The greatest city in the world shimmered in the light of the sun.
The thousand and one towers, curved from solid gold and built to honor a long since dead god.
The famed neighborhood of temples, were meandering alleyways were filled with thousands of priests promising miracles and suffering, were the needy and the desperate disappeared, giving away too much to receive nothing at all.
The port of the Sun Sea, were ships appeared years after leaving, with hulls filled with stones glistening like rainbows and scents so sweet they made one sob.
The blacksmith quarter, famed for its frequent and violent conflicts with the alchemists quarter; all that was separating science from magic being a thin bridge that trailed over the river that cut through the city.
The soaring dome of the artistic troops of the empire, who would play every night or not at all for domineering senses.
Even in the quarter of pleasures, columned homes promising privacy stood next to teetering wooden homes open to the air. And the quality of the whores were about as good in both. Every wish could be assuaged.
All in all, the empire of a thousand blazing suns, whose reach curled from shore to shore, whose rule promised peace upheld by the whip of war, had a capital that lived up to every hushed story ever told.
And Park Jimin, younger son of a northern king who no one cared to remember, he would rule it all.
Well, rule as a consort, the omega consort to the great crown prince Yoongi, and he would bear him a dozen healthy alpha sons that would only add to the glory of the empire.
And as Park Jimin approached the palace of the empire, he prayed he would not fail.
As Park Jimin descended from his carriage, splattered with mud, he aimed to have the look of a true consort, of a emperor.
As his ladies were presented to him, three chattering noble girls from northern lands, who wore casual silks a thousand threads fine than anything Jimin had packed, he realized that no one expected him to be an emperor.
Besides his ladies and a balding bureaucrat, no one had come to celebrate him.
“Where is my betrothed?” Jimin questioned in the direction of the bureaucrat, who had started directing Jimin’s bags inside with the flustered air of a man who had better to do.
The ladies of his retinue stopped short at that, hands covering their faces and only highlighting the mirth of Jimin’s humiliation. Jimin’s heart sunk. He would have no friends there.
The bureaucrat bowed; he seemed to bow whenever Jimin even looked at him. “His imperial highness is otherwise occupied. Important imperial business.” He smiled at Jimin with the look of a man born and raised in the city, who disregarded Jimin’s provincial notions.
Jimin nodded once, attempting to keep his composure, even as he felt his hands shake with furious anger. He smoothed his hands repeatedly over the pink fabric of his imperial robe, decorated with dozens of lily’s to represent purity. The dressmakers had spent almost a year making his robe, and it’s colors reminded Jimin of the glistening pinks of the sunset outside his window.
Where he deserved to be. At home with it’s achingly freezing winters and hills of roses in the spring.. Not here with these cruel people in this unkind place.
Jimin nodded once, and raised one contemptuous eyebrow at his ladies. “May we go?”
A dozen turns through hallways, decorated with tapestries depicting gory conquests so hideous you could feel the pain of the conquered as their backs were pushed into the dirt. Archways leading to hidden gardens were secrets begged to be shared; while marble fountains overrun with crystal water scented with thousands of rose petals, all this wealth and more surrounded him as he arrived at his room. The palace was short and stocky, built for war, but a thousand years had softened its architecture so that the inside glistened like a jewel box.
His room was large, overlooking a garden dotted with huge cheery trees and a curved fountain mounted with two interlacing lovers. Two naked lovers. Jimin turned away from the windows with reddened cheeks. Obviously, the morals in the imperial court were a little loser than in the north.
His ladies had already put away his paltry trunks, and were now bowing, waiting to be excused. They had obviously found him wanting, little of interest or power to keep them around, and a task diverting them from the aimless diversions of court.
Jimin waved them off with one hand, and they backed away gracefully, eager to spread the news of the rural, poor fiancée of the imperial prince. He stopped them with one hand before they left the room. Jimin felt the sudden thrum of power run through his veins, the euphoria of ruling. Of having people bow before one’s will. It was paltry showing of power, but it was still in his blood.
Jimin laid down on his bed, crossing one leg over the other, and he knew how must look, sun shining in his hair, purity clashing with the pink of his skin.
He spoke with a voice of authority: “Tell me where I can find the ambassador.”
The ambassador was a short, violent man by the name of Jung-Jin. He was a favorite of Jimin’s stepmother, and had gratefully accepted the position as ambassador to the empire once she had ingratiated herself to Jimin’s father with the help of the babe in her belly. One of father’s mistresses had died the week of his appointment. Jimin could still remember the blue shade of death that stained her lips.
Jimin found the ambassador near the foreign officer’s wings. A garden with tall trees of chestnut that whistled in the wind, lending shade and little else. A symbol of the hundred of thousands of bureaucrats who kept the empire running, who thought themselves each more invaluable than the last.
“Ambassador,” Jimin said, and Jimin could see the visceral pleasure in his eyes as Jung-Jin turned. Jimin in a northern court, with his loyal friends and trusted advisors was a force to be reckoned with. In a southern court, he was little more than a bitch for breeding. Jimin could taste powerlessness on his tongue, and it numbed him for one long moment.
“Ambassador,” Jimin repeated.
Jung-Jin bowed, barely more than an incline of the head. “Your royal highness. Soon to be an imperial highness.” He laughed nasally, “how was your travels?”
“Fine,” Jimin said, temper shortening his words. “I had hoped to have the ambassadorial correspondence between my father’s glorious kingdom and the empire waiting for me on my arrival. I had asked for it to be delivered before I made my journey.”
The ambassador’s false grin dropped, showing the sharp edge of his teeth. “I know you once concerned yourself with the politics of the empire. A true showing of your skill considering your omega status. But now our glorious northern kingdom has an alpha crown prince-“
“A babe” Jimin interjected. Last time Jimin had seen his little half-brother, he’d been nothing but crying and spittle.
The ambassador nodded once: “with the tenor of his father. And now you achieved your destiny, by becoming what all omegas are destined to be. Husbands and bearers of seed.”
The ambassador bowed again, as if the conversation was over. As if all had been said. Jimin could feel a growl rise in the back of his throat.
“Your imperial highness!” the Ambassador cut off, deepening his bow substantially, as he looked behind Jimin, eyes widening.
Jimin turned, and in the sinking light of the sun met his betrothed for the first time. He had seen the painting sent after the betrothal announcement of course, a painting of pale skin and thin bones.
The alpha in front of Jimin was as delicate as the oils that had painted his skin on canvas. What the painting had failed to mention was the fire in his eyes. His eyes were filled with the presumption of a destiny, of greatness. The same light had once shown in Jimin’s, before the truth of his betrothal had hollowed him from the inside out.
Jimin bowed as gracefully as he could.
Jimin could hear the ambassador behind him, chattering, words overlaying each other. Jimin could hear the tone Jung-Jin would use when he bragged to the delegates from the northern courts about how he had arranged the meeting between both princes.
“My prince?” Yoongi arched one eyebrow, eyes trailing disdainfully over his form. Jimin stiffened, realizing; Yoongi wore all black, no jewels or crowns graced his brow. Only one man stood next to him. Resentment curdled like milk on Jimin’s tongue. Kim Namjoon, alpha, Duke of the Western Reaches, the harshest, cruelest bit of empire before reaching the Crimson Sea. The Western Reaches were known for two exports: stupid sheep and mercenaries. His father’s kingdom had been entertained more than once on tales of Kim Namjoon’s viciousness.
Jimin saw how he must look to the giggling aristocrats grouped on the balconies overlooking the garden. Beautiful, handsome crown prince Yoongi, with the equally as toned and sharp Kim Namjoon, wearing the black of officers.
And then Jimin, with his pink robes and lilies of purity.
There was nothing but the promise of depravity in Yoongi’s eyes.
Jimin bowed again, and Yoongi moved past him, sighing. Jimin could hear the stories already. Of the peacockish Jimin, prince of nothing, who had so bored the beautiful Yoongi.
No sentence was worse than boredom in a court, nothing as limiting, as punishing. Jimin could feel the years of loneliness pressing onto his skin, of a cold marriage, until perhaps Jimin died, of pregnancy or poison, and Yoongi found someone younger and prettier.
Jimin’s hand landed on Yoongi’s arm. All Jimin’s senses, all of Jimin’s touch narrowed down to the harshness of Yoongi’s coat. Jimin wondered what it meant when a prince with everything at his fingertips choose to wear rough blacks.
Yoongi laced his long fingers through Jimin, pale locking sun kissed skin.
“I had hoped to ask of you a favor,” Jimin murmured.
A smirk danced at the corner of Yoongi’s lips, “a favor?”
Jimin attempted to ignore the beautiful vice of that smile: “My…My mother”.
“The Queen Mother is fine. Just bore a healthy alpha son.” the ambassador cut in, lips pulled tight into a mimicry of a smile.
“His royal highness was speaking” Yoongi snarled. Namjoon stiffened next to him. Jimin smiled a little more charmingly; it was a weak victory, to have your betrothed defend you in front of his lover, but Jimin would take what he could. Jimin smiled a little more adroitly. “My birth mother. She was born in the eastern stretch of the empire, near the old capital. Her dowry lands were given to the empire several years ago as repayment of a debt by my father.”
Jimin still remembered the hateful words that lodged in his throat as his father gave away the last pieces of his mother, every piece of jewelry melted down and reformed for the new queen. All that had been left was that crumbling old tower, and he had given it gladly, to pay off a debt his stepmother owed. All he had then was the memories of her singing, her cool hands in his hair.
Yoongi smiled slowly, patronizingly, a man confident in his power and his position. “It will gladly be given to you, consider it a betrothal gift.”
Jimin bowed again, a little lower, showing off more of his torso and the sweep of his thigh.
Yoongi’s eyes landed on an upper balcony, where the sound of drunken revelery and the mirth of youth stirred the air. A flash of raven hair rounded the corner.
He gestured with one hand to Namjoon.
“My prince,” he murmured to Jimin, and then Yoongi was gone, disappearing between two pillars at the other end of the gallery.
“A kind alpha,” Jimin commented in the direction of the ambassador. Before the man could do more than turn his eyes in Jimin’s direction, Jimin sauntered in the opposite direction, allowing himself a small twirl as he did so.
That night, in the twilight of the imperial court, a lost prince wrote a note to two dear friends, smuggled out on a fishing boat and arriving on northern land before the week was out.
To Jung Hoseok, secondborn alpha son of Jung-Jin (ambassador from the northern kingdom to the imperial court) and his servant Jeon Jungkook, Hero of the Desert War.
From: Park Jimin, firstborn omega prince of the King of the North, betrothed of the Imperial Crown Prince Yoongi, may the emperor’s reign last a thousand years.
Court is worse than I feared. I am alone. My betrothed favors another, the fame Duke of the Western Reaches Kim Namjoon.
Your father, Hoseok, plots against me, and I am certain the Queen Mother of the Northern Kingdom aims to supplant my betrothal in anyway she can. Perhaps she is already pregnant once more?
I know my actions have already made you both suffer. That my anger and hatred has failed us three.
I ask you now, if you still have any love for me, that you come to the imperial court.
If I am to die in exile, whether through assassination or a forsaken marriage, I wish it to be with you two by side.
The games of power are never over, as long as we draw breath.
Brothers in friendship, and brothers through blood spilled.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Here is the second chapter-a lot more characters, a lot more intrigue and even some flirting...Just maybe not between who you think :)
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I purple you all!
Jimin stood in front of the gate of a thousand suns, the last barrier to the imperial court, which splayed wide open in invitation for all to enter.
Jimin was lonely in the most breathtaking court in the world. Every moment there was music that made you sob with joy, silks in colors only seen by the blind, art that would weigh you down with want, drink that would bring you to madness and back.
Jimin had sat alone through all of it. Yoongi’s support had been a momentary win, and no other invitation for conversation had been extended. Northern lords were scared of offending Jimin’s stepmother, and lords of the west were terrified of offending Namjoon. Every other lord thought a friendship with Jimin too much of a gamble in a court were every decision was made at a flip of a coin.
Jimin was a tactile person, used to company. He’d been up since dawn, pacing holes through his silken slippers, waiting for Hoseok and Jungkook’s arrival. He had received no confirmation from them, only an unverified report from a border guard.
There they stood, Hoseok in his traditional colorful silks that highlighted the curve of his thighs, and Jungkook, with his dusty black military garb.
Jimin had dust in his eyes, hair mused, choking on a sob.
His hands shook as they approached
“Your royal highness,”murmured Hoseok, starting to sink into a bow.
Jimin wrapped his hands around both of them, pulling them into a hug, feeling their hearts beat against his for one breath.
And then Jimin stepped back, adjusting the folds of his lavender gown as he did so. Jimin remembered when he had been a child, young and unafraid. He had painted Hoseok’s eyelids with a lavender paste, and his father had beaten Hoseok so badly he’d not walked for a year. Jungkook had cared for Hoseok at his bedside, and Jimin had learned the cost of protecting the ones he loved.
The color seemed appropriate for the occasion.
“Please bow,” he gestured to Hoseok. Jungkook hand drifted to his sword. He always said court rules gave him no comfort the way a weapon could.
Hoseok slid gracefully, deeper than he would have back home. Jimin traced his eyes over the uncertainty on both of their faces. Jimin’s heart ached at the sight.
“Jung-Hoseok, second alpha son of the Jung family of the Northern Kingdom. For services rendered, I grant thee a title.”
Hoseok eyes widened, he sunk lower. Jimin allowed a hint of a smile to pass his lips: “I grant thee title of lord of the empire, owner of lands found in the Eastern Reaches of this great land.”
Hoseok’s hands shook as he rose. “My…My prince. Jimin. This title frees me from my father. Free from my family.”
He paused for one moment, sun curling around his frame in the morning light. Hoseok’s voice softened. “I would have followed you without it Jimin. I would follow you into hell and back with nothing but your friendship.”
Jimin grinned; “I know Hoseok. But I would reward you for your loyalty.” Jimin’s eyes flickered around the golden court, the gory symbols of conquest. Jimin’s voice pitched low. “This imperial court, with its fripperies and meaningless enjoyment, it is a war Hoseok. A war I am losing. I would arm my generals.”
Hoseok arched one eyebrow, his eyes tracing over Jimin. Jimin wondered if he saw the defeat that hung heavy on his frame.
Hoseok turned to Jungkook and gestured with one long fingered hand. Jungkook bowed awkwardly. “My lord.”
Jimin smiled a little wider, “You are as much my brother as Hoseok is.”
“I am a peasant bastard with good aim,” Jungkook muttered awkwardly, hand still tracing over the leather handle of his sword.
Hoseok matched Jimin’s grin: “I name thee, Jeon Jungkook, my dearest. I name thee a knight of my court.”
“Rise Sir Jungkook,” Jimin prompted.
Jungkook rose, shock stripping the lines of suffering from his face. His hands traced over Hoseok as he leaned in to kiss him. Jimin’s heart ached at what he would never have.
Jungkook then turned to Jimin, his eyes, filled with knowledge learnt far too young. “Thank you Jimin,” Jungkook vowed, “you are my family.”
Jimin allowed himself a moment to bask in their love, in the trust and comfort he felt in their presence. “I missed you both.”
Hoseok’s joy was plain on his face as he turned to face Jimin. His hands traced over the dagger tied around his thigh.
“Now,” Jungkook drawled, “who must we kill?”
The warfare of the Northern Kingdom was not particular known. They were never as vicious as the Western Reaches, nor as organized as imperial troops. However, their status as exterior to the empire had always linked them to the Eastern Reaches.
And in the Eastern Reaches, warfare was about divinity. It was about honoring the gods through every movement, each second of pain.
A old, fat soldier who had served Jimin’s mother until his death had taught the basics to Jimin, Hoseok and Jungkook. When they had surpassed all he had to teach, Jimin’s mother had written to her brother. She had never done so before, and Jimin did not know what she had given her brother in return. But a few months later, in the freezing winds of winter, a tall, gangly priest had appeared.
He worshipped the forgotten goddess, whose worshippers never saw her face, praying over braziers with eyes covered. Their worship was of the physical, the sensual. She was the patron goddess of assassins and dancers.
Hoseok favored twin curved daggers, Jungkook his unmarked sword.
Jimin had chosen the goddess’s favored weapon. The fans of the forgotten goddess, iron blades covered in plumage.
After Jimin’s mother’s death, he’d received his one and only correspondence from her brother, the duke of the Eastern Reaches. Twin fans, carved with symbols of the forgotten goddess and decorated with the hued peacock feathers only found in the east.
Jimin never left them out of his sight. He had wandered to the training grounds of the imperial court with Hoseok and Jungkook, hoping that the ache of battle in his muscles would grant him some clarity on his next move.
Jimin could see the perking interest at Hoseok and Jungkook; the usual guards who spied, the merchant families who attempted to claim nobility through military service, and the nobles themselves, who flirted, drank and whispered secrets, craned their necks to view the site of the northern prince fighting.
Jimin pointed his feet, straightened his knee. Past the clinking of crystal glasses, the sweet smell of sugared cakes, the rustle of jewels against silk; all that mattered was Jungkook’s sword twitching in his hand, Hoseok flipping his knives again and again against his palms, the dirt under Jimin’s shoes.
Jimin never felt more like he was dreaming than when he was in battle. There was nothing as crude as steel against skin. Every movement was already anticipated, every touch traced like velvet against the air.
Jimin awoke out of the fury of battle. The merriment and snickers of the court silenced. All that remained was the twitter of birds.
Hoseok straightened awkwardly, Jungkook still holding onto his sword as if he needed to defend Jimin.
And then a cheer, which rose like a tidal wave cresting over the courtyard.
Jimin was dragged up to the platform, wine put in his hand, flowers draped around his neck. Jungkook and Hoseok kept their eyes on Jimin, even as they gracefully accepted sweets and congratulations.
“That was incredible!”
Jimin smiled, eyes already moving on to the next person, before one disbelieving blink brought him back to the man in front of him who had spoken.
The man, lithe and muscled, wore chains of silver which dipped in the shadows between his thighs. Silver powder covered every inch of him, golden rings glittered on every finger, and he wore a haphazard circlet made of rough cut tourmaline sparkling in the rays of light.
“You…You look like the moon goddess,” Jimin stuttered.
“I was going for that,” the man said agreeably. “I’m Taehyung.”
“Taehyung…” Jimin murmured, mind racing. He had heard of no Lord Taehyung.
“Just Taehyung” he said cheerily.
Hoseok and Jungkook appeared behind Jimin. Jimin wondered absentmindedly if they were as awed by the man’s outfit as Jimin was.
“You must introduce me,” Taehyung said to Jimin. Jimin blinked, once, then twice. Taehyung had completely ignored protocol, and if he really had no title, he didn’t even have a right to speak to Jimin.
Jimin smiled a little wider, adrenaline still thrumming through his body.
“Lord Hoseok of the Eastern Reaches and Sir Jungkook, his knight” Jimin gestured.
“I didn’t think there were any lords of the Eastern Reaches at court. Especially pretty lords.” Taehyung wondered, eyes tracing of Jungkook.
“I…It’s a new title” Hoseok faltered. Jungkook seemed frozen in surprise at Taehyung’s brazenness.
Taehyung continued, absentmindedly. “It’s good that our soon to be imperial prince has lords. And you’re all so very pretty. It’s nice to know the empire will remain filled with pretty people. Especially omegas. I’m an omega too. Obviously, you both are alphas. But an omega imperial prince with only two alpha friends is quite sad.”
Jimin mouth fell open in shock. Even as a child, no one had spoken to him so brazenly.
“Jinnie!” Taehyung screeched in complete disregard to the crowd behind him, before pilfering into a pile of sweetcakes. “Would you like one?” he gestured.
Jimin shook his head. Jungkook reached out with one hesitant hand. Hoseok turned a shocked look in his direction. Jungkook blushed to the tips of his ears.
“Jinnie!” Taehyung cried again.
“I can hear you Tae,” murmured a quiet voice, and Jimin couldn’t help but push back his hair. Jimin’s sign of shyness that he never had been able to get rid of.
The man in front of him was the most beautiful omega Jimin had ever seen. In contrast to Taehyung, the omega wore cream colored silks that covered him to the neck, but they were tailored in such a way that every movement flashed hints of skin as soft as lace. His face was carved from the gods, as achingly beautiful as ancient statues that littered the capital.
He bowed gracefully, but his eyes were harsh and defensive. Jimin could see the tension in every inch of his strong shoulders.
“Your royal highness. I apologize if Taehyung bothered you.” He turned his glare on Taehyung, who straightened apologetically, flashing an unreadable look to the beautiful omega.
“He didn’t,” Jimin murmured kindly. “I must admit surprise that so much of the court was surprised by our fighting style. The imperial court is surely the center of every style and interest in the world.”
The beautiful omega’s eyes flashed with fire, “we were not surprised by the fighting. Simply surprised by who was fighting. I had no idea ambassador Jung-Jin’s son would be such a talented fighter.” Hoseok stiffened at that; he hadn’t even spoken to his father yet, and here the court already knew his entire past. His father would be furious.
The beautiful omega continued undeterred, “the court is never bored by heroes, especially one as famed as Jeon Jungkook, who single handedly brought an end to the Desert War.”
Taehyung grinned a little more brightly at Jungkook at that comment, who reddened even more, shifting closer to Hoseok. Jungkook smiled shyly back. Hoseok stiffened, and Jimin felt a rush of worry at what a love interest could do to Jungkook and Hoseok’s relationship. Hoseok was used to Jungkook’s undivided awe, and Taehyung seemed uninterested in sharing the spotlight.
The beautiful omega’s eyes flickered in the sunlight as he regained Jimin’s attention. “And of course, we are not used to omegas fighting. Especially an omega soon to belong to the imperial prince.”
Hoseok and Jungkook glared defensively, and Jimin smiled a little more sensuously.
He moved a little closer to the snarling omega. “I didn’t catch your name before.”
“Lord Seokjin, your royal highness.”
“It is good to know other omegas in court. As all must know, without alphas we would be nothing but bumbling fools.”
Seokjin allowed a hint of a smile at that comment; “I’m sure we must manage as best we can. Our duty is of course to serve our alphas as helpmates and childbearers. ”
Jimin allowed a hint of dimple to show; “until I may do that duty to prince Yoongi, I’m sure I must do something to keep myself busy.”
Seokjin arched one eyebrow. He moved closer to Jimin. “Embroidery, flower gathering, restructuring the eastern reaches to favor your court and minimize the power of the Queen Mother of the North.”
Jimin showed a hint of teeth; “I am not even married to Crown Prince Yoongi yet, how could I have a court?”
Seokjin arched one perfect eyebrow; “you must forgive me, your royal highness. I do get confused by politics so very easily.”
Jimin felt a rush of attraction, Seokjin was so very clever. “We omegas must do what we can with the gifts the divine has granted us.”
Seokjin smiled back at him, with a quiet appreciation. “I understand you are being presented to the emperor tonight. I do wish you the best, your royal highness.”
Jimin stiffened. There had been no notice. How did Seokjin know before Jimin even did? But Seokjin did warn him, when others would have gratefully seen him fail, so Jimin smiled, lips pink against his skin.
Seokjin stepped closer, pressing his lips against the curve of Jimin’s ear, “If Yoongi ends up boring you, or his lover offends you, we’re having a little party afterwards. I promise to make you enjoy your time at court.”
Jimin laid his fingers over Seokjin’s, remembering the disregard in Yoongi’s eyes, the patronizing tilt of his voice. Jimin smile was as pure as the lilies that adorned his robes. “I would be glad to come. But you must promise to keep me entertained.”
Seokjin laughed, a sound of mirth as clear as moonlight: “I don’t believe we will ever be bored again, now that you have come to rule.”
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
AHHH chapter 3! Very excited for this chapter-every couple receives a big development in terms of their relationship.
Jimin figures out what or rather who he wants.
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As always, I purple you all!
Jimin touched his tiara one more time, adjusting the diamonds to catch the light.
“Jimin, you look perfect,” Hoseok sighed. Jungkook’s hand drifted methodically over his sword. “It’s just such a surprise,” Jimin muttered.
The emperor had sent a courier to inform Jimin that he wished to see him after his nighttime ablutions. Usually an invitation to meet the emperor left days to plan, to choose an outfit and a gift that the emperor would appreciate.
If he wished, the emperor could not only break the marriage alliance with Yoongi, he could exile Jimin to a corner of his empire and break him however he wanted.
Jimin clasped his shuddering hands together, a low hiss from Jungkook turning his head.
Yoongi was as beautiful as Jimin remembered, all pale skin and cutting glares. He wore his usual black, and hadn’t even attempted to wear a crown. Was Yoongi so very confident in his status, or so sure that his father would not care one way or another?
Jimin forced a smile to his lips, bowing with a fluidity learnt from years of practice.
Yoongi bowed back, and a hint of mirth danced in his eyes. “My prince.”
Jimin could not stop the flush that came to his cheeks. The heat drained from his limbs as Namjoon rounded the corner in his traditional military blacks, not even attempting a bow towards Jimin as he whispered in Yoongi’s ear, face tensed, muscles strained as if in battle.
Yoongi nodded once, and Namjoon turned to leave, showing his back to Jimin, a true insult, and Jimin could feel the tensing of Hoseok and Jungkook behind him.
Yoongi’s hand wrapped around Namjoon’s arm. “You were impolite to my bethrothed.”
Namjoon stiffened, but his eyes were mild as he glanced at Jimin. “I do apologize, your royal highness. And to you Lord Jung Hoseok and Sir…I’m afraid I don’t know your family name.”
Jungkook’s humiliation danced in his eyes. “I…A bastard orphan my lord. Saved by his royal highness’s good nature and kindness.”
“He has proven himself through merit.” Jimin said as he splayed his legs wider, ready for battle, for the tang of his enemy’s blood on the ground racing through the air.
Namjoon raised one eyebrow, and his hands fell from Yoongi to his sides. “You aren’t from the southern coast?”
The southern coast was a collection of rocky shores between the imperial city and the beginning of the collection of western cities, home to pirates and smugglers. The population had been indigenous to the region, and their absorption in the beginning of the empire had lent the imperial army’s great success.
“My mother was from there,” Jungkook muttered.
“And he’s your second I believe?” Namjoon murmured back, eyes turning to Hoseok.
Jungkook blushed red; “I…I mean not officially.” Hoseok’s face turned questioning.
Namjoon laughed, and for one long moment, Jimin could see why Yoongi loved him. His laugh seemed to encompass all the warmth and kindness the world had to offer. “No…Of course not officially. You need a marriage for that.” Namjoon shook his head once, as if to dispel the humour from his face. “In any case, the search for a third is happening in a couple months. You are both welcome to attend.”
Namjoon turned to leave once again, but then hesitated, turning with fluidity towards Yoongi, lips grazing the tips of his ear. “I might even be searching myself.”
Yoongi’s gaze turned painfully furious. His gaze landed on Jungkook, who was attempting to avoid Hoseok’s searching gaze. “Don’t you have somewhere else to be?”
Jungkook bowed quickly, hand quickly landing on Jimin’s arm in comfort before rounding the corner, Hoseok following on his heels. “I’m your what?”
Yoongi’s glare remained as he drapped his arm over Jimin, tugging him to his side. “Shouldn’t…Shouldn’t we be invited in?” Jimin murmured.
“I imagine my father is testing us,” Yoongi murmured in response, laying one large hand against the ornate wooden doors to push it open. His shoulder nudged Jimin’s. “Trust me.”
The emperor was as golden and shining as his empire. Many people would consider that obvious. The imperial crown was made of twisting strands of gold which caught rough cut gems the size of pebbles. And the emperor wore robes made of cloth of gold, embroidered scenes of conquest layered around the hem. However, the emperor was also covered in gold powder, and then huge bracelets and necklaces weighed down the emperor so much Jimin doubted he could even move on his own. A lace mask covered his face, so that only his eyes, a light brown, were seen.
The throne of emperor’s was no more than a wooden chair made of a tree found where the imperial palace once stood, designed to remind the emperor of his mortality. This emperor obviously wished to forget that fact.
Yoongi bowed slightly, dragging Jimin down and back up along with him. Jimin’s face flushed at the obvious disrespect. Yoongi obviously wished to present a united front to the emperor. But why, after all these weeks of insult?
The emperor shifted uncomfortably in his chair. “My son.”
Yoongi’s eyes traced over the lace mask, “your imperial excellency.”
The emperor’s eyes traced over Jimin, “you are my son’s mate.”
“Yes, your imperial excellency.”
“Well soon to be mate I suppose…” the emperor laughed, and it echoed off the ornate walls. “I knew your stepmother very well once upon a time. A great omega.”
Jimin bowed his head slightly, attempting to keep his cold fury at his stepmother off his features.
“Will you be the same type of omega to my son?”
“Yes, your imperial excellency.”
“You will bear my son his heirs, and be his helpmate in whatever way he asks?”
“Yes, your imperial excellency.”
“And when he beats you for failing him, as is his right as your alpha, you will not go running back to your father with complaints and an imperial babe under your arm?”
Jimin eyes widened at the threat of treason. The fear of abuse tainted his scent, but he could be honest to himself by acknowledging that the threat of violence had never left his mind. His lie coated his tongue. “I…I’m sure that if his imperial highness would punish me, it would be entirely my fault. And I would never steal our children from him.”
“My son’s bitch of a mother did, got all the way to the southern coast.”
Yoongi’s hold was comforting on Jimin’s arm, even as his glare was furious.
“Besides the fact that my mother was punished in the way you saw fit after you recaptured her, I trust Jimin to be a faithful mate. Our children will be protected by the both of us.”
“Children, plural?” The emperor leaned forward in his seat.
“I am a strong alpha,” Yoongi said, voice calm and collected. Jimin twisted in place. Yoongi’s scent was strong, almost overpowering, and whatever alpha scent the emperor was producing, it paled in comparison.
The emperor waved Yoongi away with a flick of his hand. “Do your duty to your emperor.”
Yoongi bowed, Jimin following a step behind as the emperor’s chambers swung shut behind them.
“What…What was that?” Jimin murmured, shock lacing his voice as Yoongi sank to the ground.
“I hate him. I hate him. I hate him,” Yoongi hissed, head sagging on his knees.
Jimin hands came to caress Yoongi’s face, forehead against his. “It…It’s alright. Just breathe, please.”
Yoongi’s eyes collided with Jimin. Jimin felt heat rush to his core. This was his alpha, the father of his children, the one who would mark and mate him, tying their souls for eternity. “You know I wouldn’t hurt you.”
Jimin’s thumb traced down Yoongi’s cheeks, wet with tears. “I…I know you’ll be a good alpha to me, my prince.”
“That’s not what is asked,” Yoongi muttered, eyes still searching Jimin.
“I’ll learn to trust you. But I give you my loyalty freely.”
Yoongi nodded, forehead brushing Jimin’s. “That’s all I deserve to ask for.” Yoongi ‘s laugh was harsh with disappointment.
“I…Yoongi.” Jimin murmured, and shock danced over Yoongi’s face at his name being said by Jimin for the first time.
Boots rang heavy against the marble ground. A warning and a threat, for what would the court say if they saw their next emperor sobbing on the ground.
Jimin hiked his skirts over his knee, swinging one leg over Yoongi’s, grinding himself against Yoongi’s core, lips meeting Yoongi’s in a clash of teeth and tongue.
Jimin could feel Yoongi relax into the kiss, as titters broke out behind them.
Yoongi’s eyes traced over Jimin, and for the first time, Jimin saw respect as he looked over Jimin. His tongue traced over his lips. Voice loud so the court would hear.
“My omega, just as I am your alpha. You belong to me as I belong to you.”
In that moment, Jimin believed that truth shining in Yoongi's eyes.
Jimin could feel Hoseok and Jungkook’s concern behind him. He tugged at a lock of his hair.
“You’ll hurt yourself,” Jungkook murmured, taking the pearl comb and slowly untangling several strands.
Hoseok splayed wide on Jimin’s bed, decadent and garish, breaking every rule of propriety. “So, you fucked him.”
Jimin reddened to the tips of his ears. “No…I just…It looked good to the court.”
“You wouldn’t have kissed him if you didn’t want to,” Jungkook sing-songed.
“He’s beautiful.” Jimin argued. “And he’s the only alpha I’m ever going to bed.”
Hoseok covered his face with one arm, decorated with dozens of thin crystal bracelets and golden rings. His tone was unimpressed, “yet he walks around with his mistress. And hasn’t made any promises to fidelity.”
Jimin forced a cool smile to his lips. Jungkook’s unfaltering stare proved that it had failed. “I have survived this long because I trusted my instinct. Instinct tells me to trust him.”
Jungkook’s hands were soft in Jimin’s hair. “Your instinct also told you to plan a revolution against your stepmother. A revolution that failed terribly, destroyed your relationship with your father and forced you into marriage.”
Jimin’s shame flashed in his eyes. “I don’t know what choice I have.”
Jungkook sighed, “I always thought noblemen had the most freedom in the world. When you’re poor you’re driven by hunger and fear, but even when you’re wealthy and powerful they find means to chain you.”
Hoseok pushed himself up on the bed, muscles stiffening, glare unreadable in the dim light. “Is that what you feel?”
“I’m talking about Jimin.”
Jimin twisted his head to look at Hoseok. “What happened?”
Hoseok sighed, fingers twisting his rings around and around his index finger. “Apparently, indigenous people of the southern shore engage in triple relationships due to a lack of omegas. Two alphas for every one omega. Apparently, you find you’re second alpha through prayer and ritual. Jungkook has known I’m his second for years.”
Jungkook’s voice was calm, his tone firm. “You weren’t free of your father, and you know he would have used me against you if he knew. And now that you’re free of him, and a lord in your own right, I thought perhaps you would aim for an appropriate omega.”
Hoseok’s face was barren, stripped of everything but his unvarnished truth. His love for Jungkook. “I have always been yours. Since we were children and played at being generals in the yard. I was waiting for you to come to me.”
“Well we’re together now, aren’t we?” Jungkook arched one eyebrow.
“Yet you don’t touch me,” Hoseok muttered.
Jimin’s eyes flashed between Jungkook and Hoseok. “It’s because you found your third isn’t it. Your omega.”
Jungkook’s hands stilled in Jimin’s hair. “I wasn’t sure. I’m certain now.”
Hoseok legs swung off the bed in one smooth movement, a predator cornering prey. His voice was as smooth as silk. “And who is our fated omega?”
Jungkook licked his lips. “Taehyung.”
Hoseok stilled: “Taehyung, the one with the…” his hands drifted over his body.
Jungkook’s voice was dry. “The one draped in silver chains as a joke while a dozen imperial lords served his every whim.”
Hoseok’s eyes flashed with insecurity. “You would make an attractive couple.”
Jungkook turned to face Hoseok, posture ready for the battle. “The reason we have two alphas for an omega is to protect our omega. Without you, we would not be complete. I love you and I love him, as you do.”
Hoseok’s face softened. “I loved him at first glance.”
Jungkook turned back to Jimin’s hair, his voice soft. “In any case, I don’t think we’re what he wants. A bastard knight and a noble with a plot of land he hasn’t even seen.”
Jimin smiled at them both. “Taehyung seems to do what he wants. You both know he’s yours. Your omega would jump over rivers and walk through fire to be with you both, for that is the omega you deserve.”
Jimin turned back to the mirror. Jungkook had placed dozens of pins decorated with jade butterflies through his locks, given him the look of a nature god of old. “You can start charming him tonight.”
Jungkook locked his fingers through Hoseok’s. “Tonight?”
“We’re going to Seokjin’s party.”
Hoseok voice was heavy with surprise, “you finally resolved things with the imperial prince.”
Jimin’s eyes traced over the silks laid out by his ladies. “I did. But I’m not his yet. He can’t just expect me to wait around for a scrap of his attention. I owe Seokjin an explanation. We can’t afford to have him as an enemy. Taehyung can be charmed by you both.” Jimin’s hand reached for his kohl, “and if Yoongi gets jealous, well, it’s an added bonus.”
Jimin had been to parties before. Decadent celebrations in hidden palaces. Silks shreaded, jewels scattered, horrors suffered and pleasures learned. Every word a weapon, every touch an agony, and the thrill of capture electrifying the air.
Seokjin’s party made every other pale in comparison. Seokjin aimed for obvious garishness. Gold drapes covered every single window with embroidered scenes of erotic pleasure. Statues of twisting lovers in shocking positions were scattered through the room. Low couches made of velvet that could feed an army for a year allowed for piles of nobles to moan the pleasures of orgies into the cushions. Ladies and men of pleasure wandered the room, offering drinks the color of jewels and cakes that would make you believe you could fly while wearing nothing but silks mimicking marriage robes, the light dancing off every shadow and curve.
Jimin raised his fan to cover his face, decorated with his ancestor, the northern king who had stopped the imperial invasion from swallowing his land. The fan was made of cream and whites, the color of virginity, yet depicted the most erotic scene of the imperial conquest, when the northern king made the emperor submit to him in the bedroom, if not on the battlefield.
Jimin wore robes made of the shade of pink found in the morning roses that flowered in the mountains of the northern kingdom. They were cut in such a way that they swallowed him, yet were tight enough that every movement would show a hint of skin, come and gone in an instant. The jade butterflies danced through his hair, while he wore his mother’s tiara, one made of a solid piece of emerald and thin spikes of onyx. He didn’t aim to look like a pure omega, but rather someone entirely his own.
Hoseok and Jungkook both wore tight leather and low cut shirts, sword and daggers prominently displayed. They each held one of Jimin’s iron fans, weapons of the forbidden goddess, close enough that Jimin could use them as needed, but also a sign that he didn’t need force to rule. They wore thin circlets made of the same eastern reaches emerald as Jimin’s around their brows, pilfered from the northern kingdom before his departure, a sign of unity and of power.
They were a sight, a symbol, and every lord and lady powdered and laced to within an inch of their lives looked at them with pure jealousy, already standing, pasting on smiles to come give their bows.
Taehyung waved and grinned from across the room, wearing nothing but a thin robe made of simple blue silk, eyes shadowed with silver, before turning back to his conversation with a older western lord, back curved around his golden cane.
Jungkook’s growl was pure alpha. Hoseok’s hand curled into fists. “We can take him,” he murmured distainfully. He turned back to Jimin. “You’ll be alright without us?”
Jimin grinned, “go get your omega.”
Hoseok and Jungkook handed Jimin’s weapons back to him as they pushed through the crowd to get to Taehyung, growling all the while.
Jimin started wandering through the crowd, nodding at several important nobles, aiming to find Seokjin.
He found him behind a curtain, a small couch, lacking the ornateness found throughout the room. He was wearing a thin robe of lavender, decorated with white lilies. Jimin’s white lilies.
Seokjin’s head lolled back as he stared at the ceiling, and he held a glass of absinthe that smelled halfway across the palace.
Jimin stopped in front of Seokjin, heart hammering in his chest.
“Your royal highness,” Seokjin kept his eyes on the ceiling. “Do you know how hard it is to even find a robe with lilies in the imperial city? It’s not like it’s fashionable.”
Jimin straightened, incredulous. “I didn’t ask you to match with me. Is that why you’re hiding?”
“I’m not hiding.” Seokjin suddenly turned his glare to Jimin, and Jimin could not stop a small gasp at Seokjin’s beauty. He was glorious, wild emotions flashing in his eyes. “You’re ignored by court. I help you. I ask for a moment of your time. You grant it. And then Yoongi comes running in to give you attention, and suddenly I’m back to being nothing.”
Jimin’s voice softened. “You aren’t nothing. I came here tonight to see you.”
Seokjin arched one perfect eyebrow. “To tell me that although you appreciate my attention, you aren’t going to betray Yoongi in such a way.”
Jimin straightened, a little incredulous at how well Seokjin had read his emotions. “I have a duty to Yoongi and to my people.”
Seokjin laughed, and Jimin startled at how beautifully imperfect his laugh was, “a people who have abandoned you for your stepmother.”
Jimin stiffened, “what do you know about that?”
Seokjin grinned, cruel in the dim light; “I know more than the imperial prince.”
Jimin forced calm into his tone. “I will not hide it from him if he asks me.”
Seokjin’s eyes hardened. “But you did not offer it freely.”
Jimin bit his lip in frustration. “I am an omega. You better than anyone must know the limited options we have in this life.”
Seokjin stared at the ceiling once more, the smiling cherubs and austere gods. “I have felt the chains of society on my back as much as you, your royal highness. I thought with you, the chains might loosen, if only for a moment.”
His voice cracked, “I could have loved you.”
Jimin eyes filled with unshed tears. “Perhaps in another life, we would have had an opportunity. But we are in this life, and you threaten me because you are hurt.”
Seokjin waved one long-fingered hand in Jimin’s direction. “I won’t tell his imperial higness, you have my word. Little as it may count.”
Relief filled Jimin’s gaze, “I knew you to be good and kind. Let us leave as friends.”
A chorus of gasps flourished behind Jimin and Jimin turned, just in time to see a flustered Taehyung disappear out the door, a flushed Hoseok and Jungkook watching the door slam shut in their faces.
Jimin turned back, only to find Seokjin standing, laying flat one exquisite piece of silk to better highlight his collarbone. His eyes found Jimin, his lips quirked.
“Perhaps in another life. In this one, my family is Taehyung, and my loyalty is to him.”
Jimin nodded, face downcast. Seokjin’s eyes drifted with undisguised longing over the iron spiked fans in Jimin’s hands. “I hope Yoongi appreciates your steel as much as he does your tenderness.”
Jimin voice was raw with honesty: “I hope so too.”
Seokjin turned and disappeared into the crowd in a flurry of silk, posture as strong as the iron in Jimin’s blades.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
A lot of events happen in this chapter. Secrets are revealed, couples are transformed, and plans are put in motion. It is very exciting and I am very proud of this chapter. I hope you like it as much as I do!
Please leave kudos and comments. Whether a smiley face, a good job, or a paragraph, every comment motivates my writing.
I purple you all <3
“Open the door!”
“Open the door on the order of his imperial highness!”
The door swung open, cool blade pressed against the guard’s throat. Jungkook snarled, deep and primal.
“You do not threaten my prince. You come on bended knee and lick his shoes for a moment of his time.”
The guard stiffened, eyes wide, back pressed into his companion, who attempted to hide his bulk behind his threatened friend.
“His imperial highness has called for his royal highness prince Jimin to his chambers. He called for him to come immediately.” The sword pressed further into the flesh of his neck. “Pl…Please…”
Hoseok molded his fingers around Jungkook’s shoulder. Jungkook nodded, sheathing his sword. Hoseok smiled at the two guards. “Please give us a moment.”
Jungkook snarled and stalked into the room, Hoseok slamming the door behind him.
Jimin had attempted to appear presentable. Yoongi’s guards escorting him to his private chambers the minute the sun had peaked into the sky. It was both completely inappropriate to be in his chambers, and was an unwelcome surprise. His eyes were puffy, his hair undone, but he had made a choice with Yoongi.
To try. And here Yoongi was, already disproving him. Jimin’s heart hurt.
The guard opened the door, carved with flowers and symbols of fertility so intricate they appeared to bloom before his eyes. “You may go in.”
Hoseok and Jungkook were stopped by the arm of the guard as they started to follow Jimin, Yoongi’s silky voice ringing from inside the room. “They may enter in a moment.”
Jimin’s smile was placating, which did little to assuage the fear and anger in Hoseok and Jungkook’s gaze.
Jimin turned to face Yoongi, unable to keep the flashes of anger of his face. Yoongi sat behind his desk piled high with papers and maps, face obscured by the morning sun shining through the window.
“My prince,” Jimin tilted his head, glaring as he straightened. It was an obvious show of disrespect.
Yoongi arched one eyebrow, leaning back in his chair.
“You seem incredibly confident for an omega alone with an alpha.”
Jimin’s voice remained harsh; “I know you wouldn’t hurt me. You’re my alpha.”
Yoongi’s voice softened to little above a whisper. “I hope you will still have so much confidence in the moments to come.”
Jimin’s voice faltered, “what does that…”
A crashing sound broke through his voice, and Jimin twirled to face the door. Jung-Jin walked in, posture heavy with confidence. Guards dragged in Seokjin and Taehyung, hair wet with blood, bruises blooming on their cheeks. Hoseok and Jungkook rushed in behind them, taking each side of Jimin. Namjoon was the last in the room, slamming the door behind him, eyes searching Yoongi’s.
Yoongi’s hands stiffened on his desk. “I did tell you I would bring Lord Seokjin and Lord Taehyung to me.”
Jung-Jin grabbed a clump of Taehyung’s hair, pulling hard. Hoseok and Jungkook snarled, but the guards kept them from moving to attack. “They fought back, I thought it better you didn’t risk your own guards.”
“How thoughtful,” Yoongi said drily.
Jung-Jin’s face stiffened. He was used to Jimin’s stepmother’s extravagant thanks, not Yoongi’s dry wit.
“I would like an explanation,” Jimin said, attempting to keep his voice even. Namjoon crossed his arms as Jimin spoke.
Yoongi’s hands curved around the arms of his chair, and suddenly the wooden chair ressembled a throne, almost unable to contain Yoongi’s power and force. Mortal, but his strength bloomed from the flower of his youth.
“Ambassador Jung came to me with an unlikely story about my mate. About how a prince of the northern kingdom planned a revolution against his father to ascend the throne and was exiled to marry me as a result. Is that true?”
Jimin inhale, heart beating evenly with every breath.
Jimin had been fearing such an encounter for how many months, and now that the question was laid bare in front of him, he felt no hesitation, no shame in his actions.
“My father married my stepmother. Not uncommon, for she was young and beautiful, and appeared pious enough that she would not enter his bed without marriage. And then they were married, and his mistresses’ started dying in quick succession, of assassinations blamed on gambling gone wrong, or poisonings masked as natural death.”
Jung-Jin raised a hand to strike, and Yoongi’s voice was as cool as ice at midwinter, “You lay a finger on my mate, and I will carve you open and feed you your own entrails.”
Jung-Jin’s hands shook as they were brought back to his side.
Jimin inhaled and continued, as calmly as he could. “It’s not uncommon for omega’s to attempt to get rid of their competition for their alpha’s attention,” a side glance at Namjoon revealed a hint of insecurity in his features.
“However, then I started being excluded from every political decision. I know I was only an omega…but the country had only prospered under my leadership, my father distracted with whores and wine. Now my only area of control was flower weaving and dinner arrangements. And then my stepmother grew pregnant. None of my father’s mistresses had ever blossomed with child before.”
“But you mother had you?” Yoongi questioned.
“My mother was still in the eastern reaches when she grew pregnant with me.”
Jung-Jin’s voice was victorious. “Here it is! More proof of his whorish nature.”
Yoongi’s eyes stayed on Jimin even as his voice rose. “Keep your mouth shut, Ambassador Jung-Jin.”
“I…I know my uncle was involved in her pregnancy. But my father…My father claimed me.”
Yoongi nodded once, before turning his attention to Hoseok. “And you are Ambassador Jung-Jin’s son?”
“Yes, your imperial highness.”
“Barely mine, useless alpha,” Jung-Jin snarled. Hoseok didn't even spare him a glance.
“And you supported Jimin’s attempt at an overthrow?”
“Myself and Jungkook would do anything for his royal highness. Anything.” Hoseok snarled, and his fury was matched in Jungkook’s gaze. Yoongi allowed a hint of a smile to touch his lips.
Jimin hands curved around Hoseok and Jungkook, sending them as much love as he could. “The plan was only to exile my stepmother. My father would have simply returned my power as crown prince and not given my title to my little brother.”
“So the fear was not about your little brother’s bastard status, considering you both have muddled claims to legitimacy?” Yoongi challenged Jimin.
Jimin shook his head, allowed his voice to harden with intent. “I love my brother, even if I have seen very little of him. I wanted the throne because I worked for it. I deserved it.”
Yoongi’s prodded, “and because you wanted the title. You wanted to be king.”
Jimin’s allowed a hint of a smile to match Yoongi’s. “I wanted to be king.”
“And then you were exiled here, and I treated badly, and you ran into Lord Seokjin’s arms.”
Jimin voice faltered, his limbs leaden with fear. Hoseok and Jungkook bared their teeth, ready to attack and defend their prince.
Jimin turned his gaze to Seokjin, still caught in the arm of a guards, head lolling back in pain. “Nothing happened. He…He brought me comfort, but I turned him down last night. He was kind to me.”
Yoongi’s turned his attention to Seokjin. Seokjin opened one eye, purple bruises against pale skin. His laugh was harsh, a sound born of cruelty. “You won again.”
Yoongi leaned forward; “was it really about winning?”
Silence grew for a long moment, before Seokjin dropped his gaze. “No. I thought Jimin kind and clever. Him being yours was unintended. But I respect him in any case. He is a great omega and will make an even greater emperor. If you wish to hurt someone, kill me instead. I know you’ve wanted to for years.”
Taehyung started sobbing, crying out denials. Hoseok and Jungkook’s bodies curved in his direction, even as their attention remained on protecting Jimin, their duty. Jimin felt the same pain as he felt whenever his friends put him before themselves. He wanted to cry at them to leave him and go protect Taehyung, but he knew neither would refute their duty, no matter the cost.
Yoongi’s voice softened in the face of Seokjin’s declaration. “You know very little about me, brother.”
Jimin’s shock grew as he looked between the two, at the curve of their jawline and the curl in their hair. “Bastard siblings,” Taehyung explained, spitting out blood.
Jung-Jin face swelled with righteousness; “one whore attracted to another.”
Yoongi leaned back in his chair. “I do not accept betrayal.” Jung-Jin nodded his head in ascent. Jungkook and Hoseok’s hands curved around their weapons, Jimin’s hand landing on his thigh were his fans were tied. Taehyung and Seokjin stood up, ready to meet their fates with dignity. They would die, but die fighting.
Yoongi’s gaze landed on Namjoon, arms still crossed. “You did not think I would know that you were going back to the west.”
Namjoon’s tone was harsh, and dismissive, “I have no interest in seeing you fall in love with your mate.”
Yoongi’s voice was as cold as the northern wind, “And your loyalty to me only extends to me warming your bed?”
Namjoon shrugged one shoulder, “my loyalty has always been to my people.”
Yoongi’s voice was as serious as a vow. “That is my issue.” His eyes drifted over everyone in the room. “You are the only people who can truly be a threat to me in this court. Who could take my crown and topple my throne. So I’ve decided to gain you loyalty.”
What on earth did Yoongi mean? Jimin’s uncertainty was mirrored on the face of everyone in the room, excepting Jung-Jin who kept his air of undeserved confidence.
Yoongi rose to a stand, hands braced on his desk. “Lord Taehyung, I name thee as a mate to Lord Hoseok and Sir Jungkook.”
Taehyung turned his head to both of them, before turning his head away with a huff. He obviously considered this a punishment, even if Hoseok and Jungkook reflected awe in their eyes. Seokjin started struggling, a soldier’s hand coming to cover the swears he was uttering.
Yoongi turned his attention to Jimin. “Jimin, you remain my betrothed. There are no hesitations about your loyalty to me, or your ability to be my mate.”
Jimin turned his attention to Jung-Jin, whose cockiness had been replaced by an air of confusion. He narrowed his eyes, giving Jung-Jin a smile that was all fang. Jung-Jin took a scent back, his scent of fear cloying the air.
Yoongi’s gaze finally turned to Seokjin, whose eyes were filled with the certainty of death, and the desire to go gracefully. At night, he seemed more fae than omega, but in the light of day, with blood and bruises dripping from his face, he seemed far too fragile.
Jimin marched in front of Seokjin, arms spread wide. “My prince. Please. Seokjin has done nothing wrong. He has not taken any liberties I have not allowed him to. He is loyal to the empire. If you want us to work as mates, I beg for you not to kill him. He’s your brother, you can’t-“
“Yoongi come on, put me out of my misery. Better me than anyone I care for.” Seokjin’s voice was close to pleading.
Yoongi rounded the desk before kneeling, hands coming to cup Seokjin’s face. “We might share blood, but you truly don’t know me at all. I will give you exactly what you deserve.”
Taehyung started screaming once again, Hoseok and Jungkook holding him back from forcibly attacking Yoongi.
“Please,” Jimin begged, tears pouring down his face.
Yoongi’s voice softened, “I name thee, Lord Seokjin, mate to his grace, Duke Namjoon of the Western Reaches.”
“What?” Namjoon’s face was incredulous, Seokjin twisting his face away from Yoongi.
“You’ve completely lost your mind,” Namjoon hissed.
Yoongi’s face ran through a dozen differing emotions in a moment, “I need your loyalty and I need your troops. Once a mating mark of my brother graces your neck, your loyalty is assured.”
Seokjin’s laugh was harsh, eyes fixed on Yoongi instead of the furious Namjoon. “You have a very high esteem of my loyalty to you.”
Yoongi stood up, laying a kiss upon his brow. “You’re my brother. I trust you.”
Yoongi’s gaze drifted over everyone in the room. “I trust all of you.”
Jung-Jin face swelled in anger, the same anger at being humiliated and ignored that had been taken out on Hoseok throughout his childhood. “I gave you this information because I thought you a reliable ally. I will bring this information to the Queen Mother of the Northern Kingdom. And I know she will pass it on to your father, the emperor.”
Yoongi smirked at that final threat. “You tell the Queen Mother she’s welcome to come and threaten my mate. I will bring death and destruction to her door. Or rather, I suppose I’ll show her.”
Jung-Jin voice was rising to a scream, “Your threats do not work on me. I am Ambassador of the Queen Mother!”
Yoongi’s body started contorting, the first sign of a shift. His shadow grew longer, his bones twisting in their sockets, and Jimin knew deep in his bones, that Yoongi’s wolf was as vicious and bloodthirsty of the hellhounds of nightmare.
Jimin’s eyes met Yoongi, animal and man clashing. Jimin smiled ear to ear, body heating with lust as his mate avenged him and those he loved, tearing enemies limbs from limb.
Jimin ran for the door, grabbing Hoseok and Jungkook as he did so. With a cry, Jungkook turned back as Taehyung darted back to grab Seokjin, who stumbled, Taehyung falling under his weight. Namjoon grasped Seokjin around the shoulders, helping Seokjin stagger out the door as Hoseok and Jungkook slammed the door shut behind Taehyung, Jimin pilling every bit of his weight against the worn wood, all to keep the nightmare that was Yoongi’s wolf on the other side.
For hours, unending screams of pain, pleas for forgiveness and demands of help were only met with the righteousness of fury.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Thank you all for the kind comments and support!
I am going on vacation next week, so the next chapter will be pushed back updating one week. This chapter is extra emotional just to make up for it. Lot of pack bonding and fluff for you all!
Addtionally, this is the second to last chapter of this series, and I am wrapping up a lot while leaving space for future world building.
Thank you to everyone who has supported the series this far, and who will keep me writing to the very last word.
As always, please leave kudos and comments, even a smiley face. It means the world to me and always motivates me to keep writing.
I purple you all!
The night had been long, darkness swallowing the moon. Jimin had waited until every last scream had dissipated into the wind. He’d placed his hand against the door, and he could feel Yoongi’s heartbeat on the other side. The first signs of mating, sharing emotions from one end of the earth to another.
He’d wandered back to his room after that, mind overshadowed by the powerful political moves Yoongi had made. Forcing loyalty out of fierce warriors and powerful noblemen had backed Yoongi into a corner.
Yoongi had forced the other omegas and alphas to accept him as pack alpha. He would rise with his new pack or be ripped apart by them. And by extension, so would Jimin. Jimin was pack omega now, and Jimin’s fears of inadequacy swallowed him, his blankets doing little to muffle the thudding of his heart. Jungkook’s low purrs, Hoseok’s hands running through his hair letting him fall into uneasy sleep.
Jimin had already started dressing when Hoseok tumbled out of bed, Jungkook moaning in dismay at the sun as he twisted in the sheets. Jungkook’s bedhead and Hoseok’s soft eyes softening Jimin’s fear. He could become the head omega of a violent, broken pack for Hoseok and Jungkook. For his brothers.
Hoseok’s hands twisted around the ties of Jimin’s robes. “I could have helped you, my prince.”
Jimin’s delicate hands curved around Hoseok, hardened by calluses and scaring. He tilted Hoseok’s head up to meet his eyes. “Your father is dead.”
Hoseok’s shoulders stiffened, his eyes dropping to the floor. “Yes, my prince.”
“Hoseok,” Jimin murmured.
Hoseok looked up, and all Jimin could see was the guilt that shone in Hoseok’s eyes.
“I’m not sad. Should I be? Shouldn’t I. He was my father. My family loves him. He loved them, but he hated me for no reason at all. No matter how I changed, the hate remained constant. All I could do last night was replay every insult. Every bruise. I am glad that he died, that he experienced a taste of the suffering he put me through. All I used to be scared of was him. I thought all my fears would disappear after he died. But now I’m terrified.”
Jimin’s voice softened even more, “terrified?”
Hoseok’s eyes bore into Jimin, his touch soft against his skin. “All I used to do was hate. Now I love. I love Jungkook as my mate. I love you as my brother. You will always be my king, and you have proven why you deserve my loyalty a thousand times over. I always knew your ambitions would bring us to the center of power. I knew we all might die, strangled in bathrooms or our heads on pikes. I never used to be scared of such a fate. Now…The idea of me finding you in your silken sheets, choking on poison, or Jungkook bleeding out on the dirt with a knife in his ribs…I wake up screaming. And now we have a pack. More people to fear losing? I don’t know if I can stomach the fear that wishes to swallow me whole.”
Jungkook’s hands curved around Hoseok hips, lips against his mating mark. Jimin’s hands twisted through the ties in his robe. He hoped his voice would stay even.
“You could run. You, Jungkook and Taehyung. I could get you some bureaucratic job across the Sun Sea. One where you could cover Taehyung in so many jewels that he would forget why he disliked you in the first place.”
Jungkook stepped up to Jimin, forehead against forehead. Sweet, shy Jungkookie, with fury in his eyes. “I know I’m just a bastard. That Hoseok understands you in some ways I do not, simply by being born in a life similar to your own. I can’t always see the shades of gray you dance through everyday.”
Jimin opened his mouth, but Jungkook kept talking, as unforgiving as an avalanche. "I’ve had offers you know. To lead armies and marry princesses, ever since the Desert War. Everyone wants a mad warrior to lead his armies, too low-born to ever be king. But I don’t stay here because this life is so much better. This life is harder and more uncertain. I stay here because of Hoseok.”
“I know that,” Jimin murmured.
Jungkook’s voice continued, unrelenting. “I stay here because Hoseok loves you. Over the years, that love has become obvious to me, and I love you just as much. Hoseok has given everything he has to you. I have allowed him to do that. I have given everything I am to you, and I will continue to do so, for the rest of our lives. This is not about Taehyung, and any love that might grow between the three of us. This is about you, Jimin. You are not virtuous, or even as compassionate as you should be. You can be selfish and petty. You have always walked through life knowing the world will bow to you because you work harder than everyone around you, and because you care more than anyone else. I believe that truth. Hoseok believes that truth. When you ask us to leave, you insult everything we have given to you. Our loyalty, our bodies, our love. We make our choices, and we will assume the consequences. No matter what they are. Do you understand me, my prince?”
Jimin’s eyes clashed with Jungkook, glowing in the light of the sun.
“I do. I apologize for insulting you. Both of you.” Jimin turned to look at Hoseok. “You have both always been my pack, and now that it grows, I will need you more than ever. You have always been my foundation. I am…Frightened of what I will become without you.” Jimin swallowed a laugh; “I’m terrified every day actually, and you two are the only people that stop me from wanting to scream in an empty room for the rest of eternity.”
Hoseok arched one eyebrow, hand clasping Jungkook’s. “The only two? Not even Yoongi? The alpha prince who kills your enemies in your name and makes a pack to protect your future?”
Jimin’s ears flushed red, voice stuttering in embarrassment and excitement, heat making his thighs tighten. “I…He’s turning out to be someone I can count on.”
“This room?” Jimin murmured. A guard, impassive, nodded once, the door swinging open.
It opened onto a beautiful courtyard were a table was piled with gold plates and silk clothes threaded with diamonds, candies as bright as jewels, drinks the shade of the glowing moon. Set next to the most popular path for the court to wander through, but set in a grassy area that made it next to impossible for someone to walk by the table without seeming untoward. It was a space to be seen, but not to be heard.
Yoongi already sat there, wearing his usual black military jacket threaded with onyx, his usual pale skin stained by a wine colored bruise that traveled down his cheek. He stood up as Jimin approached, pulling back the chair next to his. Jimin sat, knowing it was impossible to hide his bright smile. Yoongi stared for one long moment, tracing over his skin. Jimin knew he looked beautiful, wearing a robe a shade of plum that matched Yoongi’s usual dark attire, hair braided with loose rubies, a huge pendant featuring a snarling wolf made of ruby curved around his neck. Jimin knew it was more than simple desire, it was a burgeoning feeling of love blossoming in his chest.
Yoongi sat, eyes drifting once more, disbelieving, before turning to Hoseok and Jungkook. They stood, shifting from foot to foot on the grass.
Yoongi gestured at the empty chairs, “please sit, there’s enough room for seven.”
Jungkook had changed out of his usual dusty blacks for a tighter gray military outfit that showcased the strength of his shoulders, Hoseok wearing a loose green shirt threaded with pink roses; they nodded slightly as they sat down.
“I wished you to know…Lord Hoseok, about your father…” Yoongi muttered.
Hoseok cut a slice of orange as delicate as lace, feeding it to Jungkook, who sucked on his fingers with a smirk. Yoongi reddened, Jimin grinning at their usual antics.
“Did he suffer?” Hoseok murmured.
Yoongi softened, “he did yes. I tried to-“
Hoseok grinned at Yoongi. “Thank you very much.”
Yoongi stared, disbelieving. Hoseok pushed a slice of fruit onto Jimin’s plate. He spoke in Jimin’s direction, voice loud enough for the whole room to hear. “Good pack alpha.” He turned his gaze to Yoongi, “Jimin doesn’t always eat enough when he’s stressed,” Hoseok said conversationally.
Yoongi turned a slightly panicked look towards Jimin. “You should eat more…I mean not that you aren’t beautiful now…I just don’t want you to be sick or hungry…I…You need to tell me when you’re sick and I’ll buy you food…Well I won’t buy you things, but I have servants who will buy you whatever you want. Do you want something? I’m not sure what you like but-“
Jimin’s hand came to rest on Yoongi’s cheek, cutting off his speech, Yoongi’s bruise fading against the plum of his robe, “are you alright?”
Yoongi eyes closed, leaning against Jimin’s hand. “I’m much better now.”
He leaned back, eyes blinking at his startling words, a small smile twisting his lips as Jimin grinned wider.
The door slammed open behind them, and Hoseok and Jungkook swallowed whatever they were going to say.
Taehyung stood, wearing a long robe of white lace, in a conservative cut accented with traditional pearls in his ears and hair. However, every panel was see through, bolts of lace only highlighting his tanned skin, pearls decorating his nipples, a tattoo twisting up to his hip. He raised his head as he approached, not waiting for Yoongi’s permission to sit, grabbing a handful of opal colored candies.
“How…How are you?” Jimin said, eyes shifting between Taehyung and Hoseok and Jungkook. Jungkook seemed unable to breathe, eyes latching on to Taehyung’s chest. Hoseok's eyes kept twitching between every inch of skin, hands twisting in his lap.
Taehyung shrugged his shoulders, allowing his robe to rise and show the flesh of his thigh. Jungkook started coughing.
“I was in denial. Now I suppose I’m at acceptance.”
“You seem very accepting with that outfit” Yoongi said, hand covering Jimin. Jimin flushed a bright red. Yoongi grinned.
Taehyung turned his gaze to Hoseok and Jungkook. “I bring one thing to any relationship. I’m good at sex. Thought I should showcase it.” He laid one dainty foot on Hoseok’s thigh.
Hoseok finally glanced to Taehyung’s eyes, frown shadowing his features, before carefully pushing Taehyung’s foot back to the ground.
He cleared his throat, “I’m sure you’re very good at many elements of a relationship. And in any case, three mates allows us to fill the gaps another may lack. I can get very clingy sometimes, and Jungkook gets insecure, for example.”
Taehyung’s eyes drifted over Jungkook’s arms and shoulders, eyes disbelieving. “You get insecure? The hero of the Desert war, a war forced by the empire on the Northern Kingdom against desert tribes in order to have an excuse to settle soldiers in the northern capital. The Jungkook who conquered the old capital with nothing but twelve men and a sword?”
Jungkook’s eyes were unflinching. “The goddess stood behind me. That and luck was all that got me through. I’m a bastard in any case, and I took the only chance at glory I was ever going to be given.”
Taehyung turned his face up to the sun, eyelashes fluttering. “A bastard perhaps. But a bastard alpha. I’m a bastard omega. A dozen different high lords could be my father. I was good at fucking and I became a great whore. Enough to get apartments in the palace, and for Seokjin to gain interest in me, granting me a family, finding me older lords, those with a kinder disposition towards prostitutes.”
Hoseok’s eyes widened, “that’s why you were angry with us at the party for interrupting you. You were…”
Taehyung’s smile did not reach his eyes; “entertaining.”
“Well you don’t have to do it anymore,” Jungkook said gruffly.
Taehyung twisted in his seat, and suddenly all Jimin could see was the silk of his skin, the length of his legs, the muscles of his arms, the curve of his hip, the dip of his thigh. He was as still as the statue of kissing lovers that decorated the palace. His voice was smooth as silk. “And if I want to keep doing what I know best?”
Hoseok leaned forward in his seat, and the scent of an alpha in his prime permeated the air, teeth bared. “You’re not taking another lover. You’ll be more than busy enough entertaining us both, I promise you that.”
Taehyung, breathed out, relaxing in his seat. However, his eyes remained troubled and cloudy with distrust.
Yoongi cleared his throat in the uncomfortable silence. “Where’s Seokjin?”
Taehyung shook his head. “I don’t know, it’s not like I’m even allowed near his quarters with my low birth unless he’s with me.”
Jimin turned his head towards Yoongi, “won’t your father be upset? You too seeing each other in such a public place?”
Yoongi shook his head, hand tightening around Jimin, seeking comfort. “My father had many affairs after my mother attempted to escape with me. He cares little for Seokjin as a person, as little as he cares for me. Seokjin’s mother was the only one who quickened, and she died in childbirth, due to poor conditions. He thought to hurt my mother by parading Seokjin in front of him, especially because he was always so much prettier and more princelike than I was. However… He did not understand my mother, so he could not break her. She attempted to love Seokjin like her own, and he took Seokjin away once that became apparent. He screamed as they dragged him out, fighting to me. I will always remember his screams, his desperation. It was another insult, another bruise on my mother’s soul. By the time I was old enough to have a voice, aching over my mother’s death, desperate for true family, I realized my brother could not even look me in the eye. I knew he blamed me for our mother’s death, and I could never blame him for my failure.”
Jimin cleared his throat, gesturing behind Yoongi, and Yoongi turned, meeting Seokjin’s gaze.
Seokjin stood, wearing black velvet threaded with white lace trim, diamonds glistening at his throat, a circlet of tiger-eye highlighting the gold in his hair. His hand sat in Namjoon’s, who wore usual close cut black military outfit and black boots up to his knee, his hair died a pale shade of blond, the matching diamond choker of Seokjin’s shining around his throat.
They looked like a true mate pairing, who fucked till their thighs ached, smiles on their face as they slipped poison in their enemy’s champagne.
The illusion dissipated as Namjoon tugged his hand out of Seokjin’s, rounding the table to sit as far away from Yoongi as possible.
Seokjin sat next to Taehyung, a delicate frown gracing his features. “I didn’t hate you because of that. When your mother died, I sobbed into my pillow every night for a year. I knew your sadness would be as all-encompassing as mine. Your mother was the kindest woman I ever met. However, every member of court had warned me of your viciousness and cruelty. When you came back, with your northern lover…” Seokjin flicked his hair in Namjoon’s direction, “every inch the alpha imperial prince, I knew any hope you finding use for me had disappeared. So I fell into drinking and drugs to escape my worthlessness. And then I realized how many secrets and debts I kept, how influential I had become. I used it to help Taehyung, and then my influence only kept expanding with his help, the secrets he learned in the heat of bedplay. One day I woke up and realized I was a threat to you. And there was no doubt in my mind that my story would only end with your teeth at my throat.”
Yoongi’s face was shadowed with the emotional scars of the past. “I know my knowledge of you is only based on a rosy childhood, but you must know that I will never harm you.”
Seokjin leaned forward, eyes clashing. “You have proclaimed me mated. Once I have a child, my loyalty will change. What if my mate turns on you? I will not abandon my child for my brother.”
Yoongi’s hands wrapped around the edge of his chair, hands stark white against mahogany. “Namjoon will not betray me. I would never have allowed a mating between you two if I mistrusted him.”
Jimin glanced down the table to Namjoon, who seemed to be more interested in pouring wine than paying attention. “Do you have anything to add, your grace?”
Namjoon glanced up, and Jimin felt the usual shudder of insecurity that ran through him. Namjoon was so starkly beautiful, his eyes so intelligent, that Jimin could not help but feel he paled in comparison.
“Oh, do not worry about me. Yoongi has wrapped me in enough chains that I doubt I’ll ever be able to move more than a few feet away from anyone at this table.” Namjoon drank deeply, licking his lips as he placed the cup back on the table. He reached for the crystal carafe once more.
Yoongi allowed his frown to reach his eyes. “I am not chaining you. Allowing you to have a true mate, one you can trust with your burdens and create the family you’ve always wanted, that’s no imprisonment.”
Namjoon’s eyes traced over the bruise on Yoongi’s cheek, slowly and disdainfully. “If you truly wanted me free, you would have let me go back to the Western Reaches, trusting that I would be loyal to you. Instead, you mate me to your brother. The only reason I’ve even stayed in this godforsaken court for so long is because I expected to go back home mated to you, the next emperor. Instead, I’m stuck with a mate who wants me as little as I want him.”
Taehyung stood up so quickly his chair flipped, hands gripped around the table so tight his knuckles were white, looming over Namjoon, silk against iron. “His name is Seokjin. He’s suffered far more than you’ll ever know. And he will be a better mate than you will ever deserve. You prance around looking down your nose at everyone like you’re so much better than everyone else. The truth is, you’ve been no better than a common whore to Yoongi for over a decade, no matter how much we all call you a prince’s mistress. I know for a fact that you’ve fucked in the dirt just as much as the rest of us, in a dozen different ways I’m sure you don’t want Yoongi to know. I swear to all the gods of highborns and lowborns, If I ever even see Seokjin shed a tear over you, I will send my very attractive and strong mates to raid your castle and hold you down while I cut off your cock. Is that clear?”
Namjoon poured himself another glass of wine, crystal hitting glass as the wine dripped onto the silk tablecloth. He downed the whole glass, before looking back up at Taehyung. “I wish Yoongi had given me you instead.”
The whole breakfast had ended awkwardly after that, Namjoon wandering off drunkenly, Seokjin excusing himself shortly afterwards, Taehyung at his heels, voice soft in his ear. Jungkook and Hoseok had followed Taehyung shortly afterwards, and Yoongi, after a long silence, had invited Jimin along to a meeting on city planning along the coast. That meeting had turned into another and another, so that the sun was starting to disappear as Yoongi and Jimin finally came back into the palace gardens. The moon was turning all the trees into shadows, the candlelight that shone through the gardens sparkled in response to the moon’s glow, each attempting to outshine the other.
“I invited everyone back out to dinner in one of the main salons,” Yoongi murmured.
“That worked so well this morning,” Jimin grinned at Yoongi.
Yoongi grimaced in response, “I had hoped we would get right to business, a pack to fix the empire’s woes. A bit naive of me, considering most of the pack hates each other.”
“Taehyung is warming up to Hoseok and Jungkook,” Jimin offered.
“Taehyung is used to contractual relationships of submission. I don’t know what’ll happen when Hoseok and Jungkook start responding with actual feelings.”
Jimin could only nod in response, “I hope he doesn’t break their hearts.”
Yoongi nodded back, hand shyly reaching out to cup Jimin’s. “I hope you don’t break mine.”
Jimin turned bright red at that, hiding his head in the crook of Yoongi’s shoulder. He allowed his hand to trace over Yoongi’s chest, before pulling back with a blush.
Jimin cleared his throat, mind racing for another subject. “I…I didn’t realize the empire’s woes were so extensive.”
Yoongi nodded agreeably, “the bureaucracy is far too expensive and corrupt. Money disappears left and right, and my father does nothing. Attempting to pull the Northern Kingdom into the empire as a direct province in the Desert War has instead resulted in us having control over thousands of disparate desert tribes, each with complaints and a refusal to pay taxes unless those needs are met.”
“That’s not wrong, it is the duty of the empire to help,” Jimin murmurs.
Yoongi smiles at Jimin, soft and sweet, making his toes curl. “I agree, but no qualified governor will go there and meet their needs unless the governor has promises of palaces and prostitutes, both of which the desert has in short supply.”
Jimin cocked his head in Yoongi’s direction. “You want to make Jungkook governor. A warrior the desert tribes can get behind.”
Yoongi’s smile goes wider. “Quite. Your uncle in the Eastern Reaches has no heirs either, and Hoseok could govern the east just as capably.”
“And they would have to communicate because of their matehood.”
“Would they?” Yoongi grins at Jimin, all appreciative and sultry.
“And Taehyung?” Jimin shakes his head. “Wait, let me guess. A new government agency, to manage the sex trade in the empire. One to promote health and limit slavery, not to mention commerce.”
Yoongi nodded once again. “I’ve calculated, and the agency would only be secondary in size and income to the ministry of war. Do you want to guess for the rest?”
Jimin giggled in the warm twilight air; “Namjoon for the Western Reaches, and he has the largest private army in the empire, so you make him minister of war, and the western mercenary groups will have to listen to him as their duke, if not their minister. Seokjin heads up the bureaucracy of the empire. His beauty and wit will soften even the most hardline members, and those that insult him can meet Namjoon at the tip of his sword.”
Yoongi smiles so brightly Jimin thinks he could outshine the moon. “You are so very smart. With you by my side as emperor, I am much less afraid.”
Jimin burrowed back into Yoongi’s neck, and Yoongi wrapped his arms around him. “Are you afraid? You always seem so confident.”
Yoongi huffed into his hair, “my wolf was always angry, all the time, at everyone. The minute I saw you, it quieted, and all that was left was your scent and the softness of your skin.”
Jimin allowed himself to nuzzle Yoongi, just for a moment. “Us omegas don’t really feel our wolf till we’re pregnant. But…I felt something with you. You looked like a fairytale, and then, with Namjoon and the court…”
Yoongi pushed his head back, touching his forehead against Jimin, both of them standing still, swallowed by the shadows around them. “I apologize. Fully, deeply, from the bottom of my heart. I was scared and wanted to spite my father and didn’t know how to tell Namjoon I didn’t love him as he loved me. But that is no excuse, and I will spend the rest of my life making it up to you.”
Jimin allowed himself to inhale, the scent of expensive perfume that always cloyed the air, the quieter scent of the flowers that sprinkled the gardens, and the acrid smell of the city that never quite left. “I will take this chance with you Yoongi, and I will trust you. I will believe in our matehood, and I will help us achieve our goals. But if you betray me again…”
Yoongi stood strong, muscles tensed, virility in every muscle, “I expect no less than for you to rip out my throat with your teeth.”
Jimin grinned, all fang, before threading his hands through Yoongi’s once again. “I think we’re late for dinner.”
They were late for dinner, wine already poured, food already half eaten. Hoseok and Jungkook were telling a story to Taehyung, but they kept losing their train of thought every time they glanced at him. Taehyung and Seokjin’s small smiles behind their wineglasses proved they found it hilarious, and even Namjoon couldn’t help but snicker as Jeongkook muttered “so pretty…long…all the kisses right there…” in the middle of a battle scene.
Jimin quickly updated everyone on the news they had learned today about the political troubles of the empire, even though him and Yoongi were keeping to themselves their eventual goals for their pack, not willing to scare everyone back into hatred.
Most of the court had spent the evening whispering about them at the tables near theirs, walking back and forth to glance at their outfits, and asking loud questions in their directions. A few more senior nobles had walked up to bow, but Yoongi had waved them all off with a wave.
As Jimin bit into a cake so light and airy it felt like walking on a cloud, a older lady, subtlety well-dressed in dark colors, wandered up. Yoongi started raised his hand, but Namjoon rose before Yoongi could finish. Namjoon walked just far enough away from the table that they could not hear either of them, but his deep bow to the other lady had left them all peering at their lips.
After a couple moments of fervent discussion, Namjoon wandered back with the old woman following. “This is my new mate, Lord Seokjin.”
The old woman laughed, an ugly, hacking sound, but it did not stop the mirth shining in her eyes. “Not a mate till the bite’s on his neck, that’s what we all used to say.”
“Heat season isn’t for another couple months, as I’m sure you know,” Namjoon grinned back at the old woman.
She laughed once again, before bowing to Seokjin. “I do apologize for the impoliteness. We aren’t all so rude as Joonie here.”
“Joonie?” Seokjin murmured, eyes turning questioning.
“Do you have another nickname for him?” The woman turned questioning eyes to Namjoon, “darling perhaps?” She shrugged, turning back to Seokjin. “He’s my godson, so Joonie will have to do.”
“She’s mated to Lord Lee,” Namjoon added.
“Over 60 years now, and you know what keeps us going?”
Seokjin pursed his lips, “abiding trust and common interests?”
Lady Lee laughed again, “of course not! I mean the trust comes with time, strengthening like iron on a fire, and you learn to tolerate each other’s interests. I like animals, he used to like gambling. Now we race horses.”
Taehyung allowed a hint of his boxy smile, “oh! I know you. An old…Friend took me once. You’re one of the foremost horse breeders in the empire.”
Lady Lee nodded agreeably, “between the thousand horses, the title, land, and the eight children…”
Seokjin could not hide his gasp, “eight?”
“May all the gods help you!” Jimin added with a laugh.
“All alphas of course. For some reason the Western Reaches can’t stop having alphas. That was the issue in the first place.”
Seokjin glanced over to Namjoon, “the issue?”
Namjoon laid his arm over Lady Lee, “she’s from across the Sun Sea, a city along the golden coast.”
Lady Lee patted Namjoon’s arm, “Western Reaches searched for as many omegas as they could find due to the lack within their own territory, and let me tell you, it was a bit of a barren wasteland when we first showed up.”
“It’s not anymore?” Seokjin said, voice disbelieving.
“Well when you have thousands of omegas from across the world who come live together, you’re going to have a evolution of art and culture to put it nicely. It’s no golden coast, make no mistake, but it’s certainly as cultured as the imperial capital, and we have a wide diversity of population due to refugees. Obviously that lends itself to a better society. ”
“That’s good to hear,” Seokjin smiled, leaning back in his chair. He swept one hand out. “Would you like to join us?”
Lady Lee reached out to pat Seokjin’s face. “Oh darling! That’s so sweet, but my husband has already arranged to take me to a jeweler’s tonight.”
“Is there a specific reason?” Jimin questioned.
“No of course not,” Lady Lee giggled, and her face suddenly seemed that of a young girl. “He just likes to spoil me.”
She turned back to Namjoon. “You take care of that mate of yours. You’ll become the greatest dukes of the Western Reaches the empire has ever seen.”
Namjoon smiled shyly back, “I surely hope so.”
The night had meandered slowly after that, one of those summer nights that passed like a stream over pebbles, lavender weaving through the night air, the sound of soft violins appearing like magic. They had taken to wandering slowly back to their door, Taehyung giggling into Hoseok and Jungkook’s hair, Jimin kissing Yoongi’s neck, even Seokjin holding on to Namjoon’s arm.
They got to Taehyung’s room first, a thin wooden door in a drafty corridor, as far away from Jimin’s rooms in style and substance as possible.
“I thought you got moved. You told me you got moved,” Seokjin muttered at Taehyung.
“I asked to move, I didn’t get it.” Taehyung shifted his heads into quotations, “I have a lack of moral fiber that makes my move questionable.”
Jungkook and Hoseok growled, and Yoongi laid his hand on Taehyung’s arm. “I’ll get you moved next to Jimin’s rooms.”
Taehyung nodded once, face shadowed, before glancing up. “Oh! Oh! Wait! Come in a moment.” Taehyung darted in, and they all followed.
The room was small and cramped, piles of silks and laces covering the floor, a dim candle flickering in front of a cracked mirror. However, the desk was covered in jewels, from cracked onyx to uncut diamonds the size of Jimin’s fist.
Seokjin rustled through a pile of Taehyung’s clothes, before coming back up with a blue velvet hat covered in rainbow-tinted feathers. “Does this suit me?”
Namjoon grinned, and Seokjin laughed. “You look amazing in everything,” Namjoon murmured, and then blushed, obviously as shocked as Seokjin at what he had just said aloud.
Taehyung turned back, a huge ruby red broach caught in his fist. “Could you cut this with your dandy sword?” he said to Jungkook, bedroom eyes fluttering. Jungkook nodded eagerly, but as he laid it down on your bed, Jimin could see the broach red out SLUT.
Seokjin turned to Taehyung, and his anger was heavy in every muscle. “Tell me who sent you this, now.”
Taehyung shrugged, “it was before court. You know my patrons were more cruel.”
Yoongi’s face was drawn, pale, “they never should have been actively trying to humiliate you.”
Taehyung looked around the room, at every member there. His voice was soft, pensive; “I used to believe it for a very long time. It was a coast of my profession, of not becoming a street beggar or dead in a ditch. But now…With you all…I have a pack, and I know I can become more than I was, I can help fix the empire I love.” The room grew soft with what remained unspoken.
Jungkook started hacking at the broach with long strokes. “In seven pieces, please,” Taehyung added. He blushed at the looks everyone wore. “I…I though we could all wear a piece, like we were a group, obvious to the court were our loyalty’s lie. Obvious to the emperor.”
“A real family,” Yoongi murmured.
Jimin couldn’t help the hope that swelled in his heart; “a real pack.”
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
This is the last chapter of A Court of Bastards. I am thinking about doing another collection of chapters from both Seokjin's and Taehyung's perspective as their relationships evolve with their mates. However, A Court of Bastards took me a very long time to write, and I cannot promise that any sort of continuation will happen immediately.
This final scene was the first idea I had when I started thinking about this world-and I am so pleased to share it with you all.
I'm so happy to finally do a full Yoonmin story. I just want to thank everyone for their unending support and kind words. I can always get discouraged writing all by myself, but the responses always make me understand I'm not writing into a vacuum, that other people are appreciating, loving and seeing little bits of themselves in every character I write. I am so very grateful.
I purple you all!
The weeks had been more difficult than Jimin had anticipated. He’d thought finding a pack would be as easy as when they played as alphas and omegas as children. However, the easy comfort of the new bond had become strained.
Namjoon constantly tested his limits with Yoongi, snarling at every comment. Seokjin remained quiet in most discussions, and seemed to carry a quiet air of resignation wherever he went.
Taehyung wanted everything to remain light and airy between him and his new alpha mates. Jimin had fallen asleep more than once to the sound of Jungkook and Hoseok muttering back and forth about Taehyung’s weak emotional bond.
Yoongi was wonderful and beautiful and surprising to Jimin. However, they hadn’t even moved beyond kissing, and Jimin learnt of the unhappy truth that Yoongi was relatively conservative when it came to the time before heats. The whole no sex until heat for omegas had always been a small constraint to Jimin, but everytime he saw Yoongi, all he wanted to do was spread his thighs and let him take him in the middle of the palace. And Yoongi knew that, constantly flicking his tongue and rubbing Jimin’s neck, making Jimin’s core throb.
Jimin knew that their pack was not where it should be, where it needed to be.
However, as Jimin and Yoongi delved further and further into the empire’s corruption, they realized how bad the situation had gotten. The empire was like an apple, rotting from its core. Just because the palace seemed as glowing as ever did not mean they weren’t standing on quicksand, ready to leave ruins in its wake.
Jimin opened his eyes the usual hum of conversation between Jungkook and Hoseok, one that had been constant since infancy. He wondered how different he would feel waking up in Yoongi’s bed, their scent mingled on the sheets, no Hoseok to wake him up with a laugh or a blushing Jungkook to make him smile. It was the end of childhood, Jimin thought fornlonly, and it felt rather more like mourning than a celebration.
“He doesn’t like us.”
“Of course he likes us. Taehyung spends most of his days with us now.”
“Talking about clothes and gossip. There’s nothing wrong with that if he enjoys it, but it’s been weeks. We can’t let him run away everytime we bring up moving in together after our heat.”
“He’ll carry our marks soon, and everything will work itself out, Jungkookie.”
“I’m pretty sure he’s in denial. We need to have a real discussion with him, and soon. About where we want to live, and if we want children and…And why he keeps showing up with new clothes when we know he can’t afford them on his own.”
“You have to give him some time,” Jimin murmured, pushing his air back.
“Jimin!” Hoseok helped pull him to his feet. Jungkook snickered behind them, “sorry, I think you’ve been hearing the same conversation for weeks now.”
Jimin nodded agreeably, starting to unknot his hair. “He’s an omega you know.”
“I know that,” Jungkook said with a grin.
Hoseok started brushing through Jimin’s hair in long, steady strokes. “Omegas have very little options once they are mated. Their heats can only be with their alphas, they’re barren outside of their mates. And if their mates die, they are usually relegated to an abandoned corner, to die of uselessness, no matter how young they are.”
“I know he’s giving up a lot,” Hoseok murmured behind him, “but I can’t find it in me to give him up, no matter what it may cost him.”
Jimin ran his fingers through his now smooth hair, giving it a quick shake of his head. He reached out for the powder blue robe Jungkook clasped in his hand. “He’s been free in his own way, for his whole life. Power over alphas is a heady truth. You need to comfort him that he won’t lose his power over you.”
Jungkook voice was calm and contemplating as he and Hoseok started to lace together Jimin’s corset. “Everytime I see him, I want to turn over onto my belly. Give him my sword. Even give him my head, if it would please him. He does have all the power.”
Jimin patted Jungkook’s arm. “Remind him of that, and he’ll become more open to discussion.”
Jimin ruffled his hands through Hoseok’s hair, before reaching out to clasp his iron tipped fans, murmuring the usual prayer for the forgotten goddess to grant him victory over his enemies and to find beauty in his day. Jimin kissed the fans thrice, head bowed, before clasping it to his thigh, tightening the garter, hand reaching for the unending paperwork Hoseok held in his hands.
“What’s on the schedule for today?”
“Meeting with the merchants on the Gold Coast, apparently tariffs haven’t been paid to the governor for over three years.”
“How has he been paid instead?” Jimin murmured, Jungkook opening the door in front of him, head swiveling to look for any threats.
Jimin gripped the doorframe, unsteadiness gripping him. He must have not eaten enough, he’d been so busy between the upshot of piracy and…
“Paid in underage prostitutes.”
Jimin’s mouth tasted like lead, his head spinning. “Of course he was. And I suppose he’s been paying us in IOU’s?”
“Fake coinage actually,” Jungkook said, drily.
Jimin’s steps came to a halt. The room was twirling around him. Every color of the rainbow pouring off the wall, he stumbled. “Does anyone else see…”
Jimin’s head hit the floor.
Jimin woke up with a feeling that a large predator had clawed out his throat, leaving him to bleed out in a surprisingly comfortable bed.
However, the room wasn’t multicolored anymore, and he reached out with one shaking hand to grasp the water extended to him.
“Namjoon?” Jimin murmured, disbelieving.
“Do you feel better?” Namjoon murmured, pushing back Jimin’s neck to get a better look at his pupils.
“Relatively,” Jimin murmured. “What happened?”
“You were poisoned,” Namjoon said drily, getting to his feet and walking in long, smooth strides to the door.
How Namjoon still looked like he’d just left a storybook when Jimin probably looked like a corpse did not make him feel better.
And then Jimin was swallowed by hugs.
“Jiminie…Jiminie…” Hoseok murmured, hand stroking his hair.
Jungkook had started sobbing hysterically into his chest.
Yoongi had placed his forehead against Jimin’s and kept breathing him in rhythmically, as if trying to ingrain Jimin’s scent in his memory.
Even Seokjin and Taehyung were patting Jimin’s limbs, as if trying to remember how to comfort someone.
Namjoon placed another glass of water in his hand. “Drink”.
“What happened?” Jimin said, reddening, his voice sounding like an animal in its death throes.
“We were walking, and you were fine! And then you just collapsed. You started coughing up blood and writhing. We screamed for a doctor, and Namjoon came running. He forced a plant down your throat and you started coughing up the poison.” Hoseok started pulling Jimin’s bedsheets up to his chin.
Namjoon shrugged his shoulders. “I got lucky, guessing it was aconite. I always keep a leaf of the Strychnine tree on me.”
Jimin glanced over Namjoon. Namjoon's face was drawn with worry, his clothes stained, his eyes wide. “You could’ve let me die.”
Namjoon bowed his head slightly, “I’m part of this pack too. You’re my prince.”
Jimin nodded his head. Seokjin’s shocked gaze clashed with Namjoon’s before Seokjin turned away with reddened ears.
Yoongi traced his finger down Jimin’s cheek, so lightly he seemed afraid to even touch. “How were you poisoned?”
“He didn’t eat anything,” Jungkook said. “I always pay attention to what he’s eating. No one was in the corridor, and aconite reacts so quickly it couldn’t have been from last night.”
Jimin traced his fingers through Yoongi’s hair, marveling at its multitude of shades. Where had he been? Only in his room and he hadn’t eaten, but…“I…I did touch my iron fans.”
Yoongi kissed the tips of Jimin’s fingers. “Surely that wouldn’t have…”
“I kiss them three times, it’s part of the ritual,” Jimin murmured, hand reaching up to touch his swollen lips.
Namjoon nodded, “it would be a very easy way to poison you. It’s the one ritual that stays constant. An easy act for a poisoner to plan to target.”
Seokjin turned to look at Jimin, “who would know about that? It’s such a private moment. Hoseok and Jungkook were with you, so it must have been someone who knew your private routine well enough…”
Taehyung bit his lips, tone hesitant. “I don’t wish to accuse…Maybe…Maybe it was your stepmother.”
Jimin’s eyes clashed with Yoongi, the same aching feeling of almost-loss reflected in their gaze. “We need to meet with the emperor.”
The emperor’s features flashed to shock, wine glass held in his grip, legs hooked over the side of his throne. The crown of every emperor since the gods roamed the earth sat askew in his hair. Jimin’s stepmother sat on his laps, robe up to her neck, lilies of purity decorating the hem. The emperor had forced everyone else out of the throne room.
“My son,” the emperor attempted to push Jimin’s stepmother off the throne. She clung to the side like a barnacle. The emperor cleared his throat. “And prince Jimin.”
Jimin’s stepmother’s look of utter superiority and disdain remained, even as she turned away from Hoseok and Jungkook’s glare.
The emperor took a sip of wine, red falling to stain his collar. “You must understand. After the Queen Mother of the Northern Kingdom came to me with such horrific news about the treasonous nature of prince Jimin, I simply could not let it stand.”
Yoongi’s threaded his finger’s through Jimin’s, head held high. “I didn’t know you were involved until right now.”
The emperor coughed on his wine.
Yoongi continued, implacable. “Jimin is my mate. I am his as he is mine. An attack against him is an attack against our entire pack.”
Jimin’s stepmother giggled, youthful in beauty, head thrown back to show Jimin’s father’s mating bite on her neck. “Your pack? Your pack includes a bastard warrior, a lord who engaged in patricide and was disowned by his family, a whore, a lord who used to be your whore, another bastard and a traitor for a mate.”
Yoongi’s fury could be felt in the tensing of his muscles, the clench of his jaw. “I know what my pack is. I know what I am. And I love them all the more for it.”
Jimin’s voice remained soft, silk against skin. “Why are you here, Queen Mother? My father is north. So is your son.”
Jimin’s stepmother turned lilting in mockery, “your father is a drunken old fool who forsook my bed for every whore in the kingdom the night after our wedding. My son seems to have all the softness of an omega, he is no true heir to me. I have no more funds, the northern kingdom mortgaged to the hilt to pay for wine, horses and whores. I come here, expecting to see you suffering as you deserve, but instead you’ve made yourself a pack and fallen in love.”
Jimin attempted to keep his voice even, digging his feet into the marble floor. “I’m sorry the sacrifices you made climbing to the throne are not choices you can live with. I am sorry my father is cruel and the Northern Kingdom not as shining as you wish.”
The emperor shifted in his seat, wine glass empty. He looked over Jimin’s pack, teeth bared, knees bent to pounce. “Obviously I have made an error in judgement. This woman is obviously mad.” He attempted to stand up, legs weak, before falling back onto the throne. “ I also seem to have drank too much.”
Jimin brought Yoongi’s hand up to kiss the knuckles. “My stepmother isn’t mad. She is one of the most honest women I have ever met. About the cost of power, the stain on our souls. You are the irony, with your given birthright that allows you to do nothing but drink and fuck while your empire collapses around you.”
The emperor reddened, his hands clutching the arms of his throne. His voice rose to a bellow. “I am a god among men! No matter your legacy, no matter your choices, I will always be above everyone! I am born to rule! I am emperor.”
Yoongi allowed a hint of a smile to curve his lips. “You’re not going to be remembered for anything besides what happens in this room. I want you to know that. I want you to know statues, temples and cities will be raised in my mother’s honor, in my pack’s honor, in my mate’s honor. You will be a footnote of history.”
Jimin’s stepmother stood up, face pale. Jimin gestured with his hand, and Jungkook and Hoseok stepped in front of the doors, weapons drawn, blocking the exit. Taehyung stood in front of them both, teeth bared, defending his mates.
Namjoon stepped next to Yoongi, sword drawn, knees bent. He drew a thin dagger, placing it in Seokjin’s hands. Seokjin covered Yoongi’s other side, protecting his prince.
Yoongi growled, muscles tensing, bones breaking, the fury of the shift overtaking his features.
Jimin walked up the steps to the throne, the little wooden throne that meant so much to so many seeming so very fragile.
He flicked open his fans, uttering a prayer to the forgotten goddess.
His stepmother’s glare remained as haughty as ever, even as she fell, throat slit, blood running down the golden steps.
Jimin turned to look at the emperor, who sat, hands clasping his wine glass, robes splattered with the blood of the Queen Mother. “It seems all so very inconsequential from up here,” Jimin murmured softly.
The fans flicked open once again. The Emperor of the greatest empire in the known world, whose power and influence swallowed both coasts, died choking, hand coming to cup his neck, blood running into the wine glass he still cupped in his hand.
Jimin placed his fans in the hands of the emperor. The court would awaken to a story the bards would tell for a thousand years. The mad emperor, killing his long lost love, the Queen Mother of the Northern Kingdom. His glorious son mating the prince of the Northern Kingdom to bring an end to the brewing civil war, deserving of the empire.
Jimin carefully untangled the crown from the emperor’s blood soaked hair. He walked down to face Yoongi, steps delicate. Their pack sunk to the floor in prosternation, weapons still drawn, ready for war, smiles curving their features.
Jimin kneeled, raising the crown above his head. His voice echoed. “All hail the emperor!”
Yoongi’s fingers threaded through Jimin as he took the crown, inhaling the scent of the blood soaked room before placing the crown on his curls, the jewels sparkling in the low light.
He brought Jimin to his feet, fingers bloodied by Jimin’s hands. His hands grasped for the edge of the crown, placing it in Jimin’s hair.
Jimin wanted nothing more than to kiss Yoongi in that moment, and so he did, lips clashing, hands running down each others bodies, feeling their hearts beat in unison.
Yoongi’s smile was a movement of beauty, of bodies frozen for one eternal moment of joy.
“All hail the emperors!”