Jungkook sat on the counter, and he watched.
Yoongi was at the stove, stirring the contents of the cauldron with the kind of intense focus only work gave him. His usually slightly sleepy eyes, his lazy grin, they all disappeared like snow before the sun when Min Yoongi set his mind to completing a serious task. Today’s task was as serious as any, the potion requiring a level of expertise only the oldest two of their coven had gained over the years.
Seokjin would have brewed the potion with an ease that looked nothing like this. He would have joked around with Jungkook, his squeaky laugh filling the shop’s kitchen and bouncing off the walls, his body moving around the room with an ease he never found on the dance floor. Seokjin brewing potions was beautiful, in tune with what needed to be done at what time in such a way that he didn’t have to count how many times he stirred clockwise or counter-clockwise. It was a family thing, he’d insist if Jungkook asked, something his mother taught him from a very young age. Not a talent, just years of practice and experimentation and mistakes. Jungkook wasn’t sure if it worked that way, especially when Yoongi had been taught by his family as well, always gave his older brother credit for every recipe successfully followed. Yoongi didn’t dance around the kitchen the way Seokjin did, needing his full concentration to follow each step in the potions book meticulously. Yoongi didn’t experiment or laugh, didn’t stir on a whim or throw in something extra because it felt right. Jungkook watched, and couldn’t help but think that Yoongi’s practiced expertise was nothing like Seokjin’s natural talent, no matter what his oldest hyung might say.
On any other day, it would be Seokjin in the magical kitchen, brewing potions in multiple cauldrons at once, small and big. Potions for their own coven members, or for customers of the shop. Something to help Yoongi sleep, something to relax Namjoon, something to aid fertility for a young, desperate wife. But Seokjin was upstairs in bed today, unable to even keep a normal meal down, much less stand the scents and auras of all the magical ingredients stored in his special kitchen. The magic in the air even made Jungkook feel a little tingly, and potions were one of the few domains they’d been able to rule out when looking for what kind of magic suited him.
“Jungkook-ah,” Yoongi murmured, pulling Jungkook out of his thoughts, “go get some parsley from the upstairs kitchen for hyung? We ran out here.” He smiled at Jungkook, just a little, his focus shifted from the potion to the youngest coven member.
Jungkook nodded, blinking as he hopped off the counter. He pulled the sleeves of his oversized sweater over his hands, rushing up the steep stairs behind the kitchen. They all lived in the house above the shop, with each their own room now, a luxury they had not been afforded before. Jungkook spotted Hoseok and Taehyung on the couch as he padded into the upstairs kitchen, passing Namjoon sipping coffee at the dinner table.
“Jungkook-ah. Busy?” Namjoon asked, blinking slowly. He’d been up late again the night before, Jungkook was sure, working under the light of the moon as the rest of the coven slept.
“Gotta help Yoongi-hyung. He’s downstairs.” Jungkook said, riffling through their herbs and spices with a slight frown. Parsley, parsley, parsley. Was parsley even magical? None of the herbs here seemed to have an aura like those they kept downstairs, but Yoongi had asked for it. He grabbed the bottle, turning to go back down, smiling at Namjoon in return for the dimples he got flashed at him. He rushed down the stairs. The thump thump thumps of his footsteps probably sounded through the entire house, from Seokjin on the top floor to Jimin at the front of the shop. He found Yoongi leaning against the counter downstairs, scrolling through his phone absently.
“Got it?” He asked, looking up with a small smile. Jungkook nodded, handing over the little bottle of parsley. “It’s the last ingredient needed.” He added, glancing at the book one more time before setting to work adding the right amount of parsley to the potion bubbling away on the stove.
“Is parsley magical, hyung? I thought we didn’t keep magic ingredients in the other kitchen after the incident.” Jungkook said, sitting on the counter again. He swung his legs slightly, careful not to kick the cabinets with his heels.
“You’d have to ask Jin hyung. He wrote it into the recipe.” Yoongi said, gesturing to the book vaguely. Jungkook leaned over to check, finding parsley and some further instructions scribbled in at the bottom of the recipe, Seokjin’s handwriting in bold ballpoint added to the yellowed page. “Herbs can have hidden effects sometimes. I trust hyung’s judgement, but who knows what it does to this potion. Only him, probably.” Yoongi continued, sighing a little.
Jungkook knew Yoongi’s complicated relationship with magical experimentation, knew Yoongi’s birth coven wasn’t as fond of creativity. Jungkook thought of the sunstones Yoongi had turned to pebbles and used to channel the power of his beloved stars, lighting up the ceiling of the shop in complicated constellations, and thought that stifling Yoongi’s creativity would have been almost as bad as choking him to death slowly.
“I’ll ask him later.” He said, swinging his legs and thinking of his oldest hyung, the way he made Yoongi smile big and gummy and go along with even the strangest of antics. The way he made all of them relax, take care of themselves and each other. Seokjin was playful and silly, but he was a good hyung, looking after all of them in his own way.
Jungkook watched Yoongi as he finished up the potion, that look of concentration settled over his features again. Yoongi didn’t enjoy making potions the way Seokjin did, much preferred to work under the light of the stars. He could spend hours with Namjoon and Hoseok, talking of their preferred celestial bodies and how to harness their powers, the perfect shapes for the perfect stones, the different sizes needed for the sun, the moon, the stars. Each different star, if Jungkook understood right, needed a different size or shape of stone. He was sure only Yoongi knew exactly what was needed, feeling it in his gut as naturally as Seokjin knew when to reach for the next powder or plant.
Each of Jungkook’s hyungs had their own thing, even if Seokjin’s potion making wasn’t usually considered its own magical domain. Seokjin was special, which was why he occasionally spend a day or two in the bed in their attic, curled up under the covers and a little miserable. Jimin would rub his unsettled tummy before the shop opened, or Taehyung would be found by his side reading in his deep, lilting voice until their eldest coven member fell asleep. Sometimes Jungkook would sit next to Seokjin, carding fingers through his hyung’s hair, his tattoos glowing in the dark attic. Jungkook was also a little special in that way.
“Go feed hyung.” Yoongi said, pulling Jungkook out his thoughts again as he handed him a wooden bowl full of the soup-like potion, and a spoon. He didn’t wait to see if Jungkook would actually go, turning back to the counter to start cleaning quietly. Jungkook hummed, going up the stairs again. His footsteps were slow this time, focused on keeping the bowl steady. He smiled, spotting Namjoon on the couch with Hoseok and Taehyung this time, fast asleep as Hoseok petted his hair. He went from the steep staircase to a spiralling one in the corner of the living room, making his way up, up, up. Past the floor with most of their bedrooms, up to their tiny attic. He had to duck his head as he stepped off the staircase, careful not to hit his head on the slanted roof. The attic was small, much smaller than the other floors, the slanted part of their roof only taking up half of the narrow house. The other part of the roof was flat, providing a roof terrace that had long become covered with its own roof, this one made of glass. Outside the door to Jungkook’s left he’d find endless greenery, lovingly tended to, but he ignored the door today. On his right, his eldest hyung slept. There was no bed in the attic, only a double mattress on the floor, surrounded by the soft glow of the rock garden. Under one slanted ceiling, it glowed gold with Hoseok’s sunstones, the other side silver with Namjoon’s moon. Between, littered on each side in careful patterns, there were pebbles set like stars in the night sky. The light of the stones wasn’t bright or blinding, glowing like a gentle nightlight in a children’s bedroom instead. They barely illuminated Seokjin’s face as Jungkook knelt on the edge of the mattress, setting the bowl he carried on the floor beside him carefully.
“Hyung? Hyung, it’s me.” Jungkook started quietly, reaching out to brush careful fingers through Seokjin’s hair. If Seokjin had been in his own room, Jungkook would not have woken him so gently. “Jinnie hyung, come on, wake up. Yoongi hyung send me.” He added, starting to hum a soft tune to lull Seokjin back to the land of the living. Slowly, his tattoos were starting to light up, glowing softer still than the stones that surrounded them. From the first row by his knuckles, up the symbols on his hand, up, up, up, until they disappeared under his short-sleeved shirt. Like dipping his hand in water slowly, the glow spread up, but Jungkook was used to it. His hand didn’t falter, carding through Seokjin’s hair, and he watched fondly as his hyung’s eyes blinked open blearily.
“Hmm… Koo?” Came the soft voice, rough with sleep and just a little pouty. Jungkook kept gently petting Seokjin’s hair, shifting a little closer.
“I brought the potion. It kinda looks like soup, though.” Jungkook said, hand finally moving to help his hyung sit up, fluffing the pillows for him so he could lean against the wall comfortably. “Yoongi hyung put parsley in it, but he made me get some from the upstairs kitchen, so I don’t know why. It didn’t seem magical.” He added, reaching for the bowl. He settled in to feed Seokjin, not even asking if he wanted to do it himself. If Seokjin was in the attic, he was probably shaky, and if Seokjin was shaky, he probably didn’t want to hold a spoon of hot liquid.
“Parsley isn’t magical.” The eldest mumbled softly, eyes still closed. He only opened them when Jungkook asked for him to open his mouth, looking at the spoon and closing them again as soon as the bite was safely deposited. “Especially the stuff from the kitchen upstairs. Why’d Yoongi put it in?” He asked after swallowing. His voice was so drowsy, it was kind of cute.
“You wrote it into the recipe. All the way at the end, in pen, in the book. Needed to be added last.” Jungkook said, a little amused Seokjin didn’t remember. He fed him another bite.
“You know Yoongi hyung doesn’t experiment with potions. He follows the instructions, or whatever recipe he has memorised.” He added, after a few moments of silence. The bowl was half empty.
The silence wasn’t broken again, at least not by words. There was the quiet scraping of the spoon in the wooden bowl, and the sound of Seokjin swallowing the soup-like potion, but that was it. The rock garden was tranquil, and outside it was quiet. No rain, no harsh winds. Occasionally, sounds could be heard from downstairs, the other five witches moving through the old building, but none of them ventured upstairs.
“It’s for the taste.” Seokjin finally said, much later, when he’d already moved to lay down again. Jungkook was sitting up against the pillows now, Seokjin’s head resting on his stomach, the rest of his body comfortable between Jungkook’s spread legs. Jungkook’s sleeves were pulled down, trying to dim some of the glow of his tattoos so as to not hurt Seokjin’s light-sensitive eyes, even if they were closed now. “The parsley. It’s so it doesn’t taste like shit if you don’t brush your teeth after.” The eldest continued, clearly sensing Jungkook’s confusion even if he’d only made a tiny sound in surprise at his hyung speaking so suddenly.
Jungkook tried to contain his giggles, hugging Seokjin close. He loved all his coven members dearly, and he loved discovering all their talents and favourite things to do with their magic. He loved that Seokjin was like this, adding ingredients to a health potion for no other reason than to make it taste good. He carded gentle fingers through his hyung’s hair, humming a quiet tune. The magical stone garden glowed softly around them, echoing the glow that came from within Jungkook himself, coming out through his tattoos. It was peaceful, and soon Seokjin fell asleep, his breathing evening out and face going slack and soft.
Jungkook sat up against the headboard, his oldest hyung in his arms, and he watched.