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fifth season

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jeongguk walks up the swirling stoney path with a glare, heart racing in his chest as it thumps up to his head. his eyes sting with tears that have been building up for days, the frustrations finally reaching a breaking point where it all just sort of tips over.

each rock on the path is covered in shades of green moss and weeds that don’t grow wild or past the boundaries because oh that would be rude, they whispered softly once, quietly, and in defense we have a place to stay here, that would be rude.

vines start to trail around the walkway as they guide it toward the house and jeongguk can already feel it thrum with magic as he walks closer, hears the excited whispers that follow because it can feel jeongguk thrum with his own magic.

jeongguk-ah is here! oh jeongguk-ah is here to visit!

he makes it up to the door, the wood old but cared for, like a wise tree that still gets watered when it doesn’t need to be anymore. more vines curl around it, flowers blooming here and there and they all draw closer to jeongguk’s hand as he reaches up to knock.

it only takes five, maybe six seconds before the old door swings open and the vines retreat, revealing the true whisperer among these shrubs.

“oh jeongguk-ah!” jimin beams, “i didn’t know you’d be coming over!”

oh, yeah.

he’s here on impulse. all he had to do was whisper to the flowers that grow in the area and they would whisper back, promise to let jimin know he’d be on his way.

but he didn’t. he was too occupied with keeping his magic from souring and making all of the vegetation in the area curl down.

“sorry, you’re probably busy—”

“no, not at all! you caught me at the perfect time,” jimin reaches for his hand with a smile and drags him inside the house, jeongguk stumbling a little on his feet, “i was just about to start dinner, you’ll stay for dinner, won’t you?”

the house breathes with life as jeongguk makes his way inside, the magic loud and greeting jeongguk. the shrubs that line the corners of the home are greener in the spring, not to say they don’t thrive in winter or summer or autumn, they’re just a little quieter then, gentler with their movements.

“jimin—” jeongguk starts and jimin’s smile falls into a pout.

“no? oh, well stay just a bit so i can make you something to take home, hm?” jimin lets go of his hand and spins around, cupping his mouth and yelling to the home, “jeongguk-ah is here!”

but the house already knew that and the house told the plants who knew as well but pretended not to just to hear confirmation of it and then plants told the flowers and now the flowers—

vines shoot towards him and wrap around his arms, a bundle of tiger lilies, the same bundle that follows jimin around like a puppy, coming face to face with him and squealing quietly in delight.

jeongguk would reel back in surprise if he wasn’t always bombarded by them this way. some of them brush over his face as the others sprout with little noises, chatting with each other and with jimin.

jimin is the only one who can understand what the tiger lilies say. every other plant near the home speaks quietly and magically but the tiger lilies sprouted specifically from jimin’s heart and only whisper to him.

“alright you guys, that’s enough,” jimin scolds softly and the lilies turn to him with a hiss. jimin rolls his eyes, “oh hush,” then he turns to jeongguk, his smile soft and warm, “they missed you.”

jeongguk wants to say he missed them too but his heart is jammed up into his throat and he isn’t sure how much longer he’ll be able to swallow it down, “jimin.”

“here come sit, i’ll brew some tea for you,” jimin says from behind the counter, already pouring water into the tea kettle and setting it onto the stove next to the pot that was already there.

jeongguk opens his mouth again and the tiger lilies tighten a little on his arms. they watch him in thought, ready to turn around and whisper to jimin, but he’s quicker, keeps speaking as he turns on the stove and goes back to preparing his meal.

he must’ve had an easy day today. jimin gets as chatty as his lilies when there aren’t that many customers that visit his home and ask about his day or ask if there are any new brews to try that might heal their headaches or chest pains. jimin loves talking to his customers, especially his regulars, and they love talking to him.

“lavender is okay, right?” jimin asks, the vapor already escaping the kettle’s nozzle, “i ran out of chamomile earlier this week.”

“jimin,” jeongguk tries again but the lid to the tea kettle is louder and jimin seems to be in the zone.

“no? aish, you’re right. maybe jasmine would be better, i know you like having jasmine tea when you get sick—”

hyung.

jimin whips his head around almost immediately, eyes wide as they land on jeongguk wrapped in the vines of his tiger lilies who are whining and crying because jeongguk’s face is set in a scowl and he’s on the verge of tears.

jimin takes in a breath before quickly turning off the stove, moving the kettle away, and making his way around the kitchen counter.

the tiger lilies come to slither around jimin’s arms as he comes forward, a frown tugging down on the corners of his mouth, “oh, jeongguk-ah what’s—”

then jimin snaps his mouth shut, cutting off his own sentence and catching his slip up. jimin knows jeongguk has a hard time explaining his feelings to someone else, whatever they may be, and it’s almost a guarantee that if jeongguk tries before he organizes his thoughts, he’ll shut down and remain silent for the rest of the evening.

jeongguk feels a stray tear fall down his cheek in frustration because god, jimin is far too good for him and he isn’t sure he’ll ever be able to tell him that.

jimin’s thumb comes up to wipe away the tear, his frown remaining for a moment more as he hums. then, his mouth blooms with a smile, small and soft, something jeongguk only sees whenever jimin is nurturing newly bloomed flower buds, whispering words like welcome to the world my little loves, isn’t it so beautiful? i hope you like it here only to get no response because the plants are too young to whisper back.

“go sit, i’ll make the tea,” jimin says gently, patting his cheek.

then, the witch cups one of the lilies, whispers something to it quietly, far too quietly for jeongguk to even hear, before it nods. jimin smiles at it, mouthing a ‘thank you' before turning around and making his way back to the kitchen.

jeongguk silently walks into the living room and when he collapses into the couch, the tiger lilies are back at his side, a little more hesitant this time as they slowly slither around his fingers like green rings. jeongguk smiles fondly, a little sad, even, as he brushes his fingers under one of their chins, whispering thank you’s, love you’s.

jeongguk looks back at the kitchen as jimin places the kettle back onto the stove quietly and feels his heart ache in chest. “jimin?” jeongguk says softly, his voice rough, a little tired.

jimin turns around from the food he’s been preparing, head tilted in acknowledgement, making sure jeongguk knows he’s listening.

and maybe jeongguk wants to say a million different things at once, all together or maybe in sequence.

i’m sorry.

i don’t know what i did to deserve you.

i love you.

but he doesn’t. can’t really. he isn’t sure he’s brave enough to ever.

“can you make red rose tea?”

it’s slow…but a smile spreads across jimin’s face, “of course, jeongguk-ah, of course.”

 

 

park jimin was somewhat of a legend when jeongguk first heard about him.

gossip and myths about him traveled through the city in whispers. nature’s demise they would call him as if they weren’t that themselves, fear thrumming through their voices at just the mention of his name.

jimin was feared because nature bent to his will.

or at least, that’s what it looked like from a distance. jimin treated the magic that coated the roots of plants around him with care and love, he still does to this day, and so nature molds and bends for him.

jimin was the first green witch to show an immense amount of control with his magic at a young age, even going as far to have a manifestation of his magic in the form of sentient tiger lilies.

jeongguk would hear about how he excelled in school, was on his way to greatness with how his flowers and vines kept his opponent’s at bay, no matter how easily their magic would hurt any other wild vegetation.

but what jeongguk would hear about the most was jimin’s grace when utilizing magic. nature bends for jimin and beautifully so.

there was one move jeongguk would hear a lot about growing up in the city but it was nothing compared to seeing it in action.

he had only seen it once but at an opponent’s weak point, jimin’s vines would swirl around his arms and launch at them, wrap around the opponent and jab into different nerve points in quick succession, none that would injure or kill them, but enough to make them drop unconscious.

it was gentle, the way jimin beat each one of his opponents. jimin whispered to magic in gentle ways so it would make sense that he would use it in gentle ways as well.

that was another reason why jimin was feared.

because jimin was extremely powerful when using nature’s magic gently. there was no telling what he could do if he used it with brutality.

he never did though, never will, but the gossip was bent in different ways too so jimin became a demise.

after a while though, the whispers died down and tales of a green witch more powerful than anyone’s ever seen stopped traveling through the city. jeongguk had initially assumed jimin went off to achieve his foreseen greatness and the world had just forgotten about him.

so when jeongguk wandered through the wild forest area that surrounded his new home, he didn’t expect to stumble across the infamous witch himself.

jimin had been nourishing the wildflowers in the fields when jeongguk had come face to face with him, mumbling a short oh, hello to jeongguk with a polite smile as he stood up from where he was squatting, and all jeongguk could think was how jimin looked nothing like a demise.

he never really did when jeongguk would get short glances at him but there was a certain fire in jimin’s eyes when he was in the city, like he was always fighting off something.

he didn’t have that same fire in place so easy to burn.

“hello,” jeongguk responded back quietly and hesitantly, introversion and distrust keeping his words trapped. his eyes wandered away, up toward the trees that fly miles high.

“you’re new here right?” he had asked in a soft voice and jeongguk nodded once, a little surprised and even more suspicious than before.

(the flowers told me about you, jimin would explain to jeongguk months later and jeongguk would laugh.

of course they did.)

“i’m jimin,” he had introduced and it took everything in jeongguk’s power not to say i know.

“jeongguk,” he had replied curtly and jimin tilted his head, smiling a little, “what kind of magic do you wield?”

jeongguk reeled back instantly, not expecting the bluntness from the other. he hesitated, he always did when asked this question and without a second thought, resorted to the answer he had always used, “i don’t wield magic.”

“oh, well that’s a lie,” jimin had said gently, eyes solely focused on the baby flowers by his feet before he looked back at jeongguk, “i can feel the magic coming from your soul.”

jeongguk’s eyes were quick to widen, brows furrowing and jaw slacking, “how—”

“sorry, that was probably rude of me,” jimin had said quickly, eyes apologetic, “i’m just curious, is all. you don’t have to answer.”

jeongguk had stared down at his hands contemplative, unsure, before he swallowed down the lump in his throat and steeled his expression, “i wield dark magic.”

“dark magic?”

jeongguk’s heart was racing, “yeah.”

“i’ve never met someone who was born with dark magic before,” jimin had thought out loud, finger pressed to his chin, “does it mix well with plant-based magic?”

“not really,” jeongguk sighed, looking away, unsure at the question in general, “it doesn’t mix well with all forms of life…especially plant life.”

jeongguk had thought back to the leaves and vines that had recoiled in his presence as he walked down that makeshift path, hiding away as they faded in color.

“oh, well that’s kind of funny,” jimin remarked and jeongguk instantly flushed, stunned and a bit humiliated as his scowl deepened, “how is that funny?”

“because my tiger lilies are wrapping around your ankles,” jimin pointed out before scolding them, “which they shouldn’t be doing to a stranger in the first place because it’s rude!”

the tiger lilies hissed at jimin before pulling away, sliding back to jimin’s side. jeongguk looked down at his feet, right where the lilies had just been, in complete shock, his words coming out in pieces, “wait—that shouldn’t, how?”

“i’m not sure but they seem to really like you,” jimin shrugged before looking back at the lilies, one of the flowers cupped in his hand, “look, i know you guys don’t meet new people often but that is no excuse!”

the tiger lilies had whined and jimin rolled his eyes before turning back to jeongguk, “they’re asking if it would be okay to curl around your hands.”

“i—” jeongguk blinked owlishly, his mind not entirely catching up, “um, yeah sure.”

it didn’t take long for the tiger lilies to come back towards him, one flower letting its vine curl around his pointer finger before the rest followed suit, twirling and wrapping around the rest of his hand.

jeongguk had studied his hand in awe, cheeks flushing only a bit as a small smile threatened to break through.

truly, nothing like a demise.

jimin was quick to invite jeongguk to sit beside him, down in the field surrounded by baby flowers that loved to hear stories from him. his tiger lilies slowly made their way around the rest of jeongguk’s body as jimin explained to him that if he listened close enough, he could hear the flowers start to whisper back.

some of the grass in the field would lean away from the pair, afraid of the new kind of magic in their presence that burned just a little too brightly, too roughly for their gentle leaves, and jeongguk had felt the regret of his decision start to seep through.

but before he could stand up to leave, jimin would soothe them with kind hands, encouraging the plants to take their time but not shy away from jeongguk’s power.

jeongguk learned quickly that jimin’s magic curls, intertwines with his own magic in ways that life and death shouldn’t. and he continued to learn when, in just a few minutes, the grass around them had understood, adapted, and withstood the aura of jeongguk’s magic.

 

 

when the tea kettle whistles, the sound ringing through the fairly silent home, jimin pulls it away from the stove and pours the tea into two milk glass teacups.

the air smells rosy and the tea is tinted a lovely shade of light pink when jimin brings both of their teacups to the couch, handing jeongguk his before settling into the couch cushion, not yet addressing the issue but still looking at him with concerned eyes.

jeongguk whispers a small thank you and a smile breaks through on jimin’s face, laying his hand over jeongguk’s before sitting down next to him.

jeongguk takes a small sip, the tea on his tongue warm and refreshing but not quelling down the lump in his throat, the tight squeeze of his lungs.

jimin waits silently from where he’s sitting, worried eyes still on jeongguk because that’s how it’s always been. jimin talks and keeps talking while jeongguk doesn’t, just listens.

he knows that from the outside they look like a small witch talking to a taller, much more bored looking witch with no success, almost as if he’s just talking to a wall. but jeongguk is always listening, nodding at all the right moments and humming during the others.

jeongguk has always limited his words to avoid drawing more attention to himself so he learned to listen even when he has something to say, something that’s been brewing in his chest for a while that it hurts, aches and bruises. and when jimin found out about this, he started waiting until jeongguk’s words were there, loud enough for him to hear.

i’d wait years if it meant i’d get to hear what you have to say jeongguk-ah, jimin had said once and it made jeongguk feel like crying into jimin’s chest for the rest of forever.

the memory makes jeongguk frown, guilt-ridden and ashamed.

and when he tries to open his mouth to say something, the teacup in his hands starts to shake. jimin is quick to set his own down, pulling jeongguk’s cup away before he spills the tea and burns himself.

“jeongguk-ah,” jimin whispers, his ring-covered fingers preventing jeongguk from glaring at his own hands.

“‘m fucking tired of it,” he mumbles and jimin’s frown deepens into something terribly sad.

“i know baby, i know. but you’re getting better at it, mh?” jeongguk nods reluctantly and jimin smiles, thumbing over his hands gently, “it takes time.” jeongguk’s hands tighten, upset and frustrated, and jimin doesn’t hesitate to tuck a strand of loose hair behind jeongguk’s ear, “and you have to give yourself that time.”

a long breath escapes jeongguk, the tension in his chest easing but not entirely disappearing. he knows what jimin is saying is true but it’s hard to remember things like that when his head is screaming that he’s proving the city he hated growing up in right.

still, he lets his shoulders fall flat and jimin smiles at him, satisfied, before pulling away and placing this rose tea back into jeongguk’s hands, “finish your tea and then you can come help me with dinner.” he takes another moment to brush his fingers through jeongguk’s hair, “you know i hate cutting vegetables.”

it takes a second but jeongguk nods, a quiet moment of i’ll be there in a bit, and jimin’s smile brightens a little more before he whisks away into the kitchen, jeongguk’s heart racing, aching.

 

 

jeongguk always thought jimin was a bit too caring for his own good. he’s sure jimin was more closed off in the city but here in the forest, surrounded by everything he’s been taught to love, jimin is very caring.

it’s most apparent in his shop when the customers that stop by on the regular are greeted with a little extra to take home after they purchase their usuals.

one of those regulars is a fiery little flame witch by the name of kim taehyung, someone who lives relatively close to jeongguk and has been someone he’s crossed paths with on multiple occasions.

and just from being in the same room as him, jeongguk could tell taehyung could burn down the whole forest if he wanted to, could leave trails of what used to be if he so much as wished it. but he doesn’t.

him and jimin are similar in that regard, all that magic built up in every crevice of their bodies only for it to be used for things like warming up tea and starting up a fireplace. maybe that’s why they get along so well whenever the flame witch decides to stop by and buy herbal goods for his familiar.

that’s another thing about kim taehyung. most witches nowadays don’t have familiars. it’s something that was lost with time, forgotten in a season of change. but taehyung has one.

“his name is yeontan,” taehyung had said once to jimin after paying and the green witch had immediately cooed at the pomeranian, all settled in that tote bag taehyung carries him in because his soul is too old to be walking around all the time.

then jimin had pulled out a couple potted marigolds from under the countertop, had slid it over towards the flame witch, and didn’t charge him a single thing for them.

“who were those flowers for?” jeongguk had asked when he got up to the front counter, the curiosity finally being enough that day to be voiced.

jimin smiled at the question, all sweet and warm as he rung up jeongguk’s items, and the few flowers he sold in the shop sighed dreamily, “someone special.”

jeongguk almost wanted to ask further but decided against it at the last minute and walked out of the shop without another word, deciding to himself that jimin must’ve owed taehyung something.

his curiosity, however, was quelled a few days later when he passed by taehyung’s place and caught a glimpse of a small headstone in the backyard, completely surrounded by a flurry of different flowers.

in that moment, jeongguk was reminded again and all too quickly that jimin never had to go the extra mile with his regulars and yet, he always did. he always did and it made jeongguk’s skin crawl, wary of the green witch who wasted so much on the few people who happened to come in more than once.

he never bothered to ask why though, ‘cause it would be weird, and, obliviously, jimin continued to be a caring little soul with magical vines growing out of his heart.

that care, however, wasn’t just reserved for his regulars.

jimin was also far too caring towards jeongguk.

it wasn’t long after their first encounter that jimin had started packing extra herbs and oils into jeongguk’s bag, bringing him in for lunch once because i made too much jeongguk-ssi, have a bit and then take some home.

there was even a time where jimin had slipped a couple chamomile tea bags into his hands, asking him kindly with a small smile to take them because he had extras.

jeongguk had never been spoiled much his entire life so it was hard for him not to grow suspicious of jimin’s intentions, writing those encounters as being tainted with an ulterior motive or a joke he wasn’t in on.

that all changed, though, when winter rolled around and jeongguk had come down with a cold, tiredly making his way to jimin’s shop in desperate need of some medicine.

jeongguk had wobbled in with a black mask over his face, jimin glancing up from whatever he was reading on his counter with a smile before it almost immediately faltered, “jeongguk-ssi what happened? are you sick?”

“just a cold,” jeongguk had clarified, eyes wandering all over the place because the exhaustion of the past few days was starting to blur his vision a little.

jimin stood from his seat instantly, making his way around the counter and toward jeongguk with worried hands, “here, let me help you.”

jeongguk shook his head ‘no’ but the quick movement threw him off balance, the stutter in his step making him fall into the shelves and cause the sound of a few items clashing together to ring throughout the quiet store. jimin made the short distance between the two of them even shorter, catching jeongguk in his hands clumsily, the two of them wobbling to a stand.

“‘m sorry,” jeongguk mumbled, the fatigue making his head droopy and his words slur together as he tried to stand up properly.

“it’s okay jeongguk-ah,” jimin had said softly, hand pressing up against his forehead to feel the heat that radiated off it, “let’s take you somewhere quiet so you can rest.”

jimin’s patience was one to rival as they made the painfully slow trek to his room, the house being connected to the shop through the back door, and the even slower battle to get jeongguk tucked into his bed with a dose of cold medicine in his system because he kept insisting i’ll rest only for a bit then i’ll be fine.

at some point, the tiger lilies had emerged from jimin’s sleeve, slow and sluggish from the cold weather, and had whined at the state jeongguk was in. one of their vines had curled around jeongguk’s hand as jimin whispered to them in a gentle voice, reassuring that jeongguk-ah is fine, go back to sleep my loves.

“i’m going to make you some soup,” jimin had said eventually as he made his way out of the seat that was placed beside the bed.

but before jimin could completely step away, jeongguk had caught him by the wrist, his eyes heavy with sleep that he was so desperately fighting, “why are you doing all this?”

jimin had lowered back into his seat with a frown, his eyes lost in thought for a moment before he said quietly, “because you’re my friend.”

“oh,” jeongguk’s grip on jimin had loosened a little as he started drifting to sleep, saying sleepily and even a little wistfully, “i’ve never really had friends before.”

jimin had smiled sadly, his hand brushing back a bit of jeongguk’s hair, “yeah, i don’t have many either.”

jeongguk had turned on his side to face jimin a little better, his eyes closed, letting them rest, “can you make tea instead of soup?”

jimin had giggled into his hand, standing up from his seat again, “i’ll make you some tea and soup, jeongguk-ah.”

jeongguk had grumbled, his attempt at looking intimidating failing miserably as he pouted sleepily. jimin had laughed again, pushing back more of jeongguk’s hair and tucking his arms farther under the covers, “get some rest, hm? it’ll be ready when you wake up.”

“okay,” jeongguk mumbled, finally giving in to the fatigue and burrowing into the sheets, letting his mind drift away as the warm smell of jasmine filled the air around him.

 

 

jeongguk is silent as he finishes off his tea, the magic in the home doing its best to soothe him as they whisper little things to him and one another, quiet little things, scolding him like a mother would.

the tiger lilies hear when jeongguk stands up from the couch and instantly slither from the kitchen to drag jeongguk gently the rest of the way over. their vines are careful as they wrap him up in his own apron and pepper kisses over his nose and eyelids, giggling and chatting incoherently. jeongguk smiles, it’s wobbly and small but it’s a smile and the lilies squeal, overjoyed, before unraveling off of jeongguk’s arms and slithering back towards jimin.

jimin looks over his shoulder after the whole ordeal for a moment before a smile plays on his lips, turning back around to continue stirring whatever is in his pan.

jeongguk picks up the knife left on the cutting board placed beside jimin and slices through the carrots silently as jimin talks about his (as predicted) easy day at the shop.

“namjoon and yoongi stopped by today,” jimin says softly and jeongguk lets out a small laugh, already preparing himself for this conversation.

“oh boy, here we go again,” he says under his breath, biting down a smile at the look jimin shoots his way.

namjoon and yoongi are a pair of older witches, earth and wind, who settled down in the forest not too long ago after traveling abroad with one another. they stopped by the shop one afternoon to introduce themselves and have become jimin’s sole focus of interest ever since.

the two of them say they’re friends…which by jimin’s definition is 100% a lie and they’re totally fucking together.

“no, hear me out!” jimin exclaims and it’s through a laugh, a breath of a sound that has jeongguk’s heart stuttering, “they were looking for healthy dog food options.”

jeongguk nods as he slices through more vegetables, an exaggerated ‘mhmm’ that follows, “i told them to go talk to taehyung because yeontan can be so picky sometimes and then i asked why they were looking for dog foods.”

he sets the knife down and faces jimin, knowing just from the way his voice heightens with excitement that he’s about to drop some sort of bomb.

“turns out, namjoon bought yoongi a dog. a fucking dog, jeongguk.”

jeongguk’s eyes widen, genuinely not expecting that at all, “huh.”

“i know!” jimin says excitedly, “his name is min holly and the two had this sort of look on their faces when they were talking about how they decided the name for him.” he turns back to his pan of food, stirring, stirring, “if that doesn’t scream ‘i’m absolutely, unequivocally, devastatingly in love with you,’ then i really don’t know what does anymore.”

jeongguk huffs out a laugh at the theatrics of jimin’s wording and the shorter witch bumps him with his hip, biting down his own smile as he takes the cut vegetables from jeongguk’s hands and adds them to the dish.

when they finish and plate the food, they bring it over to the small table by the kitchen followed by the tea kettle and their cups.

jeongguk eyes jimin’s plate silently as the other begins eating, noticing the smaller portions he gave himself. despite being miles and miles away, it seems the city followed the both of them in its own little nasty ways.

with a frown, jeongguk sneaks a bit more food onto jimin’s plate as the green witch takes a sip from his teacup.

in between his own bites of food, jeongguk becomes almost a little too aware of where he is right now, zoning out as he thinks about how just a hour or two ago he was ready to yank every last strand of his hair out as the repetition of another failure weighed down on his back heavier than it ever had before.

and now he’s here, in a warm house with warm food and an even warmer person sitting across from him, worried sick about him. him, of all people.

jeongguk is brought out of his bubble with a tap against his foot, snapping his head up to meet jimin’s knowing eyes and a small smile, “jeongguk-ah.”

“sorry,” jeongguk says quietly, eyes focused back on his plate.

jimin sighs softly before resting his hand over jeongguk’s gently, the magic in his fingertips bleeding through as he squeezes it once. jeongguk’s cheeks warm as he flips his own hand over and lets jimin hold it properly, tightly. their magic twirling.

they finish the rest of their meal like that and when jeongguk tries to start cleaning the dishes, jimin is insistent, quick to pull him away with gentle arms on his shoulders and a soft voice, urging, later jeongguk-ah, we’ll do that later.

the two settle into the couch, facing one another in the dimly lit room with their hands resting in the middle but no longer touching. the tiger lilies make their return as they wind around jeongguk’s body, down his legs and across his arms, jimin giggling as he brushes underneath the chin of one of them.

“it’s getting late,” jimin says quietly, looking out towards his window, and jeongguk lifts his eyes up from their separated hands to look at him properly. jimin has always been the prettiest person jeongguk has ever known and in the soft light of his home, jimin looks ethereal, “do you wanna stay over?”

jeongguk nods once, blush dusting his cheeks and tips of his ears, and jimin smiles before going back to brushing the bright petals of his tiger lilies.

 

 

in the middle of spring, when the weather was damp and loving towards jimin’s plants, jeongguk had met kim seokjin.

he knew about him previously because if anyone knew anything about park jimin then they knew about the witch he trained under.

one of the city’s greatest sea witches, kim seokjin, was someone who was underestimated from the start. with his type of magic and his absolutely stunning face, everyone assumed his eggs were thrown into one basket. all beauty and no brains.

seokjin wasn’t as gentle as his mentee when fighting those who pissed him off, far too many people who had said the wrong thing at the wrong time ended up with their lungs filled to the brim with sea water.

rumors shaped the best in the city and just from one glance at him, in the clash of a simple kitchen drenched in vines and flowers, seokjin fit his own with ease and pride.

“this is my mentor and, unfortunately,” seokjin smacked jimin’s arm, eliciting a giggle, “my hyung back in the city, kim seokjin.”

“it’s always a pleasure to meet new people and grace them with my presence,” seokjin stepped forward with a perfect smile and his hand extended, jeongguk shaking it firmly with a quiet nod.

“the city?” jeongguk questioned and even to his own ears it sounded dubious. like he was hiding the fact he’s known jimin for years from living in the same damn city as him.

jimin’s smile faltered a little.

“yes, jimin was somewhat of a prodigy over there before he decided to leave out of nowhere,” seokjin piped in, pulling his hand away.

jimin’s frown deepened as he faced seokjin, “it was not out of nowhere!”

“of course, of course,” seokjin waved his hand as he walked toward the cabinets, only to find a bunch of tea bag boxes stacked up, “where’s your wine, min-ah? hyung, wants to get tipsy at noon.”

“it’s always in the bottom one, hyung, i literally never move it,” jimin rolled his eyes as one of the tiger lilies opens up the bottom cabinet and pulls out a bottle for him.

seokjin had hummed as he scratched under the lily’s chin with a fond smile, “thank you my baby,” and the lily’s vines curled and squealed.

jeongguk felt his stomach swoop low with jealousy, a frown working its way onto his face as he crossed his arms over his chest, “if now’s a bad time, i can come back later jimin.”

jimin opened his mouth to respond but seokjin was quicker to cut him off.

“i thought you said he was younger than you,” seokjin said as he poured himself a glass, looking up at jeongguk briefly before looking at jimin with what looked like disappointment, “does he really not call you hyung?”

jeongguk curled into himself with a scowl and jimin eyes grew worried almost instantly, “hyung it’s not a big deal, i don’t care if he calls me hyung or not,” jimin steps away from seokjin and towards jeongguk, “now’s a perfect time jeongguk-ah, just sit down and i’ll make the two of us some tea, hm?”

jeongguk nodded, feeling a little small and floaty as jimin smiled at him brightly.

by the time the tea was whistling, jimin had already set two tea cups on the coffee table along with a few stacks of cards.

“hyung and i usually play when he comes over,” jimin said sheepishly when he noticed jeongguk’s perplexed expression, “we don’t have to though if you—”

“no, i’ll play.”

“finally, a new competitor,” seokjin said with a smile, plopping down onto the ground with his wine glass still in hand, “jimin used to be good but he’s gotten rusty.”

“oh okay, sorry i have no time to play when running my shop,” jimin rolled his eyes with a smile, shuffling the cards so quickly that it made a sharp sound when it flitted together, “split the deck for me, jeongguk-ah?”

jeongguk looked up to meet jimin’s awaiting eyes, his soft smile, grabbing half of the cards hesitantly and placing it in the palm of jimin’s hand before the other half was folded on top in a swift motion.

“you’d have lots of time if you kept that old job of yours,” seokjin tipped his glass a little in jimin’s direction before picking up the cards passed to him and taking another sip of his drink, “pay was good too.”

“i was just your apprentice hyung,” jimin laughed wholeheartedly but the end of it sounded clipped, strained towards the subject, “i wouldn’t be doing anything.”

“exactly! what more could you want than getting paid to do nothing?” seokjin exasperated, “i just want you to have an easy life min-ah. things were so much harder when you were younger.”

jimin’s expression darkened as he picked up his own cards, blatantly ignoring seokjin’s question as he turned to jeongguk, “you go first jeongguk-ah, left of the dealer.”

jeongguk nodded, stunned, before putting down one of his cards.

sometime after a few games, jimin and seokjin had cleaned up their glassware, the sink running as jimin washed his dishes.

the tiger lilies chatted animatedly between the pair of witches, jimin nodding and seokjin just laughing along at the few translations jimin had to provide.

jeongguk had excused himself to use the bathroom after a glance at the scene and had rushed over to wash the tingling in his hands, the itch that fell at the tips of his fingers. after scrubbing at them until they were red in a couple of areas, he looked up at the mirror, feeling all out of place.

city folk, all three of them, out in the middle of nowhere and yet, the gap between the version of the city he lived in and the version jimin lived in was as prominent as it used to be.

when jeongguk finally stepped out of the bathroom, he heard murmuring from the living room, the words audible enough make out sentences. jeongguk leaned in closer, his heart in tight knots, “seok-ah misses you too min, just come back home. i have that apartment i mentioned with your name on it.”

“hyung, i already told you—”

jeongguk couldn’t bear to hear the rest so he stepped out of the hallway, slid on his shoes at the entrance, and slipped out the front door without a sound.

it was sprinkling when jeongguk walked out, not a soul trailing him as he pulled his hood over his head.

but jeongguk should’ve known, truly, he should’ve been thinking more clearly.

because jimin’s house whispers and it likes to whisper to the plants who know about things but like to hear it a second time before whispering to the flowers who whisper—

“hey!” jimin’s voice rang through, concern dampening his tone like the bits of water that seeped through his clothes and fell over his hair, “you didn’t say goodbye! i didn’t even hear you leave.”

jeongguk felt a twinge of guilt but it was swamped in such a dark feeling of insecurity that he only managed to shrug, look off and far away, “i forgot i had something to do today.”

“oh,” jimin replied and it was obvious he was upset about it, “i just thought— well because us hanging out is still like new and we hardly have time to—”

“yeah, i know hyung,” jeongguk mumbled as the sprinkles in the air misted over the two, “i just figured you’d have more important things to do with your hyung from the city.”

and it must’ve been the way he said it because jimin’s expression instantly sours.

“is that what this is about?” jimin asked, his eyebrows in a pinch as he held back what looked like a scoff, “do you have a problem with him?”

“i don’t have a problem with him,” jeongguk lied through his teeth, looking away and making it incredibly obvious to jimin.

“you do!” jimin yelled, bewildered at the thought, “look, i know he can be a little much at times—”

“that’s just it! everything about him is just so… so city.”

jimin’s face set into a hardened glare, “i hate to break it to you, jeongguk, but he was all i had there.”

jeongguk’s frown dips sharply. hearing his actual name be muttered so meanly after months and months of jeongguk-ah~ was enough for something to rise in him, a stone in his stomach that somehow got lodged in the center of his throat.

“then it should be so easy for you to just waltz on back over there with him!” jeongguk spat back and jimin’s voice instantly got defensive, “what is that supposed to mean?”

“the entire time he’s been here it’s just ‘when you gonna head back home, jimin-ah? things were so much better for you there. i have an apartment ready just for you.’” jeongguk mocked in the best voice he could pull after knowing seokjin for only a few hours. the scowl that had already settled on his face deepened as the bitterness and betrayal in his gut swirled, “but what can you expect from the city’s ‘it’ boy?”

jimin’s jaw dropped with a gasp causing the guilt in jeongguk’s gut to swell up painfully.

unable to face him any longer, jeongguk had turned around and started walking away. and in that moment, he didn’t see the shift in jimin’s eyes as they drowned frustration, years of it just built up that even a mention of his past has his voice shaking with emotion.

“that city hated me!” jimin said furiously and jeongguk whipped around to find jimin’s eyes glossing over with tears as the fire in them returned, “i did everything in my power to be what it wanted me to be and i was never enough!”

in hindsight, jeongguk should’ve stopped talking there. should’ve apologized for the assumptions he had made of jimin despite the months he had tried to bury them. with the way the city treated him, he should’ve been better.

but he wasn’t; and it’s a shame the city is to blame for that too.

“it hated me too!” his defenses rose as he confessed, along with his voice, higher than they had in such a long time as he pointed a finger back toward jimin’s house, “and— and being around seokjin all day is just a big, fat reminder of that.”

“what?” jimin’s shoulders had dropped, expression falling blank and confused, “wait, you lived in the city? i thought—” jimin’s frown returned as he started to look more and more devastated at the admission, “why didn’t you tell me that?”

jeongguk had shrunk into himself instantly, not meaning to let that bit of information slip in the heat of the moment. he crossed his arms over his chest, mumbling under his breath, “it’s not like it matters.”

“yes it does! i can’t— god, you always do this,” jimin muttered to himself, his hand pressed to his forehead in such disbelief that jeongguk couldn’t help but ask why, “do what?”

“say something by accident and then refuse to acknowledge it afterwards!” jimin shouted, “look you don’t have to tell me everything but fuck jeongguk, i feel like i know nothing about you! and for weeks i’ve just been telling myself that i’m just exaggerating because we were getting closer and you started smiling more so i thought maybe…”

flustered, jimin had snapped his mouth shut, like he was preventing something from slipping out, before his gaze hardened and the melancholy disappeared from his eyes, “but no, you’re right. it doesn’t matter.” the drizzle fluttered down around them softly, the plants dizzy with life and yet curling away from the pair because of the terrible mix in their magic, “just do whatever you want.”

jimin stalked away, his whole form damp with water, and with a tight chest and burning eyes, jeongguk turned around and walked away too, a hand coming to wipe over his mouth as if to rid of the words that had escaped it.

it took about half an hour for the sprinkling in the air to start falling down in larger drops, tapping against jeongguk’s windows and beating down on his roof. he listened to each one while sitting on his couch, his leg jumping up and down, nervous with an itch and a race in his heart.

it took about half an hour for the guilt to completely consume him. to have the image of jimin’s hurt expression play over and over again in his head enough times for his shoulders to slump and for his head to fall in his hands, ashamed, his magic curling darkly around him.

it took almost no time at all for jeongguk to get up quickly after making a last minute decision, storming up to the front of his house, ready to walk back to jimin’s place through the rain to apologize. but when he opened his door, he came face to face with the man himself, fist hovering over it like he was about to knock.

a coincidence, funnily enough. something not caused by any sort of magic or whispering shrubs.

just fate and two souls who intertwine just right.

there was a brief second where the pair just sort of stared at each other, baffled, making sense of the weird situation in an already weird world. then the second passed, blended into another, and jeongguk couldn’t help but lunge forward and wrap jimin in his arms, hugging him out in the pouring rain.

“‘m so sorry hyung,” jeongguk mumbled, his forehead resting on the smaller witch’s shoulder, damp and cold from the rain that he’d just walked through. it had taken jimin a moment but he eventually hooked his arms around jeongguk’s neck, holding onto him tightly, “it’s okay jeongguk-ah.” a sigh, content and safe, heard between raindrops, “i’m sorry too.”

it was then that the tiger lilies sprung out, slithered out of jimin’s sleeves and towards jeongguk chattering, some even scolding him in their own little squeaky way. they never liked a fight, especially when jimin was involved.

drenched in rain water that had escaped from the sky and made jimin’s skin glow magically, jeongguk pulled him and his lilies inside to dry off while giggling under his breath.

and afterwards, with towels around their necks to catch the droplets of water that weighed down their hair, the two spent hours of the spring storm understanding each other’s story and how, even if it differed in some ways, it overlapped in others where the loneliness in such a big world caused them both to flee.

“please, the name calling was nothing,” jimin said softly in response to jeongguk’s prior knowledge of him.

the dark look from earlier returned as his fingers wisped over the potted plant jeongguk had tried to take care of, making its droopy stems brighten with each swirl. when satisfied, jimin turned back towards jeongguk with a gentle but serious look in his eyes, “i don't plan on ever going back there.”

 

 

“you’re still thinking about it,” jimin whispers in the dark.

the two are lying side by side in his bed now and they’ve done this enough times that jeongguk should’ve expected jimin to confront him about not immediately passing out or at least participating sleepily to their quiet conversations about everything and nothing.

jeongguk opens his eyes frustrated, previously trying to will away the day’s prior events in favor of a dreamless slumber. he glares at the older witch, eyes adjusting to see the worry line between jimin’s eyebrows, “can’t help it.”

“i can help you practice tomorrow if you want,” jimin offers, his hand slipping into jeongguk’s, “i hate seeing you so upset over this.”

jeongguk lets his eyes slide shut again, defeat making his body slump further into the sheets of jimin’s bed, “i don’t know if i want to kill anymore of your forest.”

“it’s not my forest,” jimin pouts and it makes the dormant butterflies in jeongguk’s stomach flutter. he grumbles, fingers woven tightly with jimin’s, “might as well be.”

“the plants here just like having a green witch they can talk to,” jimin giggles and brushes a strand of jeongguk’s hair out of his eyes, tucks it behind his ear like always, “and you are not killing this forest.”

“i know, i know it’s just—” jeongguk sighs and peers up at him through his lashes, his doe eyes the most prominent at night where the insecure whispers under his breath make it easy to look vulnerable, “i’m not exactly helping it either.”

“it will learn to adapt jeongguk-ah,” jimin reassures as he squeezes his hand gently, “just as you will learn to control your magic.”

jeongguk huffs again, still not entirely convinced of jimin’s word. jimin sighs, albeit a little fond, before he removes his hand from jeongguk’s and whispers quietly, “show hyung your magic.”

“but jimin—” jeongguk starts to argue but jimin is quicker to flatten his palm and give him a reassuring smile, “just a little jeongguk-ah, please.”

hesitant and conflicted, jeongguk closes his eyes and allows the tiniest bit of magic to escape the palm of his hand, a violet light sparking dimly in the dark room before flaring largely and shrinking to a size that can barely hold its form.

jeongguk frowns at it, already feeling insecure about the wobbly attempt of harnessing his power before jimin smiles at him again and flicks his hand a little, the vine wrapped around his bedpost making its way over to him.

it settles between the pair and it is then that jeongguk realizes there’s a pink flower bud resting on the end of it, new to life and vulnerable to the harm it bears. the baby flower moves again before jeongguk can get a word out, dashing into the purple light without a moment of hesitation and soaking up the magic within it.

jeongguk almost closes his palm in shock of the whole ordeal but is stopped when he realizes the flowerbud is twirling in a spiral, curling lovely in the purple light before erupting into a bloom.

it happens rather quickly, the blooming, but it feels like forever. piles of minutes, hours, days all trapped in a little world where nothing else really matters except for the warm feeling budding in his chest as he watches the purple and green of their magic just mix.

mouth agape and heart racing, pounding against the bones of his ribcage, jeongguk meets jimin’s eyes in the violet glow, unable to say a word as jimin stares back, adoration trapped in his gaze.

it feels like spring would in the beginning and end; soft and full of life before mellowing out into the deep heat of summer that makes you think twice when you look out your window because it can’t be seven, the sun hasn’t set yet.

it feels like the middle of spring too; drenched in rainwater tailored only for the outside, clothes soaked to the skin, body tight in a hug full of apology, regret, forgiveness.

it feels like jimin.

it’s then that jeongguk pulls his hand away with a frown, overwhelmed by the situation, and the flowerbud instantly closes back up.

jimin’s smile dips a little but he turns his attention back to the baby flower, bringing it close to lay a kiss upon it before whispering, thank you, you did so wonderful.

jeongguk can’t look jimin in the eyes after the green witch sends the vine back to his bedpost, hand only loosely intertwining with jimin’s, “you did wonderful too, jeongguk-ah.”

jeongguk’s frown deepens, eyebrows furrowed in distrust, as his voice bitters, “it was your flower.”

“it’s also my forest apparently,” jimin teases but the timing isn’t one of the best and jeongguk’s face crumples, “hey, hey none of that my little love, hyung didn’t mean it like that.”

jeongguk curls closer to jimin, the nickname making him feel small while the use of his magic springs tears in the corners of his eyes, “it feels like i’m doing more harm than good,” he confesses quietly, voice shaken, “there’s so much life out there that doesn’t have your magic to protect it from whatever the fuck i’m doing and i just keep making the it look worse without meaning to.”

jeongguk covers his eyes with both of his hands, the years of pain all bottled up and shaken to its limit with devastation as its result, “i’m proving them right, hyung.”

“hey, no,” jimin pulls his hands away, meeting jeongguk’s eyes with a serious look, stern and protective in ways that jeongguk never really understood until he met jimin, “you do not owe that city a single thing, no less the satisfaction of being right.”

“but—”

“no buts,” jimin cuts in before his eyes dart all over jeongguk’s face, serious.

“sorry,” jeongguk mumbles.

“not your fault,” jimin whispers back and tucks the stubborn strand of hair back into place again.

jeongguk stares up at jimin through the fuzziness of the dark and the millions of words bubbling in his throat threaten to spill over for the second time that evening.

i’m sorry. god, i’m so sorry. i don’t know what i did to deserve you. you deserve so so much better.

wandering gazes trace over moles that are usually hidden away, freckles that can only be seen up close. jeongguk doesn’t remember when he realized jimin was his definition of love but he’s never had a chance to forget when the vines of jimin’s heart curled out and towards jeongguk.

“hyung,” jeongguk says and his voice is trembling, stomach in all kinds of knots.

i love you. i love you. i love you.

jimin hums and it feels like the space around them is shrinking, everything just closer than he remembered them being.

their noses brush and maybe jeongguk whispers hyung again but he can’t really remember through the fuzz and cotton because suddenly jimin is kissing him.

and jimin kisses jeongguk like he’s whispering to nature; gently, in gentle ways, always the gentle kind of witch.

he takes his time, is patient with each moment like he’s greeting jeongguk for the first time all over again, except it feels like a hi, hello of expectation, like he was waiting and waiting, and not a oh, hello of surprise.

their lips glide warmly and jeongguk can’t help the noise that bubbles out of his throat, a desperate little thing of a sound, because jimin tastes like red rose tea.

there’s a pull away for air, wherein jeongguk’s hands find purchase in clutching at jimin’s shirt and hiding his face into the green witch’s shoulder to calm his heart, all overwhelmed and full to the brim.

there’s a brief second where the only thing jeongguk can hear is the sound of their own breathing, labored and rushing to even out.

then, when jeongguk pulls away to get a better look at him, he gets a glimpse at the room around them and his jaw goes slack.

it’s absolutely bursting with life, leaves and vines curling at the edges where it closes in because it’s running out of room, and each flower in the room has completely bloomed, ripe with various different colors.

jimin follows his line of sight and immediately turns back around, his cheeks flushed with a pretty rose pink, “oh, i had no idea they did that.”

jeongguk, still elated and floaty, giggles a little under his breath as jimin curls into him instead, embarrassed as the flowers start whispering to one another, glowing like it's the beginning of spring and not nearing the end of it.

“i don’t think i’ve ever seen them glow like that before,” jeongguk teases, words being said into jimin’s hair.

“shut up,” jimin slaps jeongguk’s chest as he pulls away, his face still holding a lingering shyness as he tries to bite down a smile.

there’s a moment of silence then, one that would be perfect to whisper into the shell of jimin’s ear, i love you. wanna love you like this forever.

but jeongguk still isn’t sure he’s ready for that yet, so he lets the moment float away, promising silently that one day he’ll be able to tell him when the words are there and loud enough to hear.

because he knows jimin will be there, waiting to hear what he has to say, even if it took him years to say it.

then there’s another moment where jimin smiles at him, gentle and reserved, and it feels like he’s whispering back, with tiger lilies slithering from his sleeves and kissing jeongguk’s skin, i know, love you too.