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call it magic, call it true

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expiarshus!” jeongguk shouts as he points the stick in his hand at the tree he’s running by, wind in his (too long, his mom says, but doesn’t she know that’s where his magic is?) hair as he goes as fast as his little legs will carry him.

several paces behind him, yoongi is giggling as he calls, “that’s not how the spell goes!”

“then why are the bad guys dying?” jeongguk yells back, not deterred as he zigzags around the next few trees, jabbing his stick sideways before yelling another gibberish word. at this point, it’s not about the pronunciation but the oomph behind it, about the feeling, about believing that he has magic running in his veins.

and—he does. both of jeongguk’s parents are magical, although both muggleborn which has led a few select children in the neighbourhood to tease him and call him names, to claim that his magic will be muddled and weak compared to someone whose parents come from a long-line of wizards. jeongguk, even at the age of three and a half, is going to prove them wrong the moment he begins magical school at eleven and becomes the greatest wizard/quidditch player/dueller/auror to ever live.

for now, though. for now, he’s just playing with his yoongi-hyung.

“jeonggukie, watch out!” yoongi calls and jeongguk squeaks as he dives sideways, pointing the stick upward toward the tops of the endless trees, shouting, “stufepy!” it does nothing, but in jeongguk’s imagination, the dark wizards he and yoongi are fighting are being taken down one by one through the efforts of their magic and quick thinking.

it’s jeongguk’s favourite game—playing aurors with yoongi. living in a small magical village near the sea affords them plenty of space for it, the village surrounded on all sides by vast forests whose trees lose their leaves in the winter. now, well into autumn, the boys run with crunching leaves underfoot, the pale sun overhead bright to their eyes without leaf cover to shade them. but this is the best time for games in the forest: everything is a little spookier, a little more real.

jeongguk and yoongi spend hours running around in the trees behind their houses, conveniently on the same street. they grab their ‘wands’ (really sticks chosen from the forest and whittled down by jeongguk’s father into something resembling the real wands they’ll one day have the privilege of owning) and chase after imaginary beasts and dark wizards, play acting at the role jeongguk one day hopes to truly have: an auror for the ministry of magic’s law enforcement, heading out across the country to capture the worst sort of magical criminals.

it’s every magical kid’s dream. or—it seems that way to jeongguk. yoongi, a whole seven-year-old, seems to think being an auror is a bit too much excitement and danger, and has thus decided to follow in his mother’s footsteps of being a healer. jeongguk doesn’t mind. he’ll need someone to tend to his heroic battle wounds, as he’s sure to get a few in his line of work.

and besides—yoongi indulges him in his games, lets jeongguk play the hero every time they take off into the forest clad in their coats and mittens. even as a three-year-old, jeongguk is almost positive that’s what love is. it’s a bit like when his mom gives his dad an extra piece of dessert even though jeongguk knows it’s her favourite. selflessness.

giggling, jeongguk watches as yoongi’s round face comes into view above him, holding out an arm to help him up from the pile of dead leaves he’s fallen into. once upright, jeongguk wipes at his sweaty brow. “thanks,” he says. “did we get all of them?”

“nope,” says yoongi. “one of them got away. but it’s okay, because i know where he went.”

“you’re so smart, yoongi-hyung,” beams jeongguk, leaning over to give yoongi a quick hug—even in the midst of catching bad guys, there is always time to hug yoongi. that’s how they recharge their magic, obviously.

“c’mon!” says yoongi, then, grabbing jeongguk’s hand and taking off again. his legs are longer than jeongguk’s, but he runs slower so that jeongguk can keep up, still giggling as he clutches the stick in his hand. he likes holding hands with yoongi. it might actually be the best part about playing aurors with yoongi—because yoongi makes sure that jeongguk doesn’t get left behind, makes sure that he’s safe and taken care of, unlike when they play with some of the other kids in their neighbourhood. jeongguk is by far the youngest, not including some of the babies who can’t even walk or talk yet. even though jeongguk’s brother is yoongi’s age, jeonhyun doesn’t take care of jeongguk the way yoongi does when they play games. to be fair, it’s probably because jeongguk has a wicked competitive streak when it comes to his brother and will bite him given the chance, but jeonhyun will bite him back, so it’s not jeongguk’s fault.

anyway.

“look, there he is!” shouts yoongi, pointing ahead.

jeongguk gasps. “he’s going up the tree!” surely some wizards can do that—float. use magic like that. jeongguk can’t wait to use magic however he wants. with that thought, he lets go of yoongi’s hand and runs on ahead, picking a tree at random to be the one carrying the bad guy.

“what are you doing?” asks yoongi when they stop next to tree, watching as jeongguk appraises it. but there’s only one way to get a bad guy down from a tree—and that’s to follow him up.

“hold my wand,” says jeongguk, passing the stick over to yoongi before he returns to the tree and wraps both arms around it. he’s too little to get his arms all the way around—or even a quarter of the way around—but what jeongguk lacks in size, he makes up for in determination. screwing his little face up, he latches onto one of the lower-hanging branches and tries to haul himself up, using his feet as leverage. his sneakers slide against the bark of the tree, sticking his tongue out in concentration as he tries to pull himself up.

“jeongguk,” says yoongi, sounding both worried and exasperated. it’s certainly not the first time jeongguk has tried to climb the trees behind their street. “please stop. we can just get him with magic.”

jeongguk can only respond with a grunting noise as he manages to pull himself onto the lowest branch, scrambling to stand up on it and grab the next one.

jeongguk,” says yoongi again, more concern colouring his words. “come down. you’re going to get hurt.”

“i’m a auror, hyung!” jeongguk calls. “i can do anything.”

“look, the bad guy is back on the ground.”

jeongguk ignores that, grabbing the next branch and hauling himself up with surprisingly strength. he doesn’t look down, although he’s probably no more than five feet off the ground. but he’s three years old. five feet is very high indeed.

“i’m gonna tell your mom,” yoongi finally threatens, and jeongguk reaches for yet another branch, trying to swing his leg over as he glances downward and—oh. oh, he’s actually quite high and yoongi has to crane his neck to look up at him, worrying at his sweater sleeves as he watches. “jeongguk, i’m gonna tell your mom and then you’ll get in trouble and have to clean doxies or feed the mandrakes or play with nothing but red caps for an entire year.

“hyung,” says jeongguk, intending to tell yoongi to stop being silly because jeongguk is his mother’s favourite and she’d never—but then he loses his grip and goes crashing to the ground.

for a second, when he’s falling, suspended in the autumn air, jeongguk almost thinks he’s flying. almost thinks that somehow, magic will save him without him having to do anything about it—no spells, no brooms, no nothing. he’s a wizard. shouldn’t his magic just do it for him?

but then he hits the ground, landing directly on his right arm as he twisted awkwardly in the air, and he hears something crack, feels the very bones of his arm shift. for a prolonged moment, nothing happens. it’s like all of the sound has been sucked out of the world, jeongguk entirely winded and shocked from the fall, and maybe yoongi, too.

and then jeongguk feels the pain and immediately begins to wail.

it’s a sound he’s never heard come out of his own mouth, something guttural and heart-wrenching as he feels searing pain in his arm. tears begin to overflow from his eyes immediately, and he can vaguely make out shouting above his own crying, recognizing yoongi’s voice.

“jeongguk!” he’s yelling, rushing to jeongguk’s side as jeongguk rolls over and cries harder, cradling his right arm with his left hand. “jeongguk-ah, are you—what did you do?” suddenly, yoongi is kneeling next to him, looming over him and blocking out the sun so that his face is all jeongguk sees through the blur of his ears. he’s crying too hard to respond, wailing increasing in pitch and volume as the jostling to his arm only makes the pain worse.

“you’re okay!” yoongi shouts, although it’s unconvincing because yoongi doesn’t sound okay, nor does he look it. instead, he’s breathing very quickly, beginning to hyperventilate as tears spring to his own eyes watching jeongguk cry and writhe on the ground. “jeongguk, you’re fine!”

hyung,” jeongguk cries, finally able to say that single word. “yoongi-hyung—”

“um,” says yoongi, hands flailing uselessly over jeongguk’s broken wrist. “um, we—i’m gonna go get your mom. don’t move!”

“no!” jeongguk practically screams, the idea of being alone terrifying him more than anything. but it’s clear that they’re both panicking, that yoongi doesn’t know what to do or how to make it better without getting an adult. jeongguk needs medical attention, is the thing. and with a simple spell, his wrist can be healed. with a simple potion, all of that pain will go away. within minutes, he and yoongi could be cuddling on the sofa and watching the jeon’s crup chase her own tails.

but jeongguk cannot fathom yoongi leaving him, not even for a second.

this demand is punctuated with another wail, even louder this time. “make it stop,” he cries, using his uninjured hand to reach out for yoongi, because—it’s yoongi. yoongi, who is a whole four years older than jeongguk. yoongi, who always knows how to fix everything. yoongi, who is jeongguk’s best friend and his protector and the one who wants to be a healer in the first place, who always knows how to take care of jeongguk even when jeongguk doesn’t even know how to take care of himself. “hyung, please.”

“salazar,” yoongi whimpers, voice wavering, and when jeongguk tries to focus on him, he notices that yoongi is wiping at his own eyes, like he’s trying to be strong. like he’s trying to be strong for both of them. but still, his breath is coming too quickly, mind racing when he can’t think of what to do, and jeongguk won’t stop crying and his wrist is at such an awkward angle and he’s in so much pain and yoongi just wants to fix it, wants to protect jeongguk and make him better, and so yoongi just—does the first thing he can think of.

he grabs jeongguk’s arm, leans over, and presses a kiss to the broken wrist.

the action is so tender and unexpected that it shocks jeongguk out of his crying, breath catching in his throat as he stares at the top of yoongi’s head. when yoongi pulls away, looking up to jeongguk with an almost sheepish look on his face, jeongguk lets out a choked sob, another few tears falling onto his wet cheeks. he prepares to keep crying at the pain, at the situation, but then—he realizes it doesn’t hurt anymore.

bewildered, jeongguk looks down at his wrist and finds that it’s… not broken anymore. it looks as though it was never broken at all, perfectly fine where he’s holding it in his other hand. the bone is fine, his wrist is straight. the only pain lingering is of the phantom kind, the memory of the pain, and even that is fading quickly to a dull ache, and jeongguk sniffs roughly as he stares down at himself.

his wrist is completely healed.

sniffing again, jeongguk raises his eyes to yoongi, offering his wrist to him. yoongi, too, stares at it in utter confusion. and then, quietly, he asks, “did i do that?”

see, for all of their pretending, their botched spells and stick waving, neither of them has actually shown any signs of magic—nothing substantial, anyway. they’ve known since they were old enough to understand magic that it would come, that they would join the rest of their families as wizards. yoongi’s parents are both purebloods, after all. but there was still just a sliver of possibility that it wouldn’t be true, that one or both of them could end up magicless in a magical world.

and now yoongi has just healed jeongguk’s broken wrist, perhaps not unintentionally, but without much preamble. without anything but the pure magic flowing through his veins.

his first sign of magic was healing jeongguk. was taking care of him, was protecting him.

jeongguk lifts his good arm and wipes at his wet cheeks with a tiny fist. “hyung,” he says, voice small. and then, because he’s not very good with words and maybe there aren’t any words to say what he feels anyway, jeongguk sits up and pushes himself against yoongi, burrowing into yoongi’s chest and wrapping both arms around him in a tight hug.

he doesn’t know how yoongi did it—if he even meant to heal jeongguk’s wrist, or if he just wanted for jeongguk to be okay so badly that his magic had no choice but to listen. (and maybe that’s love, too.) he doesn’t care about the logic of it, though, because it’s magic. and yoongi took care of him. so he just holds yoongi as tightly as he can, a fresh wave of tears spilling over onto his cheeks. not from pain this time, though.

he feels yoongi return the hug, holding jeongguk’s smaller body close to his. “are you okay?” he mumbles into jeongguk’s wild hair.

“yeah,” sniffs jeongguk. “now. because of you.”

“i told you that you were okay.”

it’s a very yoongi thing to say—passing off his own achievements, downplaying what he’s done. making it seem as though he didn’t just do real magic for the first time in his entire life, pretending like this isn’t a moment that the two of them will fondly remember and retell constantly for the rest of their lives: the time that yoongi’s magic woke up because jeongguk cried loudly enough.

because jeongguk needed him.

they stay like that for a long time, until jeongguk stops crying and his tears dry on his cheeks, until the phantom pain of the bone break disappears entirely. until they begin to get uncomfortable, bodies sore from being crammed together so hard. finally, when jeongguk pulls away, the air has gotten cooler. he inspects his wrist again, just in case—but there’s no sign of a break at all, and it’s not even sore. it’s like yoongi didn’t just heal it, but reversed time so that it was never broken in the first place. jeongguk told him to make it stop and he did.

“sorry we didn’t catch the bad guy,” yoongi says. “maybe next time.”

“i don’t want to catch bad guys anymore,” mumbles jeongguk. he clambers to his feet, holding out his hand for yoongi to take when the older boy gets up, too. “think i wanna just go home and eat ice cream. and hug more.”

yoongi grins at him. the best thing, maybe, about all of this is that jeongguk has always known that yoongi is magical. he’s felt it every time yoongi looks at him or smiles at him, every time they hold hands, as they do now when they begin walking home, heading back through the wondrous forest to their familiar street and its familiar houses. he’s always known that yoongi is the most magical thing in the world, and maybe it has nothing to do with magic at all.

in the end, he’s still just yoongi-hyung. and one day, jeongguk will do magic, too. and then they can be magical together.

and maybe that will be love, too.

Chapter Text

jeongguk is trying to do his chemistry homework when he hears a suspicious rumbling noise from the street. it’s not unusual to hear such things at this time of night, but there’s something that sounds different about this. it sounds like an engine, like an old car on the verge of stalling at any moment, but it also sounds a bit like a plane, and it draws jeongguk’s attention enough for him to look up from endless worksheets to the night sky outside of his window.

sure enough, the longer jeongguk watches the sky above the houses on the other side of the street, the more he sees… something. brows furrowing, jeongguk gets up from his desk and moves to the window, pressing against it as he makes out the object in the sky, moving steadily toward him with that rumbling noise.

it is a car. but it’s… flying.  

the very sight of it has something kick-starting in jeongguk’s heart, something like excitement. despite how out of place it looks, it’s not fear or confusion that fills jeongguk. rather, it’s a sort of relief and anticipation and want that floods his heart as he immediately grabs his coat from the back of his desk chair and throws it on, moving to unlock the window and push it open so he can peer out fully.

when it gets close enough, jeongguk can see the car is old and rusty. it’s seen better days, evident by the rusting on the bumper and the few dents it has in the doors, but it’s the best damn thing jeongguk has ever seen. it’s magic. and any taste of magic has jeongguk feeling freer than he has in his entire life, unable to help the wide, wide smile on his lips as the flying car comes to a halt in front of his window, hovering there as he sees who is sitting in the driver’s seat.

the car backfires, a noise like a gunshot ringing out in the night. jeongguk props his elbow up on the windowsill as the driver rolls down the car window, letting his arm lean out oh-so-casually.

“taxi service for one jeon jeongguk?” yoongi calls, tapping the side of the car. he looks effortlessly cool in the car, floating twenty feet above the ground, and in a worn jean jacket lined with patches that jeongguk himself sewed on. he’s missing the sunglasses, but considering it’s almost midnight, jeongguk can excuse that small detail.

“i believe i ordered a lexus?” retorts jeongguk, but he’s grinning.

“i don’t know what that is. but i could transfigure the car into that if you wanted?”

jeongguk giggles, shaking his head. “i was joking,” he says. “this is perfect.”

“good,” says yoongi. “because i’m not of age yet so i can’t do magic outside of school and i’m already on thin ice flying this godforsaken car across the country and i really don’t want to go to azkaban because of a lexus.”

“you mean you wo—”

jeongguk!” the two of them freeze at the roar that echoes through the house, audible even over the roar of the car engine. that voice has sparked terror in jeongguk more times than he can count, but it’s never worse when magic is involved. glancing at his bedroom door, jeongguk has half a mind to lock it to buy him some time, but then he hears thundering footsteps on the stairs and knows he can’t risk it. “jeon jeongguk, i swear to god, if it’s that fucking boy—

“let’s go!” yoongi shouts, leaning behind his seat so he can open the door to the backseat, creaking the whole time as it narrowly misses smacking into the side of the house. “get in!”

“hyung—” begins jeongguk, but he knows he has no other choice. the footsteps grow closer, the shouting growing louder as his father shouts about magic and rules and consequences. and jeongguk knows that getting into yoongi’s stupid flying car will only spell trouble for him. but he only has two weeks left until school starts again and then he can escape from his parents for ten months, can exist in the world that has always been home more than this: the magical world. it’s been a long and hard summer of trying to appease his parents by not mentioning magic despite the fact that they’re all keenly aware he’s a wizard and has been attending a magical school for five years already. but at sixteen, jeongguk knows just how his parents react to the very idea of magic, how abhorred and disgusted they are knowing their own son is one of them.

and he’s tired. he’s so goddamn tired. and here is yoongi, the representation of everything that jeongguk loves about the magical world—yoongi is bright and kind and magical. yoongi loves him. and yoongi is rapidly trying to herd him into his (stolen, according to jeongguk; borrowed without permission, according to yoongi) car, shouting at him to hurry up before that door opens.

jeongguk shoves his window the rest of the way up, getting one foot on the sill and then glancing back his bedroom one last time. at the last second, he grabs his wand where it’s hidden in one of his desk drawers, just in case. and then, just as his bedroom bursts open and his father stumbles inside, yelling at him to get the fuck away from that window right now, jeongguk! he climbs out, latching onto the car door as he launches himself away from the house and lands in the backseat.

jeongguk!” his father yells, but jeongguk shouts, “hyung, go!” and the car takes off, roaring through the night as jeongguk sits up and pulls the door closed, watching out of the window at the retreating house, his retreating father’s angry face. the retreating muggle world that has nothing to offer him but shackles and people who could never understand him.

he can’t wallow in that sadness for long, though.

in the driver’s seat, yoongi laughs. “holy shit, did you see the look on his face?” he asks, hitting a button on the car’s dash, presumably to make it turn invisible so they won’t be spotted by any muggles. then he peers around the seat, grinning that breathless, magical grin at jeongguk—the one that jeongguk fell in love with, the one that reminds him not everything is dead ends and angry shouting and living in a world without magic.

putting all thoughts of his parents behind him, jeongguk clambers between the front seats and collapses in the passenger’s seat instead, allowing himself to feel the swoop of freedom instead. when he goes back—if he goes back—he’ll have to face the consequences. but it’s always worth it to be with yoongi. as yoongi loudly and excitedly retells the past five minutes as though jeongguk wasn’t there, jeongguk leans over the console, grabbing yoongi’s chin, and presses a kiss to his cheek.

yoongi shuts up.

“hi,” says jeongguk when he settles back in his seat, watching yoongi rather than the night sky they’re flying through.

“hello, jeon jeongguk,” says yoongi, glancing at him. “hope i didn’t interrupt anything.”

“god,” sighs jeongguk, rolling his eyes. “you saved me from stoichiometry.”

“that sounds like a venereal disease.” jeongguk smacks his arm. “why do you have to do schoolwork during the summer, anyway? you’re supposed to be going to the mall and playing on escalators or whatever muggles do for fun.”

“i worry about how the magical world views everyone else,” says jeongguk. “but you know how my parents are about magic. not only do they hate it, but they believe magical education is a disgrace and since they don’t think i’ll ever succeed in the magical world, they’re trying to cram an entire muggle education into my summers. so… chemistry.”

it’s just one reason why jeongguk has always hated summers. not only does he have to spend time with his parents, who hate magic and let him know every goddamn night at dinner, but they also keep him from actually enjoying his time off of school by making him go to school. granted, jeongguk does enjoy some of the subjects, but he wants to do summer things. mostly, he just wants to be in the magical world and see his goddamn friends. but his parents would never allow him to spend amount of time with them, which is why yoongi has kidnapped him in the first place. jeongguk wants to let himself be magical, wants to be around people who can clean the dishes and teleport with a simple word and the flick of a wand. he wants to talk about the ministry of magic and see occamies at the zoo and read up on spells to learn in the coming schoolyear.

mostly, though, jeongguk just wants to be with yoongi.

he told yoongi when they started dating at the beginning of last year, jeongguk’s fifth year and yonogi’s sixth year at school, that it wasn’t going to be easy. that they could exist easily and have all the fun they wanted at school, when jeongguk could pretend the muggle world and his parents didn’t exist. but everything would change come the summer, when it’s harder to ignore the fact that jeongguk is still just a kid under his parents’ rule. he’d done it for yoongi’s sake, trying to prepare him for dating someone he wouldn’t be able to see for the entire summer. but really, jeongguk should have prepared himself. he’s gotten used to being alone for his summers, apart from all of his magical friends and even his muggleborn friends who thankfully have much more accepting parents. but it’s different when it’s his boyfriend he has to miss.

“well, you only have two more years of school and then you never have to go back there again,” says yoongi. “and i’m sure that learning muggle things will be helpful in the end. makes you nice and smart. very attractive of you.”

“are you gonna get turned on if i start telling you about newton’s laws of motion?”

“i dunno, maybe you should test it and find out.”

jeongguk’s lips quirk upward, shaking his head as he peers out of the back window. they’re high enough now that the city is little more than bright lights below them, a reverse star-filled sky. “where are we going, anyway?” he asks.

“i dunno,” says yoongi. “probably shouldn’t go home or my parents will have my ass for stealing the car. but if they know i went to save you from literal imprisonment, i don’t think they’d mind.”

“your parents love me more than they love you, i hope you know,” says jeongguk, leaning against the car door so he can face yoongi properly.

“i know, it’s disgusting,” says yoongi. “but at least they won’t have a problem with me marrying you.”

“don’t make promises you can’t keep, min yoongi.”

“i may be a snake, jeon,” grins yoongi, “but i never lie.”

jeongguk looks out the window in an attempt to hide the silly grin he can’t keep off of his face. he may only be sixteen and yoongi may only be seventeen, but he likes to think that this could be forever. likes to think that their relationship can be as magical as their school and their spells and whatever is coursing through jeongguk’s veins that makes him different from his parents and his childhood friends and the world he once thought was the only one that existed. sometimes, he likes to imagine a future for them: living in an apartment in a big city, one filled with every kind of magic he can imagine—objects that move on their own, creatures and spells abound; magical friends that visit every few days and they sit around and drink firewhiskey and cocktails that make them float or their eyes change colour; weekends filled with magical zoos and museums and walking their dogs in the park; careers in the magical world that make a difference, lets jeongguk change lives with his magic bit by bit.

for years, it’s all he dreamed of. getting away from a home that borders on abusive, making a name and a home for himself somewhere that accepts him, somewhere that loves him. with people who love him.

with yoongi. who loves him most of all.

and two years isn’t that long, is it? not when he’s lasted so long stuck in a dead-end home with a dead-end family. two years isn’t long at all.

“knut for your thoughts?” yoongi asks, drawing jeongguk’s attention back to him. when he looks over, yoongi is holding his hand out between them, palm up. jeongguk takes it, intertwining their fingers.

“i was reading up on defense against the dark arts spells for newt students the other day,” he begins.

oh, scandalous,” says yoongi. “reading about magic under your parents’ nose.”

“well, i am a snake,” grins jeongguk. yoongi laughs, squeezing his hand. “anyway, i was reading about some of the spells we’ll be learning this year. we’re meant to learn about casting a patronus.”

“oh, i’ve been waiting for ages,” sighs yoongi. “what do you think mine will be? i’m hoping it’s something badass, like a lion or something.”

“isn’t that blasphemous to have the patronus that’s just the mascot of another house?”

“i can’t help being so ferocious, gguk. have a little sympathy.”

“i hope mine is something simple,” says jeongguk. “you know, one of those animals that seems unassuming but is actually really strong and clever. what’s the animal that represents hope?”

“probably a bird,” says yoongi. “you know, one of those animals that comes back in the spring. symbolizes new beginnings and rebirth and trying again and again. not being deterred by the winter every year. finding a new home when it needs to.”

“that was surprisingly wise.”

“hey,” scolds yoongi. “i got an o in being smart last year.”

“that’s not a real class.”

“how do you know? you’re just a sixth year. you don’t know what i know.”

jeongguk giggles, giving yoongi a light shove. “you know what we should do?” he asks. yoongi cocks an eyebrow, glancing over at him. “we should make out. i’ve always wanted to make out with someone in a flying car.”

“achievable goals. i like it.”

“put this thing on cruise,” says jeongguk, already reaching over to fist his hand in yoongi’s jacket and tug him across the console. yoongi makes a noise of protest, still trying to drive the car—but they’re flying and it’s not like they have to worry about traffic up here—so jeongguk doesn’t stop, just giggling when he finally gets yoongi into his space and can take yoongi’s face in his hands, finally pressing their lips together.

yoongi makes a noise against his lips, but then seems to think better of protesting and gives in instead. jeongguk grins as he feels yoongi slip his hand around the back of jeongguk’s neck, cradling his head and sliding his fingers in the hair at the base of his neck. from there, it’s like—they never stopped. like it hasn’t been a month and a half since they were last able to do this, only seeing each other through enchanted mirrors thanks to yoongi’s parents and their house full of wonders. 

jeongguk always wants to touch. and now he can, letting his hands wander down the sides of yoongi’s face as they kiss, surprisingly soft and unhurried considering the circumstances. but yoongi always makes him… quiet. gives him clarity and focus, helps him sort through all of these things in his head. now, it’s just: them. now it’s just: yoongi.

his hands slide down yoongi’s throat, ghosting over the collar of his jacket and the shirt underneath, toying with the material as he tilts his head to deepen the kiss. yoongi plays with the hair at the back of his hair, wrapping it around his finger in a sort of subconscious thing jeongguk has always loved about their lazy kissing. suddenly, they have all the time in the world.

yoongi groans into the kiss as jeongguk lets his tongue run along the seam of yoongi’s lips, waiting for him to open his mouth before he lets his tongue wander inside, tasting everything he’s missed since the beginning of the summer. because yoongi always tastes like magic. (and bertie bott’s beans, a little, but that’s neither here nor there.) and jeongguk loves it, loves feeling like he’s tasting the very stars in yoongi’s mouth when he licks inside, yoongi’s tongue tentatively sliding along his.

from there, it becomes less lazy, a little more urgent. they press harder, hands searching now rather than feeling. jeongguk is all too aware that he still has two more weeks until they’re back at school together, two weeks in which anything could happen. and even after that, this will be yoongi’s last year of school. they’re already running out of time.

yoongi must sense something is off because he pulls back at little, murmuring, “hey,” even as jeongguk just lets his lips wander, kissing the side of yoongi’s mouth and then downward, dragging along his jaw. “hey, jeongguk-ah.”

“what?” jeongguk breathes against his jaw, even as yoongi tightens his fingers in jeongguk’s hair. he drags jeongguk back up, eyes dark and breath heavy when their gazes meet, mere inches apart.

but yoongi is grinning. “i love you,” he says. “just wanted you to know that.”

jeongguk leans forward to kiss him again, softer this time. “i love you too,” he says. “but don’t interrupt me when i’m trying to—”

he doesn’t get any farther before there’s a loud thunk and the car jerks, making the both of them shriek and break apart, suddenly aware of their surroundings once again. peering out of the window, jeongguk sees an object sailing toward the ground in the light of the moon. “oh my god,” he gasps. “i think we hit something!”

“it was probably just a bird,” says yoongi. he grasps at jeongguk’s sleeve. “c’mon, let’s just go back to making out.”

hyung!” jeongguk shouts, pointing at the windshield at the sight suddenly ahead of them: the rapidly approaching ground. somehow, they’ve managed to steer the car downward and they’re flying to the ground at incredible speed that neither of them noticed in midst of their distractions and preoccupations. houses rush up to meet them again, trees and other buildings far too close for comfort, and jeongguk shrieks again when yoongi swears loudly, finally putting his hands back on the wheel.

“i told you to put it on cruise!” jeongguk shouts as yoongi jerks the wheel, narrowly missing the spire of an old church as he tries to right the car.

“i don’t even know what that means!” yoongi shouts back. “i don’t know how to drive!

“you don’t know how to drive?” demands jeongguk, but he doesn’t have much time to be panicked over that when he’s too busy panicking over them almost hitting every building they fly by, dangerously close to the ground as yoongi loses control of the car. they twist and turn, barely scraping past a group of trees behind a row of old houses, and jeongguk shouts again as they keep flying lower but don’t lose any speed, heading now to the outskirts of jeongguk’s town.

which means—“we’re going to crash into the lake!” jeongguk shouts, bracing himself as they burst out of the trees and the lake becomes visible. he knows this area too well, knows cars sink into that swamp all the time because people never pay attention to the bends in the road. he never thought he’d end up in that lake because of a flying car, though.

“i liked it better when we were kissing!” yoongi calls, and jeongguk groans as he reaches over and grabs the wheel, yanking it sideways to keep them from careening into the lake. the both of them shout at the sudden shift, the car nearly doing a barrel roll as it takes a sharp right, and jeongguk only has time to cover his head when their headlights pick up the massive tree they’re about to fly right into.

he closes his eyes right before impact but feels it nonetheless—the car crashes into the branches of the tree with a bang and a jerk, suddenly stopping with the force of it as yoongi and jeongguk are thrown against the front of the car. and then—nothing. they’ve stopped moving, the sounds of their panic giving way to silence. when jeongguk finally drops his arms, he sees the car is now stuck in the tree and there’s something that looks suspiciously like smoke leaking out from under the hood.

but—they’re alive.

he turns to yoongi and smacks his arm. “what the fuck, yoongi-hyung?” he demands. “what was that?”

“in my defense,” argues yoongi. “you distracted me by kissing me! so really, this is your fault.”

“you were the one driving! and you crashed the car!

“you could have let me land before attacking me with your irresistible lips.”

“you could have told me you don’t know how to drive before i got into the car with you.”

“how hard could it be?” asks yoongi, expression almost sheepish. jeongguk looks out the window again, their view nothing but branches and green leaves and slivers of the night sky in between it all. and it’s hardly the most ridiculous situation they’ve been in thanks to magic. but it’s certainly something.

and—he can’t help it. jeongguk begins to giggle, unable to stay upset with yoongi for long, especially when it involves magic. because it’s magic. and this is just a reminder that it exists, that yoongi exists. after a summer of the muggle world, this just seems like the perfect re-introduction to magic.

and anyway, yoongi begins giggling, too, and then jeongguk turns to him, dragging him over for another kiss, still laughing into each other’s mouths. “there,” he says. “now we can make out without worrying about crashing.”

he has no idea how they’re going to get this car out of the tree. he has no idea how they’re going to get themselves out of this tree. but honestly, he doesn’t really care—not when he’s with yoongi. not when yoongi tugs him closer, kissing him again, and jeongguk thinks—he can’t wait for this to be the rest of his life.

Chapter Text

“ugh, god, i swear this is a form of child abuse,” groans seokjin, whacking his dusting cloth against the side of the bookshelf he’s cleaning, which only serves to expel more dust from the cloth than anything else. “making us clean without magic. what good is this in a magical school, i ask you? what good?”

yoongi regards him from across the room, absently wiping at the dusty chalkboards. “this isn’t supposed to teach us anything,” he says eventually. “it’s a punishment.”

“no one deserves this as a punishment.”

“you’re the one who got a detention.”

i got the detention?” asks seokjin, glaring at yoongi now. his robes are covered in dirt and dust, looking like he’s just rubbed himself over the desks and shelves rather than using the actual cleaning supplies. yoongi doubts he looks much better. “if it wasn’t for you, yoongi, we would have gotten away with it. so i suggest this is your fault.”

yoongi doesn’t argue with that, partially because the sooner they return to cleaning, the sooner they can get out of here, and partially because, well. seokjin isn’t exactly wrong. as seventh years, the two of them have been a dynamic duo for six years. (they hated each other in first year, but that’s neither here nor there and they’re now the best of friends, so who needs to worry about the period in which seokjin tried to put flobberworms in yoongi’s breakfast every morning for two months?) they’ve lasted through exams and essays and lectures about choosing careers once they leave hogwarts. they’ve seen each other through love and loss and heartbreak, each new challenge bringing them closer together.

by merit of being best friends, yoongi lets seokjin drag him into less than savoury plans. the offending incident that landed them in four weekends worth of detention was one such unsavoury plan, a prank on their dreadful muggle studies professor gone wrong. maybe yoongi wasn’t as thorough in covering their tracks as seokjin might have liked. but he’d been distracted, so sue him.

then again—seokjin would probably like to. he’s actually quite interested in law.

“the more you complain about it, the slower time goes,” says yoongi as he returns to the chalkboard, wiping over the edges of it. seokjin does have a point—this is tedious and dreadful work. they’ve been assigned to cleaning unused classrooms this weekend, ones that have sat for years without being cleaned, likely. if they’re not being used, there’s no point in cleaning them—seokjin’s argument to their head of house upon receiving their detention assignment this morning—but maybe that’s the whole point of the punishment. nothing real is going to come out of this. it’s just cleaning for cleaning’s sake. and even yoongi, who prides himself on being organized, finds that notion disgusting, to be frank.

“if we use magic, they won’t know,” suggests seokjin. “even just a little. just a scourgify on these shelves. i swear the more times i wipe it, the more dust it gathers! how is that even logical?”

yoongi snorts. as boring as cleaning is, having seokjin with him makes the task infinitely more enjoyable. when he’s not busy complaining about detention, seokjin has a proclivity to fill their detention time with jokes, word games, and would you rather questions. there are worse people to be stuck in detention with.

“speaking of a lack of logic,” says seokjin after a brief silence in which yoongi can hear him aggressively wiping the shelves. “did you finish that divination homework that’s due on monday? the one about the tea leaves?”

“you can’t copy off of me,” says yoongi. “it’ll be obvious.”

“i don’t want to copy. just… use your work as inspiration for my own.”

“how is it that you’ve never actually done a divination assignment in the four years we’ve been taking that class? and you’re still getting better grades tha—” yoongi stops suddenly, head turning toward the cabinets beside the chalkboards. seokjin, oblivious to his pausing, launches into an argument about how divination is bullshit even thought his own sister is a seer, but that’s probably why he thinks it’s bullshit, because she keeps predicting seokjin will go grey prematurely and have crows feet by age of twenty and will be miserable for his entire life.

but yoongi isn’t paying attention, too busy staring at the cabinet against the wall. “did you hear that?” he asks, cutting seokjin off.

“what?”

“i thought i heard something in that cabinet.”

“oh, fucking salazar on a stick,” says seokjin. “i didn’t come here to be eaten by an erkling that some stupid fifth year has been hiding in here.”

the cabinet rattles, like there’s something inside that wants to get out. yoongi continues to stare, a shiver going down his spine as he instinctively reaches for his wand. the professors said they couldn’t use magic for cleaning, but this is something else entirely. and there are always things that go bump in the night in the castle, something so filled with magic and wonders. it’s probably nothing to worry about, but yoongi glances over at seokjin as he raises his wand anyway, eyebrow cocked.

“yoongi, just leave it,” sighs seokjin. “let’s just go and tell clampton that there was something in the classroom that stopped us from cleaning it.”

“what if it needs help?” the cabinet rattles louder, harder, whatever is inside trying to burst its way out.

“it doesn’t sound like it needs help,” says seokjin. “yoon—yoongi. stop it.”

but yoongi can’t help it—can’t help being curious, wanting to know what’s hidden in the cabinet. and not wanting to leave it be in case it really is dangerous and ends up eating a second year who wanders into this classroom by accident. as one of the eldest students in the school, it’s up to yoongi to take care of it. (also—he’s really bored and dealing with whatever is in that cabinet seems like a far better use of his time than cleaning a perpetually dirty classroom.)

he takes a step toward the cabinet, making sure to maintain a safe distance before he points his wand at the door. “yoongi,” seokjin warns. and then yoongi flicks his wand, silently casting a spell to open the door. and it does open, the wood of the cabinet creaking as it reveals the creature within. but when yoongi finally sees it, he’s so confused and caught off guard that he can only stare, wand lowering a few inches as he tries to make sense of it.

because what steps out of the cabinet is… jeongguk.

yoongi stares at him, trying to make sense of how it’s possible. jeongguk is wearing his gryffindor robes, tie perpetually crooked and sleeves rolled up to his elbows. like every time yoongi has seen him since the beginning of the year, he has to urge to tell jeongguk to get a fucking haircut, although now that he looks at it a little more, he decides he kind of likes it like that, hanging in jeongguk’s eyes. it makes him look rugged, a bit, quite like the sixteen-year-old boy he is.

but—that’s not the point. the point is that yoongi didn’t see jeongguk sneak into the room and hide in that cabinet any time during the past two hours that yoongi and seokjin have been here, and there’s no way jeongguk could have hid in the cabinet before the seventh years showed up because yoongi saw him at breakfast, half-asleep in his bowl of oatmeal, when yoongi and seokjin told their friends to pray for their safety and well-being before heading upstairs to begin cleaning.

so how could jeongguk just come out of the cabinet?

“um,” says yoongi, glancing sideways at seokjin. “what the hell were you doing in there? you nearly gave me a heart attack.”

“yoongi,” says seokjin, voice thin and wary, but yoongi immediately relaxes as he watches jeongguk stand in front of him.

“it’s your fault,” says jeongguk.

yoongi’s brows furrow. “what is? this detention?” he groans, lowering his wand. “look, we’ve been over this already. seokjin was the one who dragged me into this mess in the first place—”

yoongi,” says seokjin, louder, more urgently.

“it’s your fault,” jeongguk repeats, taking a step forward, and yoongi stares at him.

“okay, it’s my fault,” he laughs a little awkwardly, and jeongguk raises a hand to him, reaching out, and everything in yoongi tells him to reach back, to go to him like he so often does with jeongguk, because it’s jeongguk. jeongguk, his best friend. jeongguk, his… well. maybe something more.

“yoongi, i don’t think that’s jeongguk,” says seokjin.

“what the fuck are you—” yoongi begins and then gasps in surprise when jeongguk collapses at his feet, crumpling onto the floor, and yoongi stares down at him as he sees—red. red, dark crimson that begins soaking through the back of his robes and then onto the floor, spreading out as yoongi stumbles backwards until jeongguk is lying in a pool of… blood.

“what the fuck,” whispers yoongi.

“it’s your fault!” jeongguk yells, but he’s still on the floor, neck twisted awkwardly to stare up at yoongi and his face is so, so pale, eyes sunken in, and yoongi watches as his face begins to decay right there in front of him, flesh rotting away as he keeps repeating those awful words—again and again, louder and angrier: it’s your fault it’s your fault it’s your fault

“yoongi, it’s a—”

“boggart,” yoongi whispers, and he sees that now, gets it. this isn’t jeongguk at all, but a cheap imitation of him. this is a boggart that he’s let free, a creature that is doing nothing more than showing yoongi his worst fear. and he’s—he’s old enough, strong enough to know how to deal with boggarts. it’s been four years since he learned that spell, but it doesn’t matter how much he knows. it doesn’t matter how many spells he’s learned.

the fear is always the same.

yoongi wishes it was easier to push down the terror that fills him as he stares down at jeongguk rotting before him, screaming that it’s yoongi’s fault. but he feels rooted in it, unable to move his limbs and raise his wand to stop this. it’s been years since he’s last dealt with a boggart; he knows they lurk within hogwarts, but it’s not common to come across one and the only time they ever face boggarts on purpose is when learning the counter-spell in defense against the dark arts. yoongi hasn’t had to face a boggart in a very long time. if pressed, he wouldn’t have even been able to tell someone what his worst fear is—maybe he’d say drowning or failing his newts or spiders.

but this makes sense, doesn’t it?

jeongguk is dying. and it’s his fault.

yoongi!” seokjin is shouting, and then yoongi feels himself being shoved out of the way. he stumbles, ramming his shoulder into the chalkboard as his eyes remain on the screaming corpse on the ground. but then—the image changes, shifting into seokjin’s worst fear instead as seokjin faces it instead. yoongi shuts his eyes rather than see it, only hearing seokjin mutter riddikulus and then a muffled snort of laughter at whatever humorous form it takes. even as seokjin laughs a little louder, forcing the boggart to disappear, yoongi can’t open his eyes.

this time, though, it’s not because of fear. it’s because of shame.

“yoongi,” seokjin finally says, placing a hand on his shoulder, and yoongi flinches before he opens his eyes and finds the classroom empty. he knows not where the boggart will have disappeared off to, only that it’s gone. only that—there’s no sign that it was here at all. the floor is clean of the illusion of jeongguk’s blood, but it doesn’t matter: yoongi can still see him. can still hear him.

it’s your fault!

“are you okay?” seokjin asks.

yoongi takes a few deep breathes and then straightens up. “m’fine,” he mutters. “sorry, i—i don’t know what happened. i don’t know why i couldn’t banish it.” he’s had to act under pressure so many times before, has dealt with objectively worse and more terrifying situations in his seven years of hogwarts. but that was the first time he’s ever felt truly frozen with fear, unable to even think of the right spell to get rid of the damn thing.

“don’t be too hard on yourself,” says seokjin, rubbing a hand over yoongi’s shoulder. “to be honest, i froze for a few seconds, too. seeing that—” he sucks in a breath as though remembering it. of course—jeongguk isn’t just yoongi’s friend. he’s seokjin’s friend, too. seeing him like that must have frightened seokjin, too.

still. seokjin was at least able to do something about it.

“i’m sorry,” yoongi whispers again. “i should have been able to handle that. thank you for stepping in.” he finally looks over at seokjin, whose face is troubled to say the least. but he grins at yoongi anyway, forcing down his own fear and troubled thoughts to uplift yoongi instead. and yoongi doesn’t feel like he deserves that at the moment, but he accepts it anyway when seokjin pulls him in for a hug, giving him a squeeze before letting go.

“c’mon, let’s get out of here,” says seokjin. “it’s time for lunch anyway.”

for once, yoongi doesn’t try to argue.

all the way to the great hall, yoongi is deep in thought. he’s known for years how much jeongguk means to him, how important he is—but all of his friends are important to him. and sure, he’s realized that he may harbour different feelings for jeongguk than he does for namjoon or taehyung, but he never would have expected his worst fear to take the shape of jeongguk dying and then blaming yoongi for it. but the more he thinks about it, the more he realizes… that is something he fears, and something he fears terribly. being at fault for the death of any of his friends is a horrifying thought, but—it’s different with jeongguk.

everything is always different with jeongguk.

despite knowing the image wasn’t real and there’s nothing to fear, yoongi hasn’t shaken the feeling by the time he and seokjin reach the great hall. even seokjin’s attempts at light conversation don’t help, but seokjin must guess how much this is affecting him, because the moment they enter the great hall, he stops and puts his hand on yoongi’s shoulder again, squeezing it.

“see?” he says, voice low and close to yoongi’s ear. “your boy is fine.”

yoongi’s eyes move across the great hall, landing on a group of familiar boys gathered at the ravenclaw table today. among them—yoongi feels something twist in his stomach at the sight of jeongguk. jeongguk, who is so very much alive, who is busy laughing at something one of their friends is saying. jeongguk, who seems to sense that seokjin and yoongi have arrived and looks up from their table, meeting yoongi’s gaze and offering one of his blinding smiles, the kind that takes up his entire face. he waves at them like they need an invitation to join.

despite himself, yoongi feels a well of emotion stir within him, blinking away the sting of tears. seokjin squeezes his shoulder again and then leads the way toward the table, his usual self once more as he loudly exclaims that he and yoongi have been released from the bonds of hell and will now recount their torture minute by minute as to allow the others to empathise and retroactively suffer with them.

yoongi can’t help being glad for it. seokjin doesn’t want anyone to know that something happened—doesn’t want to draw attention to it, to the fact that yoongi might be acting strangely. he’s giving yoongi a space to deal with it himself and to bring it up if he so chooses. and yoongi—loves him. he really does.

it’s not so odd for yoongi to remain on the quiet side during meals, at least when seokjin is dominating the conversation with horror stories of dust and doxies. he joins the table, already heading for jeongguk who has made room for him on the bench and has already begun putting food on yoongi’s plate.

“hi,” grins jeongguk when yoongi slips into the seat, tuning seokjin out. “hi, hi, how was your morning? detention sounded fun.”

yoongi can’t manage to muster up a grin or even a joke. and he knows it might be off behaviour, but he has to—has to touch him, has to make sure that jeongguk is really alright. he sees those sunken eyes again, sees the rotting skin. hears those words in jeongguk’s voice, a tone jeongguk has never used with him. and he wants it out, wants to paint over those images with the true jeongguk, the one who smiles at him like that, who looks at him like that. who says such pretty things to him.

“it was okay,” says yoongi quietly, keeping himself pressed to jeongguk’s side and placing a hand on his thigh. he feels the warmth of jeongguk’s body under his hand, convincing himself that this is real. jeongguk is alive. he slides his hand up the outside of jeongguk’s thigh almost absently, searching jeongguk’s face for any signs of distress as his hand travels up his side, hooks on his elbow, tugs jeongguk’s arm below the table so he can tangle their fingers together in the dip between their thighs.

jeongguk’s eyebrows furrow. “are you okay?” he asks quietly, making sure not to draw attention from the others. “you look—i dunno. did something happen?”

and yoongi could tell him. yoongi could admit what has shaken him, and he knows that jeongguk would be so kind about it. would take yoongi’s hand and drag him to a secluded part of the castle, would let yoongi run his hands over him from top to toe to make sure that he’s okay. would reassure yoongi again and again that he’s safe, that yoongi could never do anything to hurt him. might even kiss him if yoongi asked for it.

but yoongi doesn’t want to worry him. so he just shakes his head, squeezing jeongguk’s hand under the table. “i’m fine,” he says. “just missed you. detention is not nearly as exciting as seokjin is making it seem.”

he’s not sure jeongguk believes him; it’s not that yoongi isn’t affectionate, but it’s rare that he gets clingy. that he’s honest about it, that he’s not blushing furiously the entire time he’s holding jeongguk’s hand. it’s clear that something has happened, merely from the fact that yoongi is finally letting himself want.

but jeongguk—good, kind, beautiful jeongguk—doesn’t press on him it. he just squeezes yoongi’s hand back, leaning over to press a kiss to his cheek so quickly that yoongi could almost miss it, were his body not so attuned to everything jeongguk does to him, everything jeongguk makes him feel. he knows that yoongi will say something when he wants to, if he wants to. for now, jeongguk turns back to the table, asking, “do you want a roll? they’re better at the ravenclaw table, you know.”

yoongi sits back, letting jeongguk scoop food onto his plate, listening to their friends talk and argue about detention and gossip, as they’re want to do. he sits and basks in it, in the safety and warmth of it—knowing jeongguk is here, he’s fine, he’s alive and warm against yoongi’s body. jeongguk doesn’t question it when yoongi hooks their ankles together under the table, when he rubs over the back of jeongguk’s hand with his thumb. doesn’t say anything when yoongi steals from his plate, although that’s a more common occurrence.

halfway through lunch, seokjin catches his eye. there’s a question in it at first, asking if yoongi is okay, and when yoongi just nods a little, seokjin relaxes. then—probably not the best timing—jeongguk leans over and whispers a dirty joke in his ear and yoongi lets out a guffaw of a laugh, slapping his free hand over his mouth as he can’t help grinning, feeling giddy, knowing he’d take a live jeongguk even with the bad jokes.

now, seokjin’s expression is a little more knowing. a little smug, perhaps, but—relieved. too. yoongi is in good hands.