Chapter 1: Hoseok
hello! i'm a sucker for 'royal aus' or whatever you want to call them, so here's...this. the world isn't necessarily meant to be historically accurate or anything, it's just like a sort of "fantasy world" type of thing. i don't know if that's exactly the word i mean to use, but hopefully it makes sense. the "kingdoms" are names of course of the cities they're from but the world is just a sort of made up world that would, of course, be set in the "past".
anywhom. enjoy, hopefully this isn't too much of a mess, it's a bit cliche but i had fun writing it!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The grass was not always greener on the other side. This was a fact that Hoseok knew well. And it was a fact, not just an expression that his mother, sister, and father alike had told him when he was a child. He knew it to be fact because the grass under his feet was not bright green, it was darker with brown here and there, and leaves crunched with each step he took. If he were to turn back, go back to the palace grounds, that was where the grass would be greener.
But on the other side, the grass was ordinary.
Perhaps that was what Hoseok liked about it, though. Perhaps he liked being outside the palace grounds, liked being somewhere where no one was around to expect anything of him. Surrounded by trees and ordinary grass and crunchy leaves, he was free to be whoever he wanted to be. Or at the very least, free to be himself.
“Are you sure you know where we’re going? You’ve stopped at least three times now and looked around as if you’re lost.”
The sun shifted through the trees when Hoseok paused and turned on his heels. Light fell through the leaves onto Yoongi’s face, making his eyes a little bit sparkly. Hoseok found comfort in the way Yoongi’s eyes stayed familiar, even if it had been some time since they had last seen each other. No matter if Yoongi changed, his eyes always stayed the same.
“Of course I know where we’re going,” Hoseok replied. “This was our place, remember?”
“Yes, I remember, I just don’t remember how to get there. Which is why I’m suspecting that you don’t either,” Yoongi explained carefully, taking a few tentative steps forward and then leaning against a tree. The wind whipped at the hem of his shirt and he crossed his arms over his chest. His hair was different, but Hoseok couldn’t place what it was he’d done to it. Maybe it was shorter? But his bangs seemed unkempt.
“I’m very wounded that you think I would forget where our spot is,” Hoseok said, hand over his chest. “Perhaps you’ve just forgotten all about our friendship.”
He was only teasing, but it was a fear he’d had. There was every reason for Yoongi to forget about their friendship, after all. And it was only the day before that Yoongi had returned to the palace, unexpectedly and unannounced, with a bag of little trinkets that the palace guards had to inspect before he could give them to Hoseok.
“I wrote to you. Often, didn’t I?”
Yoongi made a noise, a small little hum, and then stepped even closer before he stepped past Hoseok altogether. “Our spot is this way, isn’t it?”
“That’s where I was about to go.”
Yoongi just chuckled when Hoseok continued walking, swatting away branches and weeds and ducking away from spider webs. Once upon a time, when they were both still very young, they could hardly make it out to their spot without screaming about all the spiders. Sometimes Yoongi tried to act tough, but one fell in his hair once and he cried about it for at least an hour while Hoseok tried to reassure him that the spider had fallen out almost right away.
The memory made Hoseok smile, and when they finally stepped into a clearing, trees giving way to an opening of grass and tiny yellow flowers, his smile got even wider. The flowers sprinkled throughout the tall grass were surely weeds, but they were pretty nonetheless and Hoseok crouched down to pick one. Yoongi was wading through the tall grass to the other side of the clearing, towards one of the larger trees near the back where they had once carved their names as children. There, yellow roses sometimes grew.
Hoseok watched Yoongi plop down to sit on one of the large protruding roots from the tree. He leaned back and tilted his head up towards the sky, eyes closed. When Hoseok sat next to him, Yoongi hummed softly, but he didn’t open his eyes. Likely, Yoongi was tired. Hoseok knew that sometimes Yoongi had trouble sleeping, and his chambers, which had been saved for him even since he’d been gone from the palace, had high windows that made the wind sound especially loud. Besides, Hoseok heard from one of the night guards that Yoongi had been seen out on his balcony for most of the night anyway.
“Here,” Hoseok held out the flower that was still in his hand. “For you.”
Yoongi opened one eye and chuckled. “How sweet,” he said, taking the flower from Hoseok’s fingers. “But shouldn’t you be giving this to your bride tomorrow, your Highness?”
The flower twirled around in Yoongi’s fingers. “Don’t call me that. You know I don’t like it when you call me that.”
“Doesn’t matter much though, you are the prince. Even if I’m your best friend, I’m still supposed to address you as such,” Yoongi mumbled, and he was right, but when it was just the two of them, they usually treated each other as equals, which meant no ‘your Highness’ or any other formalities. “Besides, you’ll be king soon too. Won’t look good for either of us if I address you as if you’re not king.”
“I’m not going to be king that soon, you can’t know that,” Hoseok argued, but with little emotion behind that statement. Yoongi was right again. He knew Hoseok’s father was ill, knew that soon he would be gone and Hoseok would be crowned king, being as he was the only son and next in line. Dawon would be better suited to rule, in Hoseok’s opinion, but it didn’t work that way.
“Your father has rushed your marriage because he knows he’s dying, Hoseok,” Yoongi whispered. Sometimes he did that, whispered as if he were afraid of someone overhearing, even when they were completely alone and didn’t need to worry. In the palace, though, where they grew up, there always seemed to be people watching. “You have to get married so you’ll have a queen and an alliance and so you can have an heir. All that. It’s sooner than you thought, maybe, but we both knew it would happen eventually, right?”
“It’s not too soon. Everything that’s happening is happening when it was always supposed to,” Hoseok replied with a little shrug. “I suppose that I was just…going along and not really comprehending what was happening.”
“Are you happy?”
“I’m not unhappy,” Hoseok said. “I’ve missed you though. It’s been nearly a year.”
“Has been a year. A year and two months,” Yoongi said, bumping his shoulder against Hoseok’s.
And then they fell quiet again, listening to the distant noises that the woods provided them. Chirps of birds and the hum and buzz of insects. The wind blew through the trees and sent leaves down into the overgrown grass in their clearing. The familiarity was comforting, especially when everything else felt like it was changing. They’d both long since grown up, but Hoseok still somehow felt like he was being thrown into things he wasn’t ready for.
When Yoongi had left nearly a year ago—no, a year and two months ago—Hoseok had wanted to stop him, talk him out of it, but in the end, he didn’t. He let Yoongi leave the palace, let him go off into the world because he had no right to stop him. Yoongi wasn’t a royal, he wasn’t even a noble, and the palace had never truly been a home for him, Hoseok knew that.
Yet, he was still glad Yoongi was back, even if the circumstances were not ideal. But Yoongi was his best friend, someone he could tell anything to without fear of judgement or fear that he was simply being used because he was the prince of Gwangju.
Although, Yoongi had reason not to be Hoseok’s friend, especially now that he was grown and very aware of how he had ended up here, someone so close to so many people with power, but with none of his own.
“You’ll be a good king,” Yoongi whispered suddenly. “A fair one. I’ve always known you would be.”
“You’re just saying that because you hope I’ll grant you lands and a title once I’m crowned,” Hoseok said, but he was really only teasing. And at the same time, not. He would grant Yoongi lands and a title, if that was what Yoongi wanted.
“That’s not why. Besides, I plan to leave again after your wedding. Continue my travels. But you’ll be a good king. And a good husband. Good father. All those things that are coming up, I suppose,” Yoongi continued. “And you’ll have Dawon to advise you.”
Hoseok nodded, even though he wanted to argue, wanted to joke around and have Yoongi joke around back, banter that had always come so easy to them as children and teenagers and even young adults before Yoongi had left. But things felt too serious for any of that. It was about time for Hoseok to stop pretending, to face the reality of who he was.
“You can stay. If you want to. My father is too…well, you know, to even notice whether or not you were here.”
“Mm. Your father likes me, so he’d probably be glad that I’m back. Probably try again to get me to marry your sister.” Hoseok gagged and Yoongi laughed, punched him lightly in the arm. “It’s fine, I know he only wanted that so I wouldn’t try to overthrow you or something like that. And anyway, everyone in the palace seems to think that I’m your father’s bastard son, which would make us half siblings, same with me and your sister. That would be quite the scandal, don’t you think, your Highness?”
“Well you aren’t my half-brother.”
“I am not. Just your most trusted confidant.”
“Right. Some of the noblemen’s sons want to take me out for drinks at a tavern or something this evening. Since I need to keep them in good favor I’ve agreed. But you have to come with me,” Hoseok said, eager to change the subject to something a little bit lighter, so Yoongi wouldn’t have to dwell on the circumstances of his coming to live at the palace as a young child.
Yoongi just groaned, however, started to pluck the petals off the flower Hoseok had handed him. “Fucking hate the noblemen and their sons, Seok. You know that.”
Yoongi only called Hoseok ‘Seok’ when he was very comfortable, relaxed. At ease. It calmed Hoseok, too, and he smiled, put an arm around Yoongi’s shoulders. “Yeah, but you don’t hate me, do you?” He squeezed Yoongi in the sideways hug. “You must not, you wouldn’t have returned to the palace if you did. You hate weddings even more.”
“Of course I don’t hate you.”
But that was all Yoongi said on the subject. He didn’t agree to go, which was unsurprising. Although, he probably would end up coming, Hoseok knew that. He just didn’t want to have to agree to it, to have to talk about the noblemen and their sons and have to think about what having drinks with them would mean. They never had liked Yoongi, and he’d never liked them. There were people in the palace and in the court that Yoongi could get along with, but there were also a large number that didn’t like him, usually because of rumors and speculation.
Chances were that his return for Hoseok’s wedding would cause a slight stir, but it wouldn’t be enough for Hoseok father to make Yoongi leave. He was one of the ones that did like Yoongi, after all. And he was also sick, dying, if Hoseok were being realistic.
They didn’t talk about any of those things though. Instead, Yoongi told Hoseok about his travels, and they reminisced about how things had been when they were younger. Hoseok wasn’t sure how long they stayed there, under the tree in the tall grass, hidden away from the real world, but he wished they could just stay forever. Or at least for a couple of days. Enough time so that the wedding would have to be postponed.
Even though Hoseok knew, deep down, that he did not want to be King, he had always been dutiful, always obeyed his father and followed the rules in place for himself. He’d long since accepted the role he would soon play, and the role he had played as prince so far in his twenty-three years of life. His sister was admittedly better at navigating court politics, but she said that was because she was a woman, and that made things different. That she had to learn to navigate court politics. She told him often that because he was the heir, the next in line to be King, that people who be kind to him. And they were. Not that Hoseok did much of anything that would make someone not like him. He didn’t leave the palace grounds much at all, and when he did it was with royal guards at planned appearances to the townspeople.
Yoongi was the one who had encouraged him to live a little, growing up. Yoongi was the one who made him want to explore outside the castle grounds, made him want to know what it would be like to be someone else. But he never let himself daydream too much. He never let himself want it too much. Mostly, the two of them would just talk about those kind of things, fantasize about different lives where they weren’t who they were. But that’s all it ever was. All it ever would be.
Except when they were in their hideout in the woods, in their clearing, it almost felt like it could be a reality. Yoongi had sprawled out in the grass, smashing it down under his boots until it was flat and he could lay down on his stomach. Hoseok stayed seated against the tree, and Yoongi has his chin on Hoseok’s lower leg, eyes closed while Hoseok told Yoongi about a new horse that had been gifted to him by one of the most prominent noblemen.
“Rumors are starting to spread about my father’s illness, so I’m sure he gave it to me because he wants to get on my good side. I’m not otherwise very fond of him,” Hoseok admitted, his eyes drifting to the few yellow roses growing around their tree. “But the horse is great. Fast, beautiful, all that. I suppose if anything, he knows how to give a good bribe.”
“Is it a bribe?”
“Must be. He’ll ask me for something soon enough, I think,” Hoseok said with a sigh. “Everyone will.”
“Mm. At least there isn’t anyone plotting to take the throne from you, now that rumors are spreading about your father. That wouldn’t be good. I wouldn’t want to see that happen to you,” Yoongi replied, shifted around until he was a little farther away, no longer touching Hoseok’s leg. “You have the people’s respect, their favor. That’s something not every ruler has.”
“My father didn’t have it,” Yoongi said suddenly, and Hoseok felt his gut sink a little bit, more than it already had been, because he couldn’t fully get his mind off the fact that he would be married tomorrow. But Yoongi hardly ever spoke about his father, his family, and when he did, Hoseok always felt a twinge of guilt, even though he knew that it was not Yoongi’s intention to make him feel guilty.
“Yoongi, I’m sorry,” Hoseok whispered, the wind carrying his words away into the trees.
“For what? I’ve had a good life, your father has been good to me.”
“You would not have said something if something was not bothering you,” Hoseok said, reaching towards Yoongi and placing his hand over where Yoongi’s was clenched around a tuff of grass.
“No. Nothing is bothering me, Seok. I’m just thinking, I suppose. You know, what things might have been like for me. If I would have had to get married like you have to now.” Yoongi rolled his eyes and shrugged. “I guess I’m glad that’s not the case because I can tell how much you don’t want it, even if you won’t admit it.”
“You’ve been gone, how would you know what I want?”
“Have you slept with her?”
Hoseok blinked, the question sudden and catching him off guard. There wasn’t any malice behind Yoongi’s words, it seemed more like curiosity if anything, but still, Hoseok didn’t want to answer the question. He may have been closer to Yoongi than anyone else, closer than he was with his father, his sister, but he was embarrassed nonetheless. Princes and kings and anyone royal, really, had reputations, implications that they could get any woman they wanted, so if Yoongi knew the truth, he would probably laugh at Hoseok.
“I can see you trying to think of a lie, you’ve always been a horrible liar,” Yoongi said with a little smile, but…was that sadness in his eyes? “It’s okay, you don’t have to answer that.”
“I don’t love her,” Hoseok admitted instead. “But I will. Someday. That’s how it works.”
“I can’t wait to formally meet her.”
“Mm. Have you had…met anyone on your travels? A woman?”
Nothing else. Just a no. Yoongi rolled onto his back and closed his eyes. Some further amount of time passed, during most of which they didn’t speak. Maybe Yoongi fell asleep, but Hoseok could not even imagine sleeping. He felt too antsy.
Eventually though, Yoongi did stir, groaned and sat up. Hoseok stared at the back of his head, at his hair that was all smashed and tangled. Oftentimes, Yoongi would reach out and untangle Hoseok’s hair for him, or at least he had when they were younger, but Hoseok didn’t dare do it now for Yoongi.
“We should get back. I need to meet with my father before I go to have drinks with whomever. I’d still like you to come. Especially if you plan to leave again after the wedding,” Hoseok said to Yoongi. A gust of cool wind blew through the trees and it made Hoseok shiver, despite the fact that the sun was out.
Yoongi groaned again, made a sound is distaste and then turned around and stood up, stretching his arms high above his head before offering a hand out to Hoseok. Hoseok took it, let Yoongi pull him to his feet. “Let’s get you back, your Highness,” Yoongi said with a little closed-mouth smile.
“If you call me that one more time, I’ll have you exiled.”
“Ooh,” Yoongi laughed, and it made Hoseok smile.
“What else will you do to me?”
Hoseok narrowed his eyes and nudged Yoongi’s shoulder. “Don’t tempt me.”
“It’s too easy. Too much fun, too,” Yoongi said, and Hoseok felt his mouth turn into a little pout, but then Yoongi reached and tickled him in the side, enough to instantly make Hoseok start to laugh. On another day, it might have made him mad, but he didn’t mind it today. He wanted to laugh. Yoongi made him laugh, and so he laughed until his side hurt and then pushed Yoongi away, darting off towards the trees with Yoongi on his heels.
In the moment, Hoseok felt young again. Free. The grass may not have been greener in color, but things were brighter when no one else was watching them. The freedom, the way he felt with Yoongi, he didn’t think he would have much more of that after tomorrow, after he was wed. So he tried to really take in the moment, just in case there wouldn’t be any more of them.
He didn’t know how the yellow roses grew in their clearing, but he did know that they could stop growing any day. And then there would be none.
When Hoseok was barely three, Dawon only six or seven, their mother had been assassinated, poisoned. He was so young, too young to really remember any of it. Too young to even really remember his mother at all. Dawon remembered her, though, and his father remembered her. They told him plenty of stories about her, about how kind she was, how beautiful, and what a beloved Queen she was.
They also told them how there had been a spy from a neighboring kingdom in their palace, how they had been the ones to poison his mother, probably had planned on killing him and his sister as well, but hadn’t. They’d been lucky, Hoseok knew that.
Although, after his mother’s death and funeral, his father changed, everyone talked about how different he was after her death. Upon investigation, it had been discovered that the king of Daegu, the neighboring kingdom, had ordered the poisoning of their Queen, primarily because of how well liked she was, how much good she did for Gwangju. He thought it would weaken them as a whole. It hadn’t. The people, even the poorest of the peasants, had shown support for their Queen. And with Daegu being the weaker kingdom, Gwangju invaded.
Hoseok remembered none of it, either, he was only four, and there was no long, drawn our war. Daegu was taken within a week, or so Dawon told him. The palace there was conquered and the King and Queen of Daegu captured, killed. Their son, who Hoseok knew must have been a child at the time, was also killed. Hoseok only hoped it was not his father who had done it, he never wanted to imagine his father killing anyone, especially not someone who would have been only slightly older than Dawon at the time. But at the same time, the son was the next in line and without an heir, there could be no ruler of Daegu. No one to challenge them or take the kingdom back.
However, there was another son. A son that the Min’s of Daegu had kept hidden from even their people, so that if their first born son was to die, there would still be an heir. But since no one knew of him, since he was so young, Hoseok’s father took him back to Gwangju, back to their palace, raised him in some ways.
That son was Min Yoongi.
Daegu became a part of Gwangju, the borders that divided the rival kingdoms demolished and replaced by a marketplace, a trade post. The people of Daegu were happy to be a part of a kingdom where they had an abundance of everything, food, crops, land, livestock. And they were happy to have a ruler who listened to the people. Theirs had not.
They did not know that Yoongi was alive, likely did not even know he existed. But he did. He did and Hoseok did not remember much from when Yoongi first came to the castle. He did remember, though, how quiet Yoongi had been when they were children. At first at least. He hardly spoke at all. It took him quite some time to open up, lots of prodding on Hoseok’s part.
Mostly, Hoseok was curious. He didn’t understand who Yoongi was at the time, only understood that he was a boy about the same age as Hoseok was, and he seemed lonely, seemed like he needed a friend. He took Yoongi all around the palace, held his hand as he showed him all the best hiding places, all the prettiest paintings and brightest flowers in the garden.
Eventually, Yoongi began to open up to him. He began to smile when Hoseok told him things. He started to talk, and he made Hoseok laugh. He was funny, somehow, little Yoongi. They spent as much time together as they could. Hoseok refused to participate in his learning unless Yoongi could be there with him and the teacher. They spent late nights in Hoseok’s heavily guarded room together.
It was there, one night about a year or so after Yoongi’s arrival, that Yoongi cried himself to sleep.
Of all the things during that blurry time period, Hoseok remembered that night most clearly. It happened suddenly. They were in Hoseok’s bed, which they probably should not have been, but Hoseok never cared and no one was around to stop them. Most people thought their friendship was sweet at the time, they were so little. Regardless, Hoseok was half asleep when he heard Yoongi sniffling.
And then, as if a dam had broken, Yoongi was sobbing, hard and loud in the dark room. Hoseok shook his shoulders, asked him over and over what was wrong, but Yoongi never told him, never said a word. He just cried and cried, his little hands wrapped around Hoseok’s arms like he was trying to tether himself to something, anything. He clung so hard that Hoseok had bruises the next morning. Not to mention, Yoongi crying had made Hoseok cry too, so they both woke up with red eyes and splotchy cheeks. They also woke up holding hands, still clung to each other.
Hoseok knew when he was older that Yoongi had been mourning the loss of his family. His mother and father and brother. His home, too. Everything. Yoongi had nothing. Nothing except Hoseok.
And so Hoseok tried his best to be there for Yoongi, always, as much as he could.
So maybe, just maybe, he was a lot angry when Yoongi left the palace and Gwangju, too, in favor of traveling around and living a life that was separate from Hoseok’s. Or maybe Hoseok just missed his best friend. Maybe he even feared that Yoongi didn’t think of him as his best friend anymore, perhaps Yoongi resented him, perhaps he wished he had never been taken by Hoseok’s father.
But Yoongi did come back. He was back for Hoseok’s wedding, and he was really the only guest that Hoseok cared about at all. Everything else was just for show, really. His bride-to-be had planned and organized most of it, picked out the décor and the flower arrangements and the menu. Hoseok gave some input, of course, considering the fact that the wedding was a big deal for Gwangju, the people knew he would be King and that his bride would therefore be their queen.
She was a princess from a much smaller kingdom, but they had things to trade and there had been an alliance since Hoseok had been young, so it was always assumed that he would be marrying her. Or at least very likely. Even so, he couldn’t say that they knew each other very well. He couldn’t say that he even felt like he wanted to know her very well, but regardless, he would have to. They would be husband and wife, after all.
As Hoseok made his way down the long hallway towards his father’s chambers, he was reminded of what tomorrow would be. Everything was decorated, everyone he passed by congratulated him, and all he could really do was smile in return. The point of going out with the noblemen, or at least their sons, was to celebrate (and surely they would try to get him drunk, or worse, get him a prostitute), but Hoseok didn’t feel much like celebrating.
His stomach was in knots and all he really wanted to do was go find Yoongi again, just stay with him for the evening in his chambers. As soon as they’d gotten back to the palace, though, Yoongi had darted away and disappeared down the hallway to his chambers and Hoseok let him go, had to go speak with his father anyway.
Once upon a time Hoseok had been able to just walk into his father’s rooms whenever, without knocking. Things had long since changed, however, so Hoseok knocked on the large door and tried not to make eye contact with the two King’s guards standing at attention on either side (guards who would one day soon be guarding him, instead). A long moment passed and the door opened from the inside. Hoseok stepped in and closed the door behind him as his father walked back towards his bed and sat perched on the end of it.
Somedays, his father looked better. Other days, he looked as sick as he was. And standing there in front of him, Hoseok was struck with the fact that today, he perhaps looked the worst he’d looked…ever, maybe. Which was probably why he had not left his chambers. Hoseok had seen Dawon coordinating things with his bride-to-be moments before, had darted past the throne room as quickly as he could to avoid having to stop and speak with them. He and his father should have been there, but his father was ill and Hoseok was…well, with Yoongi.
“How is Mishil?”
“I have not spoken to her today,” Hoseok answered quickly. “Father, you—”
“You should not ignore your bride the day before your wedding, Hoseok. Have you had an argument?” His father was clearly trying to keep the subject off of himself. Tomorrow, he would be there for the wedding, would struggle through whatever pain he may have been experiencing and not expressing.
“There’s been no argument, father,” Hoseok replied. “Everything will be fine. There’s nothing for you to worry about. I actually just came to see how you were doing, and to tell you I was invited out by the noblemen and some of their sons. For drinks, to celebrate tomorrow,” Hoseok continued, shifting on his feet as his father’s eyes slowly closed. He was clearly still awake, but Hoseok could tell his eyes were heavy.
“I certainly will not stop you from going out with them this evening. Just be careful, it’s never wise to get yourself involved with the type of women that those other boys tend to get involved with during nights like these,” his father said with a sigh. “You have never been that type, though.”
“It’ll just be drinks, father,” Hoseok muttered, eyes drifting around the room because sometimes he was sure his father was disappointed in him in many ways. That he didn’t see Hoseok as the son he’d wanted. Maybe he blamed him somehow for his mother’s death, even though it made no sense, there was no correlation. Perhaps Hoseok thought his father wished he had died instead of his mother, and then they could have had another, better, son. One more fit to be King.
“Then have fun.”
“Yoongi is here.”
Hoseok glanced at the painting hung high on the wall of their family. He and Dawon were very young in the painting, but Hoseok sometimes felt like he could remember having to sit still for hours and hours while they were painted. “Yes. He’s back for the wedding.”
“Tell him to come by and say hello. He’s welcome to stay as long as he would like, he knows that.”
And then silence fell between them and Hoseok knew it was his father’s way of telling him he could go. If his mother were still alive, Hoseok wondered what she would have to say. He wondered how things would be different. If she would be proud of him.
“Rest well, I’ll see you tomorrow, father,” Hoseok said simply. “Make sure you take the medicine the doctor told you to take.”
Hoseok turned on his heels and hurried out of the room, took a deep breath once he was back in the hallway. Voices carried, and from down in the throne room, or maybe even further in the ballroom, he could hear Dawon’s voice. Not what she was exactly saying, just the authoritative tone she often adopted when…well, almost always, really. It rose in volume for a moment and Hoseok followed the sound to the throne room, paused outside with just his head peaking in.
His bride-to-be, Mishil, and some of her ladies, as well as Dawon, were staring up at a few people who were trying to hang decorations from the high ceilings. A few of Mishil’s ladies were sitting down, laughing and whispering with each other. One of them pointed at Hoseok and they giggled. He didn’t acknowledge them, didn’t care to have to stop and talk with any of them or Mishil or his sister at the moment.
“These better not fall. If they do you all will be to blame. Everything has to go smoothly tomorrow, understand?” Dawon asked, crossing and uncrossing her arms before she walked closer, stood under the long strings of flowers being hung.
Part of Hoseok felt a sense of longing, to be a part of the process. Perhaps he would want to be, if he were more excited to be married. Not that he wasn’t. Maybe he just wished he had more time. To get to know his bride, for one, and more time to just…figure everything out. Or maybe he never would figure everything out and it was best for all of this to happen now.
He also missed his sister. They had grown apart over the years, and he missed being close to her. Everyone said she looked like their mother. Hoseok couldn’t be sure, only had paintings to really go by, but he knew she was as good of a person as their mother was. She was strong and kind and stood her ground, always. Which was probably why she had not yet been married, even though she was older and nearing an age where it would make it more difficult for her to find a suitor, despite her family name and the fact that she was a princess.
However, she had long since made Hoseok swear that once he was King, he would not force her to ever marry someone she did not want to marry.
Hoseok sighed and shifted on his feet, ready to go find Yoongi and the others so they could just get the evening over with, but Mishil turned around just as he took a step away. He saw her face light with some sense of hope. They’d spent plenty of time together, plenty of time talking and trying to understand each other, but it still was not the ideal time to marry. Hoseok knew she liked him though, but he also knew she wanted more time with him. Court life at the Jung’s palace was not hard, not filled with too much political drama or otherwise, but it would most definitely be earlier if he were constantly by her side.
But he was not. And he could not be, even if he wanted to be, realistically. Not even when they were married. They would both have their own separate duties and like his father always told him, they didn’t have to be in love. They just had to do the things they were meant to do, because this is the life they were born into. They had much to be grateful for, after all.
Still, Hoseok just gave Mishil a quick wave and a small smile before hurrying off down the hall. He felt jittery, suddenly, and instead of going directly to find Yoongi, he went to his own chambers. It was not dark yet, so he quickly made himself a bath, did it himself because he couldn’t be bothered to go get the maids or servants. He didn’t want to be bothered for a little while.
The water was not very warm, hadn’t been heated or anything, but once he stripped, door firmly closed behind him, and submerged himself in the water, he did feel a little bit better. His eyes closed and he just sat there for a long time, trying not to think too much. It worked for some amount of time, but he always got restless, and his fingers started to tab against the bottom of the tub and then against his thigh, so he reached for the soaps that had been imported or traded from some place far away. They smelled intensely like the sweets made during special occasions in the kitchen, and Dawon sometimes teased him for liking them so much. But he did. He liked being clean and he liked things neat and he usually just cursed at her until she stopped teasing him and started cursing back. Then they would laugh.
Hoseok lathered the little bar under the water and then moved it over his arms. Once his entire body was clean, he submerged his head so his hair was soaked, then came back up with a sharp intake of air. Used to be he could hold his breath for a lot longer, back when he and Yoongi would go out and swim in the pond in the palace gardens and have contests to see who could last the longest underwater.
Once, when they were teenagers, Yoongi dared Hoseok to jump into the pond naked. Or maybe Hoseok had lost some bet they’d made. He couldn’t remember. All he remembered was he’d refused to it unless Yoongi did it too, but then Yoongi refused to do it unless Hoseok did it first. Which of them had ended up undressing first was fuzzy in Hoseok’s mind, but he did remember the after part. Them alone in the nighttime, in the pond, shivering and naked and laughing nervously.
When they had eventually gotten out of the pond, Hoseok had gone first. He remembered distantly because when he’d glanced over his shoulder at Yoongi, still in the water, Yoongi was staring at him, only averting his gaze quickly when he realized Hoseok had caught him.
Perhaps the reason the moment was still so vivid in Hoseok mind was because of the heat that he remembered feeling, first on his cheeks and then over the rest of his body. He remembered his haste to get dressed, how he couldn’t really make eye contact with Yoongi for the rest of the evening. Not because he was embarrassed or ashamed. He wasn’t sure what it was.
His cheeks felt hot remembering that night and he sighed, shifted around to try to get comfortable because his butt was starting to hurt from sitting in the same position for too long. He tilted his head back, water droplets falling onto the floor from his hair. His nails scraped along his thighs and he paused for a moment, listening for something in the silence, but the only sound was his own breathing.
When he palmed himself, it was a barely there touch, he wasn’t even really hard, just, well, bored, mostly. Eager to focus on something that wasn’t related to his duties as a prince. A soon to be King. His hand moved slowly, giving himself the illusion that he had time. Soon enough, he was hard and his legs had fallen apart under the water, which was starting to get cold and making goosebumps breakout on his skin.
It was only after he had stroked himself for a few moments, a few minutes perhaps, that his hand drifted lower, farther down between his legs. Water was still dripping from his hair onto the floor, he could hear it. Drip, drip, drip. It was almost masked by his now-heavy breathing, but not quite. His hands shook, he never knew why, perhaps the fear of being caught, even though no one should be coming in, and no one ever did.
But he was paranoid, his finger rubbing insistently in a place where he knew, somehow, that he should not be touching. But it felt good, made his skin tingle pleasantly, and he didn’t want to stop. He wanted to do more. Sometimes he did do more. But he was shaking too much and his breathing was too quick so he stopped abruptly, both hands coming up out of the water and his eyes opening.
The word reverberated around the room and he straightened up in the water before he stood completely, grabbed one of the towels folded neatly in the corner and quickly drying off before he dripped water all over the floor. Before he put his robe on and went back out into his main room, he looked down at himself, rolled his eyes. His robe was thick and warm and he wrapped it around himself, ruffled his hand through his still damp hair, and then slipped back out into his room.
He took a few steps forward towards the bed and dresser where some of his clothes were stored, but he only got maybe a foot or two into the room before he heard a clink to his right and turned on his bare heels to see Yoongi sitting at his desk looking through the little box there full of jewelry, some of it Hoseok’s, mostly expensive rings and things, but also some of his mother’s old jewelry that he had taken from Dawon to remember her by.
Yoongi was holding an earring to his ear, as his ears were pierced, something he’d done in the city on a whim, explaining to Hoseok that many people in Daegu had their ears pierced (it was not as common in Gwangju, even his sister did not have her ears pierced, instead opting to wear clip-on earrings).
“You were in there for a long time,” Yoongi deadpanned without looking away from the mirror.
Hoseok wrapped his robe tighter around himself. “I fell asleep. Why’re you in my chambers?”
“I snuck in. I got bored and I thought we were going drinking,” Yoongi said simply, eyes glancing towards Hoseok and looking away again. “I can’t believe no one has sealed off the secret passage ways yet. It’s too easy to get in here.”
“They’re a secret, no one knows about them, smartass,” Hoseok quipped and Yoongi grinned all wide and gummy, dropping the earrings back into the box and turning to face Hoseok. “I thought you didn’t want to go drinking, anyway?”
“Changed my mind.”
Hoseok shuffled across the room and pulled some of his more casual clothes out of one of the dressers, that way he wouldn’t stick out in the village. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Yoongi had turned away, again looking at his own reflection in the tiny mirror inside the jewelry box as he looked through the various earrings inside. Some of them were big and clunky, but adorned with large crystals in various colors. Hoseok saw Yoongi put in a pair with rubies on them. He didn’t tell him not to, didn’t bother telling him that the others going with them would surely have something to say about it.
Yoongi was going to do what he wanted.
“Your sister was in a bad mood earlier,” Yoongi said. “I ran into her before I came here. She didn’t even say hi.”
“She doesn’t like you, that’s why,” Hoseok quipped. “My father said to go say hello to him, though.”
Yoongi make a noise similar to a gag and Hoseok turned his back to him before quickly getting dressed. Once he was he turned back around he walked over to Yoongi, leaned against the desk. Yoongi smiled up at him, his overgrown bangs falling slightly into his eyes and the rubies in the earrings he’d put on glinting in the last of the light coming in through the stained glass windows behind them.
“Remember when your hair was long?” Yoongi said suddenly.
“Yeah? Remember when you used to be taller than me?”
Yoongi gaped and covered his face with his hands. “Oh Seok, you wound me,” Yoongi said behind his hands. Hoseok laughed and nudged Yoongi’s shoulder. When Yoongi looked at him again, he was smiling, seemingly in a nostalgic kind of way. Hoseok didn’t know everywhere Yoongi had been over the past year, but maybe he had missed things here at the palace, maybe there was a chance he would stay. Maybe there was a chance that Hoseok would have someone he trusted around during all the change that was sure to come after his wedding. He couldn’t ask Yoongi to stay—wouldn’t ask him to stay—but he could hope that he would choose to stay on his own.
Neither of them had spoken in a long moment, so Hoseok cleared his throat, pretended he hadn’t been lost in the smile on Yoongi’s face. “We should go find everyone else and go.”
“Why’re we going to the village anyway?” Yoongi asked as he stood up. “Can’t we drink here?”
“They like going to the village because it makes them feel important,” Hoseok explained. “They can throw their money around and everyone will kiss their asses for it.”
“Ah, so they want to find prostitutes?”
“Mm,” Hoseok hummed and stepped towards the door. He knew some of the others would try and get him a lady, but he had no plans to actually sleep with anyone. He’d just pay her and go on his way if they did try to get him someone. He didn’t even plan on getting drunk, either. “Namjoon is going with us as well.”
“For work or pleasure?”
They’d started down the hall and Yoongi’s hand kept brushing Hoseok’s while they walked, surely by accident. They always walked close.
“I invited him, but it’s mostly to make sure no one does anything too stupid to piss off one of the villagers. And if someone does piss off one of the villagers, then we have someone who can make sure none of us get our asses kicked.”
Yoongi snickered. “Haven’t you had training? With swords and shit?”
“Of course. But I don’t have a sword on me nor could I take down a man five times bigger than me. I may have abs, but in case you haven’t noticed I’m not huge, Yoongi.”
Hoseok punched Yoongi in the side and Yoongi groaned. “I could take you down, however,” Hoseok said with a little smirk, to which Yoongi gaped, shoved Hoseok by the shoulder, making him stumble a few steps to the side. “Hey! Don’t make me pick you up. You know I can.”
“You don’t know where I’ve been, Jung, how do you know I couldn’t have you on the floor in a second?” Yoongi asked, but there was no real threat there.
“Probably not wise to threaten the crown prince.” Namjoon’s voice carried down the long hallway. It always did. While he was one of the younger guards, he was higher in rank than some older than himself, and few ever spoke badly about him. “Hello Yoongi, long time.”
“Not that long. How is Seokjin?”
“Why do you always ask me that as if I’m best friends with him or something.”
Yoongi shrugged. “You believe in his seer bullshit.”
Namjoon rolled his eyes and they all paused in the middle of the hallway. Hoseok could see the rest of the noblemen’s son’s coming around the corner in a noisy group of young men. He saw a few of his wedding guests too, young men from other kingdoms that Gwangju was in alliance with. “Seokjin is away somewhere, some solitary retreat or something to connect with his inner being. I don’t know for sure, he never elaborates much.”
“I don’t know why you two believe in that stuff. Or why my father does,” Hoseok muttered.
“I would probably be dead if it weren’t for Seokjin’s father, so I kind of just tolerate him and his weird premonition thing,” Yoongi said with a shrug. “Doesn’t mean I believe he can really see the future.”
“You would not be dead. You had a common cold.”
“They separated us for almost a month. You believed me when I told you it was just a cold?”
Hoseok felt his face get hot, maybe from shame or embarrassment, but before he can say anything, the rest of the men had joined them, were half-shouting and urging them all that it was time to go. Yoongi ended up at the back of the group, and Hoseok looked over his shoulder at him with an apologetic smile, but Yoongi just shrugged, continued talking with Namjoon.
Hoseok had a sinking feeling that it was going to be a long night.
It didn’t matter how casually Hoseok had tried to dress, didn’t matter that he attempted to blend in, because when he was surrounded by a dozen other young men who were clearly obnoxious and wealthy on the day before the prince of Gwangju was said to be married, it made his status pretty clear to the villagers at the tavern where their group had ended up. However, Yoongi was the one getting mistaken for the prince, not Hoseok. It was likely the earrings, flashy and expensive. Every time someone asked though, he just shook his head and winked at Hoseok from across the table.
Namjoon was the only one without a drink in front of him, instead he sat a table over, leaning back precariously in his chair. He seemed content to be alone with his thoughts (or as alone as he could be in a crowded tavern).
The others were all laughing and talking, but not necessarily to Hoseok. One of them was at the front of the tavern, talking to one of the young men serving drinks, their heads tilted close together. Hoseok figured he was probably inquiring about prostitutes or something. He wasn’t front Gwangju, Hoseok knew that, they’d met a few times before, but they weren’t overly close to one another. Casual friends, maybe.
“That’s Jimin, right?” Yoongi asked from across the table.
“Yeah. He’s going to get that kid in trouble.”
“Looks like the kid doesn’t mind,” Yoongi said with a shrug. His statement felt suggestive, but Hoseok didn’t really know why or how. He just turned back and watched them until Jimin came back to the table.
“If you need another drink, ask Taehyung,” Jimin said, pointing behind him.
“What’d you say to him?”
Jimin shrugged one shoulder, whispered something to one of the other men at their table. They both laughed and Hoseok sighed, got up and moved to a different table in the back, more shadowed and quieter. His drink stayed on the other table, not one sip gone from it and they’d been there for a good hour. Of course, Hoseok wasn’t alone for very long because Yoongi plopped down next to him a few seconds later.
“Remember when we used to sneak out here? To the village?” Hoseok nodded once, didn’t glance over to look at Yoongi’s shadowed face. “Remember that girl? The one you met at the markets? Her family was selling fruit and you started talking to her?”
“Yeah. I remember.”
Hoseok slumped in his seat, looked at one of the silver rings on his hand. It was a little bit too big, so he spun it around and around and around. He always got quiet, contemplative when he drank, which was why he didn’t drink, didn’t care for how it sometimes made him feel. But he wasn’t sure why he felt so out of it now, when he hadn’t had anything to drink.
“You came back out here to see her, didn’t you,” Yoongi asked. “You gave her family money?”
“We were fourteen Yoongi, why’re you asking me about that?”
“Did you love her?” Hoseok sighed and gave Yoongi a dirty look, to which Yoongi make a dorky face back at him. It made Hoseok smile, but only for a moment. “I’m just asking. Just want to know if you think you’d ever feel that way about the woman you’ll be marrying tomorrow.”
“I wasn’t in love with that girl from the markets.”
Which was true. Hoseok only ever spent a matter of days with her, spread out over about a year. Her family was very poor, and after meeting her, a girl around his age but nowhere near his status, he found himself wanting to be her friend. He wanted to help her. They talked on the few meetings they had, and she knew who he was. Knew he had money, and so he gave her family what he could. Jewelry or gold or something so they could put food on the table.
Now, Hoseok knew he had been doing it because he felt guilty, felt like he didn’t deserve his status and if he helped this girl’s family, he could relieve some of his guilt. It didn’t work that way. Yoongi never asked him about the girl when they were young, so Hoseok wasn’t sure why he was asking now. He wasn’t sure why Yoongi thought he had been in love with her.
They had only ever been friends. He wrote to her a few times, but she never wrote back, was too afraid to. One night, she had kissed him, but he hadn’t kissed back and after that she never tried to do it again. And anyway, soon Hoseok had gotten caught up in his studies and in other adventures with Yoongi. By the time he had returned to visit his friend, her parents informed him she had died. Gotten very ill during the winter while Hoseok had been wrapped in expensive and warm furs while they starved and were stuck in the cold every night with nothing to keep them warm at all.
He never told Yoongi she’d died. But Yoongi knew he stopped going to visit her. He probably noticed how sad Hoseok was for several months following.
“No? I thought she was, you know, your first,” Yoongi said. “Thought you were going to have some dramatic fight with your father about wanting to marry her or something.”
“I think you remember things differently than I do. Nothing ever happened with her. She died.”
Yoongi got quiet. It felt like they were in their own little bubble and all the outside noises just bounced away. When Yoongi finally spoke, all he said was, “Oh.”
“Maybe I’ll just call off the wedding.”
Yoongi laughed. Actually laughed, a stark difference from how quiet it had been just a second before. “Sure, Seok. And I’ll take my kingdom back and become the rightful king of Daegu like I was meant to.”
“You can fucking have it back. I don’t care.”
“You’re an idiot.” Yoongi leaned back in his chair. “This is just the way shit is for us, Seok. You’re going to marry her, you’ll fall in love with her eventually, I think. And she’ll definitely fall for you. Everyone does.”
Hoseok didn’t say anything to that. What was he supposed to say to that? He wasn’t even sure if it was a compliment or not. He was fairly sure it wasn’t a compliment. Something about the way Yoongi said it made it seem like being loved by everyone was a bad thing. Maybe if Hoseok weren’t the next king it wouldn’t be a necessity to be loved, or at least liked, by most, but he was going to be the next king, so it was good to have the general population on his side.
As for the woman who would be his wife…he supposed it was a given that she would be on his side. She already was, at least on paper. Not that that was the kind of marriage Hoseok pictured himself having. He wanted something real, but he never had found it anywhere. Perhaps because he wasn’t really looking, but he maybe hoped someone would just come along somehow. Or that Mishil would have been that something real, and they would know instantly when they met.
It didn’t work out that way, though. Hoseok knew instantly when they met that that was not the case.
“Hey.” Hoseok jumped slightly when he felt Yoongi’s hand on his thigh. “You’re overthinking something, I can feel it. Stop.”
Hoseok slumped further into the chair, watched the kid behind the bar—Taehyung—bring out more drinks to the table where Jimin and the others still sat. Jimin flashed him a smile and Taehyung retreated back behind the bar. Hoseok just hoped Jimin intended on paying for all the drinks. Usually he did, his tolerance for alcohol was high and he rarely was intentionally rude enough to use his title to get out of paying, but sometimes he just got…distracted.
“I probably should not have agreed to come out tonight,” Hoseok murmured. “The last thing I want to do is get drunk.”
“Then don’t get drunk.”
“I’m not. I haven’t touched my drink.”
“I know. But you aren’t having fun, either. You’re supposed to be having fun. You’re the life of the party, Seok. The most fun person I know.”
Hoseok rolled his eyes and felt Yoongi’s fingers flex on his thigh. He hadn’t realized Yoongi’s hand was still there. “I’m not that fun, don’t be overdramatic,” Hoseok replied. “I’m only fun at the beginning of things. By the end I just get…like this.”
“You’re a depressing drunk, that’s why,” Yoongi said with a smile. “But you aren’t drunk so why don’t we just have a nice evening? We can get out of here. Go somewhere else? We could go back to our spot, if you want. It’s your night.”
Hoseok looked down at where Yoongi’s hand rested on his thigh. Then he looked back up and met Yoongi’s gaze. His hair fell in his eyes, shadowing him a little bit, and Hoseok felt his chest ache. There was something that seemed to fall over them both. He felt like somehow this was his last chance to have a night or normalcy. Whatever normalcy was for them.
“Let’s just go for a walk,” Hoseok said. “I don’t think they’ll notice if we leave.”
Yoongi glanced back at the table and nodded. “I don’t think so either. Half of them are drunk anyway. We should definitely leave before they try to set you up with a prostitute.” Yoongi squeezed Hoseok’s thigh once more, harder this time, and then he stood up, headed for the door. Hoseok hurried after him, didn’t bother to look back to see if anyone saw them leaving.
Outside, it was beginning to get dark, but Hoseok could still see a sliver of the sun on the horizon. With just Yoongi, it was easier to blend in, especially in the dark, so no one really gave them a second glance. The part of the village they were in was unfamiliar to Hoseok. He didn’t venture out much on his own, so truthfully most of the nearby villages were unfamiliar. But Yoongi seemed to know where they were going, or at least he was pretending to.
“You probably met some interesting people during your travels,” Hoseok said while they walked. Yoongi didn’t say anything, just turned down a narrow alley. Hoseok shuffled closer to him, but followed. “I’m surprised you didn’t come back with a girl.”
Yoongi snorted. “Yeah?”
“Yeah. Where are we going?”
Yoongi stopped in front of a random door in the alley, knocked a few times. Hoseok’s stomach flipped unpleasantly. Was Yoongi taking him to get drugs or something? He didn’t think Yoongi did that kind of thing, but maybe things had changed. Maybe this was what Yoongi found fun now. Maybe—
The door swung open, revealing a small old lady with long, thin, white hair. She looked confused for a moment and then her eyes lit up. “Yoongi!” Hoseok watched her embrace him, watched Yoongi hug back and then motion for Hoseok to come inside with him.
“Mrs. Eun makes the best sweets in Gwangju,” Yoongi said once the woman closed the door. Her home was small, dim, but it smelled nice, like sugar. “I know you have a sweet tooth.”
“Tell your friend to sit down! I’ll be right back!” the woman shouted, and then disappeared into another room. Yoongi sat down on the floor in front of a low table and patted the floor next to him. Hoseok giggled, couldn’t help it, and sat next to him.
“I didn’t know you had little old lady friends.”
“I have tons of friends you don’t know about.”
“Do they know you live in the palace? Or…lived.”
Yoongi tapped his fingers on the table in front of them. They were quiet until the old woman came back with a little tray of sweets, all kinds, and it made Hoseok’s mouth water. She set the tray down in front of them and Yoongi didn’t waste a second to pick something off, taking half for himself and passing the other half to Hoseok.
“This is your brother?” the woman asked, gesturing at Hoseok while Yoongi choked on his food, started coughing.
“No! I don’t have a brother, you know that. This is Hoseok.”
“Hoseok?” She raised an eyebrow at him. “As in the crown prince?” She clicked her tongue and then suddenly whacked Yoongi on the back of the head. He groaned, but he didn’t seem offended by the action. Hoseok just watched on with wide eyes. “Shouldda told me you were bringin’ the crown prince. Wouldda cleaned up.”
“Sorry Mrs. Eun. He’s getting married tomorrow, this was a last minute excursion.”
“Married? Ah. Right, I know.” She shook her head. “You love her?”
“Um. I will one day. I think.”
“That means no,” Yoongi clarified, and Hoseok smacked him on the back of his head this time. “Hey! I’m still older than you!”
“I’ll be King soon. Be nice,” Hoseok said, sticking his tongue out and laughing, which made Yoongi laugh too. Already Hoseok felt better. Mrs. Eun didn’t ask him too many questions, didn’t treat him any different than she did Yoongi, which was nice. Hoseok knew why Yoongi had brought him here. It got his mind off everything, made him focus on the moment, made him feel at ease. He was able to be loud, bright, and not have to worry about stares or judgement.
They stayed, shoulder to shoulder, snacking on sweets, until Mrs. Eun told them to leave, that she was too tired and old to be awake this late. She gave both of them a hug when they left though, as well as a little sack filled with more sweets. The silence that followed on their walk back to the palace was a comfortable one. Hoseok was pretty sure his friends back at the tavern—if he could call them friends—were wondering where he’d gone, but he didn’t really care.
“Hey Yoon,” Hoseok said, bumping Yoongi’s shoulder with his own. “I’m very glad you came back.”
“Yeah. Me too,” Yoongi whispered.
“Thanks for being my best friend.”
Yoongi stuck out his tongue and made a fake-gagging sound. “Bleh. So sappy.”
“No more than you are.”
“I’m subtle about it.”
“No. I know you love me,” Hoseok teased, but there in the empty streets, he thought he saw something cross Yoongi’s face. Sadness? Regret? It was too hard to tell. And, it was gone in a moment anyway and Yoongi turned and smiled at him.
“I know you love me more.”
No one saw them return to the palace. The hallways were uncharacteristically quiet. Neither of them spoke when they both slipped into Hoseok’s chambers and locked the door behind them. The guards were at the other end of the hallway, and by the time they would pass Hoseok’s room, they’d have no idea Yoongi was inside too. Something about what they were doing, even though Yoongi had been in Hoseok’s rooms plenty of times before, felt secretive. It felt different.
Maybe it was the sweets, but Hoseok felt like his skin was buzzing, like he needed to run around or jump up and down and get rid of pent up energy. Instead, though, he kicked off his shoes and walked to the bed, flopped back and stared up at the ceiling. Yoongi joined him seconds later, scooting back against the pillows next to Hoseok.
“Sometimes I wish I could go back in time. It’d be great if Seokjin was actually a wizard,” Hoseok said. “Instead he just says vague random shit that makes little to no sense.”
“Maybe he is a wizard, he just doesn’t want to get tried for witchcraft,” Yoongi said in return. “Besides, what the hell would you want to go back in time for?”
“I don’t know. Anything. Everything? I didn’t even know you were deathly ill when we were young.”
“Well I didn’t want you to know. You had enough to worry about. Still do,” Yoongi said. “You should have just run away with me when you had the chance.”
Hoseok felt Yoongi’s head turn to look at him, but he didn’t look back. “Someone would find us. My father doesn’t have any more sons. It’s just me. I have to be here.”
“Dawon could rule. She’d be good at it.”
“I know she would, but that isn’t how things work,” Hoseok said simply, his fingers tapping against the comforter. “Maybe I really will just call off the wedding.”
Hoseok rolled his eyes. “You should take those earrings off. They’re too heavy.”
“What? You think my ear is gonna fall off?” Yoongi poked Hoseok in the side and Hoseok jerked, bit back a giggle. Yoongi knew he was ticklish and would not hesitate to use that knowledge against him. And of course, after a moment’s hesitation, he poked Hoseok again and the tickled him, gently, but enough to make Hoseok squirm and laugh. He wiggled away from Yoongi, curled up onto his side until Yoongi finally stopped and Hoseok could lie on his back again. Hoseok’s chest rose and fell heavily, the ghost of a smile still on his lips. A few seconds passed, and then he slipped a hand suddenly up Yoongi’s shirt and tickled him back, right in the ribs. Yoongi yelped, thrashed and laughed and swatted Hoseok away.
“That’s what you get,” Hoseok said. “Traitor.”
“You’re the traitor,” Yoongi retorted playfully. “I’ve been nothing but loyal.”
“You always got us in trouble as kids. Remember when we would escape balls and parties? Because you wanted me to teach you dances?” Hoseok closed his eyes, felt Yoongi shifting around on the bed next to him, like he was trying to get comfortable.
“I think it was that you just wanted to dance with me,” Yoongi murmured. And then a pause. “Do you still dance?”
“Will you dance tomorrow?”
“With you? If you want.”
Yoongi moved around again, and Hoseok opened his eyes, glanced over at Yoongi, who was now lying on his side, facing Hoseok, his hands tucked between his legs, which he always used to do when he slept. He said it kept his hands warm. “We had lots of fun games as kids,” Yoongi mused softly. Hoseok let him change the subject, even though it seemed like Yoongi wanted to say something else. “Two truths and a lie was fun. Even though it was super easy because we’re both bad at lying. Well, you were always worse at lying, but—”
“I can’t help that I’m honest.”
“I know.” There was more movement next to him and then Yoongi’s hand was on Hoseok’s arm, moving up and down slowly. His nails scraped ever-so-slightly against Hoseok’s skin, but it felt nice. Yoongi knew it felt nice. Usually it would put Hoseok straight to sleep, but that was not presently the case. “Two truths and a lie is too serious of a game to play right now. I don’t think I could think of good lies after having all that sugar.”
“Does that correlate? Sugar makes you a bad liar?”
“Because you’re already so sweet?” Yoongi laughed. “You are sweet,” Hoseok continued. Yoongi’s hand moved from his arm and brushed through his hair, nails scraping gently against Hoseok’s scalp. “Two truths and a lie. You’re my best friend. I only trust you. You aren’t sweet.”
“Wow, I could never guess which of those isn’t true,” Yoongi said sarcastically as he moved Hoseok’s hair off his forehead. “But I don’t blame you, you know. For not trusting people here. I mean, hell, I barely trusted people outside. This is just…the way the world is. We’re lucky we have each other, I think.”
Hoseok tilted his head a little ways to the side, and Yoongi smiled a closed mouth smile at him. “I could give you a position here at court,” Hoseok whispered. “You could stay.”
“Shh. Let’s not worry about that.”
Hoseok stuck out his tongue, scrunched his nose, and Yoongi scrunched his too, and they both laughed. It felt a little bit like they were drunk, even though they were both completely sober. Yoongi’s hand was still threading through Hoseok’s hair and Hoseok felt a little bit too warm, even though they weren’t under the sheets and his clothes were light.
“I’m worried about tomorrow,” Hoseok admitted.
“Big day. It’s normal to be worried about it,” Yoongi murmured. “Just don’t trip over your, I don’t know, do you wear a cape? Or, I guess, don’t trip on her dress or anything.”
“I wasn’t even worried about tripping, but now I am. Thanks,” Hoseok sighed and shifted slightly closer to Yoongi. He didn’t mean to do it, but sometimes he thought he and Yoongi were just drawn to each other. Needed to be close. “I think we should just stay here forever. That way we don’t have to ever worry about anything.”
“You’re going to rule a kingdom from in here? I look forward to seeing how you manage to do that,” Yoongi moved his hand again, now to Hoseok’s chest and then his waist, so Yoongi’s arm just sort of rested across him. “Although I’m sure you could do it. If you put your mind to it.”
“I was thinking once I become King, that I might have a palace built on the land that was Daegu. Or maybe near Hwagae Market. That way we’ll—I’ll have somewhere else I can go. Somewhere to be besides here, you know?”
“Sounds like a plan.”
Yoongi’s hand twitched against Hoseok’s side, and Hoseok rolled suddenly onto his side too, so he and Yoongi were nearly nose to nose. They hadn’t been this close, in a bed together, in a long time, and this time it certainly felt different somehow. Yoongi’s hand moved up and down Hoseok’s side and Hoseok felt his shirt ride up slightly, felt when Yoongi’s hand touched the skin of Hoseok’s waist.
Time felt like it suspended.
Hoseok’s eyes flickered unconsciously down to Yoongi’s lips. They looked soft, Hoseok thought. Yoongi’s tongue darted out over his bottom lip and Hoseok looked away, met Yoongi’s eyes again. Yoongi blinked a few times, and when he breathed out, it sounded a little bit shaky. His hand was slightly rough against Hoseok’s skin, but Hoseok knew his own hands weren’t exactly super smooth either. Sword practice gave him blisters sometimes.
“Has anyone ever told you your eyes are really pretty?” Hoseok asked, voice just above a whisper. Yoongi blinked two more times, and when Hoseok’s eyes flickered back down to his lips, they were turned up in a little smile.
But when Hoseok looked back at Yoongi’s eyes, they weren’t meeting Hoseok’s. They were looking just slightly down. At Hoseok’s lips.
Hoseok knew it was going to happen before it did, he felt it in his gut, a fluttery sort of nervous feeling somewhere inside him, somewhere familiar but also not. The feeling intensified when Yoongi shifted even closer, closing the last remaining space between them. Or at least, almost. He paused, his nose a millimeter away from touching Hoseok’s.
Thus, it was not Yoongi who completely closed the space between them. Hoseok did.
He leaned in, his hand curling around the back of Yoongi’s neck in one swift movement, at the same time Yoongi’s hand tightened its grip around his waist and their lips met. For the first moment, the kiss was barely there, just their lips touching and their hands on each other, but then Yoongi pressed in a little more, and Hoseok parted his lips, and it became something they couldn’t just pull away from, couldn’t just pretend hadn’t happened.
But Hoseok wouldn’t have wanted to pretend it didn’t happen. He wanted it to keep happening. In the very back of his mind, he was aware of how dangerous it was for them to be doing this. He was aware of what would happen if they were caught. It made his heart pound in his chest. Still, he didn’t want to stop.
Their lips did part for a moment, their eyes opened, but neither of them spoke, Hoseok just pulled Yoongi back in and Yoongi rolled so Hoseok was on his back again and Yoongi was pressed on top of him, their chests flush and Yoongi settling between Hoseok’s legs. In their new position, Hoseok could move his hands around easier. They drifted down to Yoongi’s low back, and Hoseok found himself pushing up Yoongi’s shirt to feel skin as Yoongi’s tongue slid against his own.
Of all things, Hoseok was grateful in the moment that he knew how to kiss, that he’d done it before. But he was certain Yoongi was a better kisser. Was certain Yoongi had kissed more people than Hoseok had, even though Hoseok had had plenty of prospects and opportunities.
However, he didn’t feel nervous. Not really. Yoongi was kissing back, his body was flush to Hoseok’s, and they both clearly wanted it, so Hoseok didn’t feel the need to worry about whether Yoongi liked it.
Hoseok was wondering things though, but he hardly could keep his mind focused on one thought, not with Yoongi’s tongue in his mouth and his teeth tugging at his lower lip, tongue swiping against it a moment later to soothe the slight sting.
And then Yoongi’s hand was under Hoseok’s shirt again, sliding up until his thumb caught on Hoseok’s nipple, and Hoseok couldn’t help it when he moaned, when he arched up even further into Yoongi’s body. If everything else hadn’t made it clear enough, Hoseok was struck in that moment with want. Need, even. He knew he needed Yoongi, but now he knew how. He knew how much he wanted him, too.
The kiss had broken and Yoongi’s breath was warm against Hoseok’s lips, but when Hoseok opened his eyes, he saw it—saw how Yoongi wanted him too. His eyes were hooded, but his pupils were blown and Hoseok dug his nails into Yoongi’s back, heard his breath catch.
“Why—Why’d you stop? Kiss me,” Hoseok whispered. The room was almost dark now, only illuminated by a few candles that had been lit for a while. It made it feel like they were in their own little world. Just the two of them.
“Are you sure?” Yoongi paused, his lips turning up just a little when Hoseok dug his nails even more into Yoongi’s back. “Your Highness.”
“Fucker,” Hoseok muttered, but Yoongi just smiled and kissed him again. Yoongi seemed so unafraid, so at ease. His thumb moved over Hoseok’s nipple again and Hoseok moaned, cursed against Yoongi’s lips, trailed his own hands lower.
As good as it felt to be kissing Yoongi, even as dangerous as it might be, Hoseok wasn’t sure how much farther they should take it. He wasn’t sure where the boundaries were. Where should he not put his hands? Because he found that he wanted to put them everywhere, wanted to touch Yoongi as much as Yoongi would allow him to.
You’re getting married tomorrow, Hoseok thought to himself, and for a moment it made his stomach twist unpleasantly, but he pushed it away, because he was going to have this. Whatever it was. However much it was.
So, he moved one of his hands down even lower just as Yoongi sucked Hoseok’s tongue into his mouth. When Hoseok gripped Yoongi’s ass, Yoongi moaned, and his hips shifted on top of Hoseok’s . Hoseok squeezed—Yoongi’s ass was softer than he thought it would be, but there was another part of him that was definitely not completely soft.
Come to think of it, Hoseok wasn’t completely soft either. Not completely hard, but getting there. Definitely getting there.
But suddenly Yoongi’s lips were gone again and he was sitting back between Hoseok’s thighs, his hair a little bit wild and his shirt all wrinkled and bunched up in funny places. Hoseok thought he was beautiful. He’d always thought Yoongi was very cute, and then very handsome, but now he knew it was an active attraction to Yoongi. Maybe an active attraction to men in general, but specifically to Yoongi for sure.
“Can I take your shirt off?”
They both spoke at the same time, but Hoseok cut off midsentence and nodded. “Yeah, fuck, you can take my shirt off.”
Yoongi bit his lower lip and smoothed his hands up Hoseok’s shirt, still sitting up, looking down at him. Goosebumps broke out on Hoseok’s skin as it was exposed. He didn’t feel self-conscious or nervous though, Yoongi had seen him naked, or at least without a shirt, before. Of course, not in this kind of scenario, but still. Besides, Yoongi was looking at him like he wouldn’t want to be looking at anyone else.
Hoseok sat up and raised his arms above his head so Yoongi could pull his shirt off, and once the garment was gone, Yoongi gently pushed Hoseok back down onto the bed. His thumb smoothed over Hoseok’s cheek and Hoseok reached to touch Yoongi, pull him back down too, but Yoongi captured Hoseok’s wrist and pressed his hand, and then the other one too, beside his head.
It would be easy to pry his hands away, Hoseok was just as strong as, if not stronger than, Yoongi, but he didn’t want to fight it. They—he—could do whatever they wanted to tonight. And Hoseok wanted to do this.
“You don’t want to stop do you?” Yoongi whispered when he leaned back down, hands still pinning Hoseok’s wrists above his head.
“No, I don’t,” Hoseok answered simply.
That was all Yoongi needed, it seemed, and he kissed Hoseok again. For another while, that was all they did, but soon Yoongi began to trail kisses across Hoseok’s jaw and then down his neck. Hoseok tilted his head back to give Yoongi room. Yoongi released Hoseok’s hands in favor of gripping Hoseok’s waist again, and then rolling one of his nipples between his thumb and finger. “Like that?” he murmured against Hoseok’s neck.
“I like it,” Hoseok gasped, felt Yoongi bite down softly at the juncture between his neck and shoulder. Then he came back up, kissed Hoseok once on the mouth and ducked back down, further this time, and then his lips closed over Hoseok’s nipple, tongue moving in slow circles around the hardened bud. Hoseok bit back a noise that would have been far too loud, but Yoongi’s teeth closed down and he yelped, covered his mouth with his hand.
“You’re sensitive,” Yoongi groaned. “Though, I guess I suppose I already knew that.”
“No you did not,” Hoseok retorted, but Yoongi just looked up at him through his long lashes and smiled.
“Did too. You’re ticklish.” Hoseok rolled his eyes, but— “It’s okay, I’m sensitive too.”
And then Yoongi reached down and palmed Hoseok through his trousers. Without realizing, Hoseok had become fully hard and now Yoongi knew it. Not that he seemed bothered by it. In fact, he seemed pleased with himself. He also didn’t seem hesitant at all when it came to touching Hoseok. His hand moved firm but slow, like he was trying to map him out, figure him out.
“You’ve done this before,” Hoseok blurted out, and Yoongi’s hand stopped moving, and his mouth popped off from where he was sucking a mark into Hoseok’s chest. He didn’t say anything, just looked at Hoseok’s face and then without warning, his hand slipped into Hoseok’s pants and he was touching him with nothing in between. Hoseok swallowed thickly, eyes fluttering closed involuntarily.
“Yes,” Yoongi finally said. “I have.”
“I—” Haven’t, is what Hoseok was going to say, but he was fairly certain that was a given. Only, it wasn’t that he just hadn’t with another man. He hadn’t at all. And that was something he was a little bit afraid of admitting to Yoongi.
And anyway, he wanted to go through with whatever they were doing. Yoongi had his hand down Hoseok’s pants and Hoseok tugged him back in for another kiss before they could talk too much or decide against what they were doing. The kiss was a little bit harder this time, but still slow. It fell in time with how Yoongi was stroking him, and when his thumb began to move in slow circles over the head of Hoseok’s cock, Hoseok arched and moaned into Yoongi’s mouth.
“Fuck,” Yoongi cursed softly, kissed down Hoseok’s neck and pulled his hand out of Hoseok’s pants. Hoseok watched Yoongi’s mouth trail lower and lower down Hoseok’s body, and when his mouth was at the edge of Hoseok’s trousers, he looked up, and then he was tugging them down altogether. Hoseok didn’t hesitate to kick them away, even though he was now fully undressed while Yoongi was still completely clothed. Yoongi was completely clothed and staring at Hoseok’s cock, his mouth open slightly and his eyes still hooded and dark.
Hoseok spread his legs further apart. Why? He wasn’t sure. He just…he liked the way Yoongi was looking at him, even though he didn’t think his dick was the most impressive thing about him. Hoseok knew he was attractive, smaller in frame maybe, but with lean muscle and long limbs, but at the end of the day, no one had ever given him an opinion on what was in his pants. He only had himself to go by, and he just knew he was sort of short, not…abnormally so at least, and sort of thick. Sort of normal, he hoped.
Before Hoseok could say anything about any of it though, Yoongi was wrapping his hand around him and then his lips were around Hoseok’s cock and Hoseok’s eyes bulged, and his head flopped back onto the pillows under him. Yoongi had almost certainly done this before too. It felt too good for Yoongi to be inexperienced, and Hoseok wished he had the same experience. Even though the knowledge that Yoongi had done this with other man scared Hoseok a bit, only for the sake of Yoongi’s safety.
He’s safe here, Hoseok thought briefly. We’re both safe. A lie, but without two truths.
Hoseok tangled his hand in Yoongi’s hair and tugged as Yoongi took him deeper, hollowed his cheeks and sucked hard. He bobbed his head slowly, the sounds from the action loud and wet. Hoseok’s thighs trembled and he tugged harder until Yoongi popped off with an obscene slurp. His lips were shiny with spit, cheeks flushed. Hoseok had never seen Yoongi like this before and it made his heart pound (and his dick throb).
“Were you gonna cum?”
“I want to do that to you,” Hoseok blurted out without answering Yoongi’s question (because the answer was maybe, yes). He licked his lips, pulled again at Yoongi’s hair. “I—”
“You want to suck my cock?”
“Have you ever done it before?”
Yoongi was quiet for a moment, his hand releasing Hoseok’s cock so it slapped back against his low stomach with a smacking sound, making Hoseok’s face feel hot. For a moment Yoongi kneeled there between Hoseok’s legs, and then he looked around the room, threaded a hand through his hair and suddenly got off the bed. Hoseok watched him, his stomach knotting up.
“Wait here. Don’t move, I’m going to go get something first,” Yoongi said softly.
“You’re going to leave me here naked?”
“Yeah. Touch yourself.”
“Don’t tell me what to do.”
Yoongi smiled. “Sorry, touch yourself, Your Highness.”
“You’re the worst,” Hoseok snapped back, only because he was worried Yoongi was going to leave the room and not come back.
But Yoongi just smiled, and then he hurried behind a screen in the corner of Hoseok’s room, which was where a section of the wall could open if pressed on just right, leading to the secret passage ways that ran through the palace. That way, Yoongi could get to his chambers and back without being seen by anyone.
Then, however, at the sound of the secret entrance closing, Hoseok was alone in his room, surrounded by only the light of the candles, and completely naked, hard, and left with his own thoughts. He hadn’t even seen Yoongi naked yet. Nor did he know what Yoongi had left so suddenly to go retrieve. Worse, Hoseok didn’t know what would happen exactly when Yoongi came back (if he came back).
Still, he gripped his cock and stroked himself a few times, thinking mostly about how Yoongi touched him, kissed him. And, of course, about Yoongi’s lips around his cock, how he seemed to know exactly what he was doing. Hoseok had never had oral before, only heard about it from the other young men his age, laughed along with them as if he knew what they were talking about (no one would believe him if he admitted he was still a virgin). Certainly, Hoseok had never given oral before. Not to a woman and definitely not to another man.
And none of the young men he was ‘friends’ with in the palace ever talked about anything sexual with another man. They wouldn’t dare, Hoseok knew that.
There were some kingdoms that allowed relationships between two men, or two women. Gwangju was not one of them. Most of the kingdoms, the regions, that did allow it, were far away and not many people visited them. Perhaps Yoongi had?
Regardless, Hoseok didn’t feel in any kind of danger. He was the crown prince, after all. He would be king. Almost untouchable. If he wanted this…he could have it.
I can have it, he told himself, hand drifting lower, circling his rim, wondering if Yoongi would touch him there when he got back, or maybe even, if Yoongi liked being touched there too. He let his eyes flutter closed, then brought one hand up to his lips, put his pointer and middle finger into his mouth while he stroked himself, sticky already with precum. Then his hand drifted down again and he attempted to push a finger inside himself. He never could do much with just spit on his fingers, and this time was no exception.
“Sorry, I forgot where I put this. I only went to get it in case you wanted to fuck me, but I know that’s—oh—”
Hoseok’s eyes shot open and his hands flew to his sides. Yoongi was standing a few feet away from the bed, a little brown pouch in his hands. His eyes were wide and locked on Hoseok and Hoseok was pretty sure he wanted to die, or disappear, but—but maybe not, actually. Maybe not because Yoongi was stepping closer and Hoseok could tell he was hard in his pants.
“You, um,” Yoongi paused at the foot of the bed, set the little pouch down by Hoseok’s feet. “You’re really beautiful, Seok.” Yoongi’s cheeks looked flushed, but it was hard to tell in the dim room.
“You are too,” Hoseok said. “Are you just gonna stand there and stare at me?”
“Maybe. It’s a nice view.”
Hoseok rolled his eyes, but this was what they did. They teased each other, and it was easy. Normal.
“You said something about fucking,” Hoseok said. “We should do that.”
“Should we?” Yoongi asked. “Can’t come back from that.”
But Yoongi took his shirt off anyway, and Hoseok sat up a bit, watched him undress. Yoongi’s shoulders were broad, but he had always been small. At least in stature. His torso seemed firmer than the last time Hoseok had seen him shirtless, but still soft in some ways too. Where Yoongi was shorter, Hoseok was taller, and where Yoongi was a bit pale, Hoseok was tan. But Hoseok was thin, lean, and Yoongi was just built a bit different.
But Hoseok liked how Yoongi looked. Liked everything about him. Yoongi would surely disagree, but Hoseok thought Yoongi was perfect. He always had, even before…this. Before Hoseok was aware of his romantic feelings (which meant, not very long ago). Although, he did know the feelings were there now. He was aware they’d been there for some time, just…hidden away somewhere. Hidden away by the fact that Yoongi was Yoongi, his best friend.
“I don’t want to come back from anything,” Hoseok finally said, because Yoongi had his hands on the waist of his pants, clearly about to take them off. “You can stay here. With me. I want this.”
“I do too,” Yoongi whispered, and then he pushed his pants down along with anything he’d had on underneath. He only stood there for a moment longer, but it was enough time for Hoseok to take him in, to see that Yoongi was not as thick as Hoseok was himself, but he was long and hard, a thin line of hair starting at his navel and leading down to his cock, but the rest of him seemed mostly smooth to the touch.
Not that there was much more time to think about it, because Yoongi was crawling back over and Hoseok scooted to meet him halfway, pulled Yoongi in and kissed him again, kissed down Yoongi’s neck this time, back to his ears where he was still wearing the ruby earrings. “Have you…” Hoseok trailed off, felt Yoongi smooth his hand up and down Hoseok’s back. “Have you ever fucked someone before?”
“Someone? Or a man?”
“You know what I mean, don’t be an ass,” Hoseok smacked Yoongi on the shoulder and Yoongi smiled.
“Once. Yeah. Why? You want me to fuck you, Seok?” Yoongi leaned back and Hoseok wrapped a hand tentatively around Yoongi’s cock. It felt different from touching himself, somehow. Good different. Yoongi didn’t react much though, not until Hoseok started to move his hand up and down. “I’m gonna—fuck—I’m gonna need an answer. Because I like both. I thought you’d rather fuck me but I would gladly fuck you. I’ve been staring at your butt for years now.”
“My nonexistent one?”
“Oh it exists,” Yoongi said. “You just had your finger in it, so…”
Hoseok groaned, and Yoongi laughed, but that made Hoseok laugh too, and then they were kissing again. Perhaps it should have been weird how easy it was for them to fall into this, for their banter to become sexual, for them to touch each other. It was not weird, though, not weird when Yoongi grabbed his little pouch, mumbled that it was lubricant, something about he’d gotten it a while back (“I didn’t plan this, I swear.”) and that it would make everything a lot better.
Hoseok forgot about wanting to suck Yoongi’s dick by the time Yoongi had his fingers slicked, down between Hoseok’s legs, one of them slowly sliding inside him. When he did remember, he decided they would do that next time.
There has to be a next time, Hoseok thought.
“Does it hurt?”
Yoongi’s breath was hot against Hoseok’s neck, and his finger slid in and out of Hoseok slow, careful. “No it doesn’t hurt,” Hoseok breathed, shifting his leg so Yoongi could grind against his thigh. “I, um, I usually can’t get my fingers this deep.”
“Obviously not, if you aren’t using something for lubricant,” Yoongi said. “Tell me if anything doesn’t feel good.”
Hoseok nodded, tangled his hand back into Yoongi’s hair and felt Yoongi add a second finger, wiggle them both around a little, crook them up just right. Hoseok arched, gasped, kissed Yoongi hard while Yoongi worked his fingers in deeper, harder, more. There were a few instances where it felt odd, maybe slightly uncomfortable, but the next moment it felt good again until all the discomfort had faded away to pleasure.
Hoseok’s leg felt sticky where Yoongi was grinding against him and his lips felt a bit sore from kissing, but the last thing he wanted was to stop. The fact that it was the eve of his wedding was not on his mind anymore.
“Fuck,” Hoseok cursed. “There. Touch—yes, there, oh my god.”
“You’re so fucking tight,” Yoongi whispered.
“I love you,” Yoongi said abruptly, and Hoseok felt himself clench down hard around Yoongi’s fingers, felt his grip in Yoongi’s hair tighten. His cock twitched, and when Yoongi pressed in just the right spot, Hoseok was sure he was going to cum, but then Yoongi’s fingers were gone altogether and Hoseok’s body shook with an orgasm that hadn’t quite arrived, and he groaned loudly, let out a shaky breath.
Yoongi’s words lingered in the space between them as Hoseok recovered, confused as to why Yoongi’s fingers weren’t inside him anymore. “What?” was all Hoseok could say.
When he opened his eyes, Yoongi had his hand on the little container of lubricant. “What?”
“What did you just say?” Yoongi’s chest rose and fell heavily, and his fingers were shiny in the candlelight, as was his cock. Hoseok licked his lips. “Yoongi—”
“I said I love you,” Yoongi repeated.
Hoseok blinked, and Yoongi wouldn’t make eye contact. Hoseok’s chest felt tight, so much so it was almost painful, but he didn’t know what to say. He wanted to say it back, because he felt it, felt the same way, but…but if he said it back, what would that mean?
Besides, Yoongi was slicking his cock and clearing his throat and so Hoseok reached out and cupped Yoongi’s cheek. “Hey.”
“Do you still want to?” Yoongi asked.
“Yes I still want to, Yoon, but—”
“No, it’s okay,” Yoongi mumbled. “This is…not that. I know it’s not. You’re getting married tomorrow so it can’t be that. Do you, um, do you want to do it like this? Don’t know if you have a preference, but I can fuck you from behind if you want.”
The room seemed to shift. Hoseok felt too hot and too cold at the same time, despite the fact that his cock was still throbbing between his legs and he wanted Yoongi inside him, hated the newfound emptiness he was feeling. And he didn’t need to be experienced to know that Yoongi fucking him from behind was a way to make it less personal. It sounded good, Hoseok wasn’t going to lie, but he would much rather see Yoongi’s face.
“I don’t want you to fuck me from behind,” Hoseok said firmly. “Not this time. Next time, if you want.”
“That’s what I said.” Hoseok shifted around, got comfortable on his back and spread his legs as far apart as he could. “Come on. I want you.”
Yoongi sat there for a moment longer, then the corner of his lips turned up. “You’re infuriating,” he murmured, still with a smile, and then he was positioning himself between Hoseok’s legs. “Hold your legs up.” So Hoseok did, held his legs up to his chest, hands curled around his thighs. He felt exposed, but Yoongi didn’t draw attention to the flush on Hoseok’s face.
Instead, of his hands overlapped Hoseok’s on his thigh, and with the other he positioned himself at Hoseok’s hole. The first press of him felt odd, blunt, and Hoseok tried to relax, closed his eyes just as he noticed one of the candles go out.
“Yoongi please,” Hoseok breathed out, felt Yoongi press further into him and lean down to kiss the corner of Hoseok’s lips. It was then that he slipped inside. Hoseok gasped, but no sound came out. He could feel himself open up around Yoongi, and then clench down before relaxing only slightly, enough for Yoongi to push in more.
“Fuck.” Yoongi’s hand flexed on top of Hoseok’s.
Neither of them spoke for a long time. The only sound in the room was their heavy breathing. Hoseok’s teeth were gritted together and Yoongi must have noticed, because he went slow, shifted around until Hoseok’s legs fell around his waist and Hoseok could move his hands easier, could grip Yoongi’s shoulders and hair and kiss him.
While they kissed Yoongi pushed in more, until his hips were flush to Hoseok’s ass and Hoseok felt full, complete in a way he somehow knew he would when they’d first kissed and doing…this, crossed his mind. Complete in a way he was sure only Yoongi could make him feel. He tightened his legs around Yoongi’s waist, dug his heels into Yoongi’s low back and then against his ass, before he opted to reach and grab Yoongi’s ass with his hands. He squeezed, and Yoongi smiled against his lips before Hoseok moved his hands back to Yoongi’s hair.
When Yoongi shifted on top of him, and subsequently inside of him too, Hoseok winced. It didn’t feel bad, but there was a slight burn, and Yoongi felt bigger than he looked and it was definitely something to get used to. With Yoongi kissing his neck and smoothing his hands over various parts of Hoseok’s overheated skin, it was easier to adjust. Still, Hoseok couldn’t quite stop clenching spasmodically around Yoongi, couldn’t stop from pulling at his hair.
“Come on,” Hoseok said after Yoongi still had yet to move. “Fuck me.”
“Are you sure?” Yoongi braced his hands beside Hoseok’s head though, propped himself up to look Hoseok in the eye. “I can hold off.”
“Yoongi. Fuck me,” Hoseok repeated, this time aware of the slight whine in his voice. If Yoongi noticed, he didn’t comment, instead he kissed Hoseok one more time, hard and filthy, the kind of kiss Hoseok never thought he would have with someone. One with passion and heat and—
And then Yoongi pulled out, not all the way, just to the head, and Hoseok could feel the slide. The thrust back inside was not hard, but Hoseok could feel that too and they both moaned. During the whole thing, the initial press inside, Hoseok had gone a bit soft, but he could feel himself getting hard again as Yoongi repeated the action, pulling out and thrusting back inside, only with a bit more force.
Hoseok’s eyes stayed closed while Yoongi picked up a rhythm, but once Hoseok was fully hard again, and all the discomfort had gone away, he was left on the verge of making sounds he normally would be embarrassed to be making. And when Yoongi thrust forward harder, a sharp snap of his hips, Hoseok gasped, and then moaned, something deep that felt like it was pushed out from his stomach. His eyes opened, and Yoongi had a tiny smirk on his face, one that faded into a smile when their eyes met.
The next time Yoongi snapped his hips forward, Hoseok whined, loud and high pitched in the quiet room. Although the room hardly stayed quiet, because Yoongi stopped pausing in between thrusts, opted instead to fuck into Hoseok harder and faster until the room was filled with the sound of skin against skin and both of their somewhat desperate moans.
“Feels—” Hoseok’s throat felt dry from all his harsh breathing and he choked on another sharp intake of air when Yoongi hit just the right spot inside of him.
“Feels what?” Yoongi rasped back.
“Good, fuck, so good,” Hoseok managed to respond. “You feel so good.”
“You too,” Yoongi whispered, leaning down and nipping at Hoseok’s ear lobe with his teeth. It made Hoseok shudder, made his back arch when Yoongi thrust inside and ground his hips hard against Hoseok’s ass. “So fucking warm and tight, god, you look so beautiful taking my cock.”
“I—” I love you, too, Hoseok wanted to say, but he couldn’t get the words out. They felt stuck in the back of his throat. “You’re so pretty,” Hoseok said instead.
Yoongi leaned back again, further this time, held Hoseok down by the waist and fucked into him harder. Hoseok’s cock throbbed between his legs and his muscles burned from holding his legs up and apart, despite the fact that they were muscles he used often. Just not like this. This, he would feel in the morning.
“Touch yourself,” Yoongi said. “Want—wanna feel you come, Seok.”
Hoseok bit down on his own bottom lip, forced himself to keep his eyes opened as he wrapped his hand around himself and began to jerk himself off as in-time to the pace Yoongi was fucking him at as he could. Yoongi’s overgrown bangs were damp with sweat and his pale skin seemed to glow in the candlelight and Hoseok didn’t know why it took him so long to realize he was so, so in love with Min Yoongi.
When he came, it was sooner than he would have liked, and his back curved off the bed, despite the fact that Yoongi was practically pinning him down. It almost hurt, but the pain felt good. His thighs shook and one of Yoongi’s hands overlapped his, jerking him off too as cum coated Hoseok’s chest and stomach. Filthy words spilled from Yoongi’s lips, words Hoseok could only half comprehend as he rode out his orgasm, Yoongi fucking into him even harder, quicker, until his thrusts became erratic and Hoseok was shaking from overstimulation.
He didn’t want Yoongi to stop though, didn’t want the night to end. Knuckles white, Hoseok gripped the sheets under him with his clean hand. “Yoongi,” he moaned, not sure if any sound even came out.
Luckily (or maybe unluckily, as it meant it was over), Hoseok felt Yoongi’s grip on his waist tighten and his hips stutter, and then a rush of warmth, and he knew Yoongi came too, knew by the way his body shook, and then went lax, his forehead tilted down on Hoseok’s chest. His breath was too hot against Hoseok’s already burning skin, but Hoseok carded his hand through Yoongi’s hair anyway, felt Yoongi kiss him once, then twice, before he looked up, leaned back, and pulled out.
Hoseok winced, clenched down around nothing.
“’M sorry,” Yoongi muttered suddenly. “I didn’t mean to cum inside you. That was, um, that was inappropriate.”
Hoseok’s cheeks felt warm, but he grabbed Yoongi’s hand. “I liked it,” he admitted softly. “Don’t be sorry.”
“Let me—Do you have washcloths in your washroom? Let me get one. Fuck,” Yoongi looked a bit frantic, and he scrambled off the bed before Hoseok could stop him. Hoseok watched him waddle into the washroom, smiled to himself because Yoongi was adorable, really, and his butt was nice to look at.
It seemed perhaps that Yoongi was nervous now, but Hoseok felt more relaxed than he expected himself too, despite the stickiness and Yoongi’s release inside him. Maybe it was just that he’d gotten off, but he just wanted Yoongi to come back so they could fall asleep together.
Soon, Yoongi did come back with a cloth in his hand. He crawled back up onto the bed and Hoseok took the cloth from him to wipe down with. He could feel Yoongi’s cum leaking out of him, and he crinkled his nose a little at the feeling when he sat up, but Yoongi just pushed him back so he was lying down and knelt between his legs to clean him up.
The action was very intimate, and neither of them said anything while it was happening, but once it was done, Yoongi tossed the cloth somewhere on the floor and hesitantly lied down next to Hoseok. Hoseok immediately turned to face him, smoothed Yoongi’s hair off his forehead. Yoongi smiled, eyes sleepy.
“You’ll stay? Here, I mean, for the night.”
“Do you want me to?”
“Yes,” Hoseok said truthfully.
“You have to cuddle me,” Yoongi whispered and Hoseok shoved his shoulder, but they both laughed, then shifted around so they were both bundled under the covers, bodies pressed close. Yoongi rolled over into a little ball, and Hoseok wrapped himself around Yoongi from behind and kissed the back of his neck.
“That was my first time,” Hoseok said to the back of Yoongi’s head. Yoongi was silent and Hoseok almost thought he’d fallen asleep in a matter of seconds.
Of course, he hadn’t, and Hoseok felt a pinch to his side just before Yoongi rolled over again, his head tucked under Hoseok’s chin and his legs tangling with Hoseok’s. “I hate you,” Yoongi said into his chest. “I’m too tired to move, but I can’t believe you didn’t tell me you were a virgin before we did that.”
“I didn’t want you to change your mind.”
“I wouldn’t have, you idiot, but I might not have done it so…I don’t know, hard.”
“Well, it was good like that. You’ve, um, you’ve only been with one other…man?” That probably wasn’t the question to ask, not now, but Hoseok was a curious person and he wanted to know.
“No, I’ve been with more than one man,” Yoongi eventually answered, keeping himself tucked against Hoseok so Hoseok couldn’t see his expression, only just barely could feel his lips moving against his chest. “I’ve just only fucked one. The others…I don’t know. Usually I suck them off. Usually it was you, I was picturing. I just never thought you’d actually want it.”
“I love you, too.”
The words came out a little bit too loud, but Yoongi curled his arms around Hoseok’s waist, almost a hug, keeping him close. Hoseok did the same in return. He didn’t want to let Yoongi go. Didn’t want to talk about the repercussions or what this really meant for them. Because everything had changed, even if it felt so natural.
If anyone ever found out that Hoseok was slept with a man, had slept with Yoongi…he would never make it to the throne. Especially not if they found out Yoongi had been the one to fuck him. But, the last thing Hoseok felt about it was shame, in fact, he felt invigorated. Alive.
“I’ll call off the wedding,” he blurted out, because he didn’t want to be king if it meant he couldn’t be with Yoongi, or if it meant he had to be with someone else too.
“It’s okay, Seok,” Yoongi mumbled, “Just go to sleep.”
Upon waking up, which he did before Yoongi, Hoseok’s mind began to race, began to go to places he wished it wouldn’t.
His room was full of light again, all the candles out, but sunlight streaming in instead. Yoongi was still sound asleep next to him, the ruby earrings sparkling in his ears still and his dark hair falling over his eyes. Everything about him looked so peaceful, and Hoseok caressed his cheek, smoothed a hand down Yoongi’s arm and then over his hip, the blankets that covered him falling away with the action. Yet, Yoongi did not stir, just snuggled further into the bed, curled up into a smaller ball, closer to Hoseok.
Even with how peaceful Yoongi looked, Hoseok wondered why. Why last night, the night before Hoseok was to be married? Did Yoongi have an ulterior motive? No, certainly not, Hoseok thought. When Yoongi had said he loved him, it seemed genuine, true. Yoongi was always truthful with Hoseok, he was the only person Hoseok trusted with everything.
But Yoongi had to know things might not end well for them. Or perhaps he hoped to gain something from a relationship with Hoseok. Mistresses of King’s were always rewarded with land and riches. But Hoseok had promised Yoongi lands before any of this. Hell, Hoseok would reinstate Daegu as a kingdom and declare Yoongi the King if Yoongi wanted it, whether or not they were sleeping together.
Still, Hoseok’s mind went in circles as he laid there with Yoongi. When he moved, he could feel that his body was sore, but he didn’t mind it. And eventually, Yoongi began to awaken, his eyes fluttering open and then drifting closed again a few times before they opened for good and he stretched out, limbs going out in all directions. Hoseok’s eyes trailed over Yoongi’s body, now exposed completely in the light.
“Like what you see?” Yoongi asked between a yawn, and Hoseok hummed.
Yoongi smiled and rubbed his eyes. “Shouldn’t you be doing wedding things?” Yoongi asked. “Is it early?”
“I don’t know, no one has come to get me,” Hoseok said. “And I much rather stay here with you.”
He pulled Yoongi in a bit, then rolled slightly on top of him before he kissed Yoongi softly on the lips. Yoongi seemed surprised at first, but then he relaxed into it and kissed back, arms draping over Hoseok. They kissed until Hoseok had to pull away to breathe.
“Why’d you have to grow up to be so…you?” Yoongi asked and Hoseok scoffed.
“Me? What about you? It’s very rude of you to seduce the future King of Gwangju,” Hoseok teased, poking Yoongi in the tummy, which made Yoongi giggle and squirm.
“I didn’t seduce you, maybe you seduced me.”
“I suppose we seduced each other, then?” Hoseok suggested, sitting up and leaning back against the intricate headboard. Yoongi stayed lying on his back, clearly uncaring that he was completely naked and uncovered by anything.
“I think that’s just called falling in love,” Yoongi corrected.
“Maybe. That sounds about right.”
“That’s why I left,” Yoongi said, his hand tracing an unidentifiable shape onto Hoseok’s leg. “I mean, I’ve loved you for a while but…last year I almost kissed you. We went out riding, I don’t know if you remember, and you started talking about something, about how if you weren’t who you were, we would go somewhere far away and…I don’t know.” Yoongi paused and shook his head slightly. “I just remember I was listening to you talk and I wanted to kiss you. Almost just did it. Figured if you hated me after at least it would be easier, but I couldn’t do it. So I left, because if I stayed I knew eventually I would end up doing it. I suppose I never guessed you’d actually kiss back.”
“Is that why you refused to marry Dawon? Because you were in love with me? My father thought it was because you loved someone else,” Hoseok asked, taking Yoongi’s hand in his, even though the angle was off. The memory of Hoseok’s father suggesting Dawon marry Yoongi felt distant, but he could recall that he hadn’t wanted it to happen. Luckily, both Dawon and Yoongi didn’t either.
“I didn’t marry Dawon because I like men, Hoseok. And yes, because I was in love with you and not her. I actually have respect for your sister and the last thing I’d want to do is put her in a loveless marriage with me,” Yoongi explained. “It would have been hell for both of us.”
“You should have just kissed me,” Hoseok said and Yoongi laughed.
“You should have kissed me,” Yoongi retorted, sitting up abruptly and moving the blankets aside so he could sit in Hoseok’s lap, their chests nearly flush. “You’re the prince.”
“Technically, you were next in line for a throne once, too. That makes you a prince.” Hoseok pointed out.
“My brother would have been King. Not me.”
“Still a prince.”
“You have the face for being a prince,” Yoongi said, his hands cupping Hoseok’s face and thumbs smoothing over his cheeks. “You’re so handsome.”
“So are you,” Hoseok whispered back. He’d never seen Yoongi like this, so openly affectionate with his words. Of course, Yoongi had always been affectionate towards Hoseok, but it was a bit different now. Intimate.
“If I were still a prince of Daegu, we wouldn’t be here right now,” Yoongi pointed out. “We would probably be enemies.”
“Well I’m glad we aren’t.”
Although, Hoseok didn’t exactly know what they were, now. If he’d woken up and Yoongi had dismissed the night before, insisted they go back to normal, that would have been one thing. But that wasn’t what happened. Yoongi was in Hoseok’s lap, and they were kissing again, and they’d told each other they loved each other.
I’ll call off the wedding, Hoseok thought. He’d said it last night, but he could tell Yoongi didn’t believe him. Calling it off wouldn’t be a good idea, Hoseok knew it would have serious repercussions, but he hadn’t wanted to get married even before his night with Yoongi, and he’d never before done anything to defy his father or his role as prince. So maybe he could get away with calling his wedding off.
He could definitely get away with spending another hour or so with Yoongi, that he was sure of. It seemed to be early enough and no one had knocked or come to retrieve him. That, and Yoongi was hard now, Hoseok’s hand wrapped around his cock not because he was suddenly so experienced, but because he knew now what he wanted.
So maybe an hour was more like two, but Hoseok blamed it on the fact that Yoongi offered to ride him, and he certainly wasn’t going to say no.
“Where the hell have you been?”
Dawon glared at Hoseok, her arms crossed over her chest and her eyes piercing through the hair that hung in around her face. She was wearing more makeup around her eyes than she normally did and Hoseok knew it was because of the wedding later. He was the one behind on getting ready, not her. However, a few minutes after Yoongi had left Hoseok’s room through the secret passageways, there had been a knock on Hoseok’s door. One of his father’s guards informed him that his father wanted a word with him.
Thus, he stood outside his father’s chambers with Dawon, who had apparently also been summoned. She was angry too, and she looked tired. That, and she could probably see through his lie. He was a terrible liar, and Dawon was good at detecting lies told by even the best of liars, so Hoseok was shit out of luck when it came to lying to her.
“The ceremony is this afternoon. Will you be ready by then?” she asked, before knocking again on the door, as their father hadn’t let them inside yet.
“I can be ready. It’s not going to take me that long.”
Dawon reached forward and Hoseok made a face, unsure of what she was going to do, but then she gently placed her hand on his chin and tilted his head to the side. He let her, only jerked away when she gripped harder. “Is that a…” she trailed off though, dropped her hand back to her side and Hoseok touched his neck where she’d been looking.
“It’s quite obviously not nothing, Hoseok.”
“I’ve never done anything wrong or defied any of my orders or duties. Don’t—”
The door to his father’s room opened abruptly before Hoseok could finish, and both he and his sister fell silent, straightened their posture and bowed slightly. After a grunt, a sort of hello, from their father, he opened the door wider and allowed them to step inside. The room felt too cold, and it was far too dim, but Hoseok could still tell that his father was very pale, looked even worse than he had the day before. His hair, thin, was damp with sweat and Hoseok resisted the urge to tell him he should lie down.
“Thank you both for coming,” the king said. His voice was barely there, and Hoseok didn’t know how he was going to manage to act as if he were completely well in front of all the wedding guests later.
“If this is about me sleeping in I—”
“What is he doing here?”
Dawon was gesturing to the corner of the room. Hoseok hadn’t even realized someone else was in the room, and he felt even more nervousness build up in his chest. Especially because the person standing ominously in the corner of the room was Seokjin, and his face looked grim. Hoseok was not the biggest advocate of Seokjin, didn’t really believe he had any powers or had visions like he claimed. However, his father had been a very good doctor, and Hoseok knew Seokjin had learned from his father, so he had medical knowledge that many did not. Although, that made his presence in the room seem even more ominous, especially considering how bad the king looked.
“I thought you were away. Namjoon said—”
“I returned late last night,” Seokjin interrupted, stepping further into the room. Sometimes he dressed in odd clothing, robes or dark colors, even dark reds or purples with a vibrancy that Hoseok hadn’t ever seen other people wear. He and Seokjin weren’t exactly friends though, so Hoseok never really asked him any questions. Yoongi was more friendly with him. “I had an urgent message I needed to give to your father, and the two of you as well.”
“Actually, before you do, there was something I needed to say,” Hoseok said, to which Seokjin sighed and rolled his eyes, without even an ounce of subtly.
“I’m sure it can wait,” Dawon muttered. “Or you would have been here much earlier to say it. Instead you were god knows where, probably with a prostitute.”
The room got silent for a long moment, and Hoseok’s face felt on fire. “I was not with a prostitute,” he said between gritted teeth.
“No? You were clearly with someone. If I went to your rooms, would they still be there?” Dawon asked, her voice steadily rising in tone. She didn’t have a dainty, high, voice, it was considerably deep and more than a little intimidating. Hoseok knew her well enough to not be scared of her, though.
“I don’t know, sister,” he snapped. “If I went your rooms, what would I find there? One of your many lovers, maybe? We all know you have them. That’s why you won’t just get married.”
“Perhaps. But at least I’m not a cheater,” she replied. It would be a lie if her words didn’t sting.
“I’m not a cheater,” Hoseok stated. “I’m calling off the wedding.” Dawon’s eyebrows shot up to her forehead.
“That’s—” Their father paused, bent over, steadying himself against a shelf, and began to cough violently, his other hand coming to cover his mouth. Everyone watched on in silence until he finally straightened up. Hoseok could see blood in his hand. “That’s enough, both of you. The wedding will happen. You will not call it off, Hoseok.”
Hoseok felt his hands begin to shake, so he clasped them together behind his back and bit his lip in an attempt to not talk back…yet.
“I had a premonition in which I foresaw your death,” Seokjin said finally. His voice was flat, monotone, and Hoseok at first thought he was speaking of his father, but when he looked at Seokjin, Seokjin was looking back at him.
“What?” Hoseok looked back and forth between his sister and father, but he couldn’t read their expressions any more than he could Seokjin’s. “My death?”
“Yes,” Seokjin answered without hesitating. “It happened last night. I saw you…somewhere that was not here. You were dying. I saw that if you did not go through with the wedding that your death would happen much sooner.”
“Bullshit,” Hoseok said without thinking, and his father glared, despite how pathetic it looked.
“It’s not bullshit,” he said. “I’m dying, Hoseok. I doubt I will last the week, Seokjin told me as such. That means you will be king very shortly. I won’t have you on the throne without a queen, and I won’t have a prophecy of your death looming over you.”
“There is no prophecy of my death. It’s not real. He’s probably just…just making this all up to scare us!” Hoseok protested. “I don’t want to marry Mishil. I don’t love her and—”
“It doesn’t matter if you love her or not,” Dawon said softly. “You know that, Hoseok.”
Hoseok shook his head, turned away from all of them and took a step towards the door. “It’s a good thing mother is dead. She’d hate the way things are here now,” he murmured under his breath. They might not have even heard, but it didn’t really matter either way.
“Where were you last night?” Seokjin asked, but Hoseok didn’t turn around or respond. “I think you should put an end to…whatever you started last night.”
“I think you should go back to wherever you came from,” Hoseok said simply, and then he pushed the door open and left the room, let the door slam shut behind him. If he had to get married, if he didn’t have any choice, then so be it, but he wasn’t going to listen to nonsense from a man he didn’t even trust.
People watched him as he walked by, surely they wondered why he looked so angry. Or maybe they wondered why he wasn’t preparing for his wedding ceremony that was surely happening in a matter of hours. Whatever it was, Hoseok didn’t care. Maybe he hadn’t cared for a long time, only now was it really hitting him.
Hoseok didn’t stop walking upon hearing Seokjin’s voice, but of course that didn’t stop Seokjin from running to catch up with him and darting in front of him, blocking his path. Hoseok barely stopped, bumped into Seokjin’s chest before Seokjin steadied him. They hadn’t been this close, face to face, in a long time. Hoseok tended to avoid him in the palace. And in general.
“What do you want?”
“I know you don’t believe me,” Seokjin said in a low voice, so no one else would hear. Eyes were definitely on them. “But I’m not lying to you. I don’t want you to live an unhappy life, or a short one. I actually think you would be a good king, Hoseok.”
“Don’t address me as if we’re friends,” Hoseok said, stepping back, putting distance between the two of them. “We aren’t.”
“Yoongi is here, isn’t he?”
“Tell him I would like to speak to him, if you see him.”
“Speak to him about what?”
Seokjin made a face, but Hoseok wasn’t sure what it meant. “I’d just like to see him, that’s all,” he finally replied, shrugging one shoulder. “He and I are friends.”
“Don’t count on my telling him anything. In case you missed it, I’m getting married today, so I’m going to be pretty busy. And you know, if you really had premonitions, you should have foreseen my mother’s death. That would have been useful.”
“I was a child, Hoseok.”
“Yeah. So was I. Now I don’t have a mother.”
And with that, Hoseok pushed past Seokjin and continued on down the hall back to his rooms with the intention of getting ready for his wedding, even though he would have preferred to crawl back in bed and not get up again until the day was over.
Typically, after a royal wedding, a consummation ceremony took place following the festivities of the evening. Hoseok knew this would be something he would have to do from a young age. He’d attended other weddings of important people, royals from other kingdoms, and he’d heard about the consummation ceremony plenty of times. Lots of the young boys would go sneak around and try to watch sometimes, but Hoseok never had.
Rarely ever could a couple get out of it, but Hoseok could tell by the end of the night that his father was doing even worse, and when he left the festivities, Hoseok decided he would get out of it. The wedding ceremony itself had gone by in a blur, and he had no idea what had actually happened. He hadn’t seen Yoongi all evening, and the reception festivities have been going on for at least two hours. Hoseok was tired and his legs were sore, along with a few other parts of him. That, and he was half afraid Yoongi had left. Disappeared to whatever far away land he had gone to before.
Regardless, Hoseok still wasn’t going to consummate his new marriage in front of a bunch of people he didn’t even know or like. Not to mention he didn’t even want to sleep with his new wife, and he felt horrible for thinking that, for not wanting her. Though, he didn’t know if she felt the same or not. She was very stiff when they danced, and her smiles seemed a bit forced, but that could have simply been nerves.
Hoseok was watching her from across the ballroom while he pretended to drink glass after glass of wine. It wasn’t wine though, he was having one of the trusted members of the kitchen staff bring him glass after glass of juice, so when he started to act drunk, it would be believable. He was a horrible real drunk, got quiet and depressing Dawon told him, but a fake drunk…he could do that. Lying and acting were two different things.
He took another small sip of his juice, and Mishil glanced over at him again. The clothes he was wearing were wildly uncomfortable, but he imagined her dress was even worse. It was cinched in tight at her waist and the earrings she wore looked very heavy. He smiled at her from across the room, it was the polite thing to do, but she seemed to take that as an invitation, because she began to make her way towards him. He downed the rest of his glass and cleared his throat.
Just as she reached him, her hand touching his upper arm gently, he saw Yoongi enter the ballroom out of the corner of his eye. It made his heart skip a beat and start to pound wildly, from excitement or nerves, Hoseok wasn’t sure.
“Would you like to dance?” Mishil asked. “I know it’s been a long evening, but perhaps we could still enjoy it?”
“Maybe…” Hoseok murmured, eyes trained on Yoongi, who was moving very slowly into the room, looking around as if he were a bit lost. “I’m kind of tired.”
“Just one more dance?”
Hoseok fought back a sigh, as he didn’t want to hurt Mishil’s feelings. Their marriage was as arranged for her as it was for him, and she didn’t deserve what she’d been thrown into. It wasn’t her fault Hoseok didn’t love her, after all. So, “Yeah. Okay, we can dance.”
He held out his hand and she took it, let him lead her to the center of the dance floor. Hoseok made sure to walk slowly, and when they began to dance, he purposely stumbled a few times, just so everyone else would see. Mishil didn’t seem to care, and he knew she wouldn’t instantly think he was drunk, as there was no alcohol on his breath.
Across the room, Hoseok managed to catch Yoongi’s eye, and Yoongi leaned against the wall, watching him. His expression was neutral, but their gazes were so clearly locked. When Hoseok spun Mishil, Yoongi’s gaze didn’t even flicker to her. It made Hoseok shiver.
“That’s your friend over there, is it not?” Mishil said suddenly, and Hoseok broke his eye contact with Yoongi to look at her.
“Is that his name? Are you very close with him?” Her tone didn’t seem accusatory, just inquisitive.
“We’ve known each other since we were small children,” Hoseok said simply.
“He’s not related to you?”
“No. Not by blood. My father took him in when he was young.”
“Ah, so he’s more like your brother, then?” she draped her arms more over his shoulders and Hoseok’s gaze flickered back to Yoongi, who had a tiny little smirk on his face as if he found Hoseok’s situation amusing. Hoseok made a face at him and Yoongi seemed to laugh, but Hoseok thought he had some other emotion in his eyes. Something sadder. Little did Yoongi know (or perhaps he did know), Hoseok would much rather he dancing with him instead.
“Uh,” Hoseok took a moment to think of what to say. “No, he’s not really like a brother. It’s…something else.”
“Ah. Well, if he’s important to you, I’d like to get to know him as well, if you’d let me?”
Hoseok shrugged his shoulders. He did not really want Mishil trying to get close to Yoongi, and he was sure Yoongi wouldn’t want that either. “He might be leaving soon. He travels.”
“Ah. I can have you to myself then,” she said with a little smile, which Hoseok returned, even though his stomach was twisted up and he felt guilt begin to wash over him. It wasn’t even because he’d slept with Yoongi the night before necessarily. It was more because upon sleeping with Yoongi, Hoseok realized there might have never been a chance for him and Mishil. He didn’t think he would ever truly love her as a wife. Not because of the person she was, but because…of the person he was.
The song ended and another began to play, but Hoseok stepped away, swaying a bit for effect. “I’m not feeling so well,” he said softly. “Excuse me.”
“Oh. Yes, okay.” she nodded, watched him slink away back to the table with the food. He could feel Yoongi’s eyes follow him as well. Before Yoongi could meet him at the table though, Jimin was suddenly at Hoseok’s side with a glass of something that was definitely actual alcohol.
“Congrats,” he said. “Where’d you and Yoongi run off to last night?”
“What? We just came back here.”
“And then what?”
Jimin had his eyebrows raised and a suggestive look on his face, but Hoseok just scowled at him, searched the room for Yoongi, but he wasn’t where he had been a moment ago. Instead, Hoseok spotted Seokjin talking with Dawon, and then Namjoon a few feet away against the back wall, watching them. Or rather, watching Seokjin, it seemed.
“That was all,” Hoseok finally answered. “We came back and I went to sleep.”
“Wanna know a secret?”
“Not really, Jimin,” Hoseok muttered, but Jimin didn’t seem keen on taking no for an answer.
“Too bad. You remember Taehyung? Who served us drinks last night?” Jimin asked, leaning against the table and nearly knocking off a plate of pastries. “I brought him back here.”
“What? Why’d you do that? Are you drunk?”
Jimin shook his head and his eyes drifted somewhere further in the room, but he didn’t seem focused on anything in particular. “He told me he was from Daegu, originally. His family, anyway. They were wealthy, but when Daegu was overthrown and became part of Gwangju, they pretended not to have any money or power so they would live. Pretty shitty story, huh? Kinda like Yoongi’s. Oh, don’t look at me like that, we all know where Yoongi came from.” Jimin sighed, closed his eyes for a moment like he was tired. “Anyway. I brought him back for sex. I had sex with him.”
Hoseok blinked, felt like his voice was lost somewhere in his throat. So he didn’t say anything at all, just stared at Jimin, who must have been drunk, even if he didn’t seem it. There was no way he would be telling Hoseok this otherwise, not in a room full of people.
After a long moment, neither of them speaking, Jimin stood up straight again and gave Hoseok a pinched smile. “Anyway,” he said with a shrug. “You’re going to be king soon. I saw your father coughing up blood during the ceremony. Kings can have anything they want.”
And with that, Jimin walked away, and Hoseok felt like his hands were shaking. No, his hands were shaking. His hands were shaking and he wanted nothing more than for the night to be over. For his father to get well. Matter of fact, Hoseok wished he had an older brother, so he would never have to take the throne. So he could leave, go somewhere where the grass was greener. Where his every move was not watched, where court politics did not exist and he did not have to marry a woman he couldn’t bring himself to love.
A part of Hoseok, deep down, wished he and Yoongi hadn’t kissed, hadn’t slept together, because now they had a taste and Hoseok didn’t want to give it up—didn’t think Yoongi would either. Something Hoseok had always wanted was to be more like his mother, to build his reign after hers, if he had to have a reign at all. Everyone had loved her for her kindness and her honesty. She was the one the people had looked to, had gone to. His father was a good king, but his mother was a better queen. He didn’t think his father would have been the king he had been were it not for his queen.
But now Hoseok had started himself down a path that was nothing like that. His marriage had begun with dishonestly, and lies, and he knew there would be consequences.
Furthermore, Seokjin’s words of a prophecy had not gone unheard. Hoseok may not believe in magic, or seers, but it was…ominous, nonetheless.
Everything considered aside, Hoseok still found himself striding back across the ballroom, past Mishil, past the noblemen and their sons and anyone else who he should have surely been sucking up to. He only stopped when he reached Dawon and Seokjin, who were still talking quietly to each other. When he stopped in front of them, they both fell silent.
“Talking about me?” he asked.
“Perhaps,” Dawon replied, sarcasm thick in her tone. “Why are you not with your bride?”
“I’m drunk,” Hoseok announced, and Dawon snorted, shook her head in amusement. “Don’t laugh.”
“You are certainly not drunk, brother.”
“I am. Make sure everyone knows…or…the people that need to know, that the consummation ceremony won’t be happening tonight,” Hoseok said. “I’m going to my chambers.”
“Are you sure you want to do that?” Seokjin asked calmly. “There are a lot of insinuations that come with that. Rumors will begin.”
“Rumors like what? That I can’t get it up? That my dick is small? I quite frankly don’t care, Seokjin. Why are you even here, I don’t recall you being invited to my wedding,” Hoseok snapped, but Seokjin just smiled a sad little smile and raised his glass, took a sip, as if that were answer enough. “My dick isn’t small. I don’t care what people say.”
“Can you please refrain from speaking about your dick in front of me?” Dawon muttered. “Never mind, I’m going to find food. Don’t kill each other.”
As soon as Dawon was gone, Hoseok straightened his posture a bit more, even though it didn’t make him quite as tall as Seokjin. “So. Why’re you here?”
“I was hoping to find Yoongi,” Seokjin stated. “I saw him a moment ago, but it seems he’s slipped away.”
“What did you want to tell him? I’ll tell him for you.”
“Yoongi is my friend,” Seokjin reminded him. Hoseok just scoffed, and Seokjin rolled his eyes, looked beyond Hoseok, probably back at Mishil. “That being said,” Seokjin continued, without making much eye contact. “I care about Yoongi, I really do. Although, I don’t know that his presence here at the palace is…the best thing.”
“You should choose your words carefully,” Hoseok said.
“Mm. I…I suppose it’s just that…” Seokjin took a deep breath, finally looked back at Hoseok with a frown. “The vision I had…I have reason to believe Yoongi may…have a role to play in your death.”
“Are you implying Yoongi is going to kill me,” Hoseok hissed, barely managing to keep from shouting.
“No. Not necessarily. He may not be the one to wield the blade, so to speak, but…would you die for him?” Seokjin’s words lingered in the air between them, heavy for how casually Seokjin had spoken them. His next words, though, were softer, with more emotion behind them. “Because I know he would die for you, Hoseok.”
Hoseok did not stick around to continue his conversation with Seokjin. Nor did he stick around to find out if his sister had for sure gotten him out of the consummation ceremony. It didn’t matter either way, he was not going to do it, and the fact that he had left the reception was enough to insinuate he was going to be participating in anything else for the evening.
The walk back to his chambers felt long, though, even though he was completely sober. Maybe it was his sore limbs (or ass, frankly) or maybe it was the past two days catching up to him all at once. It would be nice to go back to the moment when he and Yoongi were eating sweets at that little old lady’s home. That was easy, the rest of life was not.
Hoseok was half tempted to go see his father, go check on him, but he couldn’t bring himself to. A nagging voice in the back of his mind reminded him that any night now could be his father’s last. That Hoseok could wake up tomorrow without a father. Without any parent. But considering the fact he ignored the voice in the back of his mind, he supposed he had resigned himself to the fact he would soon be parentless.
His chambers were unguarded when he got there, as most of the guards were near the ballroom or outside the palace, so Hoseok was able to slip inside unnoticed. The room was dark, it was late, and only a few candles were lit in the room, leaving the corners in shadow.
With a sigh, Hoseok shrugged off the jewel adorned jacket he had been wearing. It clattered when it hit the floor, as did his shoes when he kicked them off and across the room. Next went the jewelry he wore, rings and a necklace, as well as one bracelet that was leaving marks around his wrist. He walked to his desk and tossed them down onto it before he leaned over and took a deep breath, tried to calm his nerves. It felt like he stood there for a long time, so long that he didn’t even jump when he felt a hand against his back, didn’t flinch away or feel scared at all when arms enveloped him from behind and lips pressed against the back of his neck.
“I wasn’t sure you’d come,” Yoongi whispered, but Hoseok could still hear Seokjin’s words echoing in his head. He tried to push them away. Pushed and shoved them down until his ears were ringing and Yoongi’s lips on his neck felt like fire. “I’m glad you did.”
“Yeah I—” Hoseok’s voice cracked and he cleared his throat. “I needed to be with you. I want to be with you.”
He turned around and Yoongi smiled, but there was definitely sadness in his eyes. “I want to be with you, too,” Yoongi replied softly. “You—You’ve got me, Seok.”
Hoseok cupped Yoongi’s cheeks, then brushed a hand through his hair. The room was so quiet, so different from the crowded ballroom. So much safer, and yet so much more dangerous.
And in that moment, when Hoseok leaned in and kissed Yoongi—when their lips connected—Hoseok knew. Hoseok knew, wrapped in Yoongi’s embrace and Yoongi wrapped in his, that his fate was sealed. With a kiss, a touch, whispered words of intimacy, Jung Hoseok had undeniably sealed his fate.
Chapter 2: Yoongi
FINALLY here is part two, sorry for the wait ;)
i don't want to spoil anything, so for that purpose i'll say this: warnings for a plot twist. and then another plot twist. sort of. you'll see.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
As a child, Yoongi knew he was born into importance. His family had nice things, and their home was large, grand. So large in fact, that when he was very young, he could easily get lost in the winding, never-ending hallways. However, he also knew he was not as important as his older brother, considering he was often told to stay out of the way. Sometimes, it felt as if his family were hiding him away. Although his memories of his past were foggy and not necessarily the best, Yoongi did miss his family at times.
More than that, he missed the feeling of at least having a home.
Hoseok’s father may have taken Yoongi in and treated him well, but he was still the one who had caused the death of the rest of Yoongi’s family, so Yoongi could never see him as father. Nor could he see Gwangju as a home.
However, Hoseok did feel like home.
No matter where they were, Yoongi knew he had a home in Hoseok. The beginnings had been rocky, perhaps they’d jumped into things too quickly, but Yoongi never wanted to take things slow. He’d been in love with Hoseok for far too long, and with the lives they led, he felt as if every moment was precious. They shouldn’t waste time.
And he supposed they didn’t. Did they argue sometimes? Sure. But they had arguments when they were best friends. The difference now, Yoongi supposed, was that there was a third factor in their relationship, that being Hoseok’s wife. Or, maybe it was just the fact that Hoseok was King. Nothing in life was perfect though, no matter who they were, so Yoongi learned to consider each moment they had together as precious.
And in the five years since Hoseok’s wedding and soon-after coronation, there had been lots of precious moments.
Some of Yoongi’s favorites were when he got to wake up with Hoseok. Even better when he woke up first, could brush Hoseok’s hair through his fingers and curl up closer to him, just appreciate being next to him. Moments like that weren’t exactly rare for them, Hoseok kept his own chambers and Yoongi could easily access them thanks to the secret tunnels, but they were still special.
Like in the current moment, sunlight spilling in from the balcony, where the doors were open, letting in a slight breeze and plenty of comfortable warmth. Everything was quiet, save for Hoseok’s gentle breathing. Oftentimes, Hoseok slept longer than Yoongi did, the opposite of how things were when they were younger, but Hoseok was busy now. He was up late some nights, hunched over a desk or having dinner with important people, or sitting in his throne room listening to complaints and concerns from his people. Or he was traveling, when other rulers couldn’t come to him. He was making trade deals and treaties and trying his hardest to keep the peace.
So in the evenings, or in the dead of night, when his crown finally came off, Yoongi made sure to let him sleep for as long as he needed, or for as long as he could.
That morning in particular, Yoongi knew Hoseok could sleep for as long as he’d like, since he didn’t have any engagements that day and they were away from the palace. The best part was that they were away from the palace not on business, but rather for pleasure, since Hoseok had just delivered grain to some of the villagers in a nearby town and had a few days to relax.
They were in an area that was once part of Daegu, Yoongi knew that, and when Hoseok was crowned King, he had a smaller estate built on some open land. Hoseok considered it a palace, although it was not nearly as big as the main palace where they grew up. However, Yoongi much preferred the one Hoseok had built, and not just because Hoseok granted it to Yoongi, gave him title and land and such a large estate. Yoongi preferred it because it was quiet, and they could escape to it when they needed to.
Here, they didn’t have to worry about servants or guards or noble’s or Hoseok’s wife. Not to mention Hoseok’s sister, or Seokjin, who over the years had grown distant, likely by Hoseok’s orders, considering the way they interacted with each other and the fact that after Hoseok was crowned, Seokjin left the palace for over two years. He only returned at Dawon’s request, but he and Yoongi were hardly the friends they used to be.
So there had been many ups and downs.
One of the ups, at least for Yoongi anyway, was that Hoseok had yet to have an heir with his wife. The queen, Yoongi had to remind himself. The truth was that she wasn’t a bad person. She was quite kind, in fact, at least in the earlier years. She tried even to be Yoongi’s friend, since he was Hoseok’s best friend, but over time, perhaps she grew tired of Hoseok spending his time with Yoongi instead of her, so she stopped trying so hard. That was fine with Yoongi. Besides, as far as he saw, Hoseok and Mishil got along. At least in public. Hoseok didn’t talk about what happened with her behind closed doors, but Yoongi knew it couldn’t be much, because she’d never fallen pregnant.
The topic was talked about a lot at the palace, and even by the townspeople. They all wondered why there was not yet an heir. The little old lady Yoongi often still visited in the village, who was somehow still alive and kicking, even asked him why there was no heir. Yoongi never had a solid answer.
Although he knew why. He was why.
Hoseok almost always spent the night with him, not with his wife. They still had separate chambers, and the room they were meant to share was collecting dust. The few nights Hoseok was with her, Yoongi was almost certain never amounted to anything. And though that could not have been good for Hoseok’s reputation, nor was it good that he did yet not have an heir, Yoongi couldn’t help but be a bit selfishly glad. He loved Hoseok, after all, no matter if he were King or not. And Hoseok loved him. That’s what mattered most.
They were happy.
Perhaps happiness should not have been the King’s top priority, but Yoongi believed it’s what made Hoseok a good king in the first place. A happy king meant happy subjects. Or something like that.
And although there was no heir, there was a child. Not Hoseok’s, nor Yoongi’s, of course. A year or so after Hoseok became King, one of the kitchen workers had a child, and died during childbirth. Yoongi was unsurprised when Hoseok took in the child, as he knew Hoseok liked children, and the baby boy apparently had no father willing to take him. Mishil had not been happy about it, but Yoongi secretly was. It made it feel like he and Hoseok had their own little family.
The boy, Jungkook, would never be the heir, would never have the throne, but he would have someone who loved him and that was what really mattered.
As the sun rose higher in the sky, and the room became more illuminated, Hoseok began to stir next to Yoongi, his eyes barely opening and then closing again before he hooked a leg over Yoongi and hid his face in Yoongi’s side. Yoongi didn’t say anything yet, instead opting to card his hand through Hoseok’s hair and down over his back, where his skin was soft and smooth, despite the fact that Yoongi may have caused some fingernail indentations the night before.
“I don’t want to get out of bed,” Hoseok mumbled.
“We don’t have to today,” Yoongi reminded him. “We could spend all day in bed if you want to. It’s just us here.” Hoseok hummed, lifted his head and smiled a sleepy smile at Yoongi. “Jungkook is with the nanny’s back at the palace. Probably giving them a hard time, but they’ll manage. No guards inside here. No servants. Just you and me.”
“I know. It’s great,” Hoseok whispered, and then he kissed Yoongi softly on the lips, his hand finding Yoongi’s and their fingers tangling together. “It was great last night especially.”
“I know. You were fucking loud,” Yoongi replied with a chuckle.
“You loved it.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
They kissed for a long time, Yoongi had learned Hoseok loved kissing, sometimes he would bring Yoongi into empty rooms in the palace just to kiss him at random times throughout the day. Risky, maybe, but Yoongi never complained. Hoseok knew his palace better than anyone else.
Hoseok probably knew Yoongi better than anyone else, too. Yoongi liked to think he knew Hoseok best too, but maybe he didn’t know everything. Part of him liked that there were still things to learn about Hoseok. And Hoseok didn’t lie to him, always looked at Yoongi like he was the most important person in his life. Yoongi knew, even if he didn’t fully have Hoseok cracked yet, that Hoseok loved him.
He was annoying as hell, maybe, too, but Yoongi didn’t mind. Didn’t mind Hoseok telling him how cute he was over and over, didn’t mind him tapping his finger on Yoongi’s nose, or tracing his fingers over Yoongi’s body so lightly that it tickled. Nor did Yoongi mind when Hoseok took his cock into his mouth and bobbed his head, his lips red and slick with spit and his eyes watery with unfallen tears. Somehow Hoseok’s eyes still managed to hold a hint of mischief, of excitement, and it made Yoongi’s stomach feel all fluttery. At the beginning, Hoseok had been somewhat nervous, but his confidence had since skyrocketed, and he was always keen on voicing what he wanted. Of course, Yoongi was always happy to give it to him.
Happy to tangle his fingers in Hoseok’s hair, happy to let Hoseok do the same to him. Even happier to fuck him slow all morning since they had all the time they needed. Sex with Hoseok was decidedly better than sex ever had been with anyone else before him. It definitely exceeded any expectations Yoongi had had over the years he’d spent pining (and admittedly fantasizing—fantasies he had since told Hoseok about, and mostly fulfilled).
There was just something about the way Hoseok looked him right in the eye when he was fucking Yoongi, something about the way he would kiss him right before they came. And there was something about how loud Hoseok got when Yoongi was the one doing the fucking. Something about the way Hoseok could bend, something about the fluidity of his body, his lean muscle and long legs.
One of Yoongi’s favorite games was seeing how loud he could get Hoseok to be. Undoubtedly, it was satisfying to know he could take apart a king. That Hoseok was his, and he was Hoseok’s. When they were together, formalities fell away, but they were still there, underlying and sometimes glaring. But sometimes exciting too.
“Are you ready?” Yoongi whispered, his hand smoothing down Hoseok’s back, causing it to arch deeper. Hoseok glanced over his shoulder, lifting his head from where it rested down in the sheets. He pushed his ass higher and spread his legs farther apart before giving Yoongi a particularly dirty look that made Yoongi laugh. “Sexy.”
“You know I’m ready, Yoongi.”
“Well I wanted to make sure, your Majesty,” Yoongi teased, to which Hoseok gave him an even dirtier look. Not that it lasted very long, since Yoongi pushed into him, hands gripping Hoseok’s ass to prevent him from pushing back and taking Yoongi all at once. He liked to do that, liked to work himself back on Yoongi’s cock until he came, but Yoongi wanted things to last. Or maybe he just wanted to tease.
He wanted to fluster Hoseok just a little. Perhaps that was another of their games. Not a hard one, however, because Hoseok was easily flustered by praise. It made his cheeks darken and he would hide his face in the sheets. And of course, he would get loud. As he did when Yoongi pushed further into him, all the way in, and then began the slow in and out drag of fucking him.
“Yeah fuck.” Hoseok’s voice was raspy, thick still from having just woken up. “Fuck me.”
“You know it does.”
“I do, but I still like when you tell me.”
Although, even in the position they were in, even when Yoongi gripped the flesh of Hoseok’s ass hard enough to leave marks, even when they were both moaning, muttering filth, Yoongi was pretty sure what they were doing was making love. Because when it was over, Yoongi got to see the look of content on Hoseok’s face. On his best friend’s face. He got to lie next to a man he would gladly give his life for, a man who would hold his hand so tightly it hurt a bit, but the ache was good.
They’d never have everything, Yoongi knew that. But they had each other. Surely, that was enough.
“What do you think? I know he’s an asshole but being on his good side is certainly a plus. Besides, he’s incredibly old by now and I’m hoping once he drops, I could give his properties to Jungkook, since there’s no children in the picture to inherit the land or title. Or at least, give them to him when he’s older.”
“Hold my hand.”
Hoseok laughed, the sound somehow impossibly brighter than the sun that was high in the sky, joined by big white clouds and a blue sky. The gardens on the property they were staying at had once been scarce, but Yoongi was determined to make the place as beautiful—no, more beautiful, than the palace in the heart of Gwangju where they grew up. He was determined to make it their home. So now, flowers and green grass sprawled around the estate.
There were guards, there were always guards, but they were somewhere far away on the edges of the land to make sure no one entered who shouldn’t. But Hoseok made sure they were far enough away to give them their privacy, to give them to illusion that it was just the two of them (occasionally three, as sometimes they brought Jungkook along too, when they could).
And so they could lie out in the grass together, hands intertwined, and it felt like the world had stopped for them. Hoseok was not the king, he was just Hoseok. Yoongi loved all parts of Hoseok, but he loved him best when he was lying in the grass, hair messy and a little tangled, skin glowing under the sun, dressed in a simple billowy white shirt that was just see through enough for the marks Yoongi had made on him to be visible.
“Have you heard anything I’ve said?” Hoseok asked with an amused little smile. He rolled onto his stomach and shifted closer to Yoongi, holding Yoongi’s hand over Yoongi’s chest.
“Yes. You know how I feel about court politics,” Yoongi replied. “I think you should do what feels right, but I don’t think you should sacrifice any of your beliefs for it.”
“Well I am older than you.”
Hoseok rolled his eyes, then leaned in a kissed Yoongi on the nose, his eyes sparkly when he pulled away. Yoongi could feel the blush on his own cheeks, but it was welcome. “You aren’t that much older.”
“I still have much more life experience. That’s what makes me so wise,” Yoongi insisted, which only made Hoseok roll his eyes again. “Not to mention, I have a tragic backstory too. And I’m in a forbidden romance with a king.”
“Oh, are you? I had no idea,” Hoseok said, tone laced with obvious sarcasm. “He must be very handsome.”
“He is,” Yoongi confirmed, releasing Hoseok’s hand only to pull him completely on top, arms encircling Hoseok’s waist. “Pretty and handsome.”
“I love you so much,” Hoseok whispered. The wind almost carried his voice away, but Yoongi still caught the words, definitely caught Hoseok’s expression when he said them. There was something sad in his eyes, and it wasn’t the first time Yoongi had seen it. He’d seen it many times over the years, often in moments when it was just the two of them. Often in the good moments, never the bad. Like Hoseok was thinking about some future where they weren’t together, and he was missing them.
But Yoongi usually didn’t ask. He wasn’t sure knowing what troubled Hoseok would benefit either of them. Once, when Hoseok was drunk, Yoongi asked him why he looked so sad, and all Hoseok had said was, “I don’t want this to end.”
Hoseok was not drunk now. He was sober and they were happy, so why did Hoseok look so sad?
Yoongi cupped Hoseok’s cheek, smoothed a thumb over his cheekbone and over the crease between his brows. “What’s wrong?” Yoongi asked softly. “I’m here.” But Hoseok didn’t respond, just closed his eyes and made himself comfortable again next to Yoongi, his head resting on his palm. Dark hair shadowed his eyes, but Yoongi knew Hoseok too well to let him get away with not answering the question. “Baby.”
“Baby,” Hoseok repeated, lips quirking up.
“Tell me what’s wrong.”
“Nothing’s wrong,” Hoseok finally answered. “I’m here.”
“I know you’re here. But something is on your mind. You can tell me what it is. Is it King duties? Was it the forbidden romance comment? I was only joking,” Yoongi rambled, but Hoseok just shook his head. “You can tell me anything.”
“Anything?” Hoseok asked.
“I just…I worry sometimes about what’s going to happen when I’m gone,” Hoseok said, although his voice was flat, like there wasn’t any emotion behind the statement.
“Gone? Seok, you aren’t even thirty yet. You aren’t going anywhere.”
“Someone could kill me. I could get sick like my father did. Or poisoned like my mother. You don’t know, I could be dead tomorrow.” The words spilled out of Hoseok’s mouth and Yoongi felt like the air had shifted. He sat up abruptly and rubbed his eyes.
“Don’t say things like that. You aren’t going to die, Hoseok.”
“But if I did—”
“You won’t. Stop it.”
“This is why I didn’t want to say anything.”
“There’s just nothing to say. You aren’t going to die. Everyone loves you, Hoseok. I love you. You aren’t going anywhere,” Yoongi said firmly, before he pulled Hoseok into a sitting position with him and carded his hands through Hoseok’s hair and brought him into a chaste kiss. Yoongi knew, deep down, that he should allow Hoseok to voice his concerns, that oftentimes king’s did die young. But Yoongi’s fear of losing loved ones took over. He didn’t even want to consider the fact that he could one day be without Hoseok.
He’d already lost everyone else, after all. Hoseok was all he had.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Hoseok said against Yoongi’s lips. “I won’t leave you.”
Yoongi knew though that Hoseok was saying that to reassure him, not necessarily because he believed it was true.
They didn’t talk about anything like that again for the rest of the day though. Instead, they explored the garden, had dinner together, did all the things that made them feel normal. Maybe they held hands a little tighter, but that was just because they liked it that way.
“I don’t like the horses!”
“Since when? I thought you wanted to learn to ride?”
“No! Papa, I don’t like them! I don’t wanna go!” Jungkook started tugging on Yoongi’s arm, pulling him in the opposite direction of the stables. His feet dug into the dirt, and Yoongi knew his shoes would be dirty later and Hoseok would be upset, but Jungkook basically made it his daily mission to get dirty. There was just no stopping it. “I wanna go see Daddy! Daddy won’t make me ride the horses!”
“Well you told him you wanted to ride them,” Yoongi said, crouching down to get on Jungkook’s level. “Besides, he’s busy right now, he’s in a meeting with lots of important people.”
“I’m i—impor…important,” Jungkook stuttered, crossing his arms over his chest and pouting. It was funny how much his little pout looked like Hoseok’s frustrated pout, considering the two of them shared no blood relation.
“Yes, you are very important,” Yoongi agreed. “But you know Hoseok is quite busy and he’ll spend some time with you later.”
“Fine. No horses.”
“Wanna go swimming,” Jungkook announced. “Can we go swimming, Papa?”
Yoongi sighed, stood up and looked around the grounds. They were really the only ones around, only some of the court ladies and such roaming around in the distant gardens. But there certainly was not absolute privacy, which made things increasingly risky for Jungkook to be calling Yoongi ‘Papa’, when he also referred to Hoseok as if he were his father. Jungkook never referred to Mishil as a mother, and Yoongi knew he didn’t even think of her as a mother figure. She never paid him any attention, didn’t love or care about him. Yoongi and Hoseok did.
“I don’t think we should go swimming today,” Yoongi said after a moment’s consideration. “Why don’t we go inside and play a game? Cards? Or we could draw? Don’t you enjoy drawing?”
“As long as I don’t have to play with any of the other boys,” Jungkook said softly. “Just with you, Papa. The other boys are mean to me.”
Yoongi knew he meant the younger sons of noblemen, knew they told Jungkook he wasn’t really Hoseok’s son because that’s what their fathers told them. They probably said worse things, too, and Yoongi was certain there was nothing he could do to fix it, and it pained him, but he hoped Jungkook knew he was loved, nonetheless.
“Yes, that’s fine, it can just be us.”
Yoongi held out his hand and Jungkook took it, skipped along next to him as they made their way back towards the palace. About halfway, however, Jungkook stopped again and pulled on Yoongi’s arm. “I’m hungry!”
“We can eat inside.”
“Wanna go to the market!”
“Kook, I took you to the market last week.”
“Daddy said you can take me again! He said you would!”
“Godammit Hoseok,” Yoongi muttered, even though he honestly loved every second he got to spend with Jungkook, so he wasn’t even really mad. Which was probably why, after going inside to get some money from Hoseok’s room (Hoseok never minded), Yoongi found himself walking through the streets of town with Jungkook gripping his hand, eyes wide and curious.
Yoongi wished Hoseok were with them, sometimes he did come, but typically it was too risky to go out. Not everyone would recognize him, but at the closest town, almost everyone knew what the King looked like, and seeing him with an unwed man and a young boy that was not his son would be strange. There were already rumors, Yoongi knew that.
Jungkook tugged Yoongi into a small tavern, but since the sun was still high in the sky, it didn’t appear alcohol was being served inside. Just food, which was probably what caught Jungkook’s attention. It smelled good, that much was certain. It wouldn’t be anything like what they could get in the palace, but maybe that was the appeal. It wasn’t fancy or pristine, it was just ordinary. Sometimes ordinary was needed. And Jungkook would really eat anything.
So, Yoongi let himself be led inside and sat Jungkook at one of the empty communal tables before he went up to the counter and asked the owner for two plates of what they were serving that day. When he joined Jungkook back at the table, there was a woman there too, older than Yoongi was, smiling at Jungkook. Yoongi sat down and Jungkook bounced on his knees, sitting on them to make himself taller.
“Is this your son?” the woman asked. “He’s just adorable.”
“Um. Yes, I’m his father,” Yoongi said, murmuring at Jungkook to stop bouncing, but he didn’t listen.
“This is Papa!” Jungkook announced. “We live that way.” He pointed in the direction of the palace. Yoongi knew their clothes gave away the fact that they were not peasants, and the earrings Yoongi wore were clearly expensive, so there wasn’t much point in denying it if the woman asked if they had money.
“I live that way,” the woman said, pointing the other way.
“Do you live in a palace too?”
“Not everyone lives in a palace, Kook,” Yoongi said. “My apologies. He just says whatever comes to mind.”
“My boys were like that too when they were young,” the woman said, waving her hand in the air. “Ain’t nothin’ to worry about. You live in the palace?”
“For now. My cousin is someone important from somewhere, so we’re staying there for now, while we’re traveling,” Yoongi lied. He was used to lying.
“Have you met the king?”
Yoongi shrugged. “He’s a busy man.”
The owner of the little tavern dropped their food off at the table, along with the woman’s (she must have been a regular). Jungkook started eating instantly, as if he was starving, even though Yoongi knew he ate earlier that morning.
“I ain’t one to say somethin’ bad about the king, but there are so many stories. It’s hard to know what t’ think, ain’t it?” she muttered, and Yoongi picked at the bread in front of him. “I mean, it just don’t make sense as to why there’s no heir yet. You heard the rumors he’s got a preference for men?”
Yoongi coughed, shook his head. Jungkook didn’t seem to be paying attention anymore, but he patted Yoongi absently on the arm as he caught his breath. “Don’t choke, Papa,” he said softly.
“I haven’t heard that, no,” Yoongi finally managed to say.
“I heard he’s sleepin’ with his half-brother.”
“Half-brother? He doesn’t have a half-brother. Just a sister.”
“Well some man he grew up with or something. I dunno the details, maybe they ain’t really related. Don’t change the fact he might be—”
“Maybe this isn’t the best conversation to have in front of my son,” Yoongi said quickly, trying to keep his tone polite, but firm too. Jungkook looked between the two of them, and then went back to eating. “I’m sure the king is a good man.”
“Ain’t never said he wasn’t.”
The woman shrugged, but she didn’t say anything else while they ate. Yoongi gave some of his food to Jungkook, because he wasn’t very hungry. He knew people talked, it would be impossible to keep people from spreading outrageous rumors, no matter how good of a person someone was. He just didn’t know people thought he was actually Hoseok’s half-brother. Nor did he know there was such a prevalent rumor about them being involved. Although, he shouldn’t have been surprised. It shouldn’t have been surprising.
Yoongi was glad when the woman left, and when Jungkook finished his food so they could leave. The walk back to the palace grounds was long, and Yoongi had to carry Jungkook half the way because he got tired. He was starting to get too heavy to carry around, but Yoongi didn’t complain too much, didn’t even care about his sore legs when they finally arrived back.
Of course, once they were back, Jungkook was magically not tired anymore, and instantly started running towards the throne room in hopes of finding Hoseok. He was too fast for Yoongi to catch, so Yoongi just followed after him, catching Seokjin’s eye in the long hallway that led to the throne room. They didn’t exchange any words, Seokjin simply nodded in acknowledgement. Yoongi nodded back, then picked up his pace just a little bit so they wouldn’t have to make awkward eye contact for longer than necessary.
In the throne room, Yoongi found Hoseok standing with his arms folded as he spoke with an older man, perhaps one of the noblemen. There was a crease between Hoseok’s brow, and when Jungkook reached him, Yoongi knew it was too late to warn Jungkook that now was a bad time. Not that Jungkook would have understood anyway. Which was why he eagerly tugged on the cape Hoseok wore, and then tried to duck under the cape to tug on Hoseok’s pant leg or arm.
There was a pause in whatever Hoseok was saying, but a moment later he was speaking again, and the nobleman he was speaking to glanced at Yoongi, and then behind Hoseok, where Yoongi noticed Mishil for the first time, sitting at her throne. The room definitely shifted as Yoongi walked in. Jungkook didn’t say anything else, but he stayed right next to Hoseok, and even though Hoseok’s cape was hiding him from Yoongi’s view now, Yoongi knew Jungkook was looking up at Hoseok with wide eyes, waiting for a good moment to get his attention.
“I’m sorry,” Mishil said suddenly, her voice startlingly loud compared to Hoseok’s softer, yet clearly firm, tone. “I thought this was a private conversation.”
Hoseok glanced back at Yoongi, the crown on his head glinting as he turned. “Could you take Jungkook to his chambers, Yoongi?”
“Have one of the nanny’s watch him,” Mishil said. “There’s a painting in our chambers that needs hung, perhaps you could do it, Yoongi?”
“I’m certain I won’t,” Yoongi muttered. “Jungkook, let’s go to your room, okay? We can play a game?”
Jungkook shook his head, reached and grabbed the edge of Hoseok’s sleeve. “It’s fine, I don’t mind continuing our conversation with them here,” the nobleman said. “It’s not as if they’re anyone important, after all.”
Yoongi gritted his teeth, walked around the room until he stood to the side of the throne platform. Hoseok was watching him from the corner of his eye, as if to see what Yoongi was going to do next. Only, Yoongi just leaned against the wall and crossed his arms over his chest. He knew it didn’t make any sense for him to stay in the room as Jungkook was not technically his child so he didn’t have to watch him, but he didn’t want to leave him alone in the throne room if Hoseok was too distracted.
“As I was saying,” Hoseok said after another tense moment. “The lands you’re inquiring about already belong to someone else. So those are not up for negotiation. But I can find lands somewhere else.”
“I had my sights set on the—”
“I can’t do anything about that,” Hoseok said sharply, and it made Yoongi’s eyebrows raise. Hoseok was usually calm when doing business as King. Yoongi rarely saw him raise his voice, although he did often shout after the fact, while the two of them were alone. Yoongi didn’t mind listening to Hoseok rant about how much of a dick everyone was, especially considering Yoongi very much agreed pretty much always.
“You are aware how important my support is, aren’t you?”
“We are,” Mishil interrupted. “My husband is just stubborn. I’m sure the lands you want can be yours if—”
“They can’t,” Hoseok repeated. “I won’t give away those lands, I don’t care what you tell the other council members. I’m King and I think I’ve made it clear since my coronation that I won’t tolerate blackmail or threats from anyone, especially not from someone who is blatantly withholding resources from the kingdom when there are people in the villages who could be starving or freezing.”
“Who owns the lands I want?”
“I asked who owns them. Perhaps he is a more reasonable man.”
Jungkook’s eyes were still wide, but now Hoseok was holding Jungkook’s hand, maybe a bit too tight. Yoongi pushed off the wall and walked to Hoseok’s side, crouched down next to Jungkook and patted him gently on the back, trying to get him to come without causing anymore of a scene. Of course, Jungkook wanted Hoseok now, and so he didn’t let go of his hand.
“I’ll figure out whose lands they are,” Mishil said. “They’re in the territory that was once Daegu, yes?”
Yoongi felt his stomach dip. “They belong to Yoongi,” Hoseok said in monotone, as Yoongi suspected he would. “And they are not ever going to be yours.”
“No!” Hoseok didn’t sound angry so much as he did upset, and Yoongi didn’t mean to, but he stood ad placed his hand on Hoseok’s back. He knew how it must have looked, but he could tell Hoseok was frustrated and Jungkook was upset and sometimes being nobody was hard, because he just wanted to help. “I think we’re done here.”
“Hoseok,” Mishil gave him a very pointed look, but Hoseok shifted away from her.
“You can leave too, dear,” he said. And for a moment it looked like she was going to stay, but finally she huffed out a frustrated breath of air and was gone. Hoseok turned away from the nobleman, and Yoongi watched him leave too. But it was still minutes later before any of them spoke. Hoseok walked to his throne, seemed too decide against it, then leaned against the wall before he slid to the floor. Jungkook hurried over and sat next to him, wrapped his arms around Hoseok as best he could.
“Don’t be sad,” he whispered. “Papa, tell Daddy not to be sad.”
“I don’t think he’s sad, Kook,” Yoongi whispered back, then sat down across from them. Hoseok looked up and gave Yoongi a weak smile. “Just tired.”
“I’m tired too,” Jungkook said.
“Oh yeah? What did you two do today?” Hoseok put his arm around Jungkook, and Yoongi could see him relax, could see some of the light come back into his eyes.
“Papa took me to town and we got food!” Jungkook announced. “I didn’t wanna ride horses today.”
“That sounds lovely, I’m sorry I couldn’t go.”
“’S okay. We missed you, but ’s okay.”
Yoongi smiled at Hoseok, and Hoseok smiled back softly. He didn’t move, didn’t reach to take Yoongi’s hand, but that was okay. Yoongi knew they could talk, touch, later, when they had more privacy. There was no reason to worry too much about the land in the current moment. Yoongi was pretty sure Hoseok would protect what had become their safe place, but at the end of the day, Yoongi didn’t want to complicate things for Hoseok.
They’d figure it out.
One Month Later
“The cake that was served earlier was horrible, was it supposed to taste like that?”
The door to the secret passageways closed with a soft thud behind Hoseok, who just shrugged one shoulder before hopping onto the bed next to Yoongi. His hair was slightly damp, so Yoongi knew he’d just bathed. That, or he had just tried giving Jungkook a bath and had gotten inevitably soaked in the process. But Jungkook had seemed pretty tired earlier, so it was probably Hoseok who had bathed. Yoongi kissed his cheek quickly before settling against him.
“I think the cake was meant to taste like that,” Hoseok answered. “Mishil likes things that taste floral. The wedding cake was like that.”
“I didn’t eat your wedding cake.”
“I was saving my appetite for you.”
“If that’s supposed to be dirty talk, I’m not so sure it’s working,” Hoseok said with a chuckle.
“Well I tried. It’s hard to be in the mood anyway after several hours of celebrating your wife’s birthday,” Yoongi muttered. “Especially when she insists on having horrible cake.”
“It wasn’t that bad. She’s been…tolerable, lately. Which might be suspicious, but I’ve never thought her to be a bad person, Yoongi, you know that. She didn’t ask for this marriage.”
“That’s not what I meant too imply. I just thought the cake was bad. That’s all.” Yoongi placed a hand on Hoseok’s thigh and squeezed. After a moment, Hoseok’s hand overlapped his. “You don’t think she knows, do you?” The question came out soft, just a breath in the quiet room. It was one that had been asked before, but usually Hoseok just immediately shook his head. This time, there was obvious hesitation.
They weren’t as subtle as they used to be. Yoongi didn’t know how anyone with eyes couldn’t tell they were in love. But as it were, over the years, they had had no problems. And truthfully, Yoongi was not that afraid of being found out. Perhaps he was just content. Unashamed.
“I don’t think she knows. If she does, I don’t think it matters. We know where we stand with each other and she knows she’s free to see other men, should she choose. She is not a bad queen, and that was what our marriage was for, at the end of the day. So we would have a queen,” Hoseok explained.
“And an heir,” Yoongi added.
“Well, that’s not going to happen.”
Hoseok lifted the sheets and shimmied his way under them, rested is head on one of Yoongi’s pillows. His hair, lightened slightly from so much time in the sun, fanned out. When he smiled, Yoongi couldn’t help but smile back. Especially when Hoseok reached and caressed Yoongi’s cheek before he seemed to completely settle in. His eyes were heavy after the long day of playing (but not really playing, Yoongi had to remind himself) King and husband. Here, in Yoongi’s bed, though, Hoseok got to relax. Be at peace.
So Yoongi wasn’t sure why he kept talking.
“You don’t want your own children?”
Hoseok’s eyes had closed, and he opened one. “I have Jungkook.”
“That doesn’t answer the question.”
“Are you trying to ask me if I’ve ever slept with Mishil? Because after all this time you never have asked that, and you know I don’t spend every night with you.”
“No, I was not trying to ask that,” Yoongi stated, shifted around until he too was under the sheets, Hoseok’s body close enough for him to feel the warmth, but not so that they were touching. “It’s been a long day, we can sleep.”
Hoseok’s arm draped over Yoongi, and Yoongi felt his lips against his neck. “You’re the only one who makes me feel good, Yoongi,” Hoseok whispered. “You’re the only one who makes me feel anything at all, I think.”
And when they fell asleep, Yoongi dreams were fleeting, flashes of things that didn’t feel right. Hoseok, laughing, Hoseok crying, and there was too much red, but leaves fell around them, if there was a them, Yoongi couldn’t be sure. Nothing made sense, and all he knew was there was a looming sense of dread that had washed over him when he jolted awake in bed, his chest heaving and his body damp with sweat. Next to him, Hoseok was still sound asleep, all spread out with the sheets tangled around his legs and torso. His shirt was gone, likely discarded at some point in the night when it got too hot.
Instead of taking his own shirt off, Yoongi got out of the bed completely, bent over and took several deep breaths. The room was too dark, but he did manage to stumble his way to the door, internally telling himself he was overheated and needed air, that was all it was. That was why he felt an overwhelming sense of panic that he hadn’t felt since his family was killed.
In the hallway, he found himself still unable to shake whatever lingering feeling his dream had left him with, so he closed the door gently behind him and started walking, barefoot, through the palace. His intention, he thought, was to go to Jungkook’s chambers, but he ended up somewhere else entirely. The air was cooler, but it felt thick, and there were no windows, so he knew he had ventured to the portion of the palace that was underground.
Not the dungeon, thankfully, but it might as well have been.
Not to mention, Yoongi felt…fuzzy. He was unsure of how he’d ended up here. Unsure of how time had passed so quickly. He felt like he was swimming, pushing his way through sludge. But at some point, he felt himself slowly lower his body to the ground until he was sitting, didn’t move again until he heard footsteps approaching him from behind.
There were plenty of stories about the palace being haunted, and truthfully, some of them could get quite terrifying, but Yoongi didn’t think he was scared. He wasn’t thinking much of anything really, not until the footsteps stopped and a figured appeared in front of him, dressed in a robe of sorts. That, at least, was when Yoongi felt his heartbeat calm, and then slow back to normal when Seokjin sat down in front of him.
“You should be asleep,” he said, his voice much too loud. When he spoke though, Yoongi was struck with how tired he still was, with how much he wanted to go back to bed, dreams or not.
“I don’t know how I ended up here,” Yoongi said, or at least he heard himself say it, but he couldn’t really feel his mouth moving. Perhaps he was still dreaming. Seokjin felt so real though, looked so real. Yoongi missed him. Was this where he had been? Down in the underground maze of the palace? Why would he want to reside down here?
“Life was not very kind to you,” Seokjin said, his head tilting to the side. “Took your family away. Your home. Your innocence. Your throne. Perhaps you were meant to rule. That would have made you and Hoseok enemies. I suppose that life would have been no kinder than this one.” A pause, a hum. “At least in this life you have Hoseok. In some ways. You’ll never be more than his lover, is that worth it?”
“That’s all I want. To be happy with him.”
Yoongi blinked heavily, and when his eyes opened fully again, Seokjin was standing against the wall, leaned back and looking down at Yoongi, but Yoongi couldn’t see his expression because his face was in shadow. “You should be careful,” he said. And then a sigh. “Treasure the time you have with him. I know we aren’t friends like we used to be, but I see he makes you happy. There was never any keeping the two of you apart, I should have known that.”
“What’re you talking about?” Yoongi wanted to rub his eyes, press his fingers into them to try and clear the fuzziness in his head, in his vision, but he wasn’t sure he could even move now. As each second passed, he became more and more sure he was still dreaming.
“Sometimes…sometimes love is worth it, I suppose, even if there is heartbreak in the end.”
“Heartbreak? What—what does that mean? Is something going to happen? What have you seen? If something is going to happen you have to tell me!”
The hallway seemed to get darker, despite the candles that lined it. Had the candles been there the whole time? Or were they lanterns? Yoongi wasn’t sure, and when his gaze drifted back to where Seokjin had been standing, there was no one. He felt cold, which didn’t make sense because it was hot, it had been hot, he was burning up not too long ago.
“Close your eyes,” Seokjin’s voice rang out in Yoongi’s ears, coming from everywhere and nowhere all at once. “I should come to terms with the fact that the things I see will happen whether I have seen them or not.”
Yoongi didn’t close his eyes, as heavy as they were. “What did you see,” he asked, with more desperation. “Please.”
“Close your eyes.”
It felt then as if Seokjin’s hands covered Yoongi’s eyes. Everything went dark and…and quiet. Peaceful. Yoongi felt better almost right away, and whatever had just happened started to fade away. He couldn’t quite grasp it, wasn’t even sure it was real. It couldn’t have been real. Especially considering when his eyes opened next, he was still in bed and it was morning, and Hoseok was sound asleep next to him.
Yoongi groaned and rubbed his eyes before rolling onto his stomach and burying his face in his pillow. Clearly, he hadn’t slept well, and he felt the remanence of whatever dreams he’d had still nagging at him, but it was fading away quickly. Besides, he didn’t even think he wanted to remember the dreams. They’d probably been unpleasant.
Next to him, Hoseok began to stir, but Yoongi didn’t move to look at him. It was hard to breathe with his face pressed into the pillow, but moving felt like far too much effort in the moment. Minutes passed. Eventually Yoongi felt a hand on his back, felt lips against his neck, and he did turn his head to the side to finally give Hoseok a sleepy smile.
“Don’t wanna get out of bed,” Hoseok murmured, his hand in Yoongi’s hair.
Hoseok’s smile widened and he kissed Yoongi for a few long seconds before he settled back against him and closed his eyes again. Yoongi didn’t close his eyes, instead paced his hand on Hoseok’s waist and left it there. If he closed his eyes, he might forget this moment, and something told him he would want to remember it.
Rain was pouring intensely enough for everyone in the palace to be on edge. It was the kind of storm that made people nervous, the kind that caused damage in the nearby villages. There had been no time for preparations, the storm was just suddenly upon them, lightning streaking across the sky and thunder shaking the palace. The hallways were grim, and no one was in a personable mood, including Yoongi.
He’d been woken up by the thunder, alone in his room, and when he’d peeled his eyes open, he could see the flashes of lightning outside. For a while, he didn’t bother getting up at all. Not until Hoseok barged into his chambers with Jungkook and asked Yoongi to ‘please, please watch him, I’m really sorry, I have to—‘’ and that was about all before he was gesturing wildly and leaving the room again. A very upset Jungkook was subsequently left with Yoongi.
Since then, the rain had not let up at all, Yoongi had a headache, and Jungkook was still upset. Although, at least now he was not crying anymore. Every time there was a crash of thunder, he would jump however, so Yoongi was trying his best to distract him. They’d already gone on two walks around the palace, played a card game, played with Jungkook’s toys, and had lunch.
“Daddy was upset too,” Jungkook said. They were currently sitting on the floor. Jungkook was picking threads out of the woven rug under them.
“Mhmm. He was upset last night, too. I heard him yelling with the queen.”
“He’s had lots of important things he’s had to do lately. King stuff, you know. I’m sure they’re both just…stressed, Kook,” Yoongi attempted to explain while ruffling Jungkook’s hair.
“How come you and Daddy can’t both be King? I heard the queen say she doesn’t even wanna be queen. It’s not fair,” Jungkook continued, pulling a thread all the way out and tying it into little knots.
“We just can’t. Maybe one day things will be different, though.”
“I wish it would stop raining. It’s scary.”
Yoongi shifted around so he could hug Jungkook. “It’ll be over before you know it. I’ll keep you safe.”
“How? You don’t have a sword like Daddy does?”
“Maybe I do, you just haven’t seen it.”
They went back and forth like that for a long time, gentle banter that did luckily seem to calm Jungkook a bit more. And, the thunder let up, just barely, even though it was still steadily pouring down rain. With less thunder, Jungkook was able to fall asleep for a nap. Yoongi tucked him in and made sure he was sound asleep before he went to fetch one of the nannies to look over Jungkook so he could venture out and see if he could find Hoseok. Mostly he wanted to make sure he was alright, considering how frantic he’d been that morning. And, he knew Hoseok didn’t like storms either.
Perhaps it had something to do with the storm, maybe it was even worse than it sounded, but Yoongi wanted to check. He didn’t like being kept out of the loop, even though usually it wasn’t his loop to be in to begin with.
The hallway that connected Hoseok’s chambers to Yoongi’s was quiet. There weren’t even any guards around, which was not uncommon when Hoseok wasn’t in his room, because his ‘official’ chambers were meant to be the ones he was supposed to (but rarely did) share with the queen. So typically the guards were there, not standing outside Hoseok’s regular chambers.
Thus, Yoongi figured Hoseok was probably not inside, but he pushed the door open anyway and stepped in, looked around. The room was empty, and dark. None of the candles were lit and on Hoseok’s desk there was a pile of letters, it looked like. By one of the windows, there was a delicate glass vase with roses in it. They were wilting and turning slightly brown, but as Yoongi got closer, he could see they were yellow. Yellow like the roses that grew in their special clearing, out in the woods around the palace.
Quite a bit of time had passed since they’d been out there. At least, since they’d been out there together. Yoongi wondered if Hoseok had been alone, to gather and pick the yellow roses for his room. Then again, Yoongi was in Hoseok’s chambers often, and he didn’t recall having seen the roses.
He touched one of the petals, and it fell off into his hand. He held onto it as he wandered around the rest of the room, towards the pile of letters on the desk next to Hoseok’s mother’s jewelry box. It was probably official things, maybe intelligence or trade agreements from other kingdoms. Although, everything seemed so peaceful now, Yoongi couldn’t imagine why Hoseok would have such a large pile of seemingly unread, or unattended to, letters. Not to mention, Hoseok was always neat and organized, and the pile on his desk was anything but.
Curiosity getting the best of him, Yoongi picked up one of the envelopes that seemed to be cut open already and pulled out the letter inside. The paper it was written on was not fancy, so it was probably not written by someone with wealth. The handwriting was scribbled too, and the grammar wasn’t great. Yoongi skimmed through what was written, gathered quickly that the letter was written by a villager, maybe a merchant or something, and they were detailing to Hoseok, to their King, that their village was not in a good state. Crops weren’t growing. People were starving. There were fights, clashes, and many people starting rumors about the king and queen.
It was strange, to read the letter, because the last time Yoongi had been into town, it had seemed fine. But the more letters he picked up, the more a much different picture was painted. And it was worrying, to say the least. If the people of Gwangju didn’t trust their rulers, it could mean a lot of things. None of those things good. It could mean the end of Hoseok’s rule. Hell, it could mean his death.
With a deep breath, Yoongi turned away from the desk and looked around the rest of the room.
Hoseok always seemed so in control of his kingdom. Everything had been going so well so far in his rule, at least it appeared that way. Things in his personal life may not have been perfect, Yoongi knew that, knew sometimes that Hoseok felt guilty for the way he’d let things happen, but Hoseok still handled it all as best he could. Then again, Yoongi also knew Hoseok never wanted any of this. He didn’t want to be King.
Ideally, the two of them would be ordinary people, living far away somewhere, unbothered. Yoongi knew he could leave anytime he wanted, knew he didn’t exactly want to live in the palace either, never had liked growing up around important people who were all willing to stab each other in the back for some small amount of power. But Yoongi did like Hoseok. So he stayed. And he stayed for Jungkook, too. He stayed because there wasn’t anything for him outside of the palace, besides some semblance of peace and freedom. There wasn’t anything for him in the palace either, though, not besides Hoseok and Jungkook. But they were enough.
Yoongi just wished Hoseok would tell him how bad things really were. He wished he could help, even as the nobody he was.
In the moment, Yoongi knew there was nothing he could do. He was just snooping, obviously Hoseok didn’t want him to find those letters. So, he quickly left the room and closed the door behind him. Just as he turned around, he nearly jumped when he saw Seokjin leaning against the wall opposite to him.
“Guessing The King isn’t in there?” Seokjin asked, but it was more of a statement.
“No, he isn’t.”
“Find anything particularly interesting?”
“He wouldn’t care if I was in there,” Yoongi said with a shrug. “I think you know that.”
“Mmm. You wear his jewelry often. I know enough to know he doesn’t care when you’ve been in his room, yes. But I suppose there’s no use in skirting around anything when it’s just the two of us and the rain outside is loud enough to where no one else can hear,” Seokjin said, his voice too low, almost inaudible. He’d always been a little eccentric, Yoongi knew that. He never cared, he and Seokjin got along, and Seokjin’s father—maybe even Seokjin himself—had saved Yoongi’s life when he was young. But now, with the rain outside, and considering the dream Yoongi had had not too long ago, he felt a bit unnerved.
“Did you need something? From me?” Yoongi asked, to hurry along the conversation.
“No, I was looking for Hoseok, actually. I asked Namjoon, but he’s been on guard outside, was soaked to the bone, said he hadn’t seen his Majesty,” Seokjin explained, a contradiction in his words with how he switched back and forth between calling Hoseok ‘the king’ and ‘his Majesty’ and then calling him by his name, casually.
“Well I was about to go look for Hoseok as well. I can pass along a message.”
“I foresaw some…catastrophic flooding caused by the storm. I wanted to warn him,” Seokjin said. “It could affect the areas around the palace and perhaps near Hwagae, but—”
“Do you really see things?”
“Do you really have visions? Really and truly?”
“Yes, I thought you always believed in it.”
“Not necessarily. I don’t know. I don’t believe in magic, Seokjin, not really. If magic were real…shouldn’t there have been a way to save my family? To…fix the things that are wrong in the world? Wouldn’t we be able to stop the storm?”
“Magic doesn’t work that way. My visions aren’t even magic, Yoongi. And even if they were, that doesn’t mean magic is always good. People are tried and burned for witchcraft all the time. I’m lucky enough to have had the favor of the last king. If not, I might have been killed a long time ago.” Seokjin shrugged his shoulders. His shirt was a deep red color, looked more expensive than it should have been, considering the fact that while Seokjin lived in the palace, he was not wealthy. But he was mysterious, and Yoongi thought perhaps he didn’t know Seokjin as well as he used to. Or perhaps he never had known him.
Perhaps Yoongi didn’t really know anyone here. Maybe not even himself.
“I shouldn’t have asked. You never give a straightforward answer. I have to go find Hoseok,” Yoongi grumbled, turning on his heels and leaving Seokjin in the shadowed hallway.
“Be careful, Yoongi,” Seokjin called after him, and for some reason, it made Yoongi shiver.
Still, he continued on, down empty hallways that were eerily abandoned. It appeared everyone was holed up in their chambers, or perhaps gathered in the ballroom. He could hear commotion inside when he passed, but he didn’t go inside, instead going further down until he reached the throne room. It was hard to hear anything inside with the large door closed and the thunder, but the guards standing outside meant that Hoseok was likely there.
They glanced at Yoongi when he approached the door, and he cleared his throat, put a hand against the wood to push it open. However, one of the guards stepped towards him, slightly blocking the door. “The King requested privacy,” the guard said, his voice low and in warning.
“I just need a quick word. He won’t mind,” Yoongi insisted.
“He was very clear.”
“I’m being very clear too.”
Yoongi was much smaller than the two guards, so he knew they could easily remove him, make him go away, but he was also fairly certain they knew he and Hoseok were friends, and knew they were best not getting on Hoseok’s bad side. That, and Yoongi knew how to hold some very intimidating eye contact. Hoseok said it was because he had ‘intense eyebrows’.
The guard opened his mouth to say something, and Yoongi was about to interrupt, but then he heard a raised voice from inside the throne room, and he didn’t wait to get permission, he pushed inside and ducked under the guard’s arm. Both Hoseok and Mishil turned to look at him when he burst in, and he felt the two guards standing behind him, ready to escort him out should Hoseok give the word. But Hoseok didn’t say anything. No one said anything. There was, for a long time, just the sound of the rain and thunder outside.
In that amount of time, Yoongi was able to see that Hoseok was upset. His eyes looked red and he was frowning in a way that conveyed more sadness than anger. It made Yoongi feel nervous, especially considering how disinterested Mishil appeared.
Mishil was, though, the first one to speak. “I’m sure it’s fine if Yoongi stays. Our conversation here was finished anyway,” she said. “I’ll just return to my chambers.”
Hoseok seemed to be holding his breath, and when they were finally the only two people left in the room, he let out a long sigh and collapsed on his throne in a slumped little heap. Yoongi wasn’t sure if Hoseok wanted him there or not, but then Hoseok held his hand out and Yoongi walked closer until he was standing in front of him.
“What’s wrong?” Yoongi whispered, but Hoseok cocked his head to the side, so Yoongi raised his voice in an attempt to be heard over the rain.
“Oh,” Hoseok murmured, but he didn’t say anything else before he gently took Yoongi’s hand and pulled him down onto the throne too. It was big enough for both of them to sit, but Yoongi ended up more in Hoseok’s lap than anything.
“Did something happen?” Yoongi asked. “With Mishil?”
“Sort of. Yes. She…” he trailed off and took a shaky breath. Yoongi brushed a hand through his hair in an attempt to calm him down, make him feel better. “She made a deal to give away your lands. With your home. Our home,” Hoseok finally said. “I—I can undo it, I can get it back, but it’ll be hard. I’m still going to though, that’s—that’s our place. I won’t let her take it.”
“Oh Seok,” Yoongi whispered, kissing his cheek. “I love it there, too, but I don’t want you to get upset. I don’t want you to have to do anything risky. I love you more than any amount of land.”
Hoseok sniffled, swiped his sleeve under his eyes and wrapped his arms around Yoongi’s waist. “I feel like everything is falling apart.” The words came out muffled, but Yoongi just continued to brush through Hoseok’s hair. He was trembling a bit, but Yoongi was pretty sure it would be good for Hoseok to let it out. It was okay to cry sometimes, and Yoongi knew Hoseok hardly ever let himself.
Yoongi also thought of Seokjin’s warning about the flood waters, but he kept it to himself for now. There was no urgent need to upset Hoseok further, especially because Yoongi was sure those letters on Hoseok’s desk had something to do with why he was as upset as he was. However, Yoongi also thought of Seokjin’s other warning. “Be careful.”
They weren’t being careful. They were pressed close, both of them on Hoseok’s throne (which only Hoseok should ever be sat upon). If someone were to walk in…
“Everyone hates me,” Hoseok said. “Mishil hates me now and I feel so horrible because…because it’s my fault. I’ve been a terrible husband to her, she deserved better. She’s changed so much and it’s my fault. I’m not a good king, Yoongi. I should—I shouldn’t be king.”
“Don’t say that,” Yoongi replied softly. “I think you’re a great king. You always try to do what’s right, Hoseok. You’re so kind and caring. Honest.”
“Does that matter? If everything is in shambles?”
“I think it does.”
“You would be a better king,” Hoseok said with a sigh. He had a faraway look in his eyes, one that worried Yoongi, so Yoongi cupped his cheeks.
“You are a good king, Jung Hoseok,” Yoongi said firmly. “No one is perfect. I’m not. But you’ve done good things. You have respect. So what if one nobleman is pushing you around? Put a stop to it. You can, you know? You can be harder on your subjects if you need to be. That doesn’t make you a bad person.”
Hoseok’s eyes were a little wide, but he nodded, took another deep breath in and sat up a little straighter. “Thank you,” he said.
“Don’t forget who you are, okay?” Yoongi said simply. “Don’t forget yourself, but remember you are a king. Remember sometimes that means you can use that power.”
“Who taught you that? My father?”
“My father,” Yoongi corrected.
The memories were so faded, so fuzzy, but Yoongi remembered some of the things his father would say. He remembered hearing his speeches to his brother, how sometimes it scared them. Yoongi didn’t think his father was anything like Hoseok, nor did Yoongi think his father was a good ruler in the long run, based on the things he knew, based on rumors and vague memories. Still, some of his ways weren’t the worst ideas. That is, if used sparingly.
Yoongi knew Hoseok could be firm and direct if he needed to be, but he could also benefit from learning not to feel guilty about it afterwards. He was the rightful king, after all. That had to mean something. Yoongi wasn’t sure if he could handle everything that Hoseok was able to.
“I love you,” Hoseok said suddenly.
Yoongi was about to say it back, but then Hoseok brought him into a kiss and Yoongi let it happen, let Hoseok’s arms wind around his waist until he was able to straddle Hoseok’s hips. Truthfully, it was not the first time they’d messed around on Hoseok’s throne, or in the throne room, but the other few times, it had been in the dead of night when no one was going to come in. It was still early in the day now, but Yoongi was pretty sure the storm had everyone preoccupied.
Besides, he was quickly preoccupied with Hoseok’s lips on his neck, and his hands in Hoseok’s hair, and then pushing off Hoseok’s crown, which clattered to the floor. Hoseok pushed his cape off his shoulders while Yoongi’s hands slipped under his shirt, dragged over Hoseok’s heated skin, catching on his nipples, where they stayed for a moment so he could watch Hoseok writhe.
Although, Hoseok was quick to kiss Yoongi again, to bite his lower lip in retaliation. Yoongi was unsure how much time passed, but at some point they’d both lost several items of clothing, and Hoseok’s hand was wrapped around Yoongi’s cock, jerking him off quickly while Yoongi gasped against Hoseok’s neck.
“Lemme—” Yoongi cut off, groaned. “Lemme suck you off, Seok.”
“You first,” Hoseok rasped in response. He knew exactly how to flick his wrist, how to work Yoongi to orgasm. He’d had plenty of time to learn, to practice, after all. And Yoongi knew they both got off on getting each other off, so it was unlikely that Hoseok would let up until Yoongi came.
“Seok,” Yoongi whined. “Seok I wanna get you off first. Baby.”
“Fuck me tonight then. Wanna see you cum first,” Hoseok insisted, and Yoongi bit down on his neck, although not hard enough to leave any marks. “I know you wanna fuck me, don’t you?”
“Yeah,” Yoongi breathed. “Want you to fuck me, too.”
“Maybe we can do both then.”
“If you don’t pass out right away,” Yoongi said with a chuckle, one that quickly died with another moan. He felt so close.
“Mm. I guess I can fuck you first, then before I cum, you can fuck me. Does that sound good?” Hoseok asked, but instead of answering, Yoongi just kissed him, his hands cupping Hoseok’s cheeks and sweat trailing down his neck as the storm raged on outside.
They were so lost in each other, so desperate for each other, and maybe Hoseok just wanted to feel something, but Yoongi had forgotten Seokjin’s warnings. He wasn’t thinking about anything except Hoseok. Not about the storm, certainly. And not about where they were or the fact that perhaps Hoseok was right, perhaps everything was falling apart.
And that was why, when the doors to the throne room swung open, they were caught in such a compromising position. Caught so clearly entangled with each other, so clearly kissing and touching and maybe even so clearly in love. The sound of the doors hitting the inside walls with a loud bang was what tore them apart, was what made them turn to look with wide eyes and red lips and—and god knows what else.
They both scrambled to cover themselves after the first few seconds of frozen shock had worn off, but before they’d really registered who had come in. Or at least, before Yoongi had. He wasn’t really sure what Hoseok was thinking or feeling, his blood was rushing in his ears and his heart was thudding so he couldn’t really focus on anything other than his burning face and shaking hands.
But once he was covered, back in his pants and somewhat composed, which all happened in a matter of seconds. Although, it felt much longer. When he stood from Hoseok’s lap and turned around, he was able to take in Dawon standing there, as well as two of her ladies behind her, who had since averted their gazes to the floor. Hoseok was still sitting, his eyes wide, but he was otherwise calm, somehow.
Dawon’s eye contact with him was unwavering. She was the first to clear her throat, the first to speak. “Leave us,” she said simply, waving her hand. Her ladies were gone in an instant, going in two separate directions, before Dawon turned around and closed the door to the throne room behind her. “They won’t say anything. I’ll make sure of it.”
Her voice was very level, collected, and she didn’t sound exactly angry. It only made Yoongi more nervous, especially with how she wouldn’t look at him, but kept her eyes on Hoseok instead. It felt like she was communicating with him without saying a word, and Yoongi wasn’t a part of it.
“I should leave,” Yoongi blurted out. His own voice sounded foreign in his ears, and it was only then that Hoseok jerked and looked at him, his eyes relaxing and his hand darting out to grab for Yoongi at the same moment Yoongi took a step away. Still, every movement everyone was making seemed to last forever to Yoongi, he couldn’t quite keep up with what was happening. It felt sort of like the dream he’d had, but…worse. “I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry,” Hoseok said, his words slightly clipped. “I’m not sorry. I’ve never been sorry about us, Yoongi.”
“Seok, that’s not what I meant, I—”
“I think it is best he leaves, Hoseok,” Dawon said. “We should talk.” There was a long pause, Hoseok’s hand still wrapped around Yoongi’s wrist, where no one said anything and no one moved. Then, Dawon sighed through her nose and looked down at the ground for several beats before she looked up again at her brother. “I’m not angry, Hoseok,” she said softly. “Not because…not because of…this. Not because you and Yoongi are…whatever you are. Mad you just got caught? Perhaps.”
Hoseok opened his mouth to respond, but there was a sudden crash of thunder and he jumped, as did Yoongi. When it passed, Yoongi held onto Hoseok’s hand and squeezed before he leaned in and kissed Hoseok once on the cheek. It felt strange to so blatantly display affection in front of someone (besides Jungkook, who never seemed to mind when he saw them holding hands or exchanging brief kisses), but when he glanced at Dawon, she had the faintest hint of a smile on her face, and Yoongi felt…okay.
He felt okay.
He felt okay even when he left the room, leaving Hoseok and his sister to talk. After all, Dawon was a good sister. She would never do anything to hurt Hoseok. If anything, the result of all this would probably just be that Hoseok would be embarrassed to have been caught in such a compromising position. Dawon might tease him about it.
But the hours passed slowly, and with each one, Yoongi started to become nervous all over again. The rain started to let up, which Jungkook was happy about. The two of them went to the dining hall to have dinner, but Hoseok wasn’t there, nor was Dawon. Seokjin was, standing by one of the large windows, watching something. Or maybe watching the sky.
“Thought it was going to flood?” Yoongi called over to him, his voice shaking. Jungkook looked up from his food at Yoongi, eyes big.
“Papa,” he whispered. “More rain?”
“No, I don’t know, don’t worry sweetheart,” Yoongi said with a forced smile. Jungkook just blinked back at him and when Yoongi looked over his shoulder again at Seokjin, he nearly feel out of chair, as Seokjin was standing right behind him now. “Jesus fuck.”
“Language,” Seokjin said with a knowing little glance at Jungkook. “And to answer your question, have you ever heard of the calm before the storm?”
“There already was a storm, don’t speak in riddles to me.”
“That was hardly a storm, was it?”
“Don’t you have spells to cast? Don’t scare my kid.”
Seokjin raised an eyebrow and Yoongi cleared his throat, turned away. He was unsure why he felt suddenly hostile towards Seokjin, but perhaps it was simply because he was just generally on edge. Sometimes Seokjin had that effect, one that put people even more on edge.
“Very well,” Seokjin murmured. “It was nice to see you, Jungkook.”
“Papa says I’ve gotten bigger!” Jungkook stood up suddenly and stood on his tip toes. “What do you think?”
“Yes, you’re growing very fast.”
“I bet I could be bigger than you soon!”
Seokjin placed a hand on Yoongi’s shoulder briefly, squeezed, and then it was gone. “You will be,” Seokjin said. “You’ll be all grown up soon.” Jungkook nodded before he sat down and continued eating. Yoongi didn’t say goodbye to Seokjin, he just let him leave, go back to the window.
The rest of the evening was uneventful. Yoongi put Jungkook to bed, and then went back to his chambers with the intent on waiting for Hoseok to come join him, to tell him what Dawon said. But Hoseok didn’t come. Hoseok didn’t come and as it got darker outside, Yoongi could see streaks of lighting far out in the distance from out the window. Yoongi began to pace.
He walked back and forth across his chambers, from the door, to the secret passageways, to his bed and then to the window to watch the sky. He told himself that if Hoseok didn’t come see him within an hour, he would go find Hoseok himself, but he never did leave his room. Not because he was afraid, per say, but he knew something had to be not right.
However, just as he was about to try and lay down for the night, there was a quick three taps on his door, and he froze in his pacing and then rushed over and opened the door. “I was getting so worried, where—oh. Dawon?”
“Apologies, I know I wasn’t the Jung you were hoping to see,” she said with a sigh as she entered his room uninvited. Yoongi peered out into the hallway, but it was empty, so he closed the door and turned around to face Dawon.
“Is something wrong? Is Hoseok okay?”
“He’s alright, don’t worry. Shaken up, I think. I don’t know if you are aware, but he’s been struggling lately, with his duties as King, and…well, perhaps with balancing that with Jungkook and you,” Dawon explained. “I understand he’s very smitten with you.”
Yoongi felt his face heat up and Dawon smiled, moved further into the room and sat down on one of the chairs near the unlit fireplace. “I’m pretty smitten with him, too,” Yoongi said, sitting down on the other chair next to her.
“I know. Truthfully, I always believed the two of you had something special. You did hide it well, though. I had my suspicions, sure, but…that was really all it was.” She paused and shrugged, reached and took off the necklace she wore around her neck. It looked heavy and she rolled her head from side to side. “My ladies won’t say anything about what they saw. They’re loyal, and they don’t judge, either. Honestly, I think they’re happy for Hoseok, if anything. I am. I’m happy he has someone like you.”
“I feel like there’s a but coming,” Yoongi said, because while Dawon’s words were kind, she didn’t sound as happy as it seemed she should.
“One of my ladies, she informed me that Mishil is…very unhappy,” Dawon stated, her eyes flickering to meet Yoongi’s for just a moment. “I don’t blame her. Hoseok doesn’t love her and they won’t ever have children. He told me as such, and he told me she’s allowed to be with anyone she wants, but…but she’s still married to the king of Gwangju so it’s just not that simple for her. Anyway, one of my ladies said Mishil suspects Hoseok is, well, more occupied with you than with anything else.”
“People in the towns hear rumors that Hoseok likes men,” Yoongi admitted. “They think I’m his half-brother and we’re fucking. Which, only half of that is true.”
Dawon made a mock-gagging sound and covered her ears. “Gross, Yoongi.”
“I’ll forgive you,” she said quietly, lowering her hands again and smoothing out her dress. “If you’ll forgive me, as well.”
“Forgive you for what?”
“For what I’m about to ask of you.”
Yoongi swallowed, but his mouth felt dry and his hands felt sweaty. The room lit up from the lightning outside. He was holding his breath, and when he finally couldn’t anymore, when he let out a rush of air, he heard the patter of rain beginning again outside. It steadily got louder, harder, but it was as if only he could hear it, because Dawon did not react.
“You want me to end it? With Hoseok?” Yoongi asked.
“No. Well,” she shook her head. “Not exactly. I fear…I fear that if you stay…Hoseok may not be around for very much longer. A long time ago, Seokjin told us of a prophecy. One about Hoseok.”
Yoongi rolled his eyes. “Seokjin and his prophecies. Sometimes I don’t know how true they are. Have we any evidence he’s actually telling the truth? I know he has medical knowledge and he’s my friend…sort of, but—”
“He told us that Hoseok will die,” Dawon said, interrupting Yoongi and promptly shutting him up. “I’m sure he’s never told you, as Hoseok likely forbid him from doing so. However, Seokjin has told me and…I’ve been aware for a long time that you may have a role to play in Hoseok’s death.”
The rain pouring down nearly drowned out Dawon’s words, but he did manage to catch them, and when he did, he couldn’t help but laugh. Just one brief burst, but it still happened, and Dawon made a face at him before sighing and looking at her hands. “You have to know that sounds ridiculous.”
“Does it? I thought it did, but now, it doesn’t seem too farfetched. The two of you love each other so much, I know that, Yoongi, but sometimes love like that can be dangerous. And with everything going on now, with his reign in the place it’s in…anything could happen,” Dawon explained calmly. “If you don’t believe me, then that’s fine. But if even one part of you thinks that Seokjin’s prophecy—”
“You never even said what the prophecy is. Just that I might possibly have a role to play in Hoseok’s hypothetical death?” Yoongi asked, leaning forward in his chair, because even though he was trying to hide it, he was on edge, nervous.
“Not hypothetical. Seokjin has been adamant that Hoseok will die. Sooner than he should, that is. Young. I don’t know for sure that it could be prevented, but…but if you have a role to play then perhaps it could be. If you leave the palace. If you leave Gwangju,” Dawon said. The last bit hurt for her to say, Yoongi could tell. It was rare for Dawon to be emotional, but Yoongi could see she was struggling with this now. He could see that it was not easy for her to tell him this, for her to ask this of him. “If you love him, don’t you want him to live?”
“I—of course I do,” Yoongi answered. “But—But you’re asking me to just…go? Just like that? Can’t I—Can’t I just tell him what’s going on?”
“Yoongi, he already knows,” Dawon said, more firmly. “He knows about the prophecy. He’s known all these years and he doesn’t care. Which I suppose is his choice. But I can’t accept it. I can’t let my brother die, Yoongi.”
“What about Jungkook? He’s—I love him, too.”
“I’ll make sure he’s still taken care of here.”
“So I can’t say goodbye, then, is that what you’re saying?”
“To Hoseok? I wouldn’t. He’ll talk you out of it, you know he will. He’s never believed the prophecies or in magic or in what Seokjin can do.”
“Then why do you?”
Dawon sighed and rubbed her hands over his face. It smudged her makeup, just enough to give away that she was wearing it at all. “I’ve been weary of his prophecy about Hoseok. He’s given me more details over the years. But it’s all very vauge, things like…he sees blood red roses on a casket, sees blood dripping from a dagger into grass, I don’t know. He sees you, there, apparently. But things that anyone could make up. However, when had Seokjin ever tried to fool us? If he had some ulterior motive, why has he never acted on it, over all these years?”
Yoongi shrugged and shook his head. “He’s always been kind to me. I’m not saying he doesn’t see these things, but…how do we know they’re really the future?”
“Because about two years ago, Seokjin told me I was pregnant before I even knew I was,” Dawon whispered, the words lingering in the space between them. There was another crack of lighting, this time illuminating the room even more. It seemed as if the storm was right over them.
“I—I didn’t know.”
“No one did. Not even the father. I lost the baby, Seokjin told me I would. He told me the exact night it would happen, and where. At one of the many balls, while I was holding a glass of water. I didn’t want to believe him when he told me, I…hell, I wanted that baby so bad. But he was right. So I believe him, Yoongi,” Dawon said.
“I can’t make you. I won’t. I’m just…I’m asking you. For Hoseok. For Gwangju.”
“I understand,” Yoongi stated, standing up and walking closer to the fireplace. He didn’t know what to think. In fact, he was unsure if he was even thinking at all. Everything was spinning and he couldn’t imagine leaving. But he also couldn’t imagine living a life where Hoseok died because of him. He wouldn’t be able to live with himself.
And truthfully, it wasn’t that farfetched. What if it had been Mishil that had walked in on him and Hoseok earlier? Or…anyone else. They would probably both already be dead. And wouldn’t that be Yoongi’s fault? What would happen to Jungkook if Hoseok and Yoongi were both dead? Hell, if even just Hoseok was.
But…Yoongi didn’t want to not see Jungkook grow up. He didn’t want to not grow old with Hoseok. He’d left once before and every day without Hoseok was…a day wasted.
“I’ll leave you to think. It would probably be best if…if you were gone by morning,” Dawon said. “If you want to stay, I won’t hate you for it. Hoseok is lucky to have found you, even if the circumstances are not the best. I do apologize for what my father did to your family.”
Yoongi just nodded once and felt Dawon’s hand on his shoulder, before she was gone altogether and he was alone again. The room felt too big, too lonely. The emptiness in the room seemed to counteract the emptiness of his thoughts though, because he started to think too fast. Too much.
Was there anything he could have done to prevent this?
Was this always the way things were going to go?
Were he and Hoseok going to end up here no matter what? Were they destined to fail?
And the worst part, the worst thought that was creeping its way into Yoongi’s brain, was that he really had no choice. There was only one thing he could do. If it meant Hoseok would live, Yoongi knew what he had to do. The right thing. The only thing.
Hoseok would hate him for it. He may never forgive Yoongi. But he would be alive.
When Hoseok’s father invaded the palace in Daegu, overthrowing and killing it’s rulers, Yoongi should have been too young to really remember any of it. It should have been a blur of a memory, tucked away in some locked part of his mind, never to be fully accessed. And, in some ways, it was. But in others, it was fully unlocked, open and present.
The moment he hid under his bed still felt like it was yesterday. He tried to wait, hoped that the rest of his family had hidden as well, but he knew they hadn’t, knew they couldn’t. When he crawled out from under the bed, he was caught by a knight, brought into the ballroom where a man he would come to know as the king of Gwangju looked down at him with a curious smile. There was blood on his face.
“And who are you, young man?”
But Yoongi didn’t understand. He wasn’t a man. He was a child. He was an orphan.
The ride back to Gwangju was long and terrifying. Yoongi remembered how he was sure he would die. He was sure of it, and part of him, even as young as he was, wanted it. He wanted to be with his family, even though they weren’t the best. But they were all he’d ever had.
And then, upon arrival to Gwangju, Yoongi met Jung Hoseok.
The most vivid memory in Yoongi’s mind was Hoseok’s smile. Hoseok’s smile made Yoongi decide that he did want to live. And in that moment, in the moment Hoseok first smiled at a young and very afraid Min Yoongi, Yoongi knew his fate was sealed. He knew he would follow Hoseok anywhere. Do anything for him. He wanted to live for Hoseok, but he would die for him too, if it meant Hoseok got to keep on smiling.
But now, leaving Hoseok meant leaving Jungkook too, and even though Yoongi couldn’t say goodbye to Hoseok, because he knew Dawon was right, Hoseok would just talk him out of it, he could go see Jungkook. The storm was raging, and he didn’t want to leave while Jungkook was afraid, but when he stepped into his room, he was sound asleep, curled up around a countless amount of pillows and small toys.
Yoongi sat down on the edge of the bed and brushed his hand through Jungkook’s hair. He didn’t stir, not at first. But after a few minutes, his eyes opened, all at once, and he sat up, a sleepy smile on his face. He seemed unaffected by the storm. “Papa?”
“Hey,” Yoongi whispered. “You don’t have to sit up, I just wanted to see you, kid.”
“For what? Am I in trouble?”
“No, of course not,” Yoongi assured him. “I’m just going to be gone for a little while, and I wanted to say bye.”
Jungkook looked confused, and he crawled closer until Yoongi lifted him into his lap. “Can I go? I’m big now.”
“You have to stay here with Hoseok. With your dad, okay?”
“You’re my dad, too.”
“When’re you coming back?” Jungkook rested his head against Yoongi’s chest and closed his eyes again. Yoongi knew he was going to fall back to sleep in a matter of minutes. Sometimes it was impossible to get him to go to sleep and other times it was impossible to get him to stay awake. But right now Yoongi needed him to sleep anyway.
“I…don’t know yet. But I need you to be good for your dad, okay? You always are, but make sure you’re extra good.”
“I love you.”
“Love you too, Papa,” Jungkook murmured. “Can we go to town again when you get back?”
“Sure. ‘Course we can.”
“I’ll be good. Promise.”
Yoongi kissed the top of his head, helped him back under the covers and then took a deep breath and walked back to the door. He wanted to take one last look back, but he didn’t. Couldn’t. If he didn’t go now, he didn’t think he would be able to at all. It had to be this way. At least, that was what he was telling himself, even though he felt numb already. Everything would work out. He and Hoseok were fated, Yoongi just had to hold onto that.
Several villages in Gwangju flooded. Homes and lives were lost.
No one had ever seen a storm do so much damage.
It seemed to have happened in the night, while everyone was asleep.
Six Years Later
There was a certain sense of freedom that came with not knowing where he was. Life moved slowly that way, and every month, week, day was different. At the end of each day, Yoongi didn’t have any responsibility to anyone or anything. He could be one person one day, and another the next. Anything could happen, really, and none of it would matter at all.
But with freedom came loneliness. Each day that passed brought it on stronger. There was nothing to be done about it, Yoongi knew he was just one man. Just one lonely man in a world where there were much more prominent things to worry about than the fact that Yoongi had seen six years’ worth of sun rises, all of which he had spent without the person he loved.
He’d come to find that the sun rising looked the same almost everywhere. It looked the same rising over the hills surrounding a palace in Gwangju as it did rising over fields of crops on a farm. It looked the same whether he was living a life of luxury, or a life where he had nothing. Love was like that. Love felt the same no matter where he was, or who he was.
It ebbed and flowed, as did the loneliness.
Some nights he felt he might die, his stomach twisted up and his thoughts full of a smile he hadn’t seen in so very long. Of promises, whispered like prayers in dark chambers. Of secret touches, trembling bodies and held breath. Of I need you’s and passion and lust and the thought of forever. Of happiness so intense it was all encompassing.
Other nights, he slept soundly.
Was Hoseok alone? Had he forgotten Yoongi’s voice by now? His face? His touch?
Gwangju was thriving again, or had been, as far as Yoongi knew, but he rarely heard anything specific enough to quench whatever need he had to know how Hoseok was doing. He wouldn’t let himself get close enough for that.
Besides, he had ventured far enough away so that no one even knew where Gwangju was, anymore.
Wherever he had ended up, it was like a whole different world. One where he hoped Hoseok would live, and be happy. One where Min Yoongi ceased to exist.
Currently, he was residing on a farm somewhere in the middle of nowhere, doing work for a family who would never know his real name, or his past, or why he had ended up here in the first place. The parents of the family were older, but they had a son who was probably only slightly younger than Yoongi, and he was married with two young children. Still, Yoongi could see the way he watched him while he worked in the fields. Yoongi was careful not to be alone with him. He had no intentions of indulging whatever fantasies the young man had about him.
After all, the farm was nice, and the family allowed him to stay in the small barn turned guest-quarters. They fed him, too, made sure he was comfortable. If they let him, he hoped to stay with them through the winter. Then he would move on, find someplace else.
However, it seemed fate had other plans for him.
Fate always had other plans.
Yoongi started his day just like he did any other. He left his quarters as it was still dark outside, but light was slowly starting to break. As always, he headed out to the fields where he would spend most of his day working, to watch the sunrise. There was a particular spot in which he liked to sit, as nothing would grow there, and he felt it was fitting. The family told him about the spot, told him they thought it was cursed, but Yoongi didn’t think so. He knew what being cursed felt like, and the spot didn’t feel that way.
Regardless, as Yoongi made his way to his spot, he noticed the sky seemed to be getting darker instead of lighter. The usually clear sky was full of clouds and he wasn’t even sure if he would be able to see the sun through them at all. It didn’t really matter though, the sun would still be rising behind the clouds. Still, he felt a little bit wary as he continued his walk.
It was when his usual spot was in his sight that he stopped walking and stared. There was something there, right in the middle of the not-quite-a-circle. It was hard to tell exactly what it was from where he was standing, but he could see, even though it wasn’t yet bright out, that whatever it was, it was yellow. A bright yellow. And if Yoongi hadn’t seen the color before he would be confused, maybe even a little bit wary to get closer.
But he had seen the color before, which was why he knew what the thing was before he even got to it. It was a yellow rose. A bright yellow rose, just like the ones that grew in the clearing he shared with Hoseok. It was a single rose, which wasn’t normal. They didn’t grow that way, not at all, but this one did. For the several long seconds in which Yoongi stared at it, he didn’t breathe. When he finally did, it was with a sharp breath of air sucked in through his nose. When he blinked, his eyes burned with unfallen tears.
Another moment passed, and then Yoongi felt his hands ball into fists at his side. Just as he was about to stomp on the flower, something happened. Someone called his name and he turned away from the single rose growing out of the dry dirt.
There it was again.
He looked around in several directions, until from the distant tree line, he saw a figure approaching him. They wore chest armor, he could see the silver from across the fields. Whoever it was, they knew his name, and that instantly set off a flight or fight response in him. As did the armor. Ordinary people didn’t wear armor, and certainly not armor with the Jung Family crest, as was on the front of the chest armor the man approaching him was wearing. Yoongi turned around to look for a direction to run (Although why he wanted to run so bad, he wasn’t sure? It just seemed like the right thing to do, it was all he knew how to do anymore.) but all that was in front of him was open fields. The only cover was where the other person was approaching from.
While Yoongi was considering his options, his eyes drifted back down to the rose. Or…where the rose was a moment ago. Because now it was gone. There was nothing there. Yoongi felt his stomach drop. Maybe he was really, finally, losing his goddamn mind.
When Yoongi turned again, he was able to recognize who it was coming towards him. It gave him a moment of relief, but he still felt afraid, and confused.
The name felt weird on his tongue. Not as weird as seeing such a familiar face after so much time, though. The closer Namjoon got, the more Yoongi could make out his features and that just made it all even more strange. And then Namjoon was right in front of him, taking deep breaths and wiping sweat off his brow.
“You are a hard man to find,” he said with a tired smile. Yoongi stared at his dimples and then blinked. Namjoon looked older, of course, but the same too. There was a scar across his forehead though, that hadn’t been there in the past. It made a jagged line through one of his eyebrows. Yoongi didn’t want to know how he got it.
“How—How did you find me?”
“Lots of looking,” Namjoon said, glancing around them and then clearly spotting the farm house off in the distance. “Seokjin had a premonition or two so we were able to narrow it down, but…”
He trailed off and Yoongi wrapped his arms around himself. “Why’re you here? I’ve—I’ve been gone for years. What’s going on?”
Never mind the fact that Yoongi’s head was spinning. Namjoon being here was doubtfully a good thing. Why would it be? Hoseok hadn’t tried to track him down in all these years, so why now? Unless Hoseok had been looking, and just now found him? But Yoongi couldn’t believe that. Not with all the other responsibilities he had. Not when his rule was more important.
“I’m supposed to bring you back to Gwangju.”
“I can’t go back.”
“Well…I’m here to bring you back. So…”
“Did Seokjin not tell you? About his other premonitions? I’m not going back and putting Hoseok’s life in danger, so you might as well just leave. Nice to see you though,” Yoongi muttered, and turned away. He was missing the sunrise and his chest felt too tight. Something was wrong, he knew something was wrong, but he didn’t want to admit it. It was so much easier not to admit it.
“Yoongi. Come on, don’t walk away from me,” Namjoon said, taking a few long strides to catch up again. His long legs made it easy for him. “I wouldn’t be here if it was not important. After all this time, do you really think we would have bothered to find you, now, if it wasn’t important?”
“I don’t know. Not…not a lot of us. Me, Seokjin…Dawon. Mostly. Hoseok knows some details, but not many. He’s—”
“You don’t have to tell me how he is,” Yoongi interrupted. He kicked at the dirt and tilted his head up towards the grey sky. Any moment, he was sure rain would start to fall.
“I was actually told not to tell you. I was told to give you as little details as possible, but I don’t think we’ll get anywhere if I don’t tell you what’s happened,” Namjoon explained bluntly. “But if you really don’t care either way, I suppose I’ll leave you and you won’t ever see me again. Or Hoseok.”
The way he said it made it sound ominous, just as the disappearing yellow rose had been, real or not. He felt as if he was reliving the night he left, somehow. Maybe it was the pit of dread in his stomach, or the possibility of a storm.
“Of course I care, but—”
“Look, Hoseok is not at the palace, and that’s where I’m supposed to bring you. It’ll take a few days to get there, and honestly we might not even have that much time.”
“What does that mean? Is Hoseok…is he dying? Is Jungkook dying?”
Either option would be devastating, but Yoongi wasn’t sure if going back would matter, even if one of them were nearing the end of their days. What difference would it make? They surely would be angry with him, why put them through that if one of them weren’t going to live for very much longer?
Although, Yoongi knew the truth was that they would want to see him. If he were dying, he would want to see them. Hell, he wanted to see them regardless. He left to protect Hoseok, but now, with Namjoon standing in front of him and a grim expression on his face, Yoongi felt like leaving had been the worst decision he’d ever made.
“I don’t think I should be the one to break any news to you,” Namjoon said, which seemed like an answer enough in itself. At the very least, it told Yoongi that things were not fine, that there was a chance someone was unwell, why else would Namjoon have been sent to find him? It certainly wasn’t just because Hoseok wanted to pass along a ‘hello’.
“Please. I’ll just ask one more time. Please come with me.”
And really, there wasn’t much of a chance of Yoongi saying no. After all, he and Hoseok were fated to one another, whether or not either of them truly believed in fate. No matter what, no matter how far Yoongi ran, they’d still be fated, and he couldn’t escape that. Couldn’t escape the fact that Hoseok was still always on his mind, all these years later.
So he followed Namjoon, went with him. But really it was Hoseok he was following. He would have followed Hoseok to the end of the earth. It should not have been surprising that Hoseok would have followed him as well, would have searched. Found.
It was about time he stopped trying to run. For good.
Gwangju felt different, somehow. Everything looked about the same, even through Yoongi’s tired eyes as he peered out of the royal carriage upon entering the kingdom. The journey had been long, although, at the same time, it had gone by quickly. They had arrived, after all, and Yoongi didn’t think he would ever forget what being in Gwangju felt like. The sun was brighter, grass greener.
And while that was still the case, something itched at the back of his mind, something telling him things weren’t quite right, and he supposed they weren’t, if he were here. Namjoon hadn’t told him anything during the journey. They hadn’t spoken much at all, in fact. What was there to say? Well, a lot of things perhaps, but saying nothing was easier.
Seeing Gwangju again wasn’t easy. Especially not when they got closer to the castle, and Yoongi could see areas that were once sprawling green fields, but were now brown and desolate, void of villages on the horizon. And when there was green again, it didn’t feel right. As they rode through town, things were too quiet. Hardly anyone was walking around on the roads, and the few that were, were not smiling. Their heads were down and they walked quickly, didn’t look up to acknowledge the royal carriage at all. Melancholy was the best way to describe it. It wasn’t like the rumors he’d heard, the ones that said everything was fine and were hardly even rumors.
Once the castle was in sight, however, things did seem greener again, the trees were still tall and the sky was clear, but the castle itself looked a bit worn, a bit grey.
“There have been lots of periods of flooding, and then droughts,” Namjoon said suddenly. The carriage shook as the driver went over rocks. The horses made a noise, and then it was calm again. “It’s like a curse or something. But the last year was better. There are always periods where it’s better. Seokjin said he thought things were looking up.” He sighed and shook his head, turned and looked out as well. Yoongi didn’t respond.
They arrived at the castle gates, and the palace loomed over them. Yoongi could see flowers growing inside the courtyard, but they weren’t particularly bright, all of them seemed dull, like the palace walls. At least the grass was still green. Yoongi liked to think that maybe Jungkook was helping to maintain the gardens. But upon thinking about Jungkook, his stomach twisted up. Was he okay? He’d be older now. Almost ten. Old enough to know Yoongi had abandoned him.
“Can you send a guard to inform Dawon we’ve returned?” Namjoon called out of the carriage as the gates were opened for them. The guard nodded, and another hurried off into the palace ahead of them. “I’m sure she’ll be glad to see you.”
“She’s the one that asked me to leave to begin with. I don’t know that she’ll be thrilled,” Yoongi replied in monotone.
“Don’t be so bleak,” Namjoon replied.
Things seemed bleak though, but he didn’t say that. Instead he just waited for them to get inside, and then he let Namjoon hop out of the carriage first before he followed. The ground felt solid under his feet, but he wasn’t sure if he was.
Memories came flooding back to him when they walked inside, when their footsteps echoed down the long hallway that led to the throne room. Everything was quiet, the hallway empty, and Yoongi could hear his heart pounding in his chest.
“Where is everyone?”
“Their rooms, probably.”
“It’s the middle of the day,” Yoongi protested. “Usually people are...around.”
“Some may be outside, in the gardens around back, or out riding. But it’s not unusual for it to be quiet around here these days,” Namjoon explained. “Sometimes the children play, but not here. The ballroom perhaps, or in their rooms.”
“Are there many children here?”
“Not…right now. But normally, yes. Most of the noblemen you used to know married and had children after you left. They’re all younger than Jungkook of course.” Namjoon glanced back at him when he said Jungkook’s name, but Yoongi was careful to keep his face level. “Jungkook prefers the company of Hoseok, anyway. He’s quite shy.”
“I didn’t ask.”
“I know. You didn’t have to.”
And then they were standing in front of the throne room, and Namjoon pushed the doors open without knocking or being granted permission. Yoongi half expected Hoseok to be sitting there, on his throne, but he was not. Dawon was not there either, the room was empty. Void of the King and…and the queen. Yoongi almost forgot about Mishil, but she wasn’t there either and for that he was relieved.
“Are we waiting?”
“Yes. You can sit, if you wish.”
Yoongi didn’t wish. He paced around the room while they waited. It all looked the same, so much so that it was eerie. The only difference was a painting hung near the thrones, one of Hoseok. He looked a little bit older, but pretty much as he had when Yoongi last saw him. Except, in the portrait, he did not smile.
“You know Yoongi, he really lo—”
Namjoon was cut off by the doors opening again. He stood up a little straighter, and Yoongi whipped around to see who it was. Not Hoseok. It was not Hoseok. Instead, unsurprisingly, it was Dawon. Her hair was shorter, was the first thing Yoongi noticed. He’d seem plenty of women with shorter cut hair in his travels, but Dawon had always had long hair. Now though, it was cropped bluntly at her shoulders and the front strands were braided and pinned back with an ornate clip of some sort on each side. Her dress looked expensive as well, like something from somewhere far away.
“Took you long enough to find him,” Dawon said to Namjoon, but her tone wasn’t scolding, but rather almost emotionless.
“Apologies. I hope we didn’t arrive too late, I—”
“No, no. Why don’t you give us a few moments. If you could, go fetch Seokjin for me?”
“Is he here?”
“Yes. Just got back, I think he went down to his chambers.”
Namjoon bowed slightly and then he was gone, and Yoongi was left alone with Dawon. She smiled, and stepped closer, and Yoongi had to force himself to not step back. “I would hug you, but I’m sure you’ve not had a proper bath in a few days.”
“We made pit stops. I’m not filthy. But I don’t really want a hug either. I want to know what’s going on. Why am I here? I thought you wanted me gone?”
“Right then. Getting right to it.”
“Where’s Hoseok?” Dawon sighed and walked over to the thrones, placed a hand on the back of Hoseok’s. “Is he…”
“Dead? No. He’s not here either, though. Nor is he doing…well. But I suppose that’s not hard to guess. If I’m being honest, and I should be, it’s not like we have time to sugar coat it, I’m surprised he’s lasted as long as he has. We didn’t think we would find you,” Dawon explained, and then with another exaggerated sigh she sat down on Hoseok’s throne. Yoongi was certain he might throw up.
“Well, here I am.”
“Yes. Here you are. Come sit with me.”
Dawon gestured to the other throne, and Yoongi had to force himself to walk over and sit down. He’s sat in Hoseok’s throne before. But never in Mishil’s and never like this. Never with Dawon next to him, looking so grim.
“Hoseok loves you so much,” Dawon whispered. “For a while, I thought I had made a mistake, sending you away. I thought he would die of heartbreak. He came to my chambers one night, some months later, and told me he couldn’t get the sound of your voice to come to him. I told him that was nonsense, that he’d known you since he was a child, and he would always remember your voice. But without you here…things were different. He was different. It was Jungkook who pulled him out of it, I think.”
Yoongi looked at his hands. “Is Jungkook okay?”
“Oh yes. He’s lovely. He is here, somewhere. Probably with one of the caretakers, but he’s a wonderful kid. Very smart.”
“I—” I want to see him.
“I’ll take you to see him later. He’ll be glad to see you, I’m sure. But anyhow,” Dawon glanced at Yoongi again, or rather…at the throne he was sitting on. “Mishil is dead,” she said simply, bluntly, and Yoongi felt his own eyes get wide, to which Dawon scoffed, and nodded. “Yes. I never had a problem with her, at least not at first. After you left, I think she thought…she thought her marriage would improve, but it did not. Hoseok was always kind to her, but as the time went on she became increasingly unkind to him. Always doing things behind his back and making him seem a fool.”
“Because he wasn’t the husband she wanted? I don’t know. Perhaps she was just spiteful. In their marriage agreement, she would have remained queen if he died. Thus, brings us to where we are now. The last few months have been hard for Hoseok. Seokjin noticed it before I did. He told me Hoseok seemed weak, or absent…not quite all there. But he hid it very well. Eventually Seokjin became suspicious, and one day he caught Mishil slipping something to the kitchen.”
“Oh my god,” Yoongi curled forward and put his head in his hands. If he didn’t feel sick before (which he did) he definitely was now.
“Mm,” Dawon hummed. “She was poisoning him. Slowly, over time. Slowly, so that it would be painful, a slow death. Of course, as soon as we found out, she was put in the dungeon and eventually confessed to what she had been doing. She was hung about two weeks ago? Along with those who helped her. Not that that will make Hoseok better, but she certainly will never be queen now.”
Yoongi squeezed his eyes shut, only able to think of how he should have been here, how he should have been by Hoseok’s side all this time, should have known this was going to happen and put a stop to it somehow. “He’s going to die then? That’s what you’re saying?”
“How are you so calm? How are you okay with this?”
“I’m not. I’ve already cried enough for it to last a lifetime, Yoongi. Now is time to deal with what will come after. Hoseok does not want me to be sad, anyway,” she said, and Yoongi could just barely catch the wobble in her voice. “You can see him, if you wish. But not yet.”
“Then you were wrong. Seokjin was wrong. He isn’t going to die because of me he’s going to die because…because nobody was here for him. This shouldn’t have happened. What’s going to happen to Jungkook when he’s dead? What’s—what’s going to happen to Gwangju? Hoseok can’t die, Dawon, he—”
Yoongi’s hands were shaking and his vision was cloudy and he couldn’t think straight. All he wanted was to hold Hoseok, to tell him he’s sorry. To make things okay again.
“Why should I stop? I’m right.”
“Hoseok does not have an heir, Yoongi. Jungkook is a child, and he isn’t Hoseok’s biological child. That means Hoseok had to name an heir, and he did, a long time ago. The documents are all prepared, and he named you to be the next king, after he is gone. You come from a royal bloodline, and you would have been a prince, perhaps even a king. And he trusts you.”
“I haven’t—I can’t. I’m not a king. He has to live,” Yoongi shook his head. What was he supposed to say to that? Was he just supposed to agree, just like that? Just supposed to accept the idea of Hoseok dying and take his throne, his kingdom?
“I understand this is overwhelming, but I believe Hoseok made the right decision. If I didn’t, I would not have tried to find you. This will—”
“Take me to him. I need to see him. Where is he?”
“He’s at the estate that the two of you shared, before Mishil gave it to some old nobleman. Hoseok took it back. He’s there, resting, presumably. He said that’s where he wanted to die.” Dawon closed her eyes and took a shaky breath. “I don’t want to lose my brother, Yoongi. I don’t want you to lose him either and I’m sorry I sent you away, Seokjin is sorry too, we didn’t want this.”
“I don’t care if you’re sorry, I just want you to take me to him. Now.” Yoongi stood up and crossed his arms over his chest, his eyes drifting over the thrones. It seemed like just yesterday that Hoseok was sitting there, his crown on his head. And just another day before that that they were children, running around the room playing games and laughing, carefree.
How things changed.
Just as it seemed Dawon was going to respond, someone cleared their throat from behind them, and Yoongi jolted, turned to see Seokjin standing in the doorway. He was not wearing the cloaks Yoongi often remembered him wearing, but instead was dressed in fitted dark leather pants and a white billowy shirt that showed off his physique more than anything he’d ever worn before had. He looked more important this way, not like…the palace ‘wizard’.
“Hello Yoongi,” he said with a gentle smile, a melancholy smile. “You look well.”
“I’m not well, asshole,” Yoongi snapped.
“Ah, fair enough. I don’t suppose any of us are. I can take you to see him, if you’d like,” Seokjin said simply.
“It’s the least you could do,” Yoongi muttered. “Where is Jungkook? He’s coming too.”
“Yes. Hoseok is his father, are you not going to let him see his father before he fuckin’ dies?”
“Yoongi, we don’t want to upset him.”
“Death happens. And obviously you aren’t trying very hard to do anything to help, so I want Jungkook to come with us.”
Dawon looked at Seokjin and nodded and Seokjin raised an eyebrow before he gestured for the doorway. Yoongi was happy to exit the throne room. He would have been happier if he never had to step foot in it again, but the truth was that if he had to, he would be king, if that was what Hoseok wanted him to do. If it meant Jungkook would be safe and the kingdom would remain peaceful, and Hoseok could…could go knowing things were secure, then Yoongi would do it. Yoongi would do anything for Hoseok. He would trade places with him if he could. Die so Hoseok could live.
“I’ll fetch Jungkook. Go ahead and wait outside.”
But it wasn’t great. Nothing was. In a matter of moments, his whole life felt like it was truly falling apart.
Yoongi had thought over the years about what it would be like if he returned to the palace, to Hoseok, but this was not what he’d had in mind. He’d have wanted to be happy, filled with joy and relief, but instead his stomach was twisted up in knots. Relief was a long ways away.
When Seokjin brought Jungkook outside, he didn’t notice Yoongi standing by the carriage at first. Mostly, he seemed irritated, but nose scrunched up and his arms folded over his chest. Yoongi was struck with how much older he looked, while still somehow looking the same as he had so many years ago. Even though Jungkook was not biologically Yoongi’s son, he might as well have been, because Yoongi felt such guilt for all the years he’d missed. For just up and leaving him that night. For not being there for him, and for not giving him a good enough explanation.
“I told you where we’re going, do you not want to?” Seokjin placed a hand on Jungkook’s shoulder, but Jungkook shrugged it off.
“I don’t wanna go with you,” Jungkook snapped. “Can Aunt Dawon take me instead? Also that carriage is dirty! And the horses scare me!”
“They do not scare you, I saw you riding just yesterday.”
“That wasn’t me.”
Jungkook looked away from Seokjin, and thus made eye contact with Yoongi, and his already big eyes got even bigger, but he didn’t move from where he was standing, not right away. He stood there for several long seconds before he was suddenly running, and then his arms were around Yoongi and he was—fuck—he was crying.
Then again, Yoongi was crying too. And then Jungkook pulled away and punched Yoongi in the thigh, hard.
“Jungkook!” Seokjin was by their sides, a hand again on Jungkook’s shoulder. “That was rude, apologize.”
He sniffled, and Yoongi crouched down so that Jungkook was taller than him, they weren’t level anymore, Jungkook had grown of course. But he was still just a kid, and after several moments of hushed whispers and gentle apologies that would never make up for the past five years, Jungkook said he was sorry, and he hugged Yoongi again, murmured that he missed him.
“I missed you, too, Jungkook. So much.”
“Are you back because Daddy is sick?”
“Yes, we’re going to see him, Seokjin told you, right?” Jungkook nodded. “Everything is going to be okay. I’m not leaving you again.”
But Yoongi could tell Jungkook was wary. He could tell when they got in the carriage, could tell because Jungkook held his hand tightly the whole time, even when he fell asleep with his head tilted against Yoongi’s shoulder.
“You shouldn’t worry too much,” Seokjin said quietly. “Jungkook has had a good life, since you’ve been gone. He’s a bit of a menace sometimes, but I’ve tried to help look after him as well.”
“I don’t know if that makes me feel better,” Yoongi admitted.
“I’ve tried to look after Hoseok as well, in some ways, I suppose. He’s always been stubborn, and it’s hardly as if he needs to be looked after. He can take care of himself, you know that. More than anything I think he was lonely,” Seokjin continued.
Yoongi narrowed his eyes. “What does that mean?”
“I don’t want to be dishonest with you.”
“Then don’t be.”
Seokjin’s eyes flickered to Jungkook, but he was still sound asleep. Then, Seokjin looked out the carriage window. “There was a brief period…which has been over for a while now, in which Hoseok and I…”
Yoongi opened his mouth. Closed it. “Oh.”
“It wasn’t love. I care about him, but it ends there. And whatever it was back then…we haven’t in…a long time, like I said.”
They didn’t speak the rest of the way.
Moments that Yoongi wanted to remember felt choppy in his mind. He took in their old home when they rode up, but once he was inside, it felt as if he hadn’t taken anything in at all. He wanted to fully capture the moment Jungkook ran down a hallway, calling for Hoseok, but after it happened, it disappeared like a gust of wind. He wanted to remember the paintings on the walls, the way Hoseok must have arranged the furniture, the flowers sitting in vases, but he couldn’t, he couldn’t focus on anything, couldn’t submit it to memory.
Except of course, for the image of Hoseok, lying in a large bed, all alone, eyes barely open, skin too pale and hair wild, messy and untrimmed. Jungkook was perched next to him on the bed already, talking fast and hurried while Hoseok seemed to be trying to focus on him, and Yoongi didn’t think he would ever forget it. He wouldn’t ever forget the way his legs felt wobbly either, wouldn’t forget how his heart lurched because he was so in love with the man lying in the bed that he couldn’t take it.
“And then Seokjin told me I was coming to see you and I was so happy but I didn’t really wanna go with Seokjin because he’s weird,” Jungkook rambled on.
“That’s not nice.” Hoseok’s voice was hoarse and weak and Yoongi stepped into the room, causing the floor to creak, and Hoseok’s head turned slowly, his eyes blinking and his lips turning up into a smile.
“And then! And then we got outside and guess who was there!”
Jungkook grabbed Hoseok’s arm and Hoseok places his other free hand over Jungkook’s, because he already knew who was there, because Yoongi was smiling back at him, tears welling up in his eyes.
“Hello,” Hoseok murmured. “Long time.”
Somehow, Yoongi found himself sitting on the edge of the bed, and good thing too because otherwise his legs might have given out. “I’m—”
“Don’t say you’re sorry,” Hoseok said. There were thin lines around his eyes. Undeniably he looked older, but not as much as some king’s did. He’d aged well, if at all (it hadn’t been that long),he still looked young besides the fact that he was clearly very ill. “I do not want you to be sorry,” he continued. “I know why you left. I’m just glad you’re back. Glad I get to see you before I go.”
“You aren’t going anywhere,” Yoongi croaked. Hoseok sounded so calm, and Yoongi was already on the verge of sobbing, which he certainly didn’t want to do in front of Jungkook.
“Yeah, you aren’t going anywhere, Daddy,” Jungkook said. “We’re gonna stay here with you ‘till you’re better again! We promise, Papa promised. Papa promised everything would be okay.”
“You can’t go,” Jungkook said firmly.
“Why don’t you give us a moment? Go have some tea with Seokjin, okay? Then we can all sit together, how about that?”
“I’ll bring you some tea!”
Jungkook jumped up and hurried out of the room. Neither of them spoke until they could no longer hear his footsteps retreating. Once he was surely out of earshot, Yoongi scooted closer and Hoseok’s hand found his, their fingers wasting no time and tangling together. However, Hoseok’s grip was weak and his smile was wavering, like it was taking too much energy to keep it on his face.
“My sister…she told me why you left…” Hoseok began slowly, his words slow and far apart. “I wish you hadn’t. But I understand. I know we don’t have a lot of time so…so I want to tell you the important things. We shouldn’t waste time. I—I still love you, I want you to know that, before I go, I want you to know I never stopped.” Gradually, Hoseok spoke faster until by the end, he was out of breath and had to close his eyes. “I never stopped loving you.”
“I didn’t stop either,” Yoongi replied. He wasn’t going to bring up what Seokjin had said about him and Hoseok having been intimate, there was no point. He was unsurprised that Hoseok had sought comfort somewhere, and it wasn’t as if he would have ever found it the way he needed in his wife. If anything, Yoongi was just surprised that of everyone, it had been Seokjin, considering Hoseok hadn’t always been his biggest fan, but that was neither here nor there.
“We…we’ll find each other again,” Hoseok continued. “We lost so much time thanks to some stupid prophecy but…but we’ll find each other again in another life.”
“Another life where it won’t matter. We won’t have a prophecy or people who won’t want us together,” Hoseok said, desperation crawling into his voice and tears spilling onto the pillow he was rested on. “We’ll be together. We’ll find each other and we’ll be together, always, I know it.”
“How do you know?” Yoongi whispered.
“Because you’re my soulmate, Yoongi,” Hoseok whispered back. “You’re my fate.”
Hoseok pulled him closer then. They didn’t kiss, but Yoongi rested his forehead on top of Hoseok’s and Hoseok wrapped his arms around Yoongi in some kind of hug, just for a moment before Yoongi pulled away enough to kiss Hoseok’s forehead. “I love you,” Yoongi said. “I’m not going to lose you.”
“I’m dying. I’m going to die soon. I—I need you to take the crown. Promise me you will?”
“You aren’t going to die.”
“Yoongi—” Hoseok’s grip on his hand was so tight, but Yoongi was sure it was more painful for Hoseok than it was for him. “Promise me.”
“I’ll be right back,” Yoongi said abruptly instead. He easily pried his hand away from Hoseok’s and stood up, forcing himself to ignore the tears on Hoseok’s cheeks and the look of sorrow now in his eyes. “I love you too much to let this be the end.”
And when he left the room, he also ignored the nagging words of Seokjin’s prophecy that still managed to get to him. Every single move he made could somehow lead to Hoseok’s death, but if he didn’t do anything…Hoseok would die anyway, and for what?
When Yoongi stormed into the dining room, Jungkook jumped slightly and Seokjin coughed around the glass he was sipping from. Surely Yoongi looked angry, he knew that, he could feel the way his face was all twisted up, and he saw the resulting worry in Jungkook’s eyes, so he tried to soften his expression for his sake. Still—
“Seokjin, may I speak with you alone for a moment?”
“Yes. Jungkook, stay here, won’t you?”
“Maybe,” Jungkook replied sarcastically, but Seokjin just gave him a look and then stood from the table. Jungkook intercepted his glass as soon as he did, but Yoongi didn’t think it was alcohol, likely just tea or fruit juice.
Seokjin followed Yoongi into the next room and crossed his arms over his chest. “Is Hoseok okay?”
“Okay? No, obviously he is not okay,” Yoongi snapped. “That’s why I asked to talk to you alone.” Seokjin didn’t say anything, he just stared at Yoongi like he was waiting for him to say more, and it made Yoongi feel even more angry even more determined to do something, to fix this. This couldn’t be how it all ended. “You’re going to save him.”
“And how will I do that?”
“Don’t give me that,” Yoongi snapped. “I know you can save him. Remember when I was young? When—”
“When we were young? When you got ill? Yes, I remember,” Seokjin interrupted. His eyes lost the confusion, but Yoongi could tell he wasn’t going to be helpful so easily.
“I know how close to dying I was, Seokjin. I know you and your father saved my life and I know it wasn’t with…with medicine,” Yoongi said under his breath. “I know you have real powers and I need you to use them now. I need you to save Hoseok. Jungkook needs you to save him. I won’t take no for answer.”
For a long time, Seokjin didn’t say anything. Instead, he turned away and walked over to the opposite wall and looked up at one of the paintings that hung there. Yoongi didn’t recognize it, but it was of a countryside, sprawling green grass and a house far in the distance, a break in the sunset. In the grass, yellow roses grew.
Part of Yoongi didn’t believe in other lives. He was almost sure that once he died, he was gone for good, he wouldn’t be reborn again, he wouldn’t get the chance to find Hoseok for a second time. This had been his one and only chance and he couldn’t just give up like that. He didn’t have enough hope to know living this life without Hoseok would be worth it to have Hoseok in another.
“Things such as this will have consequences. Just because I save him now…that doesn’t mean I could save him again,” Seokjin finally said. “It doesn’t mean someone else wouldn’t die instead. A life for a life, that’s usually how it goes. Or, one curse lifted for another to be cast. We cannot have it all. We are not meant to cheat death. When we saved you, you weren’t quite on the brink and—”
“I don’t care. I don’t want it all. I just want Hoseok to live.”
“What if you die?”
“Then I will.”
“Hoseok would not want that.”
“Seokjin,” Yoongi clenched his jaw, balled his hands into fists. “I’ll take the consequences. Just save his life, for fucks sake.”
Seokjin closed his eyes and took a breath. Had someone already asked him to do this? It was possible that Dawon had, at first. Maybe they’d already gone through this whole conversation, already tried it even. But they all seemed to ready to accept Hoseok’s fate and Yoongi knew there had to be something they could do. If he’d been here maybe Hoseok would be better by now, if this hadn’t been prevented in the first place.
“Yoongi, you can be angry with me for the rest of our lives,” Seokjin said carefully. “When I tell you we tried everything, we did. We tried medicine and common cures for poison. Nothing has worked. We—”
“But did you try this?” Yoongi asked before Seokjin could finish. “I know you have powers. I know—”
“Tempting fate like this, the magic I would have to use to save his life…it doesn’t come from a good place. It’s not forgiving magic. So if you want me to do it then I will, but you have to know what we would be dipping our toes into.”
“I’ll sell my soul to the devil, Seokjin. Just. Save. Him.”
A kind of darkness passed over Seokjin’s face. “The devil likes to play tricks, Yoongi. He does not want your soul. He wants to play with it until you hardly have one left.”
Yoongi knew all too well what the calm before the storm felt like. He’d experienced it, he’d lived it, survived the storm and ended up back where he’d started, somehow. He knew how amazing life could feel in the calm before the storm, how it felt like nothing could ever go wrong, as if he were untouchable. But now that he knew, he was very aware of the fact that there could be a storm at any time, and he had to be careful.
Although, it was hard to want to be careful when life finally seemed to be working out and he—they—could finally actually live it.
It was just over two weeks since Yoongi had returned to Gwangju. Two weeks since Seokjin had done…something to save Hoseok’s life. He never said exactly what it was he’d done, he’d ordered Yoongi to leave the estate completely and to take Jungkook with him and not to come back inside until Seokjin came to get them. It had taken so long that Yoongi had begun to worry something was going wrong, but eventually Seokjin emerged and told them he was done, and Hoseok was resting.
But Hoseok had no memory of whatever Seokjin had done, and Seokjin had not returned to the palace with them. No one had seen him since.
But Yoongi didn’t really care, if he was being honest. Because Hoseok was alive, and that was what mattered.
“You’re thinking too much again,” Hoseok’s voice was like music to Yoongi’s ears no matter what he said, and for a moment, Yoongi just basked in the way he sounded, before he felt Hoseok’s lips over his own, felt his hands trailing down his back. “Come back to me.”
“I’m here,” Yoongi assured him. “I’ll always be here. I won’t leave again.”
Hoseok smiled. “You’ve been saying that a lot. You don’t need to worry, I believe you. We’re going to spend the rest of our lives together,” he said. His lips trailed over Yoongi’s jaw, to his neck. Yoongi pulled Hoseok closer. “Now, why don’t you fuck me?”
“Ah, always the romantic.”
Hoseok giggled, and Yoongi rocked his hips forward, tangled his fingers in Hoseok’s hair. His eyes were so beautiful, no longer sunken or without light. They were bright and alive and Hoseok’s skin was warm and full of color and—and Yoongi loved him so much. They had so much to catch up on, so much time to make up for. It couldn’t all be done in just the two weeks they’d had, but Hoseok was right, they had the rest of their lives.
So Yoongi made love to Hoseok slow, as the sun rose and spilled light into their chambers. And then they kissed until they couldn’t stop laughing, and then they slept away the last few hours of the morning, tangled with each other.
“We should go into town today, Jungkook would like it, don’t you think? I heard the townspeople are holding a trade market to try and raise spirits and make sure everyone had the things they need?” Hoseok said, once they were both awake. “We haven’t really gone out since you came back.”
“Because you should be resting,” Yoongi replied, carding a hand through Hoseok’s hair, messy from sleep and sex. “You don’t need to worry about making appearances in the kingdom yet, Dawon is handling things.”
“It’s not about that. It’s just about us having a nice time with our son,” Hoseok continued. “You do not need to protect me, Yoongi.”
“I know, you can still pin me down, so I know you feel better.”
They kissed again, and then Hoseok kissed Yoongi’s nose. “So?”
“We could go to our spot, instead,” Yoongi suggested. “The one with the yellow roses. We haven’t been since I got back and—”
“I haven’t been there in a really long time,” Hoseok admitted, his voice sounding far away and wistful. “I wonder if it’s completely overgrown now?”
“Only one way to find out. We should just go there and then we can go to the market this afternoon. Or this evening. Jungkook has his studies right now anyway, doesn’t he?”
“That does sound nice. Just like old times,” Hoseok mused. “I suppose we could do that. I just want…I just want to enjoy things with you before I have to really get back to my duties. I am still king, you know? I can’t rest forever.”
“Yes, yes,” Yoongi sat up and waved his hands in the air. “But we don’t need to worry about that yet. Get dressed, I’ll have a carriage prepared for us.”
“I love you,” Hoseok said. He said it as often as Yoongi promised never to leave again.
“I love you too.” I promise.
Perhaps fate did exist. Perhaps somewhere in the stars, Yoongi and Hoseok’s names were written, intertwined so that they were destined to be together forever and always, no matter what. Perhaps they would have been thrown together no matter what, no matter who they were or what kind of family they’d been born into. Perhaps it would have happened even if they tried to fight it. Perhaps no prophecy could keep them apart, no matter how tragic the consequences.
Perhaps things really could work out for them, here, in this lifetime.
In their clearing, the grass had grown taller, but it wasn’t nearly as overgrown as it should have been. It was as if there was some kind of magic there, some kind of magic that kept the grass green and the trees tall and the roses blooming. Only, the roses that bloomed now were no longer yellow, but a deep red instead. There was only one rose left with hints of yellow on its petals, as if they had somehow changed color.
“Did you know, yellow roses represent friendship, and platonic love. They also symbolize the sun, and brightness and joy,” Hoseok said as he relaxed back in Yoongi’s arms. “I’ve always felt those roses represented us, when we were growing up.”
“They were so beautiful, weren’t they?” Hoseok traced random shapes into Yoongi’s palm. “But red roses are symbolic of love. Passion. I think it’s fitting they’ve changed to that color, now.”
Yoongi kissed Hoseok’s neck. He didn’t say that it should have been impossible for the roses to have just…changed color. Nor did he point out that the roses were such a dark red, so deep and dark, that it was slightly unsettling. Because that didn’t matter, and Hoseok’s outlook was so much better. Hoseok’s outlook was the one Yoongi wanted to see, too.
If this was the calm before the storm, Yoongi felt he would gladly be swept away.
“I think we’re really lucky we found each other,” Yoongi said. “I think…I think you’re the love of my life.”
“You’re the love of all my lives,” Hoseok replied quickly. “I’ll love you in every life I live. I’ll love you, whoever I am.”
Yoongi held Hoseok a bit tighter, tilted his head back towards the sun. He was never going to leave again. This was where he was meant to be, forever, and forever was what they were going to have.
Yoongi never had been a huge fan of museums, in general. It wasn’t that he had something specific against them, but it wasn’t ever something he sought out to do in his free time. Growing up, he usually just hung out with the basketball kids and did other after school activities, and then he was busy with college and then with work and college so when he had free time he didn’t want to drive downtown to a museum and be on his feet all day.
But of course, he had to befriend Seokjin, and Seokjin liked to drag him around doing all kinds of activities Yoongi wouldn’t normally participate in. Which wasn’t the worst, most of the time he had fun. Only, now Seokjin was going through a museum phase for some reason. He claimed it was because museums were intellectual (and he ‘lived for intellectual shit like that’), but Yoongi was certain it was actually because Seokjin recently started dating a guy who worked at a museum.
Maybe he was trying to set Yoongi up with someone, he always complained about the fact that Yoongi didn’t get out in the dating scene enough, but Yoongi just felt like the right person would come around when it was meant to happen. Also, dating was not fun.
Whatever it was, Yoongi was spending a lot of time at museums as of late. Some of them were small, or pop-ups. Some of them were huge, and he’d been to the main history museum downtown with Seokjin multiple times, because it was Seokjin’s favorite and they always had different seasonal or rotating exhibits. Although, every time they went there, Yoongi felt overwhelmed with a strange sense of…melancholy. Maybe it was just thinking about the past, about history, but it always felt like something else.
It felt like he was both being drawn in and pushed away at the same time.
“There’s no flash photography, get off your phone,” Seokjin muttered as they walked down one of the many hallways to the new exhibit hall.
“I’m not taking pictures.”
“I know, you’re pretending to text someone, I see you typing in random shit into your notes.”
“I’m listing all the reasons I want to not be your friend anymore, because you told me we were just going to get food. Then you kidnapped me basically and took me here. Now I’m hungry.”
“We’ll go eat afterwards,” Seokjin said, bumping Yoongi’s shoulder and then poking him lightly in the side until Yoongi cracked a smile and shoved Seokjin playfully in return.
“Fine. I’ll try to enjoy myself.”
“Good. Also fuck that no flash photography shit, I’m gonna need you to take some pictures of me. For the ‘gram or whatever the kids these days say.”
Yoongi rolled his eyes, but he didn’t say anything else because the long hallway finally gave way to the new exhibition hall, a wide open space that appeared to break off into more, smaller rooms. That melancholy feeling rushed over him in a wave as he looked around the space, eyes wide. Everything was decorated to look like a palace, but it all had a worn down sort of quality to it, like a castle that had been abandoned for some time.
The walls seemed to stretch on and on and some areas were covered in glass and had plaques and lights, so perhaps they were real parts of what was once a palace somewhere. Paintings hung on the walls as well, all lit up, surrounded by other podiums and artifacts. In the back center of the room was a large throne, framed by stained glass windows with intricate designs . The sun streamed in, colorful light dancing across the floor in such a way that Yoongi’s heart hurt, and he didn’t know why.
“Cool, huh?” Seokjin said, clearly unaffected.
Yoongi just swallowed, nodded and stepped further into the room. Other museum goers were wandering around, and a group of them was gathered near the back, where the throne was. A tour guide, it seemed, was speaking. He was dressed in clothing that must have been period appropriate for the exhibit and his voice sounded too formal, but Yoongi didn’t tune into what he was saying just yet.
“Seokjin…” Yoongi began slowly, his eyes drifting towards a section of the wall that was not covered in glass, but instead just roped off. It looked old, was made of stone and something about it was calling Yoongi closer. “What is this exhibit for?”
“It’s about the last King of Gwangju from…shit, I dunno. Forever ago.”
Yoongi groaned and tore his eyes away from the wall to give Seokjin a dirty look. “Gee, thanks, museum expert.”
“It seemed interesting,” Seokjin replied with a shrug. “I read the backstory online, there was a wizard involved. I bet he was sexy.”
Seokjin winked, and then he was walking towards the group gathered near the back. Yoongi on the other hand, stayed where he was and stared at the wall, his hand reaching out until he was stretching over the ropes. Of course, he knew he was not meant to touch it. He knew the rope was there so people could take more flattering pictures, not so they could touch the ancient wall, but Yoongi didn’t really care. He placed his palm flat against the stone.
An image flashed through his mind, behind his eyes, like it was burned into his brain for a moment and a moment only. A fleeting memory, something buried so deep he could only get a glimpse. A smiling face, one he didn’t really recognize. The color yellow, a flower in a vase, chasing a friend through a long hallway, footsteps echoing as the sun set along the horizon, watching the sun set from inside chambers with stone walls…
Yoongi ripped his hand away from the wall and took a step back, blinking himself back to the present and walking to a podium next to the wall. His mouth felt dry when he looked down at the earrings inside the glass box. They were quite large, and quite shiny, clearly restored to almost perfect condition. He’d never seen rubies so large, so beautifully cut. He was so entranced by them, he didn’t even think to read the card explaining their significance. Instead, his hands went to his own ears, to the hoops he had there, and he couldn’t help but imagine the rubies there instead, a deep, dark, red against his dark hair.
“Remember when your hair was long?”
“Yeah? Remember when you used to be taller than me?”
“Oh Seok, you wound me.”
Yoongi shook his head, tried to shake away the unsettling feeling in his gut, shoved his hands into his pockets and maneuvered his way through the exhibit to get back to Seokjin. However, he was near the front of the crowd by the throne now, and Yoongi had to get through them before he could get to the front to find his friend. As he muttered apologies to the people he was pushing past, he began to catch what the tour guide was saying.
“The King’s life was plagued with many rumors, and prophecies. His reign was seen by the people, and by scholars today, as being a tumultuous one, with many ups and downs, but he was a respected king nonetheless. He was kind, and cared about his people and his kingdom,” the tour guide said. Yoongi found himself pausing momentarily to listen.
He’d never paid enough attention in history class. He felt as if he’d stepped into another world, one he wasn’t sure he wanted to be in.
“Although, the King did not have much time to do all the good his people thought he would be able to do.”
“Seokjin?” Yoongi hissed his friend’s name, and then he was yanked suddenly to the front of the crowd. Seokjin’s hand was around his wrist for only a moment, but it felt like fire, like there was too much power in his grip. And when he met Seokjin’s eyes, they were not the same as they had been when they’d entered the exhibit. The carefree, joking Seokjin was not staring back at him. It was someone else, someone more serious, someone darker, someone who had seen things Yoongi knew he never wanted to see.
Yoongi had a glimpse of someone in a long robe, someone who had aged alone, away from the world, someone who believed he had failed his closest friends. Someone who could not escape from something.
And then the tour guide spoke again.
“Jung Hoseok died, taking his family name with him as well as the Jung reign, only just a fortnight after recovering from a poisoning inflicted on him by his Queen, who was executed. His miraculous recovery was short lived, as he was killed in a clearing by robbers, or assassins, depending on the version of the story you believe, while enjoying a relaxing day with his friend.”
The audience that had gathered murmured to themselves, but Yoongi felt frozen, unable to make any sound.
“Of course, his friend was rumored to have been his lover, and he attempted to fight off the attackers. Instead, he was injured as well, but he did survive the attack, but his injury made him unable to get help and he was forced to watch as his lover died in that clearing.”
“Jung Hoseok never had an heir. There was no one to carry on his family name, as his sister died unwed and without children. However, his lover later became King, as Jung Hoseok had proclaimed him as the rightful successor should something happen to him.”
The tour guide paused. His eyes drifted through the crowd, and they landed on Yoongi. He was young, Yoongi could tell, and his eyes were bright, he had his whole life ahead of him, he was unworried. But the way he spoke, the way he told the story he was telling, it broke Yoongi’s heart.
“In the next room you can learn more about the reign after Jung Hoseok’s untimely death…” the young man said slowly, his eyes not leaving Yoongi’s. “And behind me you can see the dagger the robbers used in their attack, as well as the original throne the king once sat upon. He was buried with his crown, so it is not on exhibit here. Thank you.”
“I don’t want to see,” Yoongi blurted out, and he turned on his heels as the audience began to scatter to the next room. Seokjin’s hand was around his wrist again, though, and Yoongi was halted.
“You should look,” Seokjin said. And his voice was different, too. His voice sounded far away, but at the same time as if he were whispering directly into Yoongi’s ear.
“Let me go,” Yoongi breathed.
And Seokjin did, without arguing. Yoongi turned away without looking at the dagger. But he didn’t need to see it. He knew, somehow, deep in his gut, that it was embellished with crystals on the handle. He knew the blade was curved and sharp and he knew it hurt to be cut by it. He knew it could be fatal.
As he stumbled away, his eyes brimmed with unfallen tears, but his legs brought him towards the next room until he was there, until he was staring at the paintings, at the portraits and the pieces of paper inside glass cases with journal entries and letters written to someone who was long dead, someone who wasn’t coming back. He stared up at a portrait of a man in the front of the room, a man with a handsome face and kind eyes and a crown on his head, a man who had died too young, because that was his fate.
The letters in the glass were scattered with phrases like ‘I love you’, ‘I miss you’, ‘I don’t know what to do without you’.
“Don’t forget me, ever, my love. I won’t forget you.”
One in particular made Yoongi stop, his hands braced on the glass because he felt like he couldn’t stand up.
“I’m not alive without you.”
It was his own handwriting.
He remembered writing those words, alone in a room made of stone in the dead of night, ruby earrings in his ears and crumpled pieces of paper around him, all stained with tears and blotchy ink.
But he remembered something else too.
He remembered laughter. He remembered hands tangled and love making. He remembered sunrises and happiness, flowers growing and memories of childhood. He remembered being in love.
He remembered a promise.
And at the end of the room, another portrait hung of another man, this man much older, his face conveying the life he had lived, and the crown he wore conveying his status. Yoongi knew who he was, he knew without reading the plaque, he knew without needing to be told.
He knew the man was him.
He knew the tears running down his cheeks were because he could not recall how many lives he had lived between then and now, he could not recall how many of them had been alone. He knew they were alone because he could not recall the voice of the man he was supposed to be fated to, the man he should have been searching for this whole time.
And then there was a hand on his shoulder, gentle and the slightest bit hesitant, as the person’s other hand offered out a tissue.
“Are you okay?”
Yoongi hadn’t realized he’d fallen to his knees. He hadn’t realized his hands were shaking.
He turned around to accept the tissue, to assure the stranger that he was alright, but instead he said nothing and stared.
“It is kind of a sad story, isn’t it?”
A heart shaped smile appeared on his face, and his eyes lit up and his voice sounded like the most beautiful thing Yoongi had ever heard. The pain, the confusion and sorrow and regret that was consuming him moments before was gone. He wasn’t sure why he had been so upset. Everything was going to be okay.
“I think it has a happy ending,” Yoongi replied in a whisper, in a daze, once he found his own voice again.
“Yeah? What’s your name? I’m Hoseok. Just like the guy from the exhibit, funny right? What a coincidence.”
No, Yoongi thought to himself, I think it’s fate.
thank you for reading! please feel free to leave kudos/comments (i can be bad at replying to comments, but i do read them and i really appreciate them a lot!)
and, since it wasn't said explicitly, deep red roses can convey sorrow or regret (as well as longing and desire). because, ya know, metaphors.
also! follow me on twitter! i write aus there also. AND curiouscat if you wanna ask some questions or leave a (nice, please lol) message: