spread throughout the castle grounds; torn to shreds. Horrified by what he’d done, Taehyung quickly destroyed the evidence of his savagery.

Refusing to allow this to happen again, Taehyung locks himself in the dungeon of the castle, caging the beast in order to keep the villagers safe. And for the next 50 years, he doesn’t leave the castle grounds, cutting off all contact with outsiders- even spreading rumors of a bloodthirsty monster living in the castle on the hill; hoping to ward off those who lived in its shadow.

Or so he thought…

Chapter Text

50 years later…

1 month before the lunar eclipse…

 

“They say a demon lives in that crumbling castle.” Jungkook exclaims excitedly, for the fourth time that morning as he sat across from his older brother eating breakfast.

“You said that already, Kook.” His brother, Yoongi says without looking up from the book he was currently reading. Picking up the half eaten piece of toasted bread, the older of the two, brings it to his lips, taking a small bite. “In fact, you’ve reminded me every morning since we moved here six months ago.”

“But hyung!” Jungkook whines, his lips taking on more of a pout. A pout the younger knew his brother couldn’t resist. “Aren’t you a little curious?”

“Curious?” Yoongi’s eyes meet his brothers, brows quirking. “About what exactly?”

“Whether or not the rumors are true, duh.”

The elder scoffs, rolling his eyes and returning to his work, scanning the page for the paragraph he lost. “Not even a little bit. And don’t even think about going up there to find out for yourself.”

Jungkook’s brown eyes go wide, a look of feigned disbelief on his face. “I can’t believe my brother would think I would go off and do something so reckless.”

“It wouldn’t be the first time.” Yoongi mumbles, setting the bookmark in place and closing the book. “Remember back home, when you heard that there was a witch living in the woods outside our village, and you just had to go find out for yourself?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He says, waving his hand in the air absently.

“Uh huh, sure, because I remember dad having to fish your skinny ass out of the well you’d fallen into.” He says with a side glance, taking a bit of toast.

Across from him, Jungkook crosses his arms, lips poking out in a pout. “That was an accident and I was ten.” Yoongi snorts around a glass of milk, but Jungkook ignores him. “I’m not that same kid. Besides, I’m not-” His next words are suddenly cut short by a loud, insistent knocking at their door.

Both brothers pause, staring at one another, until Jungkook is quickly jumping out of his chair and running for the door. “That’s Hoseok! I’ve got to go, hyung!”

“Wait, what? Where are you going? I thought we were going to spend the day together?” Yoongi asks, twisting in his chair to watch as the younger rushes for the door.

“I know,” He whines, bouncing around for a second as he tries to get his boots on. “But Hobi hyung is going to show me some of his hang outs. And I want to explore the area more, I mean, we’re going to live here the rest of our lives, right?”

“Well, yeah, but..”

“I’m sorry, hyung.” Jungkook apologizes, and his eyes are genuine. “I promise we can spend all day tomorrow together, alright? You can teach me the piano some more.”

Yoongi sighs reluctantly, nodding his head. “Fine, okay. But I’m holding you to it, Jungkook!” He yells as the teenager squeals gleefully, pulling open the door and bounding outside with all the energy of a small rabbit. Standing up, Yoongi goes to the door to close it, yelling at his brother as he watches him, and his new friend, taking off down the unpaved street. “And I swear to god, if you go up to that death trap of a castle, I’m going to kick your ass!”

As the younger runs down the road with his new friend, Yoongi watches as he lifts a hand and waves dismissively back to his brother. He goes to close the door with a slight roll of his eyes, only to find someone’s boot-clad foot, blocking his attempt. Seeing the familiar boot, shined clean of any dirt, he immediately takes on an annoyed expression and forcefully tries to close the door; ignoring the pained yelp from the owner. Except, instead of backing out like any normal human, the man attached to the boot, places a hand on the door and pushes back. Yoongi is forced to either back up or be hit by the door.

As he stumbles back, Yoongi contemplates picking up the nearest weapon-like object and chucking it at the mouth-breather stepping into his home. Eyes narrowed, he holds back the growl bubbling in his chest, “You’re not welcome here, Daehyun-ssi.” He says, trying to remain respectful, despite his hatred for the man before him.

Daehyun, was much taller than Yoongi, standing closer to 185cm, while he was on the shorter side. Even at his full height, Yoongi was forced to tilt his head just a bit to look up at his stupid, handsome face. Even though Yoongi absolutely hated the man, he couldn’t deny the fact, that he was on another level of handsome. His features were perfectly symmetrical, with plump smooth lips, his jawline sharp enough to cut paper on. And for some reason Yoongi couldn’t figure out, he was obsessed with making him, his.

If he wasn’t so stupidly arrogant and pig-headed, Yoongi may have given in to his advances ages ago. Unfortunately, Daehyun’s true colors came through just a month after he and Jungkook moved to the village. Despite Jungkook making it very clear that he didn’t like, or trust Daehyun, Yoongi had gone to the tavern that night prepared to entertain his interests. Except, when he arrived, it was to find Daehyun in the middle of his hunting buddies, talking about how easy it would be for him to get Yoongi into bed and ‘ stake a claim’ on him.

Without letting his presence be known, Yoongi left the tavern and returned home, vowing to never let a pretty face get one over on him. When he told Jungkook what he walked in on, the younger wanted nothing more than to beat the shit out of the bastard. Yoongi had to physically hold his brother back. After many hours trying calm him down, the two of them had finished off the last of their alcohol, talking all night about how stupid the local male population was.

“Aw,” Daehyun says, his deep voice like nails on a chalkboard to Yoongi’s ears. Yoongi hates voices like his. Biting his tongue to keep the insults from leaking through, Yoongi does his best to keep a neutral expression. He places a hand over his chest, as if Yoongi had actually hurt him. “You wound me, Yoonie.”

“Don’t call me that.” Yoongi physically cringes at the nickname.

“But you love it,” Daehyun slides up beside Yoongi, placing an arm around his shoulders.

As he tries to draw him closer, Yoongi ducks out from underneath his arm and moves across the room. “I don’t, and you know that, but for some reason you’re still doing it.”

Daehyun chooses to ignore him completely, flashing that ridiculously fake smile, that has both men and women fawning over him. “Tonight, we’re going out.”

“Are we, now?” Yoongi asks, crossing his arms, eyes narrowed.

“That’s right,” He says, taking a step towards Yoongi, that disgusting smile, widening. “Just the two of us. Come on, Yoongi,” Closing the distance, Daehyun reaches out with both hands, taking Yoongi’s waist and pulling him close. “You’ve denied me long enough. I know you want me, I just can’t figure out why you continue to play hard to get.”

Yoongi could feel Daehyun’s hands searing his skin through his clothing. “First,” Taking a step back, he once again puts space between them. Immediately, Yoongi found some relief as soon as his hands were off of him. “It’s not ‘ playing hard to get ’, I literally have no interest in going out with you. I don’t want you, I never have and I never will. But, you know what,” Dodging a pair of grabby hands as he makes for the still open door, Yoongi takes ahold of the handle and widens it further, a clear sign that his presence wasn’t welcome. “There are so many other idiots in this village dumb enough to fall for your charms.”

The look on Daehyun’s face as Yoongi rejected his advances once again, was priceless. Yoongi wishes he could capture it, but unfortunately, he’s all too quick to flash that disgusting smile as he walks towards Yoongi and the door he held open. “One day, Min Yoongi,” He says, voice dropping a couple octaves, a hand coming up to brush the back of his knuckles along Yoongi’s cheek. “One day, you’ll be mine.”

In response, Yoongi jerks his head away, trying not to physically cringe at the man’s hand touching his skin. He’ll have to remember to scrub his face with soap and water when he bathes tonight. Better yet, maybe he’ll he take a scalding hot bath just as soon as he gets this perv out of his house. “I highly doubt that. As always, it’s been an unpleasant visit. Please, for the love of God, don’t come back.”

As soon as Daehyun’s boot crosses the threshold, Yoongi’s shutting the door. Pressing his back against the wood of the door, he can hear the man mumbling to himself on the other side. Yoongi holds his breath, afraid he wouldn’t get the hint to leave, and even though it feels like hours, he eventually hears Daehyun’s heavy footfalls against the ground, moving away from his home. Letting out a sigh of relief, he pushes away from the door and returns to the table, where his breakfast grows cold, and his book lays open. With Jungkook gone for the rest of the day, and his unexpected guest finally gone, Yoongi is able to once again enjoy his morning. If he was lucky, he’d finish his current book and be at the bookkeepers store by late afternoon.

 

(•••)

 

The doorbell chimes above his head, a small bell placed there to announce the arrival of a new customer. The bookstore Yoongi loved so much, was rarely used by the villagers; the old books often covered in thick layers of dust. The state of the books was such a crime, at least in Yoongi’s opinion. Everyone else would likely be glad to see the little store go out of business. Thankfully, Yoongi’s become a regular customer since moving here six months ago.

“Hello?” He calls out, looking around the entrance of the shop, searching for the warm friendly face of the elderly woman who runs it. “Eunmi-nim?” When his call goes unanswered, Yoongi begins moving up and down the rows of bookshelves. “Are you here?”

The store remains quiet, the sounds of busy street vendors just outside the only noise filling the otherwise quiet space. Figuring the old woman was in the back, or has stepped out for a few minutes, Yoongi decides to go ahead and look around for a book he has yet to read. A few months ago, Yoongi wandered into the little shop, searching for something to keep his mind busy. Moving to a new land wasn’t easy. Jungkook was much more sociable than himself and was quick to make new friends. Yoongi wasn’t like his younger brother, preferring to spend most of his days at home with a good book, or his music. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the necessary funds to afford instruments of any kind, so reading was the only option left to him.

Unlike his previous home, reading and spending all of your time with a nose buried in a book, wasn’t as accepted here. Daehyun, despite his fascination with trying to win Yoongi’s heart, enjoyed making fun of the only hobby left to him. It was probably a good thing that he couldn’t afford to buy an instrument, because his stalker would likely make fun of him for that as well.

Yoongi didn’t understand the hatred this village had towards books and education. Books could teach us about anything and everything. Or, they could take us to a far away land, where trouble never lasted and true love always won over everything else. In fact, the book he just finished, told the story of a young man learning to accept himself just as he was- despite his many flaws, he was still worthy of being loved. The story hit him on a personal level, making him realize, that while he was far from perfect, Yoongi still had the chance to love and be loved in return. As long as he learned to accept and love himself first. Only then, could he love another as they deserved.

Having finished his current book, Yoongi decided to visit the shop today in order to find something new to read. But with the shop's owner nowhere to be found, he wasn’t sure where to begin. With his previous story  held at his side, Yoongi aimlessly wanders up and down the small aisles, eyes roaming the spines of books. Some of them he recognizes, while others he’s never heard before. Towards the end of the second aisle, he comes across a burgundy colored book bound in leather. Along the spine it reads, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in English. Judging by the name of the title, he figures it to be a romantic novel. Intrigued, Yoongi carefully sets his book down in an empty spot on the shelf and reaches to take the new one in hand.

The book is cool to the touch, the smell of leather and well worn pages, a scent he’d never grow tired of. You could always tell by scent alone, the difference between a new book, barely opened, and one that’s been loved and read over and over again. With a soft creak of the leather, he opens the front of the book, his hand running along the lightly colored paper.  On the inside, the title of the book was written in bold characters. Turning to the second page, Yoongi can see now that the entire book would be written in English. Thankfully, his father had taught him when he was young to read and write in the foreign language, convinced that one day it might come in handy. And though it might take him longer, Yoongi would be able to read this without much of an issue.

“That’s not a book for the average person, Yoongi-ssi.” A soft voice suddenly comes from behind him. Startled, Yoongi jumps, just barely catching the book before it falls from his hands to the floor. Spinning around to find an elderly woman with kind, but wise eyes, hiding a giggle behind her wrinkled hand. Her brown eyes crinkling at the corners as she silently laughs at him. “I’m so sorry, I thought you heard me coming, my boy.”

It takes him a few seconds to get his heart rate under control, all the while shaking his head. Carefully, Yoongi places the book back in it’s correct place, picking up the one he laid down moments before. “No, it’s okay. I wasn’t paying attention. I actually thought you were out, Eunmi-nim.”

She offers a warm smile, “What can I help you with today?”

“I was hoping to return my book and trade it for something new.” Yoongi says, holding up his book.

“It’s only been a couple of days,” she says astonished, eyes going from the book in his hand to his face. “You’ve finished it that quickly?”

Yoongi nods his head once, “I don’t have a whole lot going on lately. So reading helps pass the time. I finished it just this morning, actually.”

“Have you not found work yet?” Eunmi asks. Her tone isn’t accusing in nature, more so a question to encourage conversation as she takes his book from him and turns away, hurrying down the aisle. For a woman in her later years, she was able to move quite quickly, forcing Yoongi to do so, if he intended to keep up with her.

“I sometimes help the merchants set up their shops early in the mornings,” he informs, longer legs allowing him to keep pace just behind the old woman. “Then I come home and make breakfast for my brother. In the evenings, I help those needing it, close up their shops. No ones offered me to work full time, though.”

“You know,” The old woman says, stopping at the end of the aisle, turning to look at the books, thin fingers skimming along the spine. “I won’t be around forever, and I’m going to need someone to look after my shop once I’m gone.” Her voice is calm, neutral, as if she was carrying on a normal conversation and not getting ready to offer Yoongi the job of his dreams.

Yoongi tries not to show the excitement brewing beneath the surface; making an effort to keep his expressions in check. He didn’t realize he was actually holding his breath, until he took in a gulp of air to speak. “What about your family? Surely your children would be willing to take over once you’ve passed?”

Eunmi glances his way, pausing a moment to look at Yoongi, she then offers smile and a shake of her head. “I was married once, but my husband passed before we could have children. Never had the heart to remarry. The children of this village have always been like my own, but unfortunately, none of them show any interest in my books once they’ve grown into adults.”

Yoongi wasn’t at all surprised by this. He and Jungkook have been here only six months and in that small timespan, he’s noticed that the adults in the village are very unsettled by the idea of an imagination. Once you reach a certain age, it’s time to stop living in a fantasy and start thinking about your future role as an adult. When he asked the locals where he could possibly find the book shop, many adults had laughed at him and instead directed him towards the town center where all the available jobs were posted on a large wooden board for all to see. Even Jungkook, not quite an adult yet, was expected to find a proper job and contribute towards the town. Eventually, a young boy was able to point him towards Eunmi’s little shop.

Letting her gaze once more slide over the books, she pulls a light brown tinted book from the shelf and full turns towards Yoongi. Eunmi is a lot shorter than him, meaning Yoongi needs to tilt his head slightly to be able to meet the older woman’s warm brown eyes. Her thin lips pull back into a grandmotherly smile as she presents him the new book. “You’ve been here six months, Yoongi and in that time, you’ve read nearly every one of the books in my small collection. You, more than anyone here knows my books and more importantly, cares about what happens to them. Maybe, you will be the one to bring this town out of the stone age and teach them that books don’t bite.”

Yoongi can’t suppress the snort he makes trying to hold back his laughter. “I think it would take more than just me to change the entire villages way of thinking.”

“If anyone can do it,” She said, patting his shoulder affectionately, “It’s you. What do you say? Come work with me in the shop, learn everything I can possibly teach you and when I’m gone, take over for me? Make sure that nasty man-child, doesn’t accidentally catch it on fire.”

On instinct, Yoongi rolls his eyes at the very mention of Daehyun. Eunmi didn’t even have to say his name in order for Yoongi to know exactly who she was talking about. Knowing that man-child as she put it, Yoongi didn’t put it passed him to burn the entire shop to the ground. Daehyun was at the head of those preaching the whole, “books are bad and for children” movement.

Yoongi holds the new book handed him against his chest, as if it were a precious jewel needing protecting. Even though he should probably take some time to think about this offer, Yoongi knows in the end the answer would remain the same. “Alright Eunmi, tomorrow morning I’ll be here first thing in the morning to begin learning everything you can teach me. And when the time comes,” He smiles, using his free hand to take the older woman’s frail hand in his own. “I will gladly take over as keeper of your books.”

An hour later, Yoongi leaves Eunmi’s shop with two new books. One, he’s never heard of and another he’s heard multiple times, but can’t help reading over and over again. When she handed him the new book, Yoongi looked it over and as he flipped through the pages, it was obvious that it had been beautifully, hand-written and translated into Korean from another language. Confused Yoongi had questioned her about the book and the one who’d done the translating.

“I don’t know his name.” She told him as they leave the row of shelves to the front counter. “He comes in every now and then with a new bundle of books or trinkets. Some  of the books, he’s translates himself, while others, he leaves in their original language.”

Which explains why there was an English copy of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ he found earlier. “Is he a traveling merchant?” Yoongi asks, once more flipping through the pages of the book, coming back to the first page where he rereads the title: ‘The Beauty and the Beast’ . He’s never heard of such a story, but found himself intrigued all the same.

“No, I don’t believe he is.” Eunmi goes on to say, finding a chair to sit upon; resting her feet. “No one’s really spoken to him long enough to ask. Rumor says he lives in the castle overshadowing the village. Others say he travels the world collecting items in foreign lands to bring back home to sell.”

“And you?” Yoongi sets his two books on the counter, eyes on the old woman. “What do you say about him?”

Eunmi was silent a moment, her eyes looking passed Yoongi, as she thinks of how to answer him. When she does, Yoongi is left speechless, unsure how to take in what she’s told him. “I’ve been working at this store for many years now, longer than you’ve been alive, I would think. And in all that time, I’ve only ever seen his face three times in the past 30 years. Once when I first came here. The second time was 5 years later, when I was on the verge of losing everything, and he paid for my store to remain open. The third time, was when he brought me that book, just 3 years ago.” Eunmi then looks Yoongi in the eyes, unwavering and full of truth, sending chills down his spine. “In 30 years, his face has not aged a single day.”

Yoongi sets his books down on the table, looking at it as Eunmi’s words play back in his mind. Surely, the old woman couldn’t possibly mean what she said. It’s not possible for someone to not age even a little bit in over 30 years. Maybe she was just mistaken and the man she saw a few years ago, was the merchants son and bore a striking resemblance to his father.  Shaking the silly thought of wanderers who don’t age, from his mind, Yoongi moves into the kitchen to begin preparing dinner for himself and Jungkook.

Glancing through the large window outside, he sees that the sun was starting to set, but that there was still hours before dark. Knowing his little brother, Jungkook would wait until the very last minute to come in, covered in dirt. With dinner cooking, and Jungkook not expected for some time, Yoongi returns to the table where his books sit waiting for him. Instinctively, his hand reaches for the one he’s most familiar with, but halfway there, he suddenly pauses; eyes going to the hand-written book translated from French. Yoongi can’t explain it, but something in the back of his head, urges him to pick it up instead.

Despite how thin it is, the book carries some weight in his hand, the leather cover cool to the touch. At the same time, it felt right, a comfortable fit against his palm. Taking a sit, Yoongi opens the book, letting the scent of ink and worn pages fill is nose. Breathing deeply, his eyes scan over the first sentence:

Once upon a time, in a far away land, a young prince lived in a shining castle. Although he had everything his heart desired, the prince was spoiled, selfish and unkind.”

 

(•••)

 

“You know we shouldn’t be up here right?” The boy, not much older than Jungkook, says; voice quivering a little as the two friends stand at the bottom of a hill. A well worn dirt path leads up towards the castle shrouded in darkness. Even with the sun shining its bright light over the land below, the building at the top, seemed to be cast completely in perpetual night. “Didn’t your brother forbid you from coming here, anyway? What if he finds out?”

Jungkook looks to his friend on his left, a big grin on his face, his two front teeth giving him a bunny-like appearance. “He won’t find out. Come on, Hoseokie hyung, be a little adventurous for once in your life.” His attention turns back to the castle on the top of the hill, continuing to address Hoseok. “You’ve lived here all your life, aren’t you just a little curious whether the rumors of a man living there, are true or not?”

“No!” He shouts, but seems to quickly realize that he did so, lowering his voice and even his head. “No, I’m not curious, no one in their right mind would go up to that abandoned castle.”

“Maybe I’m not in my right mind.” Jungkook counters, only to follow up with, “I don’t understand why everyone is so scared of this place. It’s just an old building and I bet you no one’s lived there for decades. We’ll only stay a little while, okay?” Moving closer to Hoseok, the younger of the two, links their arms together. “The previous owners probably left a bunch of neat stuff in their haste to leave. What if we find something really valuable? Imagine finding forgotten jewels or something. We’d make our families rich!”

Jungkook sees Hoseok’s resolve beginning waver, “Well…”

“Just 10 minutes,” Jungkook begs, big doe eyes pleading with his friend as his lips pout. “That’s all we’ll stay, 10 minutes, and if we don’t find anything, we can leave and never speak of this again.”

It takes him a few seconds, but Hoseok eventually sighs and nods his head. “Alright,” seeing the giddy expression entering Jungkook’s eyes, he’s quick to add, “But only 10 minutes Jungkook! No longer, understand?”

“Yes, yes, no longer than 10 minutes.” Gripping his friend by the wrist, Jungkook drags him reluctantly up the dirty path towards the castle on the top of the hill.

Outside of the castle walls, a brick wall still stood, only now it was nearly overgrown by plant matter, vines climbing up and over the gray walls. Above them, the trees blocked out any and all sunlight, making the temperature around them feel much colder than was typical for the early fall season; a shiver works its way down Jungkook’s spine in response to the change. The two of them soon walk through what would have been the castle’s main gates, the wooden paneling now fallen off their hinges and rotten with time.

Tilting their heads back, both Jungkook and Hoseok marveled at the state of the castle itself. Despite the obvious lack of a caretaker, the castle appeared to be in amazing condition. The pillars and roof, though made of wood like the front gates, still stood strong and firm. It appeared as if, there was very little wear to it, even though it has been sitting vacant for several decades. Standing high above them, Jungkook couldn’t help but wonder just how it’s managed to last this long, if the rumors were to be believed.

Maybe, it hasn’t been as empty as the villagers seemed to think. If he were to go off appearances alone, Jungkook would assume someone as been living here. Using the superstition surrounding the place to ward off anyone thinking of coming and taking over the place for themselves. As it were, a feeling of being watched overwhelms him, replacing the chill of the cold, with a chill of foreboding.

“Kook-ah,” Hoseok whispers beside him, voice low as if afraid someone might hear them. “I change my mind, I think we need to leave.”

For a split moment, Jungkook has half-a-mind to agree with his friend, but as he continues to look around the property, he realizes how silly it is to think that there might be someone here watching them from the shadows. The heavy tree coverage, and overgrowth, tricks the mind into thinking that there was something lurking around the corner. But that was all it was, just an illusion. Stilling his instincts to flee, Jungkook turns to Hoseok, an encouraging grin on his face. “No one lives here, right? That unsettling feeling is just a trick of the mind. Don’t worry hyung, nothing bad will happen!”

Hoseok glances up at the building, turning his head slightly to the left eyeing the tower at the rear of the palace. Unlike the main castle, this tower wasn’t in as good of shape. The roof was practically gone, leaving gaping holes for the elements to penetrate, and the bricks were beginning to loosen and fall to the ground below. There was just something eerie about the entire thing; something not quite right.

Sliding his gaze away from the crumbling tower, Hoseok side-eyes Jungkook. With his brown eyes wide and full of excitement, Hoseok was having a hard time denying the boy what he desired. “I swear, Jungkook-ah, if we end up falling through some unseen hole, I will kill you myself-- if the fall doesn’t kill us first.” The older boy promises, eyes narrowing threateningly.

“You worry too much, seriously!” Not waiting another moment, Jungkook rushes off ahead of Hoseok. He doesn’t even wait to see if the older boy was following him. Now that he’s pushed down his earlier trepidation, Jungkook’s eagerness to explore the supposedly haunted castle, was once more in full force.

Only 20 minutes into their exploration, Jungkook is quick to realize that there wasn’t much here to be excited about. The walls were bare, and the floors-- despite their pristine appearance-- were also void of any signs they were being walked over on a daily basis. It was so quiet inside, that you’d be able to hear a needle drop in any one of the rooms. Though, weirdly enough, the smell of the old castle, wasn’t what you would expect from an unoccupied building. No scent of dust or even mildew. Jungkook found the whole thing to be off-putting.

“Well this was a major waste of time.” He complained as the two of them make their way to the well-preserved staircase. “There’s literally nothing here. Other than the fact that this place has stood up amazingly well over the years.”

“It’s kind of creepy, isn’t it? How great this place looks for how old it’s supposed to be.” Hoseok comments, his hand skims along the solid wood railing as they descend to the first floor. “Can we leave now?” He asks for the tenth time in the last 15 minutes. “We’re now well passed the 10 minutes you promised.”

Disheartened that they found nothing of interest, Jungkook clears the final steps to place his feet once more on the main level of the castle. “Yeah, alright.” He says, nodding his head in melancholy.

It’s as they’re feet from clearing the front doors, that they hear something clatter loudly to the ground somewhere behind them. Instantly, both boys go rigid, wide eyes meeting in a mixture of fear and renewed excitement— or at least in Jungkook.

Quickly shaking his head, Hoseok makes to grab the younger by the hand. “No, no, no.” He repeats over and over again. “10 minutes, Jungkook! That’s what you promised me! We’re leaving, right now!”

Jungkook digs the heel of his feet into the ground, keeping Hoseok from dragging him outside. “It’s probably just a wild animal.”

“All the more reason to avoid it. Come on, Jungkook-ah, it’s getting late. By the time we get back to the village it’ll be dark and your brother will kill me if you’re not home before that.”

“It’ll be fine, just a little longer, okay?” The younger pleads, big eyes glowing with his adventurous nature.

Hoseok really wanted nothing more than to get out of this place. It gives him the creeps and something in the back of his mind warned him that they should just leave and avoid whatever made that noise. At the same time, he knows arguing with Jungkook and trying to change his mind would be futile. Once he got something on his mind, he was bound and determined to do it, regardless of whether or not it was a good idea.

Sighing heavily, his frustration more than clear, Hoseok nods his head, releasing Jungkook’s wrist and letting it drop to his side. “Fine, but I’m not explaining this to your brother.” He visibly sudders. “Yoongi scares me sometimes.”

Jungkook rolls his eyes in response to that. “He might look scary, but it’s all just an act.”

“Maybe to you,” Hoseok groans, turning around with Jungkook towards the direction where the sound originated from. “But have you seen the way he glares at other people. It’s terrifying.”

“He only gives those looks to people he knows are close to Daehyun. Yoongi absolutely despises that leech.”

“Have you figured out why? Dae makes it seem like they’re going to be the greatest couple in town.”

Jungkook pauses just a moment, standing in front of a large, heavy wooden door. Months ago, Yoongi had left to see Daehyun, only to return home an hour after leaving. With eyes rimmed red, his older brother told him everything that had happened. How he found Daehyun at the bar with some of his buddies, talking about him and how he was a “prize to be won”. Jungkook had been furious, ready to kill the bastard, hating how broken his strong brother broke looked. Prior to moving to this town, the two of them lost everything, they had nothing. Not once did he see Yoongi break, but when he came home that night, something in his eyes had dimmed. No one wants to be thought of as someone else’s to be claimed. Like some horse at auction.

Neither one of them wanted to talk about it with the villagers. So, telling Hoseok that Daehyung had tried to treat his brother like some prized horse to be mounted, he answers with a shake of his head. “No, hyung won’t talk about it.” Not that he doesn’t trust Hoseok, it’s just that it wasn’t his place.

Wanting a change of subject, Jungkook reaches out to open the door. “Do you think this is where the beast-man the villagers talk about hides during the day?” He asks, looking at Hoseok with a grin on his face; holding back a laugh as his friend pales.

With the door open, Jungkook couldn’t see much. The hallway ahead of him was pitch black. If there were any windows, they were covered to keep out any and all light. A feeling of foreboding once again settles over the younger, and warning alarms go off in his head. The hair on the back of his neck and along his arms, stand on end. Every single instinct tells him to leave this place. The scent of dust and mildew made his nose scrunch up, threatening to make him sneeze.  

“We shouldn’t go in there Kook. What if it’s a wolf or some rabid animal waiting to eat our faces?” Peering in from over Jungkook’s shoulder.

Jungkook doesn’t comment on this, keeping his own momentary concerns to himself while taking a few seconds to get his heart under control. Chuckling to himself and shaking his head at the absurd notion that some creature could be down there ready to ‘eat their faces’ -- which should be laughable. There wasn’t anything down there, couldn’t be. The rest of the property was barren-- devoid of any signs of someone, or something living here. So, why the hell was he unable to calm his nervous. “I’m sure there’s nothing that’s going to hurt us. Probably just a mouse, or something, knocking over whatever was left behind.” He reassures, though whether it was more for Hoseok’s comfort, than his own, he wasn’t sure. Maybe he was just trying to convince himself.

“How can you be so certain?” He questions, not moving from his place by the door frame; watching Jungkook as he ventured further into the darkness, until he could no longer see his back. Tentatively, Hoseok takes a step forward, his entire body shaking with fear. “J-Jungkook?”

Several agonizing heartbeats go by as Hoseok strains his ears to hear anything, but it was so eerily silent. Licking at his suddenly dry lips, he takes another step towards the darkness where Jungkook disappeared. “Jungkook?” He calls out, only to have silence answer him. Fear, and the need to protect the younger man, grip him. “Jungkook, stop messing arou-”

Suddenly from the darkened hallway, a loud crash could be heard; startling Hoseok and making him jump backwards. Immediately following the crash, comes a sound he’s never heard before. A deep, guttural growl of an animal Hoseok’s never heard in his young nineteen years on this earth. It made his blood turn to ice, and his heart hammered painfully in his chest. As fear bloomed anew, Hoseok remembered that Jungkook was down there with whatever beast made that inhuman sound. Despite his flight response overruling his fight, he knew he couldn’t leave his young friend to fend it off alone. And so, with his entire body shaking like a branch in a storm, Jung Hoseok pulls up his big boy breeches and forces one foot in front of the other.

The darkness was quick to close in on him, making it impossible to see just what was in front of him. With his hands out instinctively before his body, Hoseok attempts to feel his way around, while at the same time whispering out to his friend. “Jungkook,” he strains his hearing, “Jungkook, please where are you?”

Behind him, something moves  at a fast enough speed to cause the loose hair around his shoulders to sway; as if blown by a light breeze. Spinning around-- even though he can’t see a damn thing, Hoseok shakily turns to face off with whatever it was behind him. “W-who’s there?” He yells out.

When his back hit solid wall, the air in his lungs, rushes out in a whoosh -- though, the large hand wrapped tightly around his throat didn’t exactly help with his lack of oxygen intake. A rough palm presses down on his windpipe, blocking any breath he might try to make, but keeping just enough pressure off to stop him from blacking out entirely. Sharp, dagger like nails (or maybe they were claws), dig into his flesh, threatening to pierce the artery supplying precious blood to his brain. Most people would be kicking at the monster holding him several feet off the ground, in an attempt desperately to gain some semblance of control over the situation, but Hoseok wasn’t like everyone. Petrified, he hangs there, gulping in small amounts of air.

His eyes strain in the darkness, but only saw black. Was this what it’s like to die? Was he going to die here? What about Jungkook, was he still alive, or had this creature killed him; much like he was about to do now?

Without warning, he releases him, letting Hoseok drop to the floor in a heap. Gasping as dust filled air rushes into his lungs, Hoseok is soon a coughing, sputtering mess on the floor. Eyes blurry with tears, he looks up around him, heart stopping as he finds a pair of glowing red eyes glaring at him just feet away.

“A-are you going to kill me,” Hoseok’s voice is scratchy and hoarse, barely able to form words; his vocal cords swollen. “W-where’s Jungkook? Did you kill him too?”

“Your friend is now my prisoner,” the red-eyed demon informs him, voice deeper than any man he’s ever met. It made him shiver. “He will serve me as punishment for his trespassing.”

“What about me?” Hoseok demands, finally finding the strength to once more stand on his feet. “I trespassed with him.”

“That’s true,” the demon says, “but you didn’t want to. You asked him several times to leave, but you stayed because you wouldn’t leave him alone. This is why I’m sparing your life and allowing you to leave. Return to your village and warn your people what happens when you let curiosity get the better of you.”

“Please,” Hoseok pleads, “Jungkook, he’s just a boy. He has an older brother, someone who will worry about him. Please, let Kook go and take me in his stead. I’ll do anything you ask, just let Jungkook go home to his brother.”

The demon across from him stayed quiet, and Hoseok briefly thought that he would change his mind and grant him his request to let Jungkook go. His hope is shattered when the creature growls aggressively, and something sharp makes contact just above his jugular. “I will give you 15 seconds to leave my castle and 30 to leave the premises. If you stay, I will kill you both and send my own message.”

“But-”

“Your time starts now, boy.” Even though Hoseok can’t see the creatures expression in the darkness, he could tell by the tone of his voice that he was smirking. “15,” He starts, counting down slower than normal, pausing between numbers. “14,”

Panic sets in, heart beating frantically, as real fear has him taking a step back; sweat collecting on his brow. “You swear you won’t kill him? I have you word?”

Surprisingly, he answers. “You have my word. Now,” Next to his ear, Hoseok feels the warm breath of the man as he whispers, “ run .”

Hoseok runs faster than he’s ever ran in his life.

 

(•••)

 

It was nearly dark when the pounding startled him awake.

Sitting up with eyes wide and sweat trickling down the back of his neck and beneath his clothing, Yoongi thought at first that it had been part of a nightmare jolting him awake. Only, it came a second time, just moments after the first. Blinking the sleep out of his eyes, Yoongi glances out the window. It was later than it had been when he sat down in his favorite chair to continue reading. Having finished making dinner, Yoongi made the choice to eat without his brother with a plan to remind him of the rules. If Jungkook decided to be late for food,  it wasn’t Yoongi’s fault when it went cold. Because his brother was late tonight, Yoongi ate his meal alone. Well, not really alone, he had his new book and the intriguing characters within. Most people might find this to be a lonely evening, but reading a good book, and learning about it’s characters was an experience. Just because Yoongi wasn’t spending his evenings gossiping with the rest of the young adults in this village, didn’t mean he was wasting it.

BAM! BAM! BAM!

A third set of knocks.

Though, it could be considered more of a banging rather than actual knocking. Fearing it might be Daehyun back to try and talk “some sense” into him, Yoongi hesitates to answer wanting the insufferable moron to just leave him alone.  ‘Maybe, if I stay really quiet and really still, just maybe he’ll go away.’

Only, it wasn’t Daehyun on the other side. “Yoongi!” Hoseok’s voice was muffled by the wooden door separating the two of them. But it was the urgency in his tone that had Yoongi jumping to his feet. “Yoongi, open up please! It’s Jung-“

Jerking the door open, Yoongi stares into the wide, frightened eyes, of his younger brother's best friend. “Where’s Jungkook?” He demands, scanning the empty air behind the younger man; finding no signs of the boy. Hoseok is quick to shake his head, looking over his shoulder, before pushing Yoongi back inside, shutting the door behind him.

Neither one of the speaks for several seconds, though, it feels more like hours. On the outside, Yoongi keeps a calm, unbothered, expression while waiting for Hoseok to catch his breath. But on the inside, he was on the verge of a panic attack. Jungkook was the only family he had left, he was his responsibility. If something happened to his brother, and Yoongi hadn’t been there to protect him… He’d never forgive himself.

When it looked like Hoseok wasn’t going to say anything after 30 seconds and a cup of water, Yoongi finally snaps at him. “Hoseok!” Instantly, his eyes were on him. “Jungkook,” Yoongi softens his tone now that he has Hoseok’s attention. “Where is my brother?”

As he asks the question, Hoseok’s complexion begins to pale. He swallows hard, and avoids making eye contact with the elder. “I’m sorry, I tried to help him, but that…” Hoseok pauses a moment, brows furrowing as if thinking of the right way to word the rest of his sentence. “That demon , refused to take me instead.”

“What are you talking about?” Yoongi asks, now confused. “Demon? What demon?”

“In the castle, the one on the hill.” He says, pointing in the direction of the exact castle, Yoongi specifically warned Jungkook to stay away from that morning.

Hoseok takes on a sheepish expression, that’s gone in an instant. “Yes, but that’s not the real concern here.”

“Let me guess,” Yoongi crosses his arms, “Jungkook got himself stuck in a hole somewhere and now I need to come pull him out?”

It wasn’t too far of a stretch.

Jungkook has always been the adventurous type. Before moving to this village, the two of them lived in a small remote village and from the time he could walk, Jungkook would explore the forest that surrounded them. Nearly every time he went out, their father would have to fish the younger boy out of whatever hole he found himself stuck in. Once, it was their village well. So, he wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case now. He’s fallen through a rotten part of that old castle and now Yoongi needed to go up there and pull him out.

Hoseok shakes his head, “No, that’s not it. He’s not stuck in a hole, Yoongi. Jungkook was kidnapped by a demon, or some creature!”

“You’re literally not making any sense. There isn’t a demon in that castle. And I can’t believe you two went up there after I told him not to.” Yoongi chides.

“Yoongi, for god's sake, listen to me!” Hoseok steps closer and as he does, he pulls his hair away back, using his other hand to tug down the collar of his robes. There, against the pale skin of his throat, is a large, red hand print. The long fingers wrapped almost entirely around his neck. “That demon nearly killed me, but he let me go instead.” Taken off guard by the bruising mark around Hoseok’s throat, he doesn’t say anything right away, and Hoseok goes on to say, “He has Jungkook, keeping him prisoner. I tried to make him take me, but he wouldn’t. Yoongi, I am so sorry, I tried, I really did.”

Turning away from Hoseok as the younger man continues to apologize for letting his brother be taken by some crazy man living in that damned castle. Yoongi ignores him as he opens the closest to search for what he needed, having to push his clothes out of the way where he knew a small bag lay hidden in the back. Finding what he was looking for, Yoongi then heads into the kitchen, filling the bag with some essential items. Tuned in to what he was doing, he doesn’t realize that Hoseok has stopped talking and is now watching him from the doorway.

“You’re going after him.” It’s not a question, but a statement.

“I’m going to get my brother back. I don’t care what it takes.” Yoongi says matter-of-fact.

“He won’t give him back, I already tried.”

“Jungkook is my brother, he’s my responsibility, I don’t care what I have to do, I will get him back.” With his bag packed with everything he felt he might need, Yoongi grabs one last thing and pushes past Hoseok. “Keep an eye on things for me while I’m gone, but this shouldn’t take long.”

 

 

(•••)

 

 

“Okay, so maybe making this trek in the middle of night, with no moon, wasn’t the smartest idea.” Yoongi grumbles as he finally makes it to the top of the hill where the dark silhouette of the castle comes into view. Looking up at the building, Yoongi feels a sense of foreboding overcome him, and maybe the chill that runs over his skin is from the brisk night air, or the fear curling in the pits of his belly.

From the corner of his eye, something catches his attention. There, in one of the windows, a candle flickers with life.  That must be where this demon man Hoseok mentioned is, which means, Jungkook would be elsewhere. Only, Yoongi has no idea where he should look for his brother. He could wander the grounds and castle itself until he finds him, or he could go right to the one person who would know exactly where Jungkook would be. Though, something tells him that whoever this creature Hoseok mentioned earlier was, he already knew he was here. His previous sense of foreboding, morphing into an eerie feeling of being watched.

Glancing over his shoulder, he saw no one. Then again, given how dark it was, he wasn’t surprised not to see anyone. Taking a deep breath in, Yoongi forces his feet to move forward, urging them on, with every step being harder and harder; like wading through quicksand. As he comes closer, he can see the front door is jarred open, probably from Hoseok running from inside. Cautiously, he takes a few steps leading to the front door, and using his left hand, Yoongi gently pushes it open enough for him to slip inside.

The entrance was wide open, leading off into four separate directions. Yoongi didn’t care about what the rest of the castle had to offer, only where the master was; ready to get his brother back and return to the village. Still, Yoongi was shocked to see— or what he could see in such low light, that the place was immaculate, with not a speck of dust or the scent of decay. Looking to the left and then to the right, Yoongi knows if he goes moving around on his own, that he would easily get lost, especially in the dark.

Just then, the same feeling of being watched came over him a second time. Glancing over he eyes the opened doorway from his peripherals. Like before, he sees nothing, but his gut tells him-- even though he can’t see them, that there was someone standing just outside; watching him. Tired of the games, and ready to get to the point, Yoongi makes a bold decision.

“It’s a coward's move, to watch people from the shadows.” He calls out to the mysterious stranger. Closing his eyes he wills himself to keep his demeanor calm, needing to do so if he had any hopes of getting his brother home safely. “I’m here for my brother. I believe you’ve taken him as your prisoner.”

Behind him, Yoongi suddenly senses another presence, this one strong and— if he were being honest, overwhelming. Hot breath whispers along his sensitive skin, at the back of his neck; causing goosebumps to instantaneously break out along his arms and a chill run down his spine. “What a brave, little fool, you are.” His voice was deeper than anything Yoongi has ever heard in his life. The drawl of his accent, thick and one he couldn’t pinpoint.

Yoongi tries to suppress and ignore the twisting in his stomach as fear attempts to grip him. Clenching his jaw, he keeps his eyes closed for the moment, finding it easier to keep a brave facade knowing the man behind him can’t see his face. He can’t explain it, but the deep timbre of the man’s voice behind him, causes something inside of him to shudder— not out of fear, but something else, something unfamiliar.

Swallowing the lump in his throat, he says, “I want you to release my brother. I know what he did was wrong, but Jungkook is just a boy with an overly curious mind. I’ll make sure he makes up for his trespassing, but I think eternal imprisonment, is too much.”

“Your brother came into my home, uninvited.” Yoongi feels his breath move away from the back of his neck, only to hear him circling around in front of him.

“I’ll do anything you ask, as long as you free my brother. Whatever punishment you have planned for him, please allow me to take his place.” Yoongi can faintly make out the outline of the person in front of him. He was tall, taller than Yoongi, with a slender frame, his shoulders wide. But it was his eyes that stood out the most. Despite the nearly pitch black surrounding them, Yoongi can easily make out two shimmering red irises staring down at him.

It was an eerie sight-- having two inhuman eyes looking back at you. Yoongi felt a chill run through him, and even though he can’t see the man’s face, he imagines a demon wearing the guise of a human. Maybe Hoseok had been right all along. Maybe the entire village had been right to tell their stories of an evil being living in the palace at the top of the hill. Right now, Yoongi was regretting bring his brother here, to this small country village, for a better life. Why, oh why, did Jungkook let his curious nature get the better of him every single time.

A low chuckling coming from the man in front of him, snaps Yoongi back to the matter at hand, his cheeks flushing a light pink. “Reconsidering already?” He mocks, leaning closer towards the smaller man, breathing in deeply the scent of fear. “We haven’t even discussed the terms of your brothers release, and you’re already terrified. Go on,” As he straightens, the demon jerks his chin towards the door. “I’ll allow you to run back to the village. I won’t even tell him that you’ve left him here to rot.”

Yoongi's jaw clenches and his fists ball up tightly at his sides. “Just because I’m scared of you, demon, doesn’t mean I’m going to leave and abandon my brother to whatever fate you have planned.”

“You’re brave, boy.” The demon goes silent for a single moment, before going on to say, “Fine, I’ll let your brother go free. But in exchange, you will take his place, living the rest of your days in a damp cell. You’ll clean my castle, maintain the grounds, and serve me however I see fit. Anything I ask, you will make happen. And you will have no contact with those outside of this castle. Where I travel, you travel with me. Do you accept these conditions?”

“My brother has no one, besides me. I can’t just cut all contact from him. At least let me write to him.”

“No contact whatsoever. If you can not accept these terms, I will have you leave and your brother stays here with me. Where he will starve and rot in a cage, like an animal.” His tone was firm, telling Yoongi that no amount of negotiating will sway the creature before him.

“How do I know, you won’t make me suffer the same fate?” Yoongi questions, definitely glaring back.  

“You don’t,” He says and Yoongi can hear the smirk in his voice. “But if you really want to save your brother, than you will just have to take my word for it.”

He was right. Yoongi didn’t know whether he could trust this stranger with the demon eyes. But his brother meant the world to him and his father had left the boy in Yoongi’s care. It doesn’t matter if he was saving Jungkook only to take his place in a slow, torturous death. All that mattered was Jungkook’s safety. Meeting the devil’s eyes, Yoongi jerks his head once, “I agree to your terms. Now let my brother free.”

Taehyung had to admit, when the boy crossed onto his property, he didn’t think it would be to bargain for the life of his new prisoner currently locked up in a prison cell behind the castle. Though, it wasn’t so much a cell, as a storage shed converted into a prison cell reminiscent of the ones he saw in travels throughout Europe. He spent years roaming as many lands as he possibly could, searching for a way to break the curse placed on him some 50 years ago hoping that maybe he would come across another witch, one that could help him.

During his travels, he saw many wondrous buildings, castles and towers built for kings and queens. Grand rooms of gold and silver, designed for entertaining only the wealthiest of guests. Taehyung had been in awe of it, even bringing some of that same style back home to Korea. One of which, was the converted storage cabin that had once housed the stable man who worked for his family many years ago. He’d done it on a whim 5 years ago. While no one has ever dared come this far up the hill in decades-- thanks to the rumors he helped spread warning people away, Taehyung felt that as the years continued to pass, and the older villagers began to die, that the rumors and superstition soon wouldn’t be enough. And with the total eclipse just a month away, he couldn’t be too careful.

His fears were realized earlier that day, when two young intruders wandered into his castle. He had hoped that when they found nothing of interest, that their curiosity would be satisfied and they would leave without discovering him and his secrets. Unfortunately, thanks to his clumsy nature, Taehyung gave his own position away; leading the younger of the two into his selenology room, where he kept his studies on the moon and its phases and tracked the coming eclipse, as he tirelessly searched for a cure to break the spell placed upon him.

Letting the two boys trespass in his home, had been somewhat of a blessing. Taking the more curious of the two, and allowing the other to leave would keep the rumors of a demon living in the castle alive, while the disappearance of the other, would cement them. No one would come looking if they thought they would be killed. What Taehyung didn’t anticipate, was the boy to have a brother willing to sacrifice his freedom. Glancing over his shoulder, he looks at the dark haired boy. Even with there being no moon in the sky tonight, Taehyung has no problem seeing the boys features clearly. Over time, the animal attributes he takes on once a month, slowly, one by one remained with him, even after the full moon has passed like having the ability to see when there is little to no light.   

Though the boy couldn’t see him, Taehyung could see the determined look in his sharp, cat-like eyes. His brown hair was shorter than what was considered normal-- he seemed to prefer it cut just above his shoulders. He was shorter than most men his age too, making him appear weak, but Taehyung could tell by the way he carried himself, that he was anything but weak. The only soft thing he could find, were his lips dusted a light pink and pursed into a pout, shining from his tongue licking at them to keep from drying out. Taehyung can’t help but find his rough exterior adorable, knowing that there was something more beneath the surface.

“I can’t see you, but I know you’re staring at me, demon.” The boy says, those cat-like eyes tilting up to look at Taehyung; his brow pulled together in a frown.

“Maybe I am,” Taehyung says as they come up to the storage shed turned prison. “And I’m not a demon.”

He scoffs, “Your glowing red eyes, say otherwise, demon .”

Taehyung stops just at the door of the prison, turning around to look down at the shorter man in front of him, daring to look back with defiance. He couldn’t help the color of his eyes, the crimson tint an after affect of his curse. He’s been called a demon before, and it’s never bothered him until now. Annoyed, Taehyung takes the key from his pocket. “Think what you will of me.” Unlocking the door, Taehyung pulls the heavy door open, stepping back to let him in first. “Your brother is inside, I’ll allow you a few minutes to explain the situation and say your goodbyes, after, I will release him, and you will take his place.”

Yoongi walks passed the demon, a lantern inside finally casting enough of a light on the stranger, that he could make out more than just those damned eyes. The strong line of his jaw, the smooth fullness of his lips, and the slight curve of his nose, while the rest of his face continued to be cast in shadow. Forcing his gaze away from his soon-to-be captor, Yoongi ventures inside. The space was small, with only enough room for one cell towards the back where a little, barred window lets in fresh air from outside. It was cold, damp and lonely. Jungkook would never survive a prison like this.

“Yoongi?” From the dark corner of the little cell, Yoongi can hear his brother call out to him. His voice sounds scared, for the first time ever, his brave, adventurous, little brother, sounds scared. Yoongi sits on his knees and peers into the cage, watching as Jungkook scurries over to the bars, reaching out to take Yoongi’s hands into his own. His grip so tight, that it actually hurts. “What are you doing here?” He whispers.

“You idiot,” Yoongi chides, “I came to bring you home, of course. I told you not to come up here, but you did it anyway and look at you now.”

“I know,” Jungkook sighs softly, resting his head against the cold bars. “I’m sorry, I didn’t think it would lead to this. Hyung, I want to go home.” If there’s one thing Yoongi knows about his brother, it’s that he never shows weakness, but right now, as he pleads for Yoongi to take him home, Jungkook sounds like the young boy he truly is.

Twisting his hands so that he could hold Jungkook’s instead of the boy having a death grip on his own, Yoongi squeezes comfortingly. “You’re going home, Jungkookie.” He whispers, using the same soft tone their mother once used on them when they were younger. “And when you get home, I want you to promise you will never come back here again.”

Jungkook lifts his head then, the soft glow of the lantern highlighting the confused pinch of his brows. “Why does it sound like I’m going home alone?”

Yoongi doesn’t meet his gaze, choosing instead to focus on their joined hands. “Promise me, Kook.” He says a second time. “I don’t want you ever coming back here again. I won’t be able to save you again, so please, promise me this.”

“Yoongi hyung,” Jungkook tries his best to make his brother meet his eyes. “Hyung, you’re coming home with me, right?”

“Tell everyone that I’ve gone off to look for better work and that I’ll be sending you money monthly for food and rent.”

“Hyung! You’re coming home with me!”

“He’s not.” That deep baritone voice comes from the shadows behind Yoongi. “Your time is up, it’s time to say goodbye.”

“Goodbye?” Confused, Jungkook looks from his brother to the demon behind him, and back to Yoongi. “What does he mean by, ‘goodbye’?” He’s forced to let go of Yoongi’s hands when the barred door is unlocked and pushed open. Jungkook scrambles backwards away from the red-eyed demon as he steps in to grab at the collar of his shirt, dragging him from his cell, all while calling to his brother. “Hyung! Yoongi! Don’t do this, please!”

“Your brother has saved your life, boy. You should be grateful to him.” The demon drags Jungkook outside, uncaring whether it causes injury. “You have my word, he will be treated better than I planned to treat you, but should you come back, I will see that the both of you are killed before the next sun rises.”

“Wait!” Jungkook cries out, trying to look over his shoulder at the creature dragging him away from his brother. “What are you talking about? Yoongi, what’s going on?”

Yoongi stands back in the doorway of the shed, watching as his brother is taken to the property line. “This was my choice. Don’t do anything stupid, Jungkook, promise me.”

“I’ll come back for you, hyung!” The younger boy promises as he’s effortlessly tossed off of the property. Gaining his footing, he stands across from the demon, eyes narrowed. “I will come back for him, demon.”

“You heard him, boy. This was his choice. His life, for yours. Take this as a second chance and don't waste it doing something stupid. I’ll take care of your brother, that I promise.” Taehyung’s gleaming crimson eyes, dare the boy to challenge him, but with a promise that he won’t like the consequence if he did.

For a moment, Taehyung thought that just maybe, the boy would attempt to challenge him. He held his gaze longer than anyone has ever dared in the last 50 years, and underneath those innocent doe eyes, was a determination unlike anything Taehyung has seen before. There was a strength to this young boy. Like his older brother, he would do anything to protect those he loved. This wouldn’t be the last time he saw this child with the heart of a warrior. He’d be back.

It took him a few minutes, but eventually the boy turns away with a huff and begins the trek back down the hill towards the lights of the village. Despite knowing the boy would be back, Taehyung doesn’t go after him, instead he allows the boy to leave without any further threats and turns back towards the shed. As he draws closer, he doesn’t immediately see the older brother waiting for his return. Taehyung knew he didn’t run off, because his scent remained, leading inside of the building that had been his brothers prison. Following the subtle scent of fresh cotton and silk, Taehyung finds his new guest sitting on the ground, in the same cell with his back against the wall; the barred door standing open.

“What are you doing?” He asks, crossing his arms over his chest, admiring the male from his place in the shadows.

Tilting his head back, the boy with the cat-like eyes meets his eyes. “I’m taking my brother’s place, as agreed.”

“Ah,” Taehyung nods his head, “That’s right, but it was also agreed that you would serve me. You can’t do that out here in a dirty cell. How will you hear me when I call for you?”

“If not here, then where will my cell be?” There was genuine confusion in his voice, and it had the corner of Taehyung’s lips pulling back just a little bit.

Without saying anything, Taehyung turns around and walks over of the shed. He doesn’t wait to see if the boy will follow him, knowing he will without having to look back. The walk back to the castle was short, entering through a door in the back that leads into the spacious, but rarely used kitchen. Kicking off his shoes at the door, he glances back to ask, “Do you know how to cook?”  

His guest is quick to follow suit, removing his now muddy shoes, but instead of kicking them haphazardly, he places them neatly against the wall. “Yes, my mother made sure that Jungkook and I were taught at an early age.”

“Good, then I want you to have breakfast ready every morning at dawn.” Taehyung informs him, leaving the kitchen and entering the main hall where they first met. Turning towards the stairs, he lights an oil lamp and leads the way to the second level, where rooms his family once occupied could be found. They haven’t been used in decades, not since his family abandoned him to bare his fate alone.

“You’re giving me a room of my own?” Yoongi asks after a few minutes of silence, staring at the back of his new jailer. “Why?”

“You’d prefer a prison cell over the comfort and warmth of a bed?” Red eyes look back at him from over his shoulder.

“Well, no.” He says, still confused. “But I thought that I was to be your prisoner.”

“More like my servant, than my prisoner.” The demon heaves an audible sigh. “You have free roam of the castle, you can go wherever your heart desires. Except for the painted door in the west wing. That room is off limits. I don’t ask much, but that you keep up with the chores and make certain that there is food for breakfast and dinner. And on the night of the full moon, you’re to remain in your room.”

“Why the full moon? What happens during that time?”

“Don’t worry about it. Just do as you’re told and we’ll get along just fine.”

Yoongi holds back a groan, but nods his head. “Fine. I won’t wander into your forbidden room and I’ll stay in my room during the full moon. Anything else I need to know, demon?”

“Taehyung.” He suddenly says, stopping in front of a door and sliding it open.

“What?” Yoongi asks, coming to stand just beside the demon. Tilting his head back, and thanks to the light of the oil lamp, he finally gets a full look at the demon. But, he didn’t look like a demon. He was breathtakingly beautiful. The small glimpse he’d gotten outside of the prison cell, did him no justice. His skin seemed to have a glow of its own beneath the low light of the lamp, and even his eyes lost their gleaming red he’d become familiar with. Instead, they were a brilliant brown, so dark they could be mistaken as black. But the sadness he saw laying in their depths, made Yoongi’s chest tighten involuntarily.

Yoongi didn’t realize he was holding his breath, until the demon was speaking again, pulling him out of his current thoughts. “I told you, I’m not a demon. My name is Taehyung and I would appreciate you using my name.”

Understanding takes over, and Yoongi’s lips form a small ‘o’ as he nods his head. “Taehyung-ssi,” He says, trying out the man’s name. His cheeks are quick to heat up as he finds himself enjoying the way his name sounds rolling off his tongue. Thankful for the low lighting, he clears his throat and meets Taehyung’s eyes once more. “I’m Yoongi.”

“Well Yoongi, lets try and make our time together as painless as possible.” Taehyung steps aside, allowing Yoongi entrance to the room. “This will be your room. It’s a little dusty, but you may change it up to your liking.” He holds the lamp out for Yoongi to take. “Get some sleep, you start tomorrow.”

Using the light of the oil lamp, Yoongi cautiously passes Taehyung to look into his new room. It was small, with a bed mat folded up and placed in the far corner of the room.  The walls were bare, and every inch was covered in dust, like no one has used it in many years. It would need to be heavily cleaned. “I’m guessing you have everything here I’ll need? Food and cleaning supplies.”

“That’s right,” Taehyung stands a few feet behind Yoongi, watching the smaller man as he checks out his surroundings. “There’s food in the kitchen and I have arrangements with a traveling merchant to bring me supplies once a month. He should be making another delivery in a couple days. If you have need of anything at all, just let him know and he will make certain to bring it on his next trip.”

Yoongi nods his head and turns back towards the room. Crossing the floor to the folded bed mat, Yoongi notices it’s covered in a layer of dust, and cringes at the thought of having to sleep on it tonight. But it was either this, or he slept on the equally dusty floor. Either way, he would be sneezing for the next week. Rubbing at the back of his neck, he briefly closes his eyes and reminds himself why he was doing this in the first place. Jungkook’s safety was his first priority. Nothing else mattered. He’d been prepared to sleep on the floor of a filthy cell, in cold. A little dust is a definite step up.

“I know it’s not much, and that it’s covered in dust. This room…” Taehyung pauses and Yoongi turns back around to look at him. Without the direct glow of the oil lamp, Taehyung’s eyes were once again a demonic red, another reminder of why Yoongi was doing this. To keep his brother out of the hands of a monster. But the emotion Yoongi could see flickering over this man’s face, had him questioning whether or not he could be classified as a monster. Monsters don’t feel anything, right?

It takes him a couple seconds, but Taehyung is quick to get his emotions under control, and his face was soon a perfect reflection of calm. “It’s been a while since anyone has used this particular room. If you want, I can show you where the cleaning supplies are and you can clean it up a bit before you sleep.”

Yoongi shakes his head. “It’s fine for tonight, I’ll survive, but my nose and eyes maybe puffy come morning.” He chuckles at his own joke, but is taken aback when Taehyung chuckles as well.

“I think I might have a remedy for you.” He offers a smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes. “Good night, Yoongi-ssi.” With a small bow of his head, Taehyung disappears into the darkness of the hallway, leaving Yoongi on his own. Oddly enough, Yoongi couldn’t hear the footfalls of the taller man as he moves along the hardwood flooring.