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Kim Namjoon has always been proud of his accomplishments.

 

He will never regret managing an acceptance into the University of Baedal. He will never regret becoming the youngest strategist and philosopher to graduate with perfect scores. But he might regret writing that damn book. He wouldn’t have to be here, milking a drink he can’t down and making small talk with two-faced aristocrats that seem fascinated with a scholar that wrote a sale shattering novel ‘at such a young age.’

 

Namjoon loves his novel. He put a ton of time, effort, and heart in amassing all the information needed to write his “Young Forever.” Hours and hours spent hunched over a wooden desk. His hands blackened with ink and his eyes stinging from reading in the darkest hours of the night. When he finally published the work he didn’t expect how taken its readers would be.

 

At first, he loved the looks on people’s faces when they heard his name. Their reactions and questions were all fascinating, for a while. At first, it was good. Then he began to notice a pattern. People were no longer interested in his words and instead they were more interested in him.

 

In his name.

 

He would get piles of requests from courts, universities, and societies from all over the country asking for The Kim Namjoon to join and work for them. He figured out shortly after a visit to one of these groups that he wouldn’t be doing anything substantial. He would just be a name on a gilded plac.

 

So, he began turning down all requests and stayed away from the spotlight. Got the reputation of being elusive which was kind of hilarious considering how he spent his weekends out at bars and meeting new people and inspiration. The only elusive person he knows is Yoongi and that’s only when the man gets into his writing mode.

 

But then he received a royal invitation to King Seokju’s 67th birthday on account of his prestigious achievements in the scholars and Namjoon couldn’t refuse. No one refuses a royal anything whether it be an invitation to a birthday or your own damn death.

 

That’s why he’s here, sitting at a table with a variety of dishes on it's every square space. That’s why he’s in the royal dining hall, sitting next to rows of rich nobles, scholars, government officials and anyone deemed with importance. The guest list is selective (oh god why was he here?) and those invited always have something the King wants. Namjoon only has one thing of worth to his name and that’s just it—his name.

 

All of the King’s council are people with prestigious names. They’re all present for the King’s birthday. Namjoon can see Duke Lee Kunhee who’s head of his family. The Lee family holds control of nearly all the salt deposits in the South and are the richest family because of it. Duke Kunhee currently stares at the bosom of the servant who’s refilling his soup.

 

Next to him is Admiral Jung Hosub who’s complaining loudly to a noble next to him about the increase of pirating out in the seas. Namjoon’s father used to complain himself that the Admiral never helped any of the citizens against the very pirates he complains about.

 

Archbishop Yoo Byungeun is sitting across from Lee Kunhee. Just the sight of him alone makes Namjoon’s blood boil. He doomed his best friend into a life of judgement because Yoongi doesn’t fit with the man’s hypocritical beliefs. All of these men are like that. Living like supreme rulers who have no actual care for the world they are running. All they care about is staying in the King’s good graces so they can keep their positions of wealth.

 

He stares and wonders if he’ll end up like them. Stuck here to be a toy of the king to take out when suitable.

 

The King currently sits at the head of the table with a uncontrolled smirk on his face as he devours his meal. He makes crude jokes that everyone laughs too. The chair next to him holds the patient statue of the Queen who smiles on occasion and watches the guests with observant eyes. The chair on the King’s other side is empty, though, which is abnormal. It’s supposed to hold Prince Seokjin but the heir is absent.

 

Namjoon doesn’t know much about the heir other than whispers of his beauty and his blessings of his mother's genes. More importantly, though, rumors point at him being the cause of his hyung’s death.

 

Which is ridiculous.

 

Seokjin would have been 14 when his Hyung died from eating a poisonous berry during a hunt.

 

Namjoon wonders what unevidenced rumors the courts’ people make up about him. The elusive scholar Kim Namjoon must have plenty.

 

“Yejin-noona, where is your son? Why is he so late to his father’s birthday feast?” The King finally asks the question on Namjoon’s mind since he noticed the empty seat. His tone is light but his eyes narrow on his wife. The conversations in the hall continue but quite a number of people turn their heads to listen.

 

“Seokju-Jeonha, our son will be here very shortly. Please be patient.” Her speech is short but her tight eyes and thin lips are filled with held back words.

 

Kunhee wipes his mouth with his cloth, placing it on the table when he finishes and speaks, “If you don’t mind me asking, Yejin-Jungjeonmama, but what has your son so late?”

 

Queen Yejin smiles and leans towards him as she speaks, “Seokju-Jeonha sent him on a hunting trip and told him to bring him back his birthday present. Of course, my son had to find the perfect game for his father and only arrived an hour before the party.”

 

“He should have just arrived at my feast exactly as he was. A prince doesn’t need to look perfect for anyone.” The King scoffs.

 

My son would never arrive to a dinner in any other state but perfection.” Her eyes narrow and Namjoon wonders if the tension between them is going to spark—

 

“Kim Namjoon-nim?” The noble to his left fills his vision and stops him from hearing the rest. “You wrote the book that everyone’s been talking about.”

 

“Yes,” Namjoon shifts in his seat and puts down his glass to replace with his chopsticks. “That’s me.”

 

“It’s very good to hear that the royals are inviting such esteemed scholars to our outings.” The noble has completely turned his body towards Namjoon now, “Do you think you’ll be coming to more?”

 

“If I receive the invitation, I’ll be here.” He answers without really answering.

 

“Oh, I hope so,” I don’t. The noble smiles. If Namjoon blurs his vision it could almost seem genuine.

 

It’s then that Prince Seokjin decides to make his appearance.

 

“All rise for the Prince Seokjin heir to the throne and second born son of the king.” Some guard calls and, with the exception of the King, everyone stands. Namjoon nearly trips into the table in the process but he makes it. The noble next to Namjoon rises with little issue (to Namjoon’s annoyance) and shifts ever so slightly towards his friend next to him. From Namjoon’s position and with his added benefit of height, he can see the hall’s entrance with ease.

 

“The prince looks as perfect as ever.” The noble speaks to his friend just low enough for Namjoon to overhear his clipped words.

 

Prince Seokjin enters the room quietly. There’s no loud opening of doors or trumpets blaring. Just muffled footsteps. The smile on his face looks a lot similar to the one his mother was sporting earlier. He walks with a lightness to his steps. And, god, did the prince look like a Prince.

 

The king looks like a King but he looks like a cruel and old one whose time is overdue. Frown lines crease his forehead and his hair is thinning obviously. The queen looks like a Queen but she looks like a cold and calculated one. A queen who spent too much time in fear of her subjects. She holds her body perfectly tense and her smiles never reach her eyes.

 

But the Prince. The prince looks like a Prince but he looks like one out of a fairytale. He has wide shoulders that hold his suit like he belongs in it and he has a face that can make girls weep. Namjoon can just see the man on top of a white horse, wearing a white glove that reaches to take the hand of the story’s damsel in distress.

 

Namjoon can’t tell if he likes the man or not. Just because Seokjin looks like he walked right out of a fairytale doesn’t mean he is a fairytale. Prince Seokjin does seem to take more after his mother like the rumors said and Namjoon hopes that means he's nothing like his father.

 

All heads are angled towards the Prince as he walks to the head of the table. It doesn’t seem to bother the Prince and Namjoon supposes a lifetime of being watched could do that to a person. When the Prince gets to the King, he bows at the perfect angle and waits for the king to speak.

 

“How was your hunt? Successful?” The King raises a singular eyebrow and speaks in a detached sort of way, like he isn’t speaking to his only blood child.

 

“Yes, I believe it was. Would you like to see your gift?” The Prince’s soft voice doesn’t match the tension in the Kings. In that second, Namjoon thinks of all the times he tried for his own father’s approval and he holds his breath for the Prince.

 

“Bring it in.” The King calls and the servants walk in with a large buck that they present to the King. It’s the largest buck Namjoon has ever seen but that maybe not true for the King. The King studies it for a short while and then nods.

 

“It is sufficient. Thank you for this gift.” The King’s voice is still detached.

 

The Prince smiles and nods at the servants as their dismissal.

 

“You all may sit.” The King says.

 


 

The rest of the dinner goes without a hitch and the entertainment part starts next. Being raised in a upper, lower class family did not allow Namjoon the luxury of learning any of the court dances and he’s stuck to watching instead. He doesn’t really mind too much. He never liked casual dancing anyways. The orchestra is good enough to just listen to.

 

The last time he danced was when his little sister begged for a dance during his going away party. She guilt tripped him into it because ‘she wouldn’t see him for so long.’ It has always been hard to say no to his little sister.

 

Would his sister like the dresses and the dances? He kind of doubts it. She always saw through these sorts of things. God, he really needs to write home.

 

Namjoon sits at the side desperately trying to avoid conversation but he’s also so, so bored. Bringing Yoongi with him would have been a blessing but the man and his tarnished reputation would never be allowed into one of these things. Nor would the man even want to come to one.

 

“Kim Namjoon-ssi?” Namjoon expects to see an intrusive noble. Instead, there is a squire, who immediately bows.

 

“Yes?” He asks and relaxes just an inch.

 

“The Prince and the King requested to greet and thank you for coming, sir.” The squire says and Namjoon tenses right back up.

 

“You mean I have to…” he gestures towards the table the royal family sit at.

 

“Yes, that’s correct, sir.”

 

So, he braces himself for a conversation with the royal family and stands up. If his father could see him now...

 

The squire escorts him to the table and then whispers Namjoon’s titles to the announcer standing at attention.

 

The royal table was made for greeting people. It had a length that could sit everyone of import on one side. The guest would have to walk up one step to get to the table and give the nobles a perfect view of their most likely trembling form.

 

A man already stood in front of the royals when Namjoon got to the table, so he waited behind. The King listens to the man with a frown and wrinkled eyes. The rest of the table seems equally as bored. He takes a breath and tries to focus himself.

 

Will this be the moment he learns of his entire future? He doubts that the King will announce his installment to the court at his own party. But maybe the King plans on making Namjoon his own self-gift.

 

The man in front of him bows and makes his exit. What had that man been here for? Namjoon’s thoughts distracted him from even noticing.

 

“Revered scholar Kim Namjoon, writer of ‘Young Forever,’” The announcer says.

 

Namjoon steps up on one of the steps and bows. When he looks up, the first thing he notices is that the King is still slouching but the Prince isn’t. Prince Seokjin sits with his shoulders towards him and an actual smile on his face. An actual smile. No teeth but a smile that actually reaches his eyes.

 

“Kim Namjoon-ssi, It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” The Prince is the first to address him.

 

“I can say the same, your majesty.” Namjoon looks at him as he speaks. The Prince’s gaze isn’t as anxiety inducing as he first thought. His gaze is soft with a light that makes him look faintly amused at everything. It helps Namjoon forget that the royals are hijacking his life. Just minutely.

 

“Is this the author you were speaking to me about?” The Queen speaks from the other side of the King, “I hear your writing is most inspiring, Kim Namjoon-ssi.”

 

“Thank you, your majesty.” He bows softly in her direction. The King still looks bored but now he is watching with curious eyes.

 

“What was it that you wrote?” The King spoke and looked him up and down.

 

“‘Young Forever,’ your majesty.”

 

“Where did you study?” The King kept questioning.

 

“The University of Baedal, your majesty.”

 

“Impressive. The University of Baedal only take the best. You must be very intelligent.” The King sits back. His curiosity now gone.

 

“Yes, thank you, your majesty.” He bows again.

 

“Namjoon-ssi, I looked forward to speaking to you again during your stay. Now, please, enjoy the rest of the evening.” Prince Seokjin dismisses him. He still has that smile.

 

“I will, your majesty. And thank you for inviting me to this event.” He bows to the entire table and books it as quickly as acceptable.

 

The Prince invited him. Not the King. No way did the King, who didn’t even read his novel, invite him. Namjoon isn’t sure how he’s supposed to feel about that knowledge. A cursefull part of him kind of wanted to be able say that the king read his novel. Plus, he may not like the king but at least he’s predictable. The Prince, however, Namjoon knows so little about. Namjoon has never liked things he didn’t completely understand.

 

As Namjoon attempts to part through the crowd back to his seat, he tries to think of all the reasons why the Prince would want to speak to him. He ends up not being able to get back to his original seat and finds a new one. It’s too close to the royal table for his comfort but he likes how close it gets him to the stage where he can hear the orchestra more clearly.

 

Namjoon looks over to Prince Seokjin and wonders.

 


 

While Namjoon was still in school, he took a class on architecture. One of the buildings Namjoon studied was the royal castle. He remembers noting the double-framed bed shape of the main building and geometric shapes of the garden pools. As a requirement of the course, he had to be able to point out any building on the many acres of land and explain all of its functions. He had to know each building's architects and why they chose to build it where they did. Namjoon can probably tell you the quarry where each stone in each building came from.

 

Namjoon learns quickly that nothing he learned about the Palace of Cheonggu means anything in real life. It hadn’t been too difficult finding the guest wing; he just followed all the other guests. Finding his own room, on the other hand, was a completely different struggle. The never ending hallways of just the guest wing had Namjoon lost at every turn. He finally let go of his pride and just asked a servant after going past the same statue twice.

 

When he did arrive in his guest room, he fell on the bed and was ready to fall asleep right then and there. But a servant knocked on his door asking if he wanted a wash basin to which he said yes and then got up to start his letters for his family. When the servant came back he washed and contemplated how many servants are required to take care of all the guests here. Was there a servant for every room?

 

After that, he fell asleep in his temporary bed.

 

Now, as he sits at a table in one of the many dining rooms and eats his breakfast of Kimchi he can feel all the sores in his back from sleeping in a foreign bed. Again, he wishes as he sits here with all these tables of people that Yoongi could be here. He could be making fun of the hungover faces of all the nobles and debating the reasons behind Prince Seokjin’s interest in him. He could be doing that but damn Yoo Byungeun and his enforcement of century old religious rules is stopping it. If Namjoon gets stuck here will he ever be allowed to see Yoongi again? Fuck, he never thought about that. Fuck.

 

Namjoon finishes his meal and he should go back to his room. He should go to his room where it will be easier for Prince Seokjin to fetch for him but he doesn’t want it to be easy. He may be only delaying the inevitable but a few hours of freedom may loosen the sores in his back and make him forget about Yoo fucking Byungeun for a little while.

 

Faintly, he does feel bad about the frantic servant searching for a wandering scholar that he or she has never seen before. (Actually, he kind of finds that amusing but whatever.)

 

With that decided, he gets up to become the wandering scholar. He exits the dining hall and then wanders around the guest wing with little idea of where he’s going. In just the guest wing there are sculptures at every turn and paintings in all rooms. The air has a staleness to it. The entire palace smells this way except for the dining areas which smell like food. The guest wing is lit by the large windows throughout its halls and windows but it’s still kind of dark. Namjoon runs his fingers along the golden painted trimmings along the walls as he walks.

 

He decides that the guest wing is kind of boring despite its glamour. Then he also realizes that he’d be easily found in the guest wing so he goes back towards the dining area. He takes a different turn and starts smelling something deliciously edible so he follows.  

 

He pushes past swinging double doors and enters what he figures is the kitchen. The walls are all dark stone bricks and are lined with stove fires that heat up countless dishes. Namjoon takes one step into the kitchen and is hit with a wave of heat. It’s only a little hotter than the current spring weather so he keeps walking. Guests are probably not allowed in the kitchens but no one is stopping him or even looking at him, for that matter.

 

All of the chefs are bustling around the kitchen, in and out of pantries and ice rooms, stirring one pot and then flipping something in another. Namjoon walks past tables of chefs preparing foods on plates and putting them all onto large platters to take them into the dining rooms.

 

It’s then that Namjoon sees him. Prince Seokjin is hunched over a kitchen table looking at some sort of meal. Another chef stands with him and they seem to be discussing the meal in front of them. Namjoon is so confused by the sight that he just stops right there in the way of everything.

 

A poor chef walking behind him crashes into his stopped form and drops his dish. Namjoon curses and gets down to try and help clean up the mess. He apologies profusely to the chef but he just waves him off and gets right back up. Namjoon looks up to see the real damage has been done. The Prince has looked up to see what the commotion came from and, of course, he sees Namjoon squatting there awkwardly on the floor. Prince Seokjin just laughs.

 

Holy shit, he can feel the heat in his cheeks. Why does this always have to happen to him?

 

“Kim Namjoon-ssi?” Seokjin says, and moves away from the table. He offers Namjoon his hand and Namjoon takes it without looking the Prince in the eyes, “What are you doing in the kitchens?”

 

“I was just wandering, your majesty.” Namjoon says as he gets up and lets go of the Prince’s hand. So much for delaying the inevitable.

 

“In the kitchen?” Seokjin says and snorts. Actually, snorts in amusement.

 

“I, yes. Your majesty.” Namjoon shifts and all of his previous anger has disappeared in favor of embarrassment.

 

“Alright, to each their own, I guess.” Seokjin smiles and gestures to the table he was at before, “Would you like to join us? We were just finishing up.”

 

“Ah, join what exactly?” Namjoon has no clue why the Prince is in the kitchen. To try out new meals?

 

“This is my teacher Lee Yeon Bok. I have cooking lessons with him every other day.” Seokjin explains as the reach the table. Namjoon immediately bows towards the elder man.

 

Cooking lessons? Prince Kim Seokjin, heir to the throne of Korea has cooking lessons? He has all the best chefs and cooks in the country at his beck and call. What does he need to cook for?

 

“Yeon Bok-nim, this is Kim Namjoon, a scholar I invited to my father’s party.”

 

So, Namjoon was right about Prince Seokjin inviting him.

 

“I know who he is. He wrote that book, didn’t he?” The chef nods approvingly at him, “I’ve heard good things about that book. Haven’t found the time to read it myself.”

 

“Thank you, Lee Yeon Bok-nim.” Namjoon bows again and then looks to Prince Seokjin, “I didn’t know that you cooked, your majesty. Is it a hobby?”


“Something like that, yes. I quite enjoy it.” Seokjin says, “Yeon Bok-nim and I were almost done with my lesson today. Was there anything else we needed to cover, Yeon Bok-nim?”

 

“Actually, I think we have nothing else for today. Just remember to ask your father to get those spices.” Chef Yeon Bok wipes his hands on his apron and hands the dish the Prince and him were working on to another chef.

 

“Have a nice day, then, Yeon Bok-nim.” Seokjin waves to the man as he disappears into the fray of chefs.

 

“It was nice meeting you, sir.” Namjoon remembers his manners. The chef just waves and doesn’t look back.

 

“He seems interesting, your majesty.” Namjoon says to the Prince as they watch the kitchen for a moment.

 

“Yes,” the Prince looks distracted for a moment but then he turns his faintly amused eyes to Namjoon, “He is great at what he does. I aspire to be as good as him one day.”

 

“I’m sure you will, your majesty.” Namjoon says and follows Prince Seokjin towards the wall without all the stoves.

 

“Oh no, no. I just like cooking. I’m not that good at it though.” Prince Seokjin says as he takes off his apron and hangs it with the rest of them.

 

“You can’t get worse with a lesson every other day.” Namjoon shrugs.


Seokjin laughs, “True. What a great way of viewing things.” Then he laughs again, softer this time. “Come. I think you’ve had quite enough of the kitchens, yah?”

 

Namjoon follows the Prince through the kitchen and finally, back into the cooler hallways of the palace. He stops there so Namjoon stops and waits for the Prince to speak.

 

Prince Seokjin looks down at his clothes and sighs, “I can’t have any visitors in this apparel. My mother would have my head. We still have to have our meeting, though. How about this? You can head up to my Hamlet in let’s say a half an hour to give me some time to get ready. I’ll even send for a carriage to be ready for you.”

 

Namjoon remembers the Hamlet from his class at Yonsei. It’s construction was started by Prince Seokjin’s brother when when he was young. The hamlet was meant to be a place of more privacy for the royal heir. When the heir died the estate was handed to Prince Seokjin.

 

The Hamlet is amassed of enough buildings to make it look like a small town. Among its buildings, the Hamlet had a farm, a tower for communicating with the main palace, a building for offices and a house for the quarters of the heir and any of his guests. It even had its own private lake. In class, Namjoon thought having two houses was a little vain and unnecessary. Now, after spending a night in the busy palace he could see the sentiment.

 

“A carriage, your majesty?” Namjoon raises his eyebrows.

 

“Yes, walking would take over a half an hour to reach the building. A carriage halfs that.” Seokjin watches a chef leave the kitchen and turn a corner.

 

“I didn’t know it was so far away.”

 

“Yes, actually, with that said, just bring all your belongings with you as well. We have much to discuss and it’s a hassle to make two trips. You can just stay in one of the guest rooms there instead. Trust me, it’s much less...crowded there. If you know what I mean.” Seokjin runs his hand through his hair as another chef passes.

 

“That makes sense, your majesty.” Namjoon says.


“Alright, I guess I’ll see you in around an hour?” Prince Seokjin finally looks at him again and smiles in anticipation.

 

“See you then, your majesty.” Namjoon bows and they both make their departure.

 


 

Every jostle during the carriage ride makes his sore muscles hurt even more than they did this morning. But the air starts to become cleaner and breathing through the scent of humans is no longer a problem. Now all he can smell is the flowers that line the path towards Seokjin’s Hamlet and the tree’s that surround it. All of his life he has lived in a city and this is an interesting change.

 

Getting his belongings to the carriage hadn’t been difficult; he only had one bag and a suitcase. He didn’t plan on staying more than two days at most (if he was given a choice on the matter).

 

The Hamlet comes into view around ten minutes into the ride. The first thing he notices is the stone tower that peeks over the treetops. Then all the cottage sized wooden buildings come into view behind it and then the lake completely fills his image.

 

The carriage passes a curve of the lake first and then the tower. It stops at what looks like a small stable. There is a untacked Jeju horse gnawing on hay within the stable. He’s a short horse with whitish hair and a dusty gray tail and mane. The horse’s tail swishes back and forth and he looks quite happy with the hay in his face.

 

Namjoon stumbles out of the carriage and feels the shifting blue rocks under his shoes. The sun feels like a blessing on his skin after being in that palace so long. He can hear actual birds instead of gossiping nobles. The smell of nature is such a relief that he’s glad he gets to stay here instead of the palace. It makes the entire bumpy carriage so worth the hassle. Namjoon can really understand why Prince Seokjin wanted to talk here instead of the palace.

 

His driver steps off the carriage and goes for his bags but Namjoon tells him he will take them. The driver just nods and takes his horses into the stable. From the back of the carriage, Namjoon takes his luggage in each hand and walks towards the largest building in the Hamlet. He knows that one is where he’ll find Prince Seokjin.

 

A servant is sweeping the outside front entrance and when he gets there she actually smiles at his approach. Her presence there is a little too convenient.

 

“Kim Namjoon-nim?” She asks and lays her broom against the side of the building.

 

“Yes, I’m to stay here for now, I believe.” He watches her brush her hands on the apron of her dress.

 

“Yes, the Prince Seokjin-nim informed us. Would you like me to escort you to your room?” The servant straightens up.

 

“Yes, that would be smart.” Namjoon did not want a repeat of yesterday's madness even if the Hamlet is substantially smaller than the palace.

 

The servant’s smile reappears like she knows exactly what he’s thinking. She starts towards the side of the main building to a staircase that lines the walls of the building and begins to climb the stairs. Namjoon follows.

 

“Normally, we put guests in the building just down the slope over there. We nicknamed it the ‘Hotel’ for that reason. But you’re the only person of importance that Prince Seokjin-nim invited this time so you get to stay in the Cottage.” She says, pointing out the ‘Hotel’ and continuing up the stairs.

 

“I guess I’m a lucky one then. I suppose it’s much more...agreeable working here than the palace?” Namjoon says and she opens the door into the Cottage when they reach the top of the stairs.

 

“Is that permission to speak freely, Seonsaeng-nim?” She keeps hold of the doorknob and is looking back at him with an eyebrow angled up.

 

“Yes, remember I’m a scholar not a noble.” Namjoon smiles and she smiles back. She lets go of the doorknob and begins moving again.

 

“Couldn’t forget, Seonsaeng-nim. Speaking freely, though, I pity all the servants who got to work in that palace. You could never know how disgusting it is. Here, I can grow,” she waves her arms dramatically and Namjoon laughs, “Here, I can work and actually enjoy it. I help with the gardens. I clean that pretty horse out there. Keep the entire place looking pretty, for that matter, and in my free time, I’m allowed to take one of the boats out on the lake. Plus, thanks to the Prince, I don’t have to worry about no High Lord looking at me the wrong way, if you get my meaning.”

 

“Oh, I get your meaning.” Namjoon says as they reach what he assumes to be his room. She enters the room and walks over to the windows to shake the dust of the curtains.

 

“There’s at least 15 of us that work here.” She looks up at the curtain as she shakes it and her voice gets a little rougher. Then she moves the curtain aside to allow light into the room. “Keep the place looking right and keep the Prince happy and healthy. We wouldn’t trade what we got here for anything.”

 

“You must think very highly of the Prince, then?” Namjoon asks as he places his bag and suitcase on the bed. The room isn’t grand but it’s comfortable with light streaming in from the tall windows and a wooden desk against the wall opposite the bed. The light comes in at just the right angle for the light to be where it’s needed in the middle of the room and shadows created on the bed.

 

“The Prince is the best Lord I could be working for, Seonsaeng-nim.” She has stepped away from the curtains now and watches him as he talks, “He doesn’t ask too much of us and makes sure we have whatever we could need. He has to learn to stay out of the kitchen, though. I keep telling him he was born as Prince and not a cook. And that’s for a reason.”

 

“I just saw the Prince at one of his lessons...You never told me your name?” Namjoon says.

 

“My name is Young-Ja, Seonsaeng-nim. Now, when you are ready, Prince Seokjin-nim is in the parlour on the first level. Just go through the entrance we started at to get there.” Young-Ja says.

 

“Thank you for all your help and your information, Young-Ja-ssi.” He quite likes her.

 

“Anything you need just ask for me. Good day, Seonsaeng-nim.” She bows and makes her exit, leaving him in the room.

 

Namjoon didn’t want to keep the Prince waiting, so he goes straight to where Young-Ja directed. The inside of first floor of the Cottage keeps the theme of his bedroom and the entire layout is put together all sweetly. Namjoon walks further into the Cottage's foyer and on his left there is two wide open doors that leads to a room with a large round table table and chairs all around it. Prince Seokjin isn't there so Namjoon keeps going. Further on the left, the walls open up to a living room with a fireplace.

 

Prince Seokjin is there, sitting in an arm chair that faces the fireplace and eating what looks to be a snack of Yakgwa. He has a plate of them on the end table next to him. Another armchair is on the other side of the end table and two couches face each other with a coffee-table in between. The fireplace isn’t lit but it has wood stacked inside it.

 

“Kim Namjoon-Nim. I’m glad you could make it.” Prince Seokjin says when he notices him.

 

“Yes, your staff was very helpful with that.” Namjoon shifts awkwardly unsure of whether he’s supposed to sit.

 

“Please sit,” Prince Seokjin gestures to the empty armchair. “You must of met Young-Ja, then, she was determined to be the first to meet you.”

 

He knew it was odd that she was just sweeping their conveniently.

 

“You knew that, your majesty?” Namjoon asks as he sits down in the seat offered to him. This set up is a lot more informal than Namjoon thought it would be. He expected an office or meeting table not snacks in the living room. But, honestly, this is much better.

 

“Yes, when I informed my staff of your arrival she definitely had the most questions,” Seokjin holds the Yakgwa biscuit in his hand as he talks, “Feel free to have some.” He gestures to the flower shaped Yakgwa.

 

“She’s very pleasant. Is all your staff like that, your majesty?” Namjoon reaches for a Yakgwa and takes a bite. Of course, it’s delicious. The only time he ever got Yakgwa was when he had extra cash to buy it from the bakery.


“To me, yes. I think they much prefer working here than the palace. The reasons are obvious.” When Prince Seokjin finishes his yakgwa he rubs his hands together to get rid of crumbs and sits forward. “Now, I didn’t invite you hear to discuss my staff.”

 

“What did you want from me, your majesty?” Namjoon leans forward in his seat and he notices for the first time that the Prince’s fingers are crooked.

 

“My father, the king, is getting older and will pass soon. I will have to take over as king.” Prince Seokjin’s eyes wander around the room, “A good king needs advisors and that’s where you come in.”

 

“So, you want me to become one of your advisors?” Namjoon sits back, dejected, because he knew it. All he can think about is his sister, the rest of his family, and Yoongi. What will become of Yoongi if he never sees him again?

 

“Now, wait, I think I know what you’re thinking.” His eyes move back onto Namjoon with a strength Namjoon never knew the Prince capable of, “I don’t want you to just become my advisor. I want you to be my main informant and helper. My Hand if you want an official title. I don’t want you to be like Duke Lee Kunhee who plays at being a council member. I want to be a King. Not a rich man who’s only efforts is spent on keeping his power.

 

“Our country is at a standstill and it’s because of my father’s poor ruling. I’m surprised that Valerie hasn’t decided send a fleet to our peninsula and take things over. That damn egotistical country.” Prince Seokjin’s curse surprises Namjoon. “I’m even surprised that Kunhee hasn’t decided to hire mercenaries and have the entire royal family slaughtered so he can rule himself.”

 

“I, your majesty--”

 

“Please, don’t call me that, just call me Jin.” Prince Seokjin waves his hand as if to wipe away the formality. But it’s really not that easy.

 

“Alright, Jin-ssi.” Jin just smiles at the continued use of formality, “You’re telling me that you actually want to rule. Properly. With the goal of your country's success in mind?”

 

“Yes, that’s exactly it.” Jin nods.

 

“And you want me to help you.” He says and he thinks he gets it but it’s also crazy. The title of the Hand hasn’t been used since the decline of the country. Namjoon thinks about all the things wrong with his country and being Hand means he could actually change that.

 

“I’ve spent much time studying past rulers and one thing they all had was trustworthy support. You’re the first person I decided to add to that support. I plan on having others as well.” Jin crosses his legs.

 

“So, I’m not the only one that you want to add to court.”

 

“A country isn’t just run by one person. You know this better than I. I want my court to reflect that.” Jin says, “I also know my strengths and weaknesses. Having people fill those gaps is what I need.”

 

“Do you have anyone else in mind?” Namjoon asks because he does.

 

“No, you are the only and the first.” Jin shrugs with a smile.

 

“I do.”

 

“You do? Already?” Jin’s eyebrows shoot up and he leans back, surprised.

 

“Yes, and I don’t think I can agree to any of this unless he is allowed to be apart of this too.” Namjoon says.

 

“Who is it?”

 

“Min Yoongi. You may have heard of him from his previous… run-ins with the church.” Namjoon says and Jin smiles.

 

“Oh, yes, the court had a field day with that. The Great Poet Min Yoongi caught in the companionship of a man. He is your friend, yes? Your peer at University. Why is he your first pick?” Jin says and Namjoon picks up no judgement on Yoongi’s part, thankfully.

 

“Yoongi is the Hyung I never had. He knows a wide variety of information that he just has in his head and he understands things about the world in way I never could. That’s why his poetry is so popular. Even despite his reputation.”

 

“I see.” Seokjin nods and picks up another Yakgwa. “Alright, I’ll trust your judgement. That’s what I wanted you here for.”

 

“Will we be moving into the palace then?” Namjoon asks. God, he hopes not.

 

“Oh no, you guys will be staying here, in the Hamlet.” Jin says as if the very idea of staying elsewhere is absurd. “I’ll have my staff make some changes in the upstairs rooms of the Cottage to make them into permanent residence. You two can stay there.”

 

“Are you sure the court will allow Yoongi here? They’re not going to throw him out?” Namjoon grimaces at the thought.

 

“Not if the heir is the one to bring him here. Yoo Byungeun may have some choice words but everyone else will shut their mouths if they’re smart.”

 

Namjoon totally expected to come here and have some control of his life taken away. He did not expect to be given the opposite. A position of power that no other place was willing to give him. Now, with that option he knows he has to take it. He can make a difference in his country and actually mean something in the grand scheme of the universe. It’s what he’s always wanted. He’s never realized so clearly as he does now.

 

“Alright.” Namjoon says.

 

“Alright?” Jin repeats.

 

“I’ll do it. I’ll be your hand or whatever, Jin-ssi.” Namjoon shrugs but he’s actually kind of excited. There’s so many possibilities now. So much he can do.

 

“You really don’t know how good it is to hear that. And please, with the formalities. If you want an honorific just call me hyung.” Jin smiles.

 

“Jin-hyung?” Namjoon asks with raised eyebrows.

 

“Perfect. And you better not call me Jeonha when I’m king or will actually have your head.” Jin’s eyes crease with his smile.

 

“Ha. Ha. Not funny,” Namjoon says and figures that the Prince isn’t so bad.

Chapter Text

In the late morning of the next day, Prince Seokjin stands outside of the palace with Kim Namjoon. They are waiting for Namjoon’s carriage to arrive to take Namjoon into the city of Cheonggu. Seokjin had told the servants last minute that he needed a carriage to be ready for Namjoon. The poor servants must be scrambling to tack the horses and prepare the carriage.

 

The spring air is warm but the wind has a bite to it. Jin likes the way it cools his clothes and moves his stiff hair.

 

“Do you think Yoongi-ssi will agree to coming here?” Jin asks trying to picture what the poet looked like. “I imagine a poet might find the palace filled with uninspiration.”

 

Namjoon laughs and shifts his weight onto his left leg. Jin realizes as they stand side by side that Namjoon is a little taller than him.

 

“Actually, he’d probably find plenty of inspiration in the scenery,” Namjoon says with a smile, “But he might not like the idea of so many people around him too much. He’s always been big on his privacy and downtime.”

 

“And the added benefit of Yoo Byungeun, too.” Jin says.

 

“Yes,” Namjoon rubs the side of his face, “It’s going to be wonderful convincing him to come but I know he won’t be able to resist.”

 

“Why’s that?” Jin asks and twirls one of his rings. Another wave of wind hits them, shifting his hair.

 

“He’s never really been able to stay away from the thick of things. He likes to pretend he doesn’t care but he really does, you know?” Namjoon shifts again.

 

The carriage finally makes its turn to the front of the palace. They both start walking down the concrete steps to the street. The carriage is obviously a royal design and Namjoon will probably get many turned heads when he enters the city. When Namjoon steps out of the carriage, the people will likely go about their business because Namjoon isn’t that important. Little will the people know how essential Namjoon will become to their country.

 

When the carriage arrives, the driver gets down and opens the door for Namjoon to enter. Namjoon thanks the man, enters and sits down.

 

“Where should I meet you after I settle things here with my father?” Jin asks and Namjoon rests his arms on the window of the door. Jin notices faintly the outline of Namjoon’s biceps in his dress shirt.

 

“I still don’t think you have to come.” Namjoon says. The driver has gotten back up on his seat but he waits for the signal to set the horses off.

 

“I’d rather meet your poet before he gets to the palace.” Jin smiles.

 

“If you say so. Meet us at Yoongi’s apartment. And try to wear something that doesn’t scream royalty.” Namjoon smirks.


“Ha, I’ll try.” Jin says and steps away from the carriage. “Good luck with Yoongi-ssi.”

 

“And good luck with the court.” Namjoon knocks on the side of the carriage to signal the driver.

 

 

Jin never liked the palace growing up. He spent most of his childhood avoiding it and spending it at his Hamlet instead. His mother spent most of her time raising him there instead as well. When his Hyung was still alive and she was more open, she used to sit him down in the Hamlet’s gardens and tell him about the world and her life. She’d tell him about how scared she was about moving to a new place to get married to man she never met. She told about how happy she was when she had him and his brother.

 

At the palace, though, she was tight lipped and held his wrist tightly. His father, on the other hand, always adored his hyung and when he died a part of him died with him. Jin always knew, growing up, that the King would never love his second son like he loved his first.

 

When Jin enters the palace after Namjoon’s carriage disappeared, he see’s his mother standing in front of the grand staircase, waiting for him. She looks beautiful and she will always look beautiful, at least to Jin. He can never understand why his father would want any other women but her.

 

She is wearing purple today and in her arms is Jjang-gu, his little white puppy. At the sight of Jin, Jjang-gu starts squirming and his tail flickers back forth enthusiastically. His mother rolls her eyes with a sigh and puts the dog down. Jin smiles. Jjang-gu trots happily towards Jin and Jin squats down for the dog. At last minute, the dog turns as if a smell pulled him away and Jin laughs.

 

“Jjang-gu!” He calls in fake annoyance and his mother laughs. Jjang-gu immediately turns back to Jin with bright eyes and runs full speed towards him again. He actually makes it to Jin this time.

 

The pup takes his pets and praises proudly, with a wagging tail.

 

“He’s the most ridiculous dog you could have ever picked.” His mother approaches him and he picks up his puppy and stands with her.

 

“I know you love him,” He smiles at her, “You wouldn’t watch him so diligently if you didn’t.”

 

“This is true,” She sighs, “You just saw your author friend off. Sent him away so soon?”

 

“He will be back.” Jin says and has to pull his face up to avoid Jjang-gu’s licks. “Shall we walk?”

 

“Of course,” She immediately understands his meaning and walks towards one of the private hallways of the palace, built for royals use only. There is one in the royal wing so they head there.

 

When Jin was young, he never understood why the royal wing wasn’t just private itself. Guests were allowed to stroll through the wing and stare at everything like a specimen in an experiment. That included any royals in the rooms. It’s demeaning. Which is odd because royalty usually works the other way.

 

“He’ll be back?” His mother turns to him with raised eyebrows. “What’s this about?”

 

“I asked Kim Namjoon to become my Hand when I’m king.” He scratches Jjang-gu’s head nervously.

 

“What. When you’re king?” She says a dumbfounded look on her face.

 

“Yes, he’s to be my Hand and he’s bringing back Min Yoongi to become another council member when I’m king as well.” Jjang-gu starts licking his fingers and Jin feels the need to keep talking. “Min Yoongi has a reputation but if I ever want to be a good king I can’t let something like a petty reputation get in the way of my plans.”

 

“What.” Her face brightens and a smile like nothing he’s ever seen grows on her face. “You're not--, You're serious right?” She almost sounds breathless.

 

“Yes, I didn’t know you’d be this excited.” Jin furrows his eyebrows and is genuinely confused.

 

“I’m so proud of you.” She takes his face in her hands and kisses his cheeks. Now, he’s really confused.

 

“I know this is a pretty big deal but I didn’t expect this from you, Umma.” Jin says and she moves her hands to his shoulders.

 

“I guess, it’s just for the longest time you were completely uninterested in the throne.” She sighs, “I thought you would never be ready. You have always been quiet child. Always waiting for others to come to you first.

 

“But not anymore,” She practically squeals, youth seems to blossom in her face and Jin is still confused. “Do you have a reason for this sudden change? Oh. Oh! Was it something you read in that scholars book?”

 

“Well, maybe,” he says and she smirks, Jjang-gu’s head flicks back and forth between. He’s very happy with their proximity, “He’s a very inspiring writer.”

 

“An inspiring writer. Right.” She says, her smirk still strong.

 

“What is that supposed to mean?” Jin is so beyond confused. He’s never been this bewildered in his entire twenty four years of life. His mother is so bright that she’s practically radiating with it. He is so confused that his face hurts from his confused expression.

 

“It means your mother can see through your bullshit even if you can’t.” She pats his cheek fondly.

 

“Umma!” He says and Jjang-gu yips because they stopped petting him. His mother just cackles. Cackles .

 


 

Min Yoongi’s apartment is cozy and he likes it that way. It’s his and his only. At least it was . Then Namjoon had to get an invitation to a royal birthday and had to stay at the royal palace. But Namjoon’s dog couldn’t come with him and the only person Namjoon could think to leave his precious dog with was his trusted Hyung .

 

Yoongi likes dogs. He doesn’t have some ill-harbored relationship with something as happy as a dog. But Namjoon’s dog. Namjoon’s dog’s name is Rapmon. What the hell kind of name is Rapmon. Oh, but it fits the dog, alright. The dog is a klutz who makes zero sense. Since he got here he’s pushed all his books to the floor, broken a glass cup, a chandelier (a chandelier), and even his old grandfather clock. Yoongi doesn’t even know he managed the last two.

 

Rapmon obviously wants to make him happy like all dogs seem to innately want for humans. Rapmon just doesn’t seem to understand how to go about doing that with Yoongi. He keeps causing problems instead and he knows it. This upsets the dog so he walks down Yoongi’s stairs to the apartment entrance and lays there with his head on his paws.

 

For ten minutes.

 

Then he gets right back up and causes havoc again. Yoongi lets him do it in an endless cycle and at the end of the day the dog crashes out on his couch. Rapmon is emotionally distraught over his owners absence even if it's not completely obvious.

 

The dog is sleeping when Yoongi makes himself dinner. He is sleeping as Yoongi writes poems in his cramped living room on his desk that faces his window that opens to the street. He’s still sleeping when Yoongi goes up the third levels set of stairs to his bedroom and he is still sleeping when he goes down them the next morning.

 

Now, Yoongi writes at the desk again and Rapmon wakes.

 

He doesn’t make a big mess. He just pads his little paws against the hardwood floor towards Yoongi. Yoongi tenses for a disaster but the pup just lays his head on Yoongi’s leg. Yoongi peers down at him to see the puppy’s white triangle ears relaxed and his big, black eyes barely kept open.

 

Yoongi just snorts fondly because Namjoon might as well have named the dog after himself instead of the silly gibberish of his actual name.

 

Yoongi picks up the small fluff and puts him on his lap. The dog curls up right there and sleeps some more. Yoongi just rolls his eyes and keeps working.

 

They stay like that for a while until the carriage pulls up. Yoongi can see the royal colors on it from his window and his eyes narrow. It’s a little earlier than he expected Namjoon to come back but he also has no idea who else it could.

 

Then his brat of a dongsaeng steps out of the carriage and he relaxes.

 

“Hey Rapmon, guess what?” The pup rises with a yawn and slides off his lap with a stretch. He looks back up at Yoongi curiously.

 

“Guess who’s back bud?” Rapmon’s tail starts to wag slightly just from the tone of his voice. Then Namjoon knocks on the door and Yoongi smirks.

 

Rapmon’s reaction is instantaneous. He twirls towards the stairs and bolts down them practically tripping down most of them. His barks sound more like yelps than anything. Yoongi laughs and follows.

 

He opens the door with Rapmon running around his feet.

 

“Hey, brat.” Yoongi says to Namjoon who gets pounced on by the thirty pound dog.

 

“Ugh,” Namjoon grunts and picks up his frantic dog. “Hey.

 

“How was he?” Namjoon says as he endures endless licks.

 

“He broke a lot of things.” Yoongi says and normally he is all for honest complaining, “But he was a little broken up over your absence so I can’t really blame him.”

 

“Oh, I can pay for everything.” Namjoon says, trying to keep the puppy from falling out of his arms.

 

“I don’t really care that much to make you pay for it.” Yoongi shrugs. “Come in.”

 

They enter the house and Namjoon puts his dog back down.

 

“So, how did it go?” Yoongi asks as they walk up the stairs and into his living room.

 

“Oh, well, you know.” Namjoon says and Yoongi can see him rub the back of his neck.


“Well, you know, what?” Yoongi sits on his desk chair and Namjoon sits on his couch. Rapmon jumps up on the couch and plops himself on Namjoon’s lap. Yoongi’s desk’s chair has a pillow on it that Yoongi picks up and holds in his arms.

 

“I may have agreed to become Prince Seokjin’s hand when he becomes King.” Namjoon runs his hand through Rapmons fur.

 

Yoongi just blinks and his eyebrows furrow.

 

“I also may have said that I would convince you to become a council member as—”

 

“You did what now?” Yoongi doesn’t raise his voice but he sure feels like doing so. His grip on the desk’s chair pillow tightens.

 

“It’s kind of crazy, I know—”

 

“Kind of crazy? You don’t just sign someone up for something they never agreed to.” He still hasn’t raised his voice but now it’s gone low and dangerous. For someone with such a high I.Q., Namjoon can be so, so dumb.

 

“Look, Yoongi-hyung, I really want to do this. But I don’t want to do it without you to back me up.” Namjoon says and Yoongi knows he’s serious but Yoongi hasn’t forgiven him, yet.

 

“You want to be the Hand of the future king? The Hand? You want to help run the entire country and affect the lives of every human being who lives in it?”

 

“Exactly.” Namjoon says with a full breath of air and Yoongi kind of gets it.

 

The world sucks and we all want to change it. But that’s a lot of fucking work.

 

“Aren’t you afraid you might fuck things up instead? This isn’t a position you can just pick up casually, you know.”

 

“I know that. I know. But if I do nothing than nothing will change. I was given an opportunity to do something. There’s no way I can’t take it.” Namjoon says. Rapmon has gone still in Namjoon’s lap, his eyes flickering between the two of them nervously.

 

“And now you're giving the opportunity to me.” Yoongi finishes.

 

“Yes, that’s it exactly.”

 

Yoongi looks down at his pillow and thinks. Namjoon and his damn dog. Fucking things up for him and then giving him wide innocent eyes that plead for understanding. Ha, Namjoon is a dog. He actually snorts out loud. He should write a poem comparing the two.

 

“You’re an idiot, kid.” Yoongi laughs to himself some more because Namjoon is a dog. “Who the hell signs their best friend up to help them run the country. Goddamn idiot.”

 

“Does that mean you’ll help?” Namjoon looks at him with hope in his eyes. Goddamn idiot.

“Yes, fine,” Yoongi agrees with a sigh, “I can’t let a goddamn idiot run my country.”

 

“Ok, I’m a goddamn idiot and you’re a goddamn genius I know, hyung.” Namjoon smirks and his alight dangerously, “But you’re also the idiot who agreed to help so...”

 

Yoongi growls and throws his pillow at him. Namjoon ducks with a laugh.

 

“You brat, are you trying to make me take it back?” Yoongi actually yells now but he’s eyes hurt from smile lines. His dongsaeng is a goddamn idiot and a goddamn dog. Namjoon wouldn’t be able to make it without Yoongi. He wouldn’t.

 

“Goddamn idiot.” Yoongi says one last time. Make sure Namjoon never forgets it.

 


 

King Seokju holds meetings like all kings are required to do. All of his council members are required to be present at every single meeting. When Seokjin was younger his image of his father's meetings were entirely different than his image now. He would ask his mother with his hand clasped in hers, where his father was. She would pat his hand and tell him his father was busy working. He’s in a meeting and he’s working very hard.

 

Jin always imagined a room with a large table, maps and papers all over it. Letters stacked from all over the country to be read and responded to diligently. He could practically smell the ink and the parchment. He expected his father to be sitting at the head of the table staring at a piece of paper as he rubbed his forehead. He saw all the council members there too discussing possible solutions to problems Seokjin didn’t understand.

 

How foolish his younger self had been.

 

The realities of his father’s ‘meetings’ were not so admirable. Jin will always remember the disappointment he felt when he was first allowed into one of those meetings. He was 13. There wasn’t a large table just plush couches and arm chairs. The only map in the room was the decorative painting on the wall. There was some paper spread on the coffee table but they were being used as place-mats for plates of snacks and glasses of Soju and Valerian Wine. The room smelled of alcohol and tobacco not ink and parchment. His father sat in the largest arm chair and he also laughed the loudest. There was no stress in his face just careless joviality. The council members were also there gossiping about the latest scandal and poking fun at whoever sat next to him.

 

Of course, the country still had to be run and occasionally, they’d pick up a Soju smelling paper. The King would read it in a mock serious voice and they would all laugh and laugh.

 

Then the King would ask Duke Kunhee if he could pay to repair the city streets and Kunhee would nod yes, yes of course.

 

The King would ask Admiral Hosub if he could kill the pirates ransacking some shoreline cities and the Admiral would scoff and say no problem.

 

The King would ask Archbishop Byungeun if he could help the orphans and the archbishop would laugh and say that prayers are the only thing that can help them now.

 

Jin had been so disgusted that he left the room that day smelling like alcohol and tobacco (despite never touching either substance) and he never went back in for an entire year. Even after that he only went to the few meetings that were actually relevant to his life.

 

But then he read Namjoon’s book and everything changed.

 

He realized he needed to understand that he would become King and would be in charge of these meetings. He needed to accept the fact that his brother wasn’t going to be there to the run the country for him.

 

So, as Prince Seokjin stands here in his father’s meeting room he prepares himself to take his rightful position as heir. He was handed the title years ago but now he has to take it for himself.

 

Jin clears his throat and approaches the King.

 

“Ah, boy! You decided to join us today?” The King laughs with the room but his eyes narrow. “Do you have something to contribute?”

 

“Actually, I do, Seokju-Jeonha.” He hasn’t referred to his father as father since long before his brother died. “I have invited the scholar Kim Namjoon and the poet Min Yoongi to stay here at court.”

 

“Invited them? For what purposes?” The King raises his eyebrows. It is rare for Jin to surprise his father anymore. Jin contemplates not telling him the truth to avoid the games of court a little longer. But he’s done with that.

 

“I invited Kim Namjoon to become my Hand when I’m King and Min Yoongi to become a council member as well.” Jin keeps his hands clasped behind him.

“When you’re King. Are you preparing for my death so early? I just had my birthday not my wake, boy.” The King shifts up from his previously lax position.

 

“I have to start preparing sometime. No better time than the present.” Jin says with a shrug. He hopes his image of nonchalance hasn’t cracked.

 

“Min Yoongi?” Archbishop Yoo Byungeun speaks up with disgust in his voice. “The infidel? Why would you want to associate with that sort of person?”

 

“I was informed he would make a good advisor. I’m not going to deny valuable help because of the man’s personal preferences.” Jin turns to where the archbishop sits on the couch to the right of the king.

 

“He lays with men,” Archbishop says, “Don’t lessen what it is.”

 

Did the archbishop just make a command to a prince?

 

I can do what I like,” Prince Seokjin says with his teeth just lightly clenched but he loosens to speak again, “Unless the King objects.”

 

“Your majesty—” Byungeun starts.

 

“I don’t see anything inherently wrong with your actions.” The King interrupts with a glare at the Archbishop who sits back, “It’s not like most of you here haven’t broken one or two of the scriptures before. Now, with that said. I don’t want you getting any fancy ideas, boy. If I’m still breathing, I’m still King. Do you hear?”

 

“I would never do anything so disrespectful, Seokju-jeonha.” He bows, “Thank you.”

 

“You better remember that, boy.” The King says.

 

“I will. Now, that we’ve settled everything, may I be dismissed?” Jin just really wants to go back to the Hamlet, get changed, and meet up with Namjoon again.

 

“No, not yet, boy. You’ve given me an idea.” The King smirks, “Actually, I’ve been thinking on this for a while. Since you want to get ready for the throne so badly, we need to find you what all king’s need. A queen.”

 

Jin’s stomach drops.

 


 

Seokjin doesn’t really know how to dress in a way that doesn’t ‘scream royalty’. So, he asked Young-Ja when he returned to the Hamlet to prepare something for him. He’d been hesitant to dress in the brown breeches and plain white shirt but he also didn’t want to be recognized. At least for tonight.

 

As he stands in front of the apartment building that the address Namjoon gave him led to, he kind of wants his royal apparel back. He’s about meet someone for the first time and he doesn’t look his best. But he doesn’t want to meet this Min Yoongi as a Prince. And tonight he really doesn’t want to be a Prince.

 

“You made it.” Namjoon says after he opens the door too Jin’s knock.

“Yes,” he says with a sigh, “Is my apparel unroyal enough?”

 

“Very,” Namjoon laughs and invites him inside. Jin can barely get up the steps because he is attacked by a small, white ball of fluff.

 

“Rapmon, get up the stairs,” Namjoon shoos the dog and he turns around and darts up the stairs. When Jin gets up the staircase, the dog is practically dancing in circles.

 

Yoongi’s apartment is small but there’s something about that Jin likes. Maybe it’s the theme of blue against the off white or maybe it’s how he can see nearly every corner of the room.

 

“Do not let that dog break something else or so help me Namjoon!” Someone, that Jin presumes to be Yoongi, calls down from the second flight of stairs that’s to Jin’s right. Jin squats down to pet the puppy. The dog falls onto his back and his tongue falls out the side.

 

“His name is...Rapmon?” Jin asks as he scratches behind the dog's ears. The name sounds like a bunch of gibberish. Namjoon squats down next to him and starts petting Rapmon too.

 

“Yes, it's an inside joke with my sister and I.” Namjoon laughs breathlessly. “She said it in her sleep once.”

 

“That’s… unique.” Jin can hear Yoongi’s footsteps on the stairs so they both stands up. “Do you talk in your sleep as well?”

 

“No,” Yoongi says when he reaches the bottom of the steps, “But he snores very loud.”

 

Yoongi is shorter than he expected and his clothing is nicer as well. His face looks serious but on the entirety he looks sweet. His voice, on the other hand, is deep and raspy. He sounds like he’s pulling all of his words out from deep within him. It gives them a kind of weight.

 

“Min Yoongi-ssi it's good to meet you,” Jin says to Yoongi as the man outwardly looks him over. Jin doesn’t normally get stared at so openly. Sure, he gets stared at but in open conversation people's eyes dart all over the place.

 

A smirk grows on Yoongi’s features as he looks between the two and Jin realizes how close together they are, “Namjoon you’re so predictable.” Yoongi laughs while Namjoon splutters. Yoongi grabs a black hat from his coat hanger that he puts on, “Yes, your majesty, it’s good to meet you as well and all that. Accept, I really want a drink before I have to move into a palace and make the world a better place and all that nonsense. A drink is what I want right now.”

 

Namjoon clears his throat and turns to Jin, “I promised Yoongi, that we would--”

 

“It’s hyung, you brat.”

 

Yoongi-hyung,” Namjoon glares at Yoongi but Yoongi just smiles, “that we would visit Jeongguk’s Bar before we left for the palace. You don’t mind, right?”

 

“Jeongguk’s Bar?” Jin asks.

 

“It’s not it’s name but that’s what we call it. Jeongguk is the son of the owners. He’s the bartender and he’s a damn good singer. He’s the only reason we go. The Soju is kind of crappy, honestly.” Yoongi says and heads down his stairs. Namjoon and him follow.

 

“I kind of wanted a drink myself anyway, so I don’t see why not.” Jin says. He’s a little excited. Normally, he never gets to do this sort of thing. He’s following two almost-strangers to places he’s never even dreamed about going.

 

He should find this prospect daunting but he just doesn’t. Maybe it’s because Namjoon and Yoongi don’t really feel like almost-strangers. Even if they definitely are.

 

“I guess we are all in the same boat then,” Yoongi says as he opens the door.

 


 

Seokjin quickly learns how right Yoongi is about ‘Jeongguk’s Bar.’ The Soju is terrible. Generally, Soju isn’t something that tastes good but at ‘Jeongguk’s Bar’ it’s damn near impossible to get down. The public must know this because the bar is empty when they get there and it stays that way the entire the evening.

 

When Yoongi entered the bar he called for Jungkook in a loud voice and the boy stumbled through the kitchen doors with a fully toothed smile.

Jeongguk isn’t the personality Jin thought he would be. He expected someone loud and funny but Jeongguk is quiet and reserved. He has almond eyes and bunny teeth that give him an expression of innocence. He’s quiet and polite to Jin in the beginning of the night but by the end of it he’s a little more lax with the formalities.

 

Jin can’t imagine what the boy would be like if he knew Jin was the Prince.

 

Tonight, he’s not the Prince and he laughs with Namjoon and Yoongi instead. They're all sitting at the bar with Jeongguk on the other side to refill the drinks. The other wooden tables, chairs and the booths are all empty. Jin sits between the two scholars and has to look back and forth to listen to them, which is a little annoying.

 

Jeongguk’s mother is in the back kitchen cleaning left-over dishes. His father is out doing business and his hyung apprentices with a nearby artist. Jin learns all of this during the course of the night. Namjoon and Yoongi seem very invested in the Jeon family.

 

“Kid, are you going to sing for us or no?” Namjoon reaches over the bar to ruffle Jeongguk’s hair but he ducks before he can do so. Jin snorts in amusement.

 

“Alright, alright, hyung.” Jeongguk say, “I heard a new one from the sailors at the last shipment,”

 

Based on his previous shyness, Jin did not expect Jeongguk to just break out in song. But the kid does, and he sounds damn good. The song sounds like something sailors would sing on the high seas. One sailer (Jeongguk) sings the lines while the rest of the sailors (the three customers) shout the chorus.

 

The song is about a dead horse and it’s poor old man owner. Jeongguk turns the song into something enjoyable despite the oddly morbid lyrics.

 

“O, poor old man!” Jin and his friends sing a long once they get it. Namjoon is patting a beat out on to the wooden bar and Yoongi looks like he’s about to die from laughter. Jin has never done something like this in his entire life. Jin can feel the Soju burning in his chest and making his head muddled and maybe thats what’s making this easier. He’s not drunk but he’s definitely not sober either.

 

“He’s dead as a nail in the lamp room door,” Jeongguk smiles as he sings like he’s letting them in on a secret.


“And we say so, and we know so.” They all chant and Jin is trying to contain his giggles when they finish.

 

“And he won’t come worrying us no more.” Jeongguk sings.

 

“O, poor old man.” They sing and break into laughter. Jin wonders what his father and mother would say if they knew he was in a city bar without any guards and singing sailor songs.

 

“That’s one weird song Jeongguk.” Yoongi says when Jeongguk finishes.

 

“The sailors are odd people what can I say,” Jeongguk shrugs and grabs a hanging cup from the rack behind him. He starts to shine it with a towel. “I really want to meet a pirate, though. I wonder what kind of songs they think up.”

 

“Pirates are bad news, you know.” Jin says but there’s a smile on his face. Meeting a pirate has always been a bit of a dream for him.

 

“Ah, that’s what everyone thinks,” Jeongguk says while looking at the glass in his hand, “I think it depends on the pirate.”

 

“So, you think there are good pirates?” Yoongi snorts, “How poetic.”

 

“Pirates are called pirates for a reason, kid,” Namjoon says, “They rob ships.”

 

“Yeah, Namjoon-hyung, but what if they rob bad ships.” Jeongguk looks up, “What if they rob petty nobles shipping slaves to mines. Or what about when they raid other, nastier pirates.”

 

“You have someone specific in mind.” Yoongi says with raised eyebrows. It’s not a question.

 

“Yeah, Captain V.”

 

“Captain V?” Jin furrows his eyebrows because what, “The most wanted pirate in Baedal?”

 

“Captain V, who’s sails were seen leaving the wreck of the entire city of Haeundae?” Namjoon adds on.

 

“There’s actually no proof that he was there let alone started the wreck.” Jeongguk says, “But there is proof that Admiral Hosub did it. But no one wants to blame the Admiral over a pirate.”

 

“How do you even know this, Jeongguk-ah?” Yoongi says without accusation.

 

“My father thought the entire thing was weird so he looked into it.” Jeongguk shrugs and picks up a new glass to shine.

 

“I should probably look in to it too.” Namjoon says.



“Yeah, it would be interesting to find out.” Jeongguk smiles.

 

“Jeon Jeongguk-ah!” Jeongguk’s mother calls from the kitchen. “What are doing still up?”


The woman comes through the swinging doors and glares at her son.

 

“Umma, I am eighteen.” Jeongguk argues and Yoongi snort, “And we still have customers.”

 

“I can take of our customers. You can go to bed. And you can stop gossiping.”

 

“Am not gossiping.” Jeongguk grumbles but does what he’s told. “Goodnight, Hyung’s.”

 

He smiles and disappears through the kitchen. Jin learned earlier that evening that the entire family lives above the Bar in their apartment. He still doesn’t know the place’s actual name.

 

“Gentleman, I trust you not to make a mess.” Jeongguk’s mother says, “Give me a hollar when you’re ready to leave so I can lock up.”

 

“Of course.” Namjoon says and half bows towards her in his seat. Jeongguk’s mother just laughs at how stupid he looks. She goes back into the kitchen.

 

“She really trusts you guys.” Jin says when she’s completely out of sight.

 

“We’re a little more than regulars, you know.” Yoongi shrugs.

 

“It’s a good thing to have.” Jin smiles, “We should come here again.”

 

“It’s going to be a little difficult once you become king.” Namjoon says. “Speaking of kings, how did it go with your father today?”

 

Jin looks between their two curious faces and decides he doesn’t like looking back and forth.

 

“Can we move to a table?” Jin asks and they both agree. Once they’re all sitting at the closest round table, Jin starts explaining.

 

“I told my father that I wanted to make you my Hand, Namjoon, and Yoongi my council member. The Archbishop was not pleased to hear about you Yoongi but I shot him down before he could cause a real problem. The King has let you two stay but I have a condition. I have to start looking for suitors.”

 

“Suitors? He wants to marry you off.” Namjoon says. He is sitting at Jin’s left with furrowed eyebrows.

 

“Yes, and he’s already begun sending invitations to all the suitable ladies in the country. They’ll arrive within a week, depending on where they come from.” Jin says and he’s so miserable. He doesn’t want this happen to him but it already is and there’s nothing he can do. Jin stares at the table in shame.

 

“It can’t be that bad. I’m sure one of them won’t be that bad—” Namjoon starts and Jin just shakes his head.

 

“Namjoon, you goddamn idiot.” Yoongi says and hits Namjoon on the back of the head. Namjoon grabs the back of his head in confusion, glaring at Yoongi and Jin smiles despite his mood.

 

“Ow, what was that for, Hyung?” Namjoon asks still rubbing his head. Jin feels this is his place to intervene so he does.

 

“Namjoon, I’m sure one of them will be very acceptable. Except, I’m uninterested in women.” Jin explains and Namjoon’s eyes go wide.

 

“Uninterested in—, Oh. Oh!” Namjoon says, “Huh, well that sucks.” Then his eyes get wide again, “I don’t mean it sucks that you like men, I just mean that you have to—”

“I know, I get it Namjoon-ah.” Jin says and laughs at Namjoon’s frantic face. Yoongi just puts his face in his hands and grumbles something that sounds like goddamn idiot.

 

“So, I guess we have a problem.” Namjoon tries to drop his embarrassment and Jin can’t hold back his smile. It’s pretty cute.

 

“Yes,” Jin nods, “We’ll figure it out, hopefully.”

 

“Maybe, my presence at court will scare away the... straightness.” Yoongi suggests.

 

“But you’re bi. Doesn’t that make you half straight.” Namjoon says.


“Meh, technicalities.”  Yoongi waves his hand in front of him and Jin laughs.

 

Jin likes the company he’s found himself in even if they were strangers just two day ago.

Chapter Text

Jin has been standing in the Palace gardens all morning. It’s almost midday now and he’s absolutely miserable. Spending the day greeting all of his suitors and then walking them through the hedged rose garden is not his idea of fun. Luckily, the servants set up a tent for him to stand under. He won’t have to burn in the spring sun while waiting for the next suitor. Summer is so close now and he can feel it.

 

At least he convinced Namjoon and Yoongi to stand here with him. He told them he needed their opinions on each suitor but in reality he just wanted their emotional support. He’d gotten close to the duo in the week it took them to settle in the Hamlet. This did not stop Yoongi from complaining the entire carriage ride to the palace. Standing around a bunch of people and then talking about a bunch of people was also not Yoongi’s idea of fun.

 

“Now, the royal’s closest advisors and friends will present their suitors to the Prince.” The announcer says and Jin would sigh in relief. That means the end of these meetings are close.

 

Duke Kunhee is the first to arrive but no one stands next to him.

 

“Duke Kunhee.” Jin greets and the man bows.

 

“Your majesty. Unfortunately, I am without a suitor for you. As you know, my family is very thin and far apart. I could not find any woman suitable for a future king. I hope you don’t take any offense.” Kunhee keeps his hands clasped in front of him.

 

“That’s perfectly acceptable, Duke Kunhee. You are dismissed.” Jin says. The Duke bows and makes an exit.

 

“What was that about?” Namjoon asks and steps up to Jin. Jin holds his hand up towards the annnouncer to stop him from announcing the next suitor. The announcer nods and looks forward.

 

“The Lee family is very small. His only living relative is his sister who married into the Park’s, also a small family. Kunhee’s wife died in childbirth and his son has a terminal disease. He has distant relatives but he keeps them at an arm's length to protect his wealth.”

 

“Who’s to inherit his wealth then?” Yoongi asks and he shifts in closer to Namjoon and him.

 

“I suppose his nephew, Park Jimin, the eldest son of his sister. But he’s reluctant to announce that. Kunhee is very attached to his dying son.” Jin says quietly. The duo have been slowly learning more and more about each member of the court.

 

“That must be a conflict. I wonder what his nephew is like.” Namjoon says.

 

“Does the nephew know about the inheritance?” Yoongi asks.

 

“He might. He might not, considering how tight lipped Kunhee is about his son’s health. Majority of the population don’t even know that his son is terminal.” Jin shrugged.

 

“But it’s his nephew. That’s his son’s cousin.” Yoongi furrows his eyebrows.

 

“Yeah, but they live cities away from each other.” Jin says and then shrugs, “I guess we’ll find out when things start shifting in the family.”

 

“It’s something we will definitely be involved in in the future.” Namjoon says and steps back. Jin waves at the announcer and he nods again.

 

“Archbishop Yoo Byungeun, leader of the Order of Divinity, speaker of the gods. With him is Lady Yoo Misook a Lady of the Order and the Archbishops youngest sister.”

 

Byungeun approaches the tent with a smirk on his face and a lightness to his step. Immediately, Jin can tell why the man looks so smug. Lady Yoo Misook looks to be in her 40s. Normally, this would be fine but the lady is supposed to be Jin’s suitor. Presenting a woman of this age is insulting to say the least. Lady Misook seems to know this and she looks just as miserable as Jin feels.

 

“Archbishop Yoo Byungeun, Lady Yoo Misook.” Jin greets. The Archbishop and Lady Misook bow.

 

“Your Majesty, Kim Namjoon-nim, Min-ssi,” The Archbishop says and Jin is insulted for Yoongi. “May I present to you my beautiful sister, Misook.”

 

“Nice,” Yoongi whispers just low enough for Jin and Namjoon to hear.

 

“Lady Misook, it is a pleasure to meet you.” Jin says nodding slightly towards her, deciding not to point her age out. When his father gets wind of this he will do enough himself. Jin knows the man will take the insult personally.

 

“As I with you, your majesty.” Their eyes meet and Jin can feel the mutual feeling of misery between them.

 

“Shall we go for a walk?” Jin says. It really isn’t a question but its formal to ask.

She agrees and he takes her arm. They exit the tent by themselves. Jin worries about leaving Yoongi and Namjoon there with the Archbishop but he can’t do anything about that.

 

Most of the ladies Jin has met with are all unsuitable. Some are grossly younger than him and others are from to common of families. Some of them were terribly shy and couldn’t even look him in the face while others pulled on his arm and asked him cringe worthy questions.


“I’m sorry, about all that, your majesty.” Lady Misook says when they disappear in the rose bushes.

 

The roses bushes have a path that is cut off from the rest of the gardens. Each turn and curve has a statue from history or from religion. Some things are just works of art. Walking through it is like a private date. While the Hamlet was still being built and he was just a boy, he used to come here all the time. Sometimes with his mother and other times with his brother.

 

“I’m sorry as well, my lady, I imagine being used as insult isn’t very… enjoyable.” Jin says and he likes how they are on the same page.

“You would imagine right, your majesty.” Lady Misook sighs, “I’d also like to apologise on my brothers half for his behavior towards Min Yoongi-nim. A man of the such beautiful arts shouldn’t be treated as Byungeun-orabeoni treats him.”

 

“You say that even knowing of the man’s history?” Jin is a little surprised. Lady Misook is obviously a woman of faith.

 

“Of course, your majesty, he has only broken rules from the old scriptures. Those are outdated.” Lady Misook shrugs.

 

“How forward thinking of you.” They have gotten to the center of the garden where the path opens up. A circular, stone fountain stands in the center with a mirror sphere in it. There are two stone benches that face the fountain. Jin keeps walking with Lady Misook to the exit path.

 

“Thank you, your majesty.” She looks at the center fountain with a smile.

 

“Does that mean you support the Progressive Movement?” Jin asks. His interest is piqued. He never expected the Archbishops sister to be supportive of a movement so opposed to her own brothers ‘reign.’

 

“Quietly, at least.” And she smiles at him, “Just don’t tell my brother.”

 

“I would never.” He smiles back and she laughs.

 

They get back to the tent after a couple of more minutes. Jin always knows he’s close to the end because of the last statue of the path. It’s a small stone fountain and inside half dipped into the water is a stone lotus. It was put there to give luck to all who exits.

 

Jin bows to Lady Misook because she is, after all, his elder and he wants to give her respect despite being higher status. Misook laughs quietly and thanks him. She walks away from the tent with the Archbishop.

 

Jin moves to stand beside Namjoon and Yoongi to wait for the next suitor.

 

“That was quite the insult.” Yoongi says and Jin just nods.

 

“Queen Yejin, consort of the King Seokju,” The announcer says and Jin furrows his eyebrows at the sight of his mother approaching with a man and woman he’s never seen before, “Presenting Lady Jung Jiwoo of the the Order of Divinity and her younger brother Lord Jung Hoseok, Master Swordsman.”

 

“Umma?” He doesn’t even bother forming a full question because he knows his mother will see the confusion in his eyes. He doesn’t understand why she invited anyone. She didn’t seem supportive of the suitor business when she was first informed about it.

 

“Seokjin-ah, I’ll explain in detail later but I decided to do something about this suitor business. Now, Lady Jiwoo, may I introduce you to my son, Prince Seokjin.” His mother says and Lady Jiwoo bows. She has a long face and eyes that seem to search for weaknesses. “And her brother, Jung Hoseok, is here as her male escort.” Jung Hoseok bows as well. He also has a long face and but his eyes seem to search for amusement.

 

“It’s a pleasure to meet you both.” He just goes with the formalities because what else is there to do.

 

“And you as well, your majesty.” Lady Jiwoo says and her brother nods in agreement with a smile. Jin doesn’t really know what to do after that so he looks at his mother for an explanation.

 

“Well, go on,” She waves her hands at him, “Take her on the walk and everything. Go, go.”

 

From behind Jin, Yoongi snorts in amusement. Jin offers his arm to Lady Jiwoo, still confused, and she takes it with an all too knowing smile.

 

“Make sure you’re careful with her!” Jiwoo’s brother calls to them, amusement clear in his voice.

 

“Of course.” Jin calls back a little thrown off.

 

“Excuse my dongsaeng, he never quite learned his manners.” Lady Jiwoo says with a roll of her eyes.

 

“It’s alright. Your brother must be protective over you.” Jin says. He’s never had a sister, though. He wonders what difference there is between a younger sister and an elder sister. Namjoon has a younger sister so maybe Jin should ask him.

 

“Protective? Over me? I’m his noona. I’ve been taking care of him since the day he was born.” Lady Jiwoo laughs and pats Jin’s arm, “He’s just messing around, as always, making his noona clean up after him.”

 

“That’s an admirable relationship.” Jin says and thinks about his own brother. His Hyung used to take his toys when they were little and he’d leave messes for Jin. His Hyung challenged him, but he didn’t help him.

 

“Thank you, your majesty.” Lady Jiwoo smiles.

 

“You’re a Lady of the Divinity?” Jin asks her. He can’t understand why his mother decided to pick him a suitor. Especially a suitor he’d never heard of before.

 

“Yes, my entire family is weaved with its history. With that said, we aren’t the biggest supporters of the Archbishop.” Jiwoo says.

 

Another Progressive maybe? The movement is more common than Jin realized. The Archbishop must not have as much control as he claims to have.

 

“The Archbishop is a… difficult person to handle.” Jin decides to be diplomatic.

 

“I can’t stand him, to be entirely open. His views are so close-minded.” Lady Jiwoo scowls.

 

“Are you a Progressive?” Jin decides to go with the blunt card.

 

“Oh, yes. My entire family.” Lady Jiwoo laughs but Jin doesn’t quite understand the joke.

 

“Do you ever have any issues with the Conventionals?” Jin asks. The Conventionals are the opposite group of the Progressives. They want the religion to follow all the scriptures to the every word.

 

“Where I live I’m surrounded by Progressives. They can’t harm us there.” Lady Jiwoo says, “Thank you for the concern, your majesty.”

 

For the rest of the walk they talk about many subjects. Lady Jiwoo is opinionated and Jin is a little intimidated by her confidence. Jin has always been confident, himself. His mother raised him that way. But Lady Jiwoo has a strong sense of surety in just her opinion. Jin never wants to argue with her.

 

They reach the end of the walk quickly and Jin dismisses the Jung’s. He gives his mother yet another confused look as she walks away but she just waves.

 

“She’s a Progressive,” Jin tells Namjoon and Yoongi when he stands next to them again, “A little terrifying too.”

 

Yoongi snorts, “Kind of like your mother than?”

 

“My mother is terrifying?”

 

“A little bit.” Namjoon says with a shrug. “It’s more like she’s an enigma and that’s what makes her terrifying.”

 

“Huh.” Jin looks down in thought. He never really saw it that way. “I guess that makes sense.”

 


 

Yoongi wanted to leave the Palace hours ago. He wanted to go back to the Hamlet and write where only helpful servants disturbed him. But Jin tells him that they still have to mingle with the new suitors for a while in the gardens. Plus, later that day, they still have the ball for Jin to dance with all of his new suitors.

 

Yoongi’s life is shitty. Goddamn, Kim Namjoon and Kim Seokjin for convincing him this was a good idea.

 

Yoongi’s left the more brambley and forest like part of the gardens. Now he’s on the wide ring path where many of the other nobles are mingling . The grass is mostly flat and trimmed all around it and there is a small flat fountain pool in the center.

 

Yoongi can see the King on the opposite side of the pool. King Seokju seems to be flirting with some of Jin’s own suitors and Yoongi wants to gag.

 

“Min Yoongi-nim?” A voice says from behind him and Yoongi spins to look, a little startled.

 

It turns out to be the smiling brother of one of Jin’s suitors. Jung Hoseok, Yoongi thinks his name was?

 

“Yes, that is me.” Yoongi says with narrowed eyes.

 

Hoseok just laughs, “You don’t have to look so suspicious.”

 

“I don’t know you.” Yoongi says simply like that explains it. Because it does. If he doesn’t know a person he doesn’t know what they want. He doesn't know their motives and how they affect him or his friends.

 

“True.” Hoseok moves to stand beside him, “You could know me. I am a very interesting guy.”

 

Yoongi looks Hoseok over, “I doubt that.”

 

“Rude,” Hoseok says with mock hurt, “You just said yourself that you don’t know me.”

 

“I think I’ll know an interesting person when I see one.” Yoongi watches the shifting water in the fountain glint in the sun.

 

Yoongi looks past the fountain to see the Archbishop entering this part of the garden. He’s walking at a determined pace. King Seokju watches him pass with narrowed eyes. The Archbishop spots Yoongi and starts walking in his direction. Lady Misook is trailing behind him.

 

Yoongi sighs. Time for some insults.

 

“I hope you don’t find him interesting,” Hoseok says with exaggerated disgust. He follows Yoongi’s gaze to the Archbishop.

 

“God, no. The only thing significant about him is his position.” Yoongi says to Hoseok as the Archbishop gets closer.

 

Hoseok laughs, “I couldn’t agree more. The Prince was smart to pick you as his future council member.”

 

Yoongi opens his mouth to respond but the Archbishop finally approaches.

 

“Min-ssi,” Archbishop says, his sister is behind him with a scowl on her face, “I have some questions for you.”

 

“Oh, wonderful. What could the Great Archbishop want to ask me?” Yoongi asks.

 

“I want to know what right you think you have to participate in the court affairs?” The Archbishop says with a smile on his face. “I had hoped the Prince intended on keeping you as a pet of some sort. But this is an insult to my good judgement.”

 

“I guess the Prince doesn’t agree with your good judgement.” Yoongi’s eyes narrow and his body is tense.

 

My good judgement is what the people live by.” The Archbishop says and Yoongi can’t believe he’s getting into an argument right now.

 

But then the King approaches without anyone realizes, “ Your good judgement is what people live by?”

 

“Your majesty,—” The Archbishop turns to the angry face of the King. Yoongi would laugh if he were not in front of the king.

 

I rule this country, old man. Your petty guide book, your scriptures mean nothing to my laws.” The king says and all the nobles are looking now, “First you insult me and my son by offering this,” He points to Lady Misook, who flinches, “woman—”

 

“My sister is a perfectly—” The Archbishop starts but a sharp glare from the King shuts the him up.

 

“And then you claim your word is law. I am the King, you are not.” The King is seething now.

 

“I am perfectly aware of that your majesty—”

 

“You know what? I am done with seeing your face today. You are dismissed.” The King says.

 

“Your majesty, my sister—” The archbishop tries to start again.

 

“Do not make me say it again, Archbishop.” The King’s voice is dangerously low and the Archbishop must get the point because he shuts his mouth. He harshly takes his sister by the arm and drags her away.

 

The King looks at Yoongi now, “If you start anything, boy, you’re out too. You hear?”

 

Yoongi just holds his hands up and nods.

 

“Good,” With that the King walks back to the ladies he was talking with before.

 

“The Archbishop is really signing his arrest warrant,” Hoseok says from beside him. Yoongi expected him to retreat from the argument but he stood there beside Yoongi the entire time. “Hey, are you alright? He was pretty harsh.”

 

“Trust me, everything he says just makes me want to gag and that's it.” Yoongi says.

 

Hoseok straightened up and let up a large breath, “Well Min Yoongi-nim, it was nice to meet you. I think you’re an interesting guy, even if you don’t think I am.”

 

“Thanks, Hoseok-ssi.” Yoongi says with furrowed eyebrows. Hoseok jumps from one subject to another.

 

“And all this time I wasn’t sure if you remembered my name.” Hoseok smirks and Yoongi laughs.

 

“Does that mean you think you’re too boring for me to remember your name?” Yoongi smirks back at him.

 

“Does that mean you find me interesting enough to remember my name?” Hoseok challenges back.

 

Yoongi just scoffs, “You wish.”

 

Hoseok just cackles.

 


  

Namjoon feels increasingly more sorry for Jin as the night goes on. The Prince has to dance with each and everyone of his suitors during the ball. The catcher is that Jin isn’t a very strong dancer. He’s better than Namjoon, of course, but he’s obviously not as naturally good on his feet as the rest of the room. Namjoon can tell that the man must be getting tired as the night goes on.

 

Yoongi ditched hours ago. He wasn’t expected to stay and the man jumped at the opportunity to get a carriage back to the Hamlet. Namjoon could have left as well but he didn’t want to leave Jin to deal with all of his suitors by himself. He wasn’t doing much, though. He was mostly just sitting and watching Jin’s miserable face dance with flurry gowned woman.

 

Namjoon has watched Jin dance to every suitor at least twice when the King stands up from the Royal table. Everyone’s attention moves to him and Namjoon notices Jung Hoseok, one of Jin’s suitors brother standing in front of the table. The music stops and the dancing ends. The dancers walk quietly off the wood floor. Jin approaches Namjoon with a confused but relieved face.

 

“Ladies and Gentleman of the court,” The King starts with a loud and mischievous voice, “We have a guest here, today, a brother of one of my son’s suitors.” The King gesture to Jung Hoseok before him, “He claims that he can beat anyone who challenges him in a battle of swordplay. He is very confident in his abilities and I’d like to test that confidence.


“So, I’m requesting that Jung Hoseok the Master Swordsman he claims to be, battle my best guards.”

 

Hoseok bows, “I’d be honored.”

 

“Is my father serious?” Jin says to Namjoon. They watch as Hoseok walks towards the middle of the wood floor and takes out the sword that is strapped to his waist. An armored guard walks up and takes his own sword out as well.

 

“Apparently,” Namjoon says back to Jin who sighs. The two swordsman have gotten into position.

 

The King stands close to the edge of the floor and he’s wearing a large smirk, “Start!’

 

Hoseok doesn’t waste any second circling and teasing. He lunges forward right away, catching his opponent completely off-guard. Hoseok’s sword flicks the others’ sword to the ground. It hits the floor with a ringing metallic sound.

 

Namjoon can’t move his eyes away. It was mandatory to take sword lessons in his university. He had always been terrible at it. Hoseok’s skill couldn’t be that good?

 

“You’re dead.” Hoseok says with a smirk. He’s pressing his sword lightly against the guards chest. The guards face is shocked, too shocked to even be embarrassed.

For a second everything is quiet. Than the King laughs and starts to clap. They rest of the room follows his example. Jin claps beside him as well but there isn’t a smile on his face. Hoseok just bows.

 

“Very good, let’s test it again, yes? Maybe the next one won’t be so unprepared.” The King says waving to another guard.

 

Hoseok disarms this one in only a minute. He fights three more guards and he has no difficulties with any of them.

 

“You really have earned your title, Hoseok-nim.” The King says and the smile on his face is genuine. “Master Swordsman. The king approves.”

 

Hoseok bows dramatically and the entire room claps and laughs.

 

Jin just sighs and turns to Namjoon, “Do you think we can get away with leaving now?”

 

Namjoon looks at Jin. The king starts talking to Hoseok again but he blocks it out. Jin’s slumping, his mouth turned down lightly and his eyes look so clouded. In all the time that they have known each other, Namjoon has never seen Jin so weary.

 

“Let’s go now, while everyone is distracted.” Namjoon says and Jin’s eyes crinkle just a little in appreciation.

 

They slip past the groups of people and leave the ballroom. People notice, with turned heads and narrowed eyes but Namjoon just ignores them. Once they're out he lets Jin lead them to the back exit of the palace.

 

They exit the palace into the gardens. The temperature has dropped to something much cooler now that it’s dark and Namjoon thinks this is the perfect temperature. He starts looking around for a servant to ask for a carriage.

 

“Can we just walk? I don’t think I want to deal with servants or carriages or anything like that right now.” Jin says and his voice is so tired.

 

Namjoon doesn’t really want to walk all the way to the Hamlet. But he wants Jin to stop looking like he’s been trampled by a horse. So he turns to Jin, contemplates this for a second, and then nods.

 

“We’ll cross through the gardens first and then cut to the trail to the Hamlet.” Jin says and they start walking.

 

It’s dark out but the moon is large and full. The stars are everywhere. All the lights from the night sky reflect off the fountain pools. He can hear crickets all around and he can smell the almost-summer air. It’s a little mesmerizing and Namjoon decides he’s glad Jin wanted to walk instead.

 

He can also see Jin’s shoulders loosen the farther away from the palace they get. He falls into a steady pace next to Namjoon and it’s quiet for a while. Namjoon starts to recognize where they are. They are getting closer to the rose gardens they had to stand at the entire morning.

 

“Can we go in?” Jin asks when the approach the rose garden. The tent from before was taken down and the garden looks untouched.

 

Jin wants to go in again? Namjoon would imagine going through the rose garden over and over would get boring really quick.

 

“You’re not sick of it?" Namjoon asks. They’ve stopped walking now, standing in front of the entrance.

 

“I could never be sick of this garden. My mother asked for it to be built as her wedding gift. All of the statues and roses were hand picked by her. She’s very meticulous.” Jin says and starts walking into the garden, not letting Namjoon give him an answer, “Come on.” He waves him forward.

 

Namjoon hadn’t been able to go through it even once this morning despite being there the entire time. All he can see is the moonlight glinting off the leaves and the silhouettes of statues. The scent of roses is the most overwhelming factor and Namjoon can’t take a breath without smelling them.

 

“Ok, I guess I can see why you like it.” Namjoon says as they walk further into the garden, his head turning to look everywhere, “Except, I can’t really see cause it’s midnight but whatever.”

 

Jin’s dark figure walking in front of him laughs and says, teasingly, “Keep up, you’re so slow.”

 

“I can’t see anything,” Namjoon repeats with exaggeration because for some reason he’s nervous. But he really does have to watch his feet on the rocky grass. It would be so embarrassing if he tripped right now, “And I don’t have the added benefit of experience.”

 

“It’s not that dark,” Jin says and before Namjoon can argue Jin grabs Namjoon’s wrist and pulls him along, “Come on.”

 

Jin’s fingers wrapped around his wrist are warm and there’s nothing romantic about this. Nope. They are closer now and Namjoon can actually see the curve of Jin’s cheek bone.

 

“Why are we in such a rush?” Namjoon is whispering now because anything louder would sound disruptive. Jin’s finger turn him down another corner.

 

“I don’t know,” Jin starts whispering and Namjoon likes that he’s being quiet too, “I think I just want to get to the center.”

 

“The center?” Namjoon asks. He just thought the entire thing was a path.

 

“It’s something you have to see.” Jin’s fingers around his wrist turn him down a curve and the reach what has to be the center.

 

The fountain in the center is breathtaking. It’s simple in design but the mirror sphere in the middle reflects the night sky and the fountains water below it.

 

“Woah,” Namjoon says numbly, not able to take his eyes away.

 

“I rarely get to come here at night,” Jin says pulling Namjoon closer to the fountain, “I almost forgot how pretty it looks.”

 

“This is amazing, Jin-hyung.” He’s transfixed with the water running down the mirror sphere. The way everything reflects so perfectly. He can still feel Jin’s fingers around his wrist ( Not romantic he swears).

 

He wants to touch it so he reaches out with his other hand (the one Jin’s isn’t holding) and skims the water falling from the top of the sphere.

 

He can just see their water-distorted silhouettes in the spheres reflection. The black shapes mesh because they’re standing so close.

 

This is romantic. It’s why the King picked the rose garden for Jin to meet his suitors. It’s why it was built in the first place, a gift for a union of love (at least that’s what it was supposed to be). The smell of roses is romantic and the night’s sky is romantic and Namjoon doesn’t understand.

 

He’s always liked women. He liked them growing up, he liked them in college, he liked them when Yoongi told him his own preferences. He still likes them now. But he also can’t help liking the reflection of lights in Jin’s eyes and he can’t help but enjoy the warmth from Jin’s crooked fingers around his wrist.

 

He doesn’t understand as he looks at Jin instead of the beautiful fountain. He can feel that odd tightening feeling in his chest. He likes women but he also likes Jin. And he doesn’t understand how that’s possible because he doesn’t like men. But he likes Jin.

 

Jin turns his head to Namjoon’s gaze and smiles a smile that’s simple in design but he’s eyes reflect the stars and the fountain’s water.

 

“Why did you want to come here with me?” Namjoon blurts out because he needs to say something. God, he likes Jin.

 

“I wanted to go down the path one more time today with someone that actually means something to me.” Jin says with a surety and confidence that Namjoon could never have on a topic like this.

 

Jin doesn’t seem to have too many people he’s close too. The queen and the Hamlet’s servants seem to be the only people Jin cares about. But now he considers Namjoon someone he cares about too (and Yoongi but whatever).

 

Why does he even like Jin? He’s handsome and that’s part of it but that can’t be just it. Maybe, it’s because Jin actually cares. Jin knows things have to change and he’s the first out so many generations of bad rulers to actually care. Maybe, it’s because Jin completely accepted his best friend when Jin knew Yoongi’s reputation could get him into trouble. Maybe, it’s because Jin is so willing to be a good ruler that he’s going to sign his happiness away to a woman he’s not even attracted too. Maybe, Namjoon admires and pities Jin and maybe, that’s why Namjoon likes him.

 

But Namjoon is still confused and Jin is so close.

 

“Shall we get back?” Jin asks.

 

“Yeah.” Namjoon lets Jin hold his wrist the entire walk back.

 


 

Ever since Yoongi got back to the Hamlet, he’s felt off. First, he watched one of the servants change the Jeju horse’s horse shoe, he wrote for a while, took Rapmon out for a bathroom and sniff break (because that dog had been locked in Namjoon’s room all day and Yoongi felt bad), and finally ate some dinner courtesy of Young-Ja and Soonhee, another servant. He’d gotten into bed and laid there but he still felt off.

 

So, now, he’s up because sleeping is futile and he leaves his room. He’s still in his night clothes; a simple white shirt and tied brown trousers. He doesn’t really care if anyone sees him. He never heard Namjoon and Jin get back to the Cottage so he checks on Rapmon instead.

 

When he opens the door to Namjoon’s room he see’s Rapmon’s white shape curled on the foot of Namjoon’s bed. The dog’s head is on his paws but his eyes are wide open staring at Yoongi. Rapmon’s tail starts wagging at the sight of Yoongi in the doorway and Yoongi chuckles.

 

“Look’s like I’m not the only one who can’t fall asleep.” Yoongi says to Rapmon as he approaches the dog and pets him.

 

“Let’s go for a night walk, Rapmon.” At the word walk Rapmon’s big triangle ears swivel towards him. Yoongi grabs Rapmon’s leash and now the dog is up, shaking out his fur. Yoongi loops the leash around his neck.

 

They walk out of Namjoon’s room and walk down the cottage’s staircase. The night air has a nice taste but it still isn’t enough.

 

Rapmon and him walk the grounds for a while. They go down to the lake and stare at the water for a while. The pass the Hotel and the cottage and walk all the way to the barn.

 

The Jeju horse stands quietly inside the stable. He snorts at the sound of them approaching. They obviously woke him up, but the horse didn’t seem to be that upset. He just peered at him curiously. He walks up with Rapmon and scratches between the horse’s ears and just under the mane. Hanging on a nail on one of the stables beams next to Yoongi are the old horseshoe’s that Yoongi watched get taken off of the Jeju horse earlier.

 

There’s a noise from behind him. The hair along Rapmon’s spine goes up. He starts to growl. Yoongi spin’s around to see nothing. Just the large, empty pathway and the forest beyond it. He turns around again, willing he’s heart to stop pounding. Rapmon hasn’t stopped growling.

 

“Quit it,” He tugs the dog forward by the leash and the dog stops growling but he keeps trying to turn his head to look.

 

Quick footsteps slam down on the pathway. Yoongi twirls around. A man in brown robes is charging straight for him. Yoongi doesn’t have time to think.

 

All he can hear now is the slam of footsteps and Rapmon’s barking. He grabs the horseshoe from the nail next to him. As the man gets closer he can see the glint of a knife in his hands. His heart is pounding in his ears.

 

The man lunges for him with a shout and his knife pointed straight for him. Yoongi shifts to the left but they are so close now. Before the man can move, Yoongi hits him across the face with the horse shoe.

 

The man staggers clutching his jaw. His eyes meet Yoongi’s and the hatred inside them makes Yoongi’s heart skip. Yoongi notices the dove necklace around his neck. He’s of the Order of Divinity.

 

Yoongi tries to recall all of his sword lessons as the man lunges for him again. The man puts too much power in it. Yoongi dodges so the man can stagger. Yoongi slams into the man. He falls forward. Loses his grip on the dagger. It falls to the ground.

 

Yoongi and him both go for it. Yoongi grabs it first and then it’s over.

 

Yoongi can see the dampness blooming around the dagger. The man grabs for the dagger weakly as he gasps for air.  

 

Yoongi coughs and scrambles away, the rocky pathway cutting up his desperate hands. His entire body is shaking from excess adrenaline. Rapmon is still barking and the Jeju horse is making a racket in the stable.

 

All Yoongi can focus on is his breathing. Inhale, exhale. Mistakenly, he looks up to the man’s dying form. He watches the man tip on his side and stare at him. The man opens his mouth to speak but nothing comes out. He just keeps gasping and he’s so pale. The sight makes Yoongi turn his head to the side and vomit.

 

“Fuck,” Yoongi clenches his eyes shut and digs his hands into the ground. Did he just kill someone? Did someone just try to kill him? “Fuck.”

Chapter Text

The carriage ride to the palace is quiet. Namjoon sits hunched over with his forearms on his legs and his hands clasped between them. He is looking down at the carriage floor and he keeps getting shifted by the carriages bumps. Sitting across from Namjoon is Jin and he is quietly staring out the carriage window. Occasionally, he’ll look over to Namjoon with creased eyebrows.


The carriage is quiet but Namjoon’s thoughts are not. He’s thinking so much that he’s starting feel a headache grow around the temples of his head. He also hadn’t been able to sleep much that night, spending it doing quick investigating. That may be another fault for his headache. Namjoon always gets headaches when he is tired, hungry or dehydrated.


Namjoon spent the entire night angry. He’s still angry now as the get closer to the palace and closer to the Archbishop. The Archbishop is the only person who would ever want to do this to his friend. And Namjoon hates him for it.


Namjoon is trying very hard to think rationally about this but it’s difficult. He is more emotional than most people realize and things like this really effect him. He wishes he could let go like Yoongi does and think clearly but it’s difficult.


Namjoon also feels a terrible weight over his head. Besides being angry at the Archbishop, he’s been worrying about Yoongi all night and morning. Yoongi is usually decently good at dealing with stressful things. But Yoongi was attacked and then he had to kill someone to save himself. Death isn’t something he or Yoongi take lightly.


For the first time in Namjoon’s life, he truly understands what’s it’s like to be a minority. Of course, he always knew that the pains and the horrors but now he understands something else. Being a minority means thinking about it all the time. It means that at any moment you could be attacked physically, emotionally, and/or verbally because of simply who you are. All the time you must schedule your life around this factor whether you choose to subconsciously or not.


When they arrive at the palace, the King and the rest of his main council members are waiting. It’s early morning and everyone can feel it as the walk in to the king’s meeting room.

Yoo Byungeun is the first person he finds, sitting on one of the sofa’s closest to the King. Namjoon grimaces and Jin looks over to the Archbishop as well. He just lets out a breath.


“Seokjin, what is all this about?” The King asks as they approach, “This nonsense from the your Hamlet’s tower.”


“Seokju-Jeonha,” Jin says after both Namjoon and him bow, “One of my future advisers, Min Yoongi, was attacked last night. The attack was a failed attempt on his life.”


“The attacker?” The King asks. His face is grim but he’s upset in a way that makes Namjoon’s blood boil. The King looks like he knew this would happen and is inconvenienced by it. Namjoon has plenty of choice curses for him.


“The attacker was killed in the attempt. First, a horseshoe was smashed onto his face--”


“A horseshoe?” The King laughs and the room lightly laughs with him. “How resourceful.”


Namjoon just loves how the King finds this so amusing.


“But he was killed by his own dagger. The attacker was from the Order of Divinity. He wore robs and a dove necklace.”


“What type of dove necklace?” The Archbishop speaks up and both Jin and him turn to him. They are both wearing matching scowls of disgust. Namjoon wishes he could speak but right now it’s Jin who is talking.


“It was a sitting dove.” Jin says, “Which we all know as a symbol of the Conventionals.”


The Archbishop nods his head like he contributed a great help to the conversation. God, does Namjoon hate him.


“You act as if you know nothing of this plot to murder my advisor, Archbishop.” Jin says and Namjoon wants to clap. The entire room is filled with tension now. All the other advisors are on the edges of their seats.


“Are you accusing me of treason, your majesty? I have done nothing of the sort. The Conventionals are separate branch of the Order. Even if I wanted to do such a thing I could not have.”


“You have insulted Min Yoongi openly on many occasions. You have a clear motive.” Namjoon feels he can finally speak up.


“I don’t deny heavily disliking the man but murder is another thing entirely.” The Archbishop says his voice light but his eyes narrowed. “Namjoon-ssi.”


Namjoon stares holes into the Archbishop’s forehead and his shoulders are tense. The Archbishop stares right back and Namjoon really hates Archbishop Yoo Byungeun.


“Was anything else found on the man’s body?” Duke Kunhee asks breaking the tension momentarily. Namjoon looks away from the Archbishop to look at the Duke instead.


“No,” Jin says, “But we managed to find a servant that recognized the attacker. The servant found this in the fireplace of his room.”


Jin pulled out the half burnt letter from his pocket. He presents it to his father. It was the result of the investigating he and Jin had done last night.

The King reads what is legible of the note.


“The seal on the bottom is mostly melted but the signature is obviously Lee Jaerock.” Jin says.


Lee Jaerock, the head of the Conventionals.


“I will personally have the man brought in for questioning, Jeonha.” The Archbishop says.


The King looks up from the letter and nods, handing the letter to a servant.


“It’s seems we have done all we can now. Now you’re all dismissed.” The King says just like that.

Namjoon can’t believe it. Can’t the King tell that the real culprit is the Archbishop. He must know, there’s no way the King can’t see that the Archbishop planned this entire thing.


The only option left is that the King just doesn’t care. Which means that the Archbishop is going to get away with this and Namjoon can’t have that. He can’t have the Archbishop walking out of here feeling like he won.


Beside Namjoon, Jin hasn’t moved. He seems almost in shock that his father just dismissed the entire thing so quickly.


“Come on,” Namjoon takes Jin by the arm just lightly and steers him out of the room.


“I can’t believe he just did that.” Jin mumbles anger clear in his voice. He lets Namjoon guide him.


At the end of the hall, they can see the Archbishop walking away and turning a corner. There he is. Namjoon turns towards him so suddenly that Jin almost falls into Namjoon.


“What are we doing?” Jin hisses at Namjoon but he can’t look at Jin right now.


“We’re not just going to let him walk away thinking he got away with almost killing my best friend.”


“We can’t just—” Jin tries but they’re already there.


“Archbishop,” Namjoon calls. The hallway they entered held no one else. Perfect.


The Archbishop turns around and then Namjoon is crowding him up against the wall. The Archbishop’s eyes go wide but he visibly gets himself in control and tries a poker face.


“What do you think you’re doing Namjoon-ssi?” The Archbishop says.


“Do you know what a Hand of the King is Archbishop?” Namjoon asks.


“What is the meaning—”


“I asked you a question.”


“Yes, I know what the Hand is, now—”


“When the King Seokju-jeonha dies, Prince Seokjin,” Namjoon points at Jin, “takes over and I become Hand. Do you know what that means?”


“Yes, of course—”


“I don’t think you know what it means, Archbishop. I don’t think you understand that the Hand of the King is only second to the King. And pulling this shit on the future Hand’s best friend does not look to good on your favor.”


The Archbishop is quiet for a moment. His face betrayed no emotions and it only makes Namjoon more angry.


“Namjoon-ssi,” The Archbishop starts, “You may be the future Hand but right now I’m the Archbishop and you are just a courtier scholar, so, don’t—”


“Enough,” Jin interrupts, “I’m done. Yoo Byungeun get out of my sight. You’re dismissed.”


Jin’s voice is tense and filled with warnings of no nonsense. Now, Namjoon is worried he angered the Prince.


The Archbishop looks between the two of them and then coolly walks away. Namjoon may be only a scholar and Yoo Byungeun may be the Archbishop but Jin is the Prince and the heir to the throne.


Jin turns to Namjoon and he can see the scolding he is about to get but then a servant appears.


“Excuse me, your majesty.” The servant bows frantically, “The Queen would like to see you.”


Jin nods and the servant scurries away. Jin looks to Namjoon and Namjoon tries to make himself seem unaffected.


Jin sighs and says, “Go get a carriage ready.”


Namjoon nods, “I just didn’t want him to think he won.”


Jin just waves his words away, “We’ll talk about it later.”


Namjoon looks at him for a long moment and then he nods, “Okay.”




Hoseok is still trying to make up his mind about the Queen. The two are standing in a hallway of the royal wing.


“I have to get going, Hoseok,” The Queen says, “My son will be waiting.”


“Yes, I don’t mean to waste your time,” Hoseok starts, “But I just need to know if you have any means for me to make my passage through the palace a little more...quiet?”


The Queen smiles, “Oh that’s simple enough.”


She waves him along with as she starts walking to the wall of the hallway. She waits for a noble to walk past and then grabs his wrist and presses into the panel of the wall. Hoseok is somehow not shocked that he enters a hidden hallway. Palaces need these if the royalty want any privacy.


The hidden passage in tight and underlit. Lanterns are hook along the walls and light up the wooden interior. There are no fancy decorations like the rest of the palace. It’s stuffy from dust and heat due to no windows to air things out or servants cleaning constantly.


Hoseok looks around and dusts off his leg pants, “Real cozy, your majesty.”


The Queen scoffs, “I think I’ll take the dust over prying guests.”


“I can’t argue with that, your majesty, can’t argue with that.” Hoseok smiles brightly, “It’s so nice to have such an open relationship with you, your majesty.”


He’s poking fun at her now and she can obviously tell.


“Circumstances, Hoseok, circumstances.” The Queen says and then tilts her head with a friendly squint to her eyes, “You know, you're not what I expected at all.”


“What? Did you expect someone dark and brooding?” Hoseok smirks.


The Queen hums, “No, no just someone a little more...quiet, I guess.”


“Quiet?” Hoseok scoffs, “Now, what would be the fun in that?”


“If you say so Hoseok,” Queen Yejin says and then sighs, “I must find my son now. You’ll be fine exploring on your own?”


“Perfectly.” Hoseok says with a bow.


“Just make sure not to run in to the King or anyone, yes?” The Queen warns.


“Of course, your majesty.” Hoseok says and the Queen nods, satisfied. She walks to the right and he goes to the left. He looks back just in time to see her turn the corner.


He turns around and follows her.


Hoseok is still trying to make up his mind about the Queen. Hoseok wants to know why she chose to invite him to court. now ? What made her decide that this is the right time? He needs answers and he isn’t going to get them by talking ‘ openly’ with the Queen.


He trails after the Queen. Checking corners before he turns and listening to the constant sound of her ever so light footsteps. It’s easy for him, honestly. It’s not the first time he’s done something like this.


The Queen’s footsteps stop so he stays behind the next corner. He can hear another set of footsteps that are much heavier than the Queens.


“Seokjin-ah.” The Queen’s weary voice is starkly different from the casual tone of their previous conversation, “You look terrible.”


Hoseok hears Jin sigh. God, he wish he could see .


“It hasn’t been a very good day for me.” Seokjin says his tone equally as weary. He sounds almost more acceptant of the fact.


“How’s Yoongi?” The Queen asks.

The poor poet. Hoseok had heard the news of his attack from the Queen when they first began talking that morning. There’s something about Yoongi that Hoseok just liked when they met. Maybe it was the whole underdog thing he had going on. Hoseok knew that if his own secrets were aired out like Yoongi’s had been he would be in a much worse position with the court.


“He’s surprisingly calm but I think he’s just avoiding thinking about it.” Jin says.


“We all cope in our own ways,” The Queen says, “Don’t let this deter you. You have been doing so well.”


Hoseok isn’t quite sure what she means by that. He shifts as close as he can get without being seen. Does the Prince know why Hoseok is here?


“I know, I know. It’s just a little frustrating.” Prince Seokjin says and Hoseok can hear the stress in his voice.


“When you’re king, you’ll be in charge and you’ll be great at it.” The Queen says, “The Archbishop will most definitely not be able to play games like these.”


Hoseok thinks he’s finally made up his mind about the Queen.


There are two reasons explaining why she asked for Hoseok and his sister. Either she did it for herself or for her son. That’s what Hoseok originally decided when they got the Queen’s letter in the mail.


It makes no sense for her to do this for herself. She would have done it years ago. But in reality she is more intelligent than that. She’s doing this for her son. That much is clear. Hoseok doesn’t know why but he feels a little proud.


“I know, Umma, but it will be a while till I am king.” Prince Seokjin says. So, he doesn’t know why Hoseok is here.


Hoseok now understands the Queen but now he just has more questions. Now he needs to understand the Prince.


So far, he’s heard good things. The man has already started creating his council and he has even picked his Hand. Min Yoongi is an obvious insight into the Prince’s actual feelings and opinions. He will most likely support the Progressives considering what the Conventionals attempted on his adviser. That in itself is much better than the current King and most noble’s combined.


Hoseok doesn’t really know the Prince, though. Is he really what this country needs?


“Seokjin-ah, your father is old, his time will come.” The Queen says and Hoseok wants to applaud her. She is quite the sly woman.




After the Prince and the Queens conversation, Hoseok knocks on the door to his sisters room.


“Took you long enough.” Jiwoo says as she opens the door and waves him inside. She closes the door behind him and walks over to her desk. There are papers littered all over it. “Did learn anything new?”


“The Queen showed me the hidden hallways. I eavesdropped on her conversation with the Prince.” Hoseok says and walks over to the armchair facing the rooms fireplace. He sits down on it and leans back.


“Will the hallways help?” Jiwoo says keeping her eyes on the papers in front of her. She has sat down now and is beginning to write something on a new parchment.


“Oh maybe, it all depends.” Hoseoks says. He’s also a little distracted looking at the ashes in the fireplace.


“And the conversation?” Jiwoo looks up now and he looks over to her.


“The Queen believes that her son is ready to be king.” Hoseok says, “She is his mother, though, her judgement may be clouded. I want to know if she’s right.”


“Why do you care so much?” Jiwoo asks with narrowed eyes. To others, Jiwoo looks judgemental but Hoseok knows she’s just curious. And, maybe, she’s also testing him.


“I guess I’ve just been thinking about my own future lately, you know?” Hoseok says, “I don’t think I can do this for much longer.”


“And leave me?” Jiwoo says with mock hurt turning further in her seat to look at him, “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”


“I’m not sure yet. I need to be sure about the Prince before I make any decisions.” Hoseok says and fiddles with edge of his sleeve.


“Aw,” She coos, “My dongsaeng is growing up.”


Hoseok makes a face at that, “I thought you’d be a little more, I don’t know, against this.”


“Well, my dongsaeng, who would I be to stop you from making your own path. That’s not the Progressive way.” She smiles but then it drops, quickly, “I will miss you though.”


“Slow down, I haven’t even made up my mind.” Hoseok says with a shake of his head.


“Oh, I think you already have. You just don’t know it yet.” Jiwoo says with that annoying, all too knowing, noona smile she got sometimes.


“Yeah, whatever you say.” He sighs, ready to drop the subject, “Are all the preparations in place for tomorrow?”


“They are perfect. I sent the letter with detailed instructions just after you left.”


“Where are you going to be in the mess of things?” Hoseok asks. He is kind of worried for his sister. She’s going to be closer than he wants her to be.


“Don’t worry I’ll be safe.” She smiles and turns back to her desk.


“That wasn’t an answer,” He grumbles.


She ignores him, picking up a stack of papers and straightening them out, “All those secrets we bought on the Conventionals are really paying off.”


“I wish we didn’t have pay for them.” The underground network of secrets is expensive. But they are reliable.


Jiwoo snorts, “Collecting secrets is a profession in of itself. Of course we have to pay for them. Unless you plan on starting your own spy network.”


“Maybe, I’ll do that.” Hoseok says with a smile. That’s never happening but it does sound like fun. And a little dangerous too. So maybe not so much fun.


“Right,” Jiwoo rolls her eyes at her paper. She can see straight through him. “Just make sure you don’t mess up tomorrow and we are golden.”


He salutes her, “Aye, captain.”




In Yoongi’s hand is the horse shoe. It’s edges are no longer defined due to the ware from the Jeju horse walking on it and the metal is smooth to the touch. The shoe is also spotless. He had to wash the blood off of it from where it hit the Conventional over the head. At the time, he hadn’t even noticed he had broken the man’s skin.


Yoongi sighs. He’s sitting up in his bed, his lower half covered by his comforter. Rapmon is laying on the foot of the bed and his black eyes are opened, watching him.


“I should probably get rid of it.” Yoongi says to Rapmon who just stares. The dog then sighs and shifts to his side. Yoongi snorts, amused, and pulls his cover off so he can get up and pet the dog.


Rapmon doesn’t even flinch when Yoongi pets him. He just moves his leg to allow Yoongi more access to his stomach. Yoongi rubs it generously. The dog's soft fur feels much nicer than the metal horseshoe still in his other hand.


Yoongi’s not sure how’s he’s supposed to be reacting to this.


He killed someone.


Someone just tried to kill him.


Should he be angry at himself or someone else? Should he just let go of his anger completely and try something else?


Yoongi takes a deep, shaky breath and stops petting the dog. He clenches the horseshoe and moves towards his window. From the corner of his eye, he can see Rapmon lift his head up at him, confused by sudden cease of petting.


Yoongi pulls open the window with only a little resistant. He takes in the summer air and feels the wave of heat from the midday sun. Light reflects off the vegetation of the Hamlet and he can hear the sounds of flies, humans and even the Jeju horse in the distant. And it’s so ethereal, all of a sudden.  


He looks down at the horseshoe and contemplates throwing it. He can just imagine the sound of the metal makes when it will hit the soft earth. He can hear the thump .


His hit with a sudden want—a need—to hear that noise.


So, he turns the horseshoe over in his hand for a moment. He puts his hand out the window. Drops it.


Just as the horseshoe slips through his fingers the sound of a carriage arriving covers all noise.


He never gets to hear that thump . Frantically, Yoongi sticks his entire upper half out the window and looks below him at the ground. All he can see is shrubbery. Why did his window have to face the dense forest?


Why did he throw away the horseshoe? It did nothing wrong. It wasn’t even the thing that made the killing blow. It was there when he needed it most.


What is he even saying it’s just a metal goddamn horseshoe.


Fuck.


He wants it back.


Yoongi wiggles back inside and slams the window shut. Rapmon startles. He gets down from the bed shaking out the sleep from his fur.


The carriage was probably Namjoon and Jin. Maybe he can go look for the thing before they come talk to him.


Rapmon peers up at him, confused. Yoongi sighs and grabs the dog’s leash. He ropes it around the dog whose tail starts wagging.


Yoongi walks out with Rapmon at the quickest pace he feels like managing and exits the Cottage. Before he can loop around the building, he hears his name called.


“Yoongi-hyung.” Namjoon calls as he walks up to Yoongi. Goddamnit, couldn’t he have waited five minutes.


“Namjoon-ah.” Yoongi says as the younger finally reaches him. Rapmon greets him enthusiastically with wagging tail and shaking body. He can see Jin walking up to them as well.


“Are you feeling alright?” Namjoon asks looking him straight in the eye. Yoongi doesn’t really want to stand here and talk about his feelings. He just wants to go find the damn horseshoe.


“I’ll be fine.” He decides on and Namjoon frowns. Before he can say anymore to him, Yoongi shoves the end of Rapmon’s leash into Namjoon’s hand and turns to Jin. “How did it go?”


“Since, we have no direct proof that the Archbishop concocted the plot he’s not being punished.” Jin says with a sigh, “Let’s go inside. I would like to eat something.”


Yoongi doesn’t want to sit and talk but he has no choice in the matter. They all enter the main level of the Cottage and sit the living room. Jin and Namjoon sit on the armchairs while Yoongi takes one of the couches. Rapmon lays down on Namjoon’s feet.


Young-Ja enters and asks Jin, “Should I bring refreshments?”


“Do you even have to ask?” Jin says with a smile towards her. She laughs and bows before exiting.


“So, the Archbishop is getting no blame for this?” Yoongi says. He’s not even surprised. Yoo Byungeun wouldn’t have even tried this scheme if he hadn’t believed he could get away with it.


“Yes.” Jin says.


“The evidence pointed just barely out of his direction.” Namjoon says. He’s clearly upset about this. More than Yoongi is at least. “It doesn’t make any sense.”


“Yes, but the King is willing to overlook this. That is what makes all the difference.” Jin says. “Things will be much easier when I’m in charge.”


“But what if he tries something again.” Namjoon says.


“He doesn’t have anyone else to place blame on to,” Jin says, shaking his head. That makes sense to Yoongi, “He just wanted to get back at us for insulting him.”


“Still,” Namjoon says, “I don’t want to take that risk.”


“It appears that we are going to have to.” Yoongi sighs and shifts to the edge of the couch. He really just wants to go.


“I don’t like it,” Namjoon says with a scowl. Yoongi can understand why the younger is upset but he doesn’t really feel the same way. Whatever happens, happens. He’ll deal with it when he gets to it.


“Tomorrow, I still have to continue plans with the suitors.” Jin sighs, “This time we will be going to a play.”


“And I suppose the aisles will be lined with guards?” Namjoon says.


“Almost. But most of the nobility will be in its own section anyway,” Jin says.


“That sounds absolutely boring.” Yoongi says. He’s trying to find the best time to get up and leave.


“I suppose the only reason it’s happening is because the King was interested. It’s about a war.” Jin rolls his eyes and then looks at Yoongi, “Luckily, you are not required, or expected, to participate in court activities so soon after your accident.”


“Oh lucky me,” Yoongi says, “If you two will excuse me, I need some fresh air.”


Yoongi stands up to leave and Namjoon asks, “Do you need anything else? Are you sure you’re alright?”


“I’m fine, Namjoon-ah. Quite worrying.” Yoongi says and moves to exit.


“But—” Namjoon starts.


“Leave him be. He can take care of himself.” Jin says and Yoongi leaves the room.


Yoongi has noticed that Jin is way more observant than he originally thought. He’s much better at reading a situation than Namjoon is, at least.


As he walks towards the exit of the cottage, Young-ja walks past with a tray of treats. She smiles at his approach and he grabs a Yakgwa before she can get past him.


She laughs and tells him to enjoy it. Yoongi just nods.


He pulls the door open and exits the Cottage. He nibbles on the Yakgwa as he walks towards the side of the building.


Once he gets past the stairs, the grass gets taller and irritating. He walks along the side of the building directly below to where his window is. At a closer look, he still can’t find the horseshoe.


Yoongi squats down and shifts the weeds and brambles. He spots the horseshoe there and grabs it. He wipes the dirt of it and stares at it for a while.


He’s extremely glad to have it back and he doesn’t quite understand why. It’s just a stupid horseshoe, for god’s sake. But there is something reassuring about it’s presence.


He holds the horseshoe tightly and stands back up. Now that he has the horseshoe, he just wants to get back to his room and write away his thoughts. Quickly, he walks to the Cottage stairs and gets to his room.


When he enters his new room that he has become so recently attached to, he walks to his desk and sits down. He places the horseshoe at the corner and stares at it for a moment. Then he picks up his paper.


He writes for a while. He writes about how it felt when the knife was so close to his neck and he writes about the look in that man’s eyes when he jumped at Yoongi. But mostly he writes about the man’s lifeless eyes, pale face, and all of that blood.


Yoongi writes for so long that the sun gets low in the sky. A knock on his door breaks him from his writing and he tells the person to come in.


“Yoongi-hyung.” Namjoon says, closing the door behind him. “You’ve been in here all day. Aren’t you hungry?”


Now that Namjoon mentioned it, Yoongi is hungry. A little parched too. He only had breakfast this morning and that one Yakgwa.


He just hums towards Namjoon, though, too focused to give a proper reply. Namjoon walks up to the desk.


“Come on, hyung. Let’s get something to eat. I know how you get when you’re writing.” Namjoon says but then he looks at Yoongi’s desk and spots the horseshoe. “Is that the horseshoe from your attack?”


“It sounds so serious when you say it like that.” Yoongi looks up at him now, his body stiff.


Namjoon looks irritated by that statement. Yoongi can practically hear his, ‘ It is serious, hyung.


But instead he nods towards the horseshoe and says, “You should get rid of it.”


“I should.” Yoongi says because he agrees. He really should.


Namjoon looks at him, waiting for him to continue but when Yoongi doesn’t he says, “You’re not going to, though.”


“That’s right.” Yoongi says.


Namjoon stares at him for a minute and then sighs, “Fine. Let’s just get something to eat.”


“Alright,” Yoongi agrees.


As he leaves the room he takes one more look at the horseshoe. He really should get rid of it.




Cheonggu City smells like a terrible mix of garbage and feces. Stepping out of the carriage just makes the smell worse and Jin wrinkles his nose in disgust.


The Myeongdong Theatre is tall and wide. Long windows line the front of the building and there are thick white columns at the entrance. Jin rarely gets to come here. Most of the time, the play is moved to the theatre room in the palace. Sometimes, though, the props are much too large to bring to the palace and the royals must go to the Myeongdong Theatre in the city. Jin has always preferred this theatre. The actors always seem more relaxed and natural here than at the palace.


Namjoon gets out of the carriage and stands next to him. Jin watches him look around and he wonders if Namjoon has ever been to the theatre.


Carriages are arriving and dropping off nobles all around them. Moving in and out like a constant stream. Nobles are crowding outside and filing towards the entrance. Jin sees many of his suitors entering the building.


“Have you ever seen a play here?” Jin asks.


“I think I was invited once. But I never really had the time. Or the money.” Namjoon says.


“The tickets aren’t that expensive.” Jin says but he’s not actually sure. He’s had everything paid for his entire life.


“That’s true. But I would also have to buy the appropriate attire.” Namjoon says, “Before I graduated, I never had any formal clothing. Now, it's all I wear.”


“I never thought about that.” Jin says. He’s had formal outfits before he could even walk.


“I guess that can happen if you’re a noble.” Namjoon says then interrupts himself to say, “There is a church directly across the theatre.”


Jin hums in agreement, “Yes, it’s one of the oldest in the city.”


The church is just as tall the theatre but it’s pillars go even higher and Jin has to turn his head up to look at their tops. The building is decorated in molded images of god and the spirits. Its impressive but not nearly as impressive as the Abbey of Baedal, home of the archbishop, in the center in the city.


“How ironic.” Namjoon says, “Considering recent events.”


“Maybe.” He says because it’s just a church.


“Your majesty,” A guard says as he approaches Jin. Behind is another guard. The two bow when they reach him.


“Yes?” He asks them but he’s already starting to guess their purpose.


“We were assigned to be your protection for the remainder of the time you spend in the public. My name is Yoon Beomseok,” Then he gestures to the guard flanking him, “This is Jae Jeongmin.”


The two guards are in the traditional attire with purple cloth jackets and leather sashes. They have bayoneted muskets on their backs and swords on their hips. The duo’s black hair are pulled up into buns.


“This is Kim Namjoon. Consider him also under your protection.” Jin gestures to Namjoon beside him. Beomseok looks over and nods.


“Of course, your majesty.” Beomseok says and the two both bow.


The two guards trail after them as Namjoon and Jin start walking towards the entrance. Then the King’s royal carriage arrives. Everyone stops and waits with breathes held for the King to exit the carriage. The carriage door is opened by the driver and the King steps out. He immediately starts heading towards the entrance ignoring everyone else. Behind him is three guards in full armour.


People move backwards getting out of the Kings way and Jin gets pushed a little as well. When the King passes everyone close to him bows. The King just ignores them and keeps going.


His mother steps out of the carriage next. The King didn’t even bother to stay long enough to give her his arm. The Queen steps out on her own, refusing the drivers help and Jin smirks at his mother’s actions.


In her arms is Jjang-gu, who looks perfectly comfortable. Jin rolls his eyes. Did she have to bring the dog? Two guards approach her as well and she waves them to stand beside her.


His mother starts looking at the crowd and her eyes stop at him. She gestures for him to come.


“My mother is calling for us,” Jin says to Namjoon who nods. He’s watching as well. The two of them walk to her. The guards trail behind.


The rest of the crowd stare at the Queen for a moment but once they realize that she is not moving they return to what they were doing.


“Mother.” Jin says to her when they arrive in front of her. Namjoon bows next to him. The guards bow as well but much lower. The guards behind his mother bow to him as well.


“Seokjin-ah,” His mother says, Jjang-gu’s tail wagging at the sight of him, “Namjoon. Walk with me please.”


They start walking towards the entrance. His mother pulls him next to her.


“Since this is an outing for your suitors you must choose a suitor to sit with during the play.” The Queen says while watching her step as she walks towards the front doors.


Jin had hoped he could have gotten away with avoiding most of his suitors for the evening. But no, he has no such luck.


“And do you have a recommendation for me? Lady Jiwoo, I presume?” If his mother is informing him, she must have an opinion.


“Yes, Lady Jiwoo.”  His mother says as they walk through the doors together. A door man holds them open for them.


“We still never discussed why you decided to partake in this suitor… game.” Jin says and that’s how he genuinely feels about it. His marriage is to be just another move on the board.


“All will be explained in due time.” She says simply. The inside of the theatre is bustling with energy. There is a general buzz of conversation and the room smells like people. “Now, where is the Lady?”


They both start to look for Lady Jiwoo. Jin finds her first, standing alone by a window and he points her out to his mother. Jin looks back at Namjoon and Namjoon nods seeing her as well.


“Lady Jiwoo,” His mother says to Lady Jiwoo when they get to her. She startles from her position of looking out the window.


“Oh, hello, your majesty’s,” Lady Jiwoo bows, “I was just looking at the beautiful church across the street.”


“It is quite nice,” The Queen says and then she turns to Jin expectantly, “Now, my son has something to ask you.”


Oh wonderful. Put him right on the spot.


“Yes, I was wondering if you would like to join me in the Royal Box.” Jin asks her and he feels oddly young and awkward.


“I didn’t expect such an honor,” Lady Jiwoo looks genuinely thrown, much different than how she was in the rose gardens. “Are you sure?”


“Yes, Lady Jiwoo. Your brother can even join us.” Jin says.


“Where is your brother?” The Queen says suddenly looking around.


“My brother? He is trying to find a bathroom before this play starts.” Lady Jiwoo says but then turns her attention back to Jin. “If you are sure, your majesty. Then I must accept.”


“Thank you, Lady Jiwoo.” He smiles at her.


“I’m glad that’s settled then.” His mother smiles widely at the two of them. “Now, I must go find the King.”


They all bow to her before she exits with her guards trailing after her.


“A enigma.” Namjoon says beside him while shaking his head. Jin laughs softly then offers his arm to Lady Jiwoo.


“To the Box?” Jin asks and she nods.


To get to the box they have to climb the stairs to the second level and go down the hallways on the Loge of the theatre.


On the left, in the box closest to the stage, the king and queen sit alone together. The box beside the King’s Box is the Royal Box. It holds the rest of the royals and the closest advisors of the king. The rest of the Loge boxes hold other higher up nobles and advisors.


They enter the Royal Box and Duke Kunhee is the only one who arrived before them. Out of the seven seats, the Duke took the seat farthest from the stage but in the front row. As the Prince, Jin would have to sit next to him in the middle. Naturally, Lady Jiwoo would have to take the last seat in the row beside him.


Jin looks back at Namjoon and tries to give him an expression that portrays how he feels about this. Namjoon just frowns. Namjoon would have to sit behind him.


Jin and Lady Jiwoo sit down and Duke Kunhee bows slightly in his seat. His guards stand at the back of the room. Duke Kunhee brought his own guard that stands next Jins’.


Three guards for the Prince and all the close advisors. The King has three on his own.


“Your majesty,” Duke Kunhee says and then his eyes find Lady Jiwoo. He looks her over obviously. “And who are you Lady…?”


“Lady Jiwoo.” Jin can see her forced smile and he internally shudders. Duke Kunhee isn’t usually difficult to deal with unless women are involved. Most of the time he is a quiet observer but when women come into view the Duke is disgusting.


“A pleasure, Lady Jiwoo.” The Duke smiles and Jin wants to burn that from his memory.


“As I with you,” She says and then turns to Jin, “Your majesty, if I may search for my dongsaeng? I would like to make sure he knows where I am.”


“Of course. Would you like me to escort you?” Jin offers, shifting forward in his seat.


Jin can’t blame her for wanting to leave after the Duke’s looks.


“Oh no. That’s not necessary. I can handle this.” Lady Jiwoo shakes her head and stands up from her seat.


“At least let me give you one of my guards.” Jin insists and already turns towards the two leaning against the wall. The stand at attention when they hear themselves mentioned.


“There’s no need, really.” Lady Jiwoo tries to stop him.


“Jeongmin, please escort Lady Jiwoo.” The guard steps forward and nods. Jin’s mother would have his head if he knew he let Lady Jiwoo walk around without an escort.


“Of course, your majesty.” The guard bows and steps behind Lady Jiwoo. She just sighs.


“I will be back soon.” She says and then exits the Box. Jeongmin trails after her. Before Jin turns back around, he looks at Namjoon who just shrugs. Jin shrugs back even though he has no idea why they are shrugging.


When he turns back around, the Duke speaks, “Your majesty, you have grown so much since when you were a boy. You have much more resolution.”


“Thank you, Duke Kunhee.” Jin says and since they were making small talk he asks, “How is everything with you? Is your son doing any better?”


“Unfortunately, there seems to be no getting better for my son. His condition is relentless.” The Duke says and Jin is surprised he is speaking so openly with him about it.


“I hope you are getting to spend a lot of time with him.” Jin says and he means it. If his loved one was dying he’d spend every waking moment with them.


“We are, we are. It is always nice to spend time with him. We’ve both accepted that our time together is short. But we’ve decided to use what time we have wisely.” The Duke nods sagely.


“That sounds admirable, Duke Kunhee.” Jin says.


Then the Admiral steps into the room with a large smile and heavy steps.


“Your majesty, it is good to see you,” The admiral bows and then takes a seat beside Namjoon. Jin can see Namjoon subtly shift in different direction.


“Is the Archbishop going to be joining us this evening?” Jin asks the Duke. He hopes not. Jin doesn’t think he’ll be able to stand the entire play with the Archbishop sitting so close.


“He had some business to take care of at the Abbey. He’ll get back to the palace before the rest of the court, though.” The Duke says. This is good to hear. Jin isn’t even sure if they would have enough room for the Archbishop anyway.


On the ground floor, Jin can see the rest of the nobility clearly. There is a slight tone of conversations and he can see everyone walking down aisles and shuffling down rows. The entire theatre smells like the red cloth of the seats.


After a little while when most people are seated, every lantern in the room is dimmed by staff and the play begins.


The play is about the country's creation. General Seoknam, Jin’s distant ancestor, is the main character and conquerors each portion of the country to install order and peace. The play starts out with a frantic fight scene and Jin can understand why his father wanted to see it. The King has always loved anything to do with war play.


Around ten minutes into the play, Lady Jiwoo enters the box with a creased forehead. Jeongmin enters behind her and takes his place beside Beomseok. She bows quickly to Jin and then sits down.


“No luck?” Jin asks as he can’t find Hoseok anywhere.


“The line to the restroom is very long,” She only says and her eyes watch the play, “Did I miss anything?”


“Nothing of importance.” Jin says.




Hoseok regrets not looking at the theatre’s building plans more closely. His sister had so graciously supplied them to him but he assumed, so incorrectly that they wouldn’t be necessary.


Now he’s in what he assumes to be the hallway for the dressing rooms. There are actors bustling past him in full costume and doors open to people fixing hair quickly and doing makeup. Racks of clothing are littered throughout the hallway and fake props are everywhere else.


The play must of started. He can hear clashes of fake swords in the distance.


How hard is it to find the back entrance?


Hoseok reaches the end of the hallway and there is a door that he hopes may lead to the outside. He pushes the door open to find not the back street but a room full of more costumes and props.


Hoseok sighs and is about to slam the door shut when he spots a black cloak. He reaches over and grabs it to find that, yes, it’s the perfect length. It has a hood to cover his face and will cover his sword just as well too.


Hoseok closes the door and holds on to the cloak. The cloak will also help him blend in a little with the actors. Some of them had given him looks of confusion but they all had been too busy to stop him.


Hoseok takes a few more turns and finally at one turn he see’s a guard sitting by a door smoking a roll of tobacco. The man is distracted by his thoughts and is his body is lax from the stressless job he was given.


Before Hoseok interacts with the man, he puts the cloak around his shoulders and puts a hand on his sword.


He makes the turn. The man looks up, confusion obvious, “Hey, what—”


Hoseok smiles under the cloak and hits his sword handle to the man’s forehead. The guard slumps to the floor limp. Hoseok checks his pulse and it jumps under his fingers. The man will be out for only a couple of minutes and then some added time for confusion.


Hoseok thinks about hiding him but decides there isn’t enough time. Instead, he pulls the door open to an empty alley. He’s hit with smell of city air.


What did his sister say to do at this point? Oh right.


“A sitting dove is one that has found sanctuary.” He says to the empty alley. He feels ridiculous doing so and the Progressive in him cringes at the Conventional saying.


A man with black robes exits a door from the building across the alley. For a second Hoseok worries that he’s caught and the man knows he’s actually a Progressive. But then the man smiles and whistles loudly.


More men in robes enter the alley. A quick headcount says that there is fifteen of them. The man who exited the building approaches him first.


“Why the cloak, brother?” Their leader asks. Hoseok holds the door open for him and the man slides past him into the building.


“You can never be too careful.” Hoseok says. The rest of the men (some look like boys, really, which makes Hoseok cringe a little in regret) enter behind and their faces are filled with excitement. They think they are about to make history and make the world a better place. They are so naive.


Hoseok can see the maces and swords at their sides. The leader even has a musket slung over his back.


“And this guard here? He’s not dead is he?” The leader asks looking at the guards limp body. He looks regretful.


“Just passed out for a moment,” Hoseok says and is a little surprised to see the Conventional’s relief.


“This is good to hear. I would like to cause as little harm today as possible.” The man says and Hoseok can tell he genuinely means it.


Hoseok nods in agreement, “The man can wake at any moment so you better get going.”


“Yes, of course,” The leader nods and turns to leave. Then Hoseok remembers something Jiwoo said to him and grabs the man’s arm.


“They all know what to do, right?” Hoseok says and he’s looking the man straight in the eye. He knows the man can see his face clearly now but it doesn’t matter. “They all know what they have to do if worst comes to worst? If the reinforcement doesn’t get here?”


“Yes,” The leader says and he looks so sad, “They know.”


“Good luck, brother.” And despite them technically being enemies he means it. It’s just sweet nothings, though.


The leader nods and follows after his group. Hoseok stays behind for a moment and waits until he can no longer hear their footsteps.


“What did I just do?” Hoseok feels a wave of regret after seeing all those boys faces. They’re not going to leave this building alive.


The man on the floor groans but before he can really wake up, Hoseok turns down the hallway at a jog. He throws the cloak on one of the racks as he passes and then finds his way back to the lobby of the theatre. He slips through the doors that lead to ground floor seating.


In the loge seating he can already see the anarchy begin. The play stops suddenly when the King and Royal box are flooded with the Conventionals and their black robes. Their weapons are in hand and the leader has his musket aimed at the King. The guards in the box form a barrier around the King and Queen in the King’s box and in the Royal box—


In the Royal box is his sister. His sister who is supposed to be sitting in one of the ground level seats.


His sister who can get stabbed or shot in the crossfire because she’s not supposed to be in the Royal box .


Hoseok curses and turns around.




Of course, when the play starts getting good does everything go to shit.


General Seoknam is about to decide if he should kill his long time friend and rival to take over the man’s lands. His rival is a terrible ruler but they are friends and the General can’t figure out what to do.


Jin knows how it will turn out. He knows what the General picks because he read it so many times in his history lessons growing up. But for some reason he wants to see him decide right now in this silly play. It seems so important .


There are sudden loud footsteps heard hitting the stairs and Jin looks back, confused. Lady Jiwoo freezes beside him. Jin nods to Beomseok who moves to look out the doorway. Jin looks over to Namjoon to express his confusion when Beomseok turns back around.


“Cover the Prince!” Beomseok yells to Jeongmin. Jin stands up and Lady Jiwoo gets up beside him.


“What’s going on?” He asks and Namjoon moves in front of him. The guards move their bayoneted muskets in front of them. The Duke and Admiral’s equally as confused faces are beside him on either side. Duke Kunhee’s guard shields the Duke.


His question is answered when he hears shouted orders and robed men enter the Royal box. He moves Lady Jiwoo behind him because whatever this is she definitely doesn’t deserve to get hurt.


On the stage, the actor’s voice stumbles to a stop. To Jin’s right, the Admiral takes his pistol out and checks if it’s loaded.


“God have mercy,” Lady Jiwoo whispers from behind him. From the corner of his eye, he can see her take out a necklace with a flying dove pendant. She kisses it and puts it away. They are both being pressed into the railing and Jin can’t help but feel like they might fall.


At this angle, he can see the King’s box clearly and his parents pressed up against the railing with five guards surrounding them for protection.


“Stay back,” Beomseok says to the robed and armed men. They are slowly walking towards them.


“Conventionals?” Jin whispers to Namjoon, standing in front of him. He can’t see very well over Namjoon’s shoulders and the two guards.


“I believe so.” Namjoon whispers back. “Seven of them in here, too.”


“What is the meaning of this?” The King’s voice booms throughout the theatre.


It’s like the theatre has a new stage. All of nobles are staring up at them instead now.


“Kim Seokju, King of the country Baedal, you are under arrest for violations of the great Divinity Scriptures.” The man with musket aimed at the king says. “Come peacefully and we can avoid violence.”


“Violations of the scriptures? What kind of nonsense is this? I am the king .” The King practically growls. Even from here, Jin can see the veins in his father’s neck.


“Even kings must adhere to god’s rule, Jeonha” The man says.


“I am the king . If I say there is no god then that is how it shall be.” The King says, “If I say I am god then that is how it shall be.”


“Even king’s are human. And all humans die. God’s do not, Jeonha.” The man says and Jin can see him shake his head.


The King scoffs, “Kill them.”


After that, all Jin can comprehend is the noise. In front of him, the three guards musket’s go off. The admiral shoots his pistol. On the ground floor, the first bang makes the nobles scream and rush for the exit.


In this proximity, there is no way anyone could have missed. Four bodies slump to the floor, leaving only three robed men standing.


“Yeonhwan,” One of the Conventionals cry at his fallen friend before he turns his watery eyes to the guards, “I’ll kill you!”


The guns take to long to load but the bayonets work just as well. The three men start stalking towards them. Beomseok jabs his bayonet towards the closest approaching man. He jumps back with a scowl.


Before either guard can react, another man slashes his sword across Beomseok’s face.


“Fuck.” Beomseok curses. Jeongmin quickly takes revenge by jabbing the man’s unguarded chest. He falls but the man on the right tries to go for Jeongmin’s weak spot.


The admiral, who had spent the entire time reloading his pistol, shoots the man before he can make it.


“Damn fanatic,” The Admiral grumbles.


The last man yells and holds his mace above his head. Duke Kunhee’s guard looks like he’s about to step in when the man’s yell falters. The front of a sword pokes through the man’s chest and he falls off it with a strangled gasp.


Behind him, Jiwoo gasps. Hoseok appears with his sword still held straight in the air. His eyes are so wide.


Jiwoo pushes past Jin, Namjoon and the shocked guards.


“Noona,” Hoseok breathes out at the sight of her and drops his sword with a clang to hug her. Jin wonders if this is the first time the master swordsman actually killed someone with his sword.


Everyone lets out a breathe and drops their shoulders. Namjoon let’s go of Jin’s wrist. Jin can’t even remember when Namjoon had grabbed it. Jeongmin starts to bandage Beomseok’s face.


“This shouldn’t have happened,” Hoseok says and the siblings separate, “You shouldn’t have been up here.”


“It’s fine, Hobi, everything is fine.” Jiwoo tells him. Hoseok still seems a little distraught so Jin decides to speak up.


“I wouldn’t let anything happen to her, Hoseok.” Jin steps forward past Namjoon and his guards.


Hoseok looks over to him and then slowly smiles and nods.


“Just hand yourself over!” Jin can hear his father yell and they all tense again. Jin looks over to King’s box.


Jin doesn’t understand how they got into this position. The man with the musket now has his own back to the railing. Four out of the original five guards face him with their muskets in his direction. The man has a dagger pointed at them, uselessly.


“Since you are not my god, Jeonha,” The musket man says, “You don’t get to decide whether I live or die.”


The man turns his dagger around and jabs it into his stomach. He gasps from the pain and then falls backwards past the railing.


Jin doesn’t watch his body fall but he can’t stop from hearing the sound it makes when it hits the floor.


“Oh god,” Hoseok whispers.


“Code red; royals.” A guard shouts from the King’s box.


Jin hasn’t heard that term since the time when they found his Hyung’s poisoned body. It was when they feared it had been an assassination. Code red for the royals meant get all royals to safety at any cost.


Jin turns to Namjoon before he can be dragged away.


“Namjoon, I need you to take a carriage straight to the Hamlet. Don’t make any stops,” Jin holds eye contact with him and suddenly he can’t bare the thought of leaving him behind right now.


“Alright.” Namjoon says with wide eyes.


“Make sure Yoongi is alright.” Jin says.


“Your majesty, we need to go.” Beomseok says. His face is bandaged and bloody.


“Yes, I know,” Jin starts to follow his guards before he looks back one more time, “Don’t leave the Hamlet until I get back.”


“Alright.” Namjoon says and Jin’s heart aches leaving Namjoon’s form standing there.



Jin hasn’t been in this close proximity with his family in such a long time. He can’t remember the last time they had to travel together. It feels odd to acknowledge the fact that this is his family.


“What the hell was that?” His mother hisses to Jin’s father. She’s sitting next to Jin on his left. His father is sitting in the bench across from them. “Why the hell did I just get guns pointed at me?”


“Woman, does it look I know why those fanatic’s chose to attack us?” The King scowls at her and continues to stare out the window. Outside the guards are on horses guarding the carriages ride to the palace.


“This is your fault .” His mother says and Jin flinches. It’s always terrible hearing parents argue. Even if those parents hate each other and the argument is nothing new. It’s always terrible.


“How is this my fault? I didn’t decide to—”


“If you had been a good ruler in the first place and—”


“What do you know about ruling, woman?” His father is glaring at her now.


“I know you’re not supposed to let fanatic’s run around freely—”


“You know nothing, woman. You know nothing of the sacrifices I’ve made for this country.” His father says with a finger pointed in her face. All of this sounds like rehashed arguments that the two of them have had in the past.


“Just because you went to war doesn’t mean you can get away with abandoning your country.”


Jin’s getting worried, now. He wants to intervene but he doesn’t know how. “Please, the both of you—”


“I am the king .” His father and mother both ignore him. “I can do whatever I please!”


“You sound like a town bard with only one story. ‘ I’m the king, I’m the king. ’ No, you’re no king. You’re a goddamned coward—”


His father slaps her.


All Jin hears is the slap and Jjang-gu yip. At first, he thinks it was the dog who got hurt but then he see’s the red bloom on his mother's cheek. And he can’t breathe.


Of course, he knew, faintly in the back of his mind what went on between his parents. He knew their relationship wasn’t healthy. But he never saw anything before this moment. Jin feels like he’s also been slapped.


“Don’t you ever call me a coward, you hear? I am no damn coward.” The shakes his finger in her unseeing face.


“What kind of man ,” Jin feels detached from his words. All he can focus on is his mother’s red cheek, her clenched jaw and the anger in her eyes. “Hits his wife and still calls himself a man .”


“Boy, do you want to get hit too?” His father turns his finger in Jin’s direction.


Jin opens his mouth to respond but his mother beats him to it.


“I have spent my entire married life protecting him from you,” Her voice is low and steely. Her gaze does not waver. “If you lay one hand on him, I will slit your fucking throat while you sleep.”


The carriage goes silent for a moment and no one moves.


“I am your husband. You wouldn’t dare.” His father says and he sounds so sure of himself. Jin swears he can hear his heart beating in his chest.


His mother stares at him for a moment and then her faces cracks into a smile. She starts cackling.


“You know so little, Jeonha.” She says better laughs, “So little.”


Her laughter does not stop.


All Jin understands right now is that his father is an asshole and his mother has gone crazy.




Hoseok and Jiwoo got back to the palace and went straight to her room.


Now, he’s pacing the length of it while Jiwoo sits in the armchair in front of the fireplace. He is shaken up from today. He’s thinking about those boys faces and the leader. He killed himself on his and Hoseok’s orders. And he did it believing he was protecting his values.


“Hoseok-ah,” She says with a sigh, “Stop pacing. Sit down.”


“I don’t think I can do this anymore.” Hoseok says instead and ignores her commands.


“Do what, Hoseok-ah?” She sounds so tired, “Are you not going to go through with the contract?”


Her shoulders are slumped and she stares at the fireplace.


“I’ll go through with the contract but after that,” He stops in front of her, “I can’t keep doing this. I’m not meant for this. I love our family but I can’t keep doing this.”


“Just please sit down,” Jiwoo says patting the armchair next to her, “Talk to me.”


“Alright, noona.” He sighs and sits down.


“Talk to me.” She says and grabs his hand to hold.


“I think, first, we have to tell the Prince.” He looks her straight in the eye.


Her eyebrows shoot up, “Do we now?”


He nods. He knows what he wants and what he needs to do to get it.




When they finally arrived at the palace, the first thing the King did was demand for the Archbishop to be brought to him.


To Jin’s surprise the King then decides to go to Throne room. The King rarely ever uses it and it mostly gets left to the dust.


Now, Jin and his mother stand beside the King who sits on his throne with revenge in his thoughts.


“Your majesty, what is the meaning of this treatment?” The Archbishop offended voice says as he is pulled in by guards. There are two guards dragging him by the arms and the man struggles to keep up with their pace. The sight looks pitiful to Jin.


“Don’t you play coy with me, Byungeun.” The King says as the Archbishop finally reaches the bottom steps to the throne.


“What are you talking about—?”


“Did you think I would let you get away with this stunt? Attacking some silly court poet is one thing but the me, the King ?”


“Jeonha, I don’t understand—” The Archbishop starts and he genuinely looks terrified. His eyes are wide and his hands are frantically trying to explain.


“Take him away. Send him to the prisons and make sure the ride is as uncomfortable as possible.” The King waves him away with a disgusted scowl.


“Jeonha, jeonha, please, let me talk—” Yoo Byungeun cries as he’s taken out of the room. Jin wants to feel bad but he can’t seem to. Not after all the has done.


The room becomes silent when the Archbishop leaves. He can only hear his mother and Jjang-gu breathing next to him. For a moment, no one says anything.


“You’ll have to replace him.” Jin says to the King, breaking the silence. His voice echoes in the empty Throne room. Nothing feels right after their argument in the carriage.


“Yes.” The King says and gets up from his throne. “I’m going to rest.”


Then he walks out of the room and leaves the two of them. Jin turns to his mother.


“I think we need to talk.” Jin says.


“Let’s just get back to the Hamlet, yes?” His mother says and her face is blank.


“Alright.” He agrees because he longs to be in the familiar territory of his home and see Namjoon and Yoongi again.



When they get to the Hamlet it’s dark. When their carriage pulls up Jin is surprised to see another carriage already there. He would have assumed Namjoon had gotten back long ago.


“Expecting someone?” His mother asks when they get out of the carriage. They both look over to the carriage in confusion.


“No.” Jin replies. His mother just frowns and shifts Jjang-gu, who has been patiently held all day.


They make the short trek to the Cottage but before they enter his mother speaks up.


“I think I’m going to let Jjang-gu go to the bathroom.” She says and starts walking to the grass.


“Alright.” He turns around and enters the Cottage.


He hears the sounds of conversation coming from living room. He can also smell food and Jin realizes that he hasn’t eaten in so long. Namjoon exits it and at the sight of Jin he smiles.


“I thought I heard a carriage.” Namjoon says as he approaches Jin. “Is everything alright?”


“The King arrested the Archbishop and renounced him of his title.” Jin lets out a large breath. “It is good to see you. My mother is outside.”


“Well, we have guests. Her guests specifically.” Namjoon says.


“Her guests? Lady Jiwoo and Hoseok?” Jin asks. Why would they be here?


“Yes, and the two of them said they couldn’t explain until you arrived.” Namjoon nods.


“That’s odd.” Jin says.


His mother opens the door with Jjang-gu at her heel.


“Your majesty,” Namjoon bows, “Rapmon—my dog. He’s inside the living room. I thought I should warn you if your dog is bad with other dogs.”


“Is your dog big?” Jin’s mother asks while looking at Jjang-gu’s happy face.


“No, they’re about the same size.” Namjoon says.


“Then we should be fine.” His mother says.


“Oh Namjoon-ah,” Jin sighs with a fond smile, “I like how you warn her about your dog but not about the Jung’s.”


“Oh.” Namjoon blinks and Jin laughs.


“The Jungs? They are here?” His mother’s eyebrows furrow.


“Yes, Umma.” Jin says, “Shall we greet them?”


They enter the living room to find the Jung’s on the couch to the left and Yoongi with Rapmon on his lap on the couch to the right. Namjoon sits next to Yoongi on the couch.


“Your majesty,” Jiwoo says as Jin and his mother enter the room. The siblings both stand up to bow.


“Queen Yejin, we didn’t expect you here.” Hoseok says when the duo straightens,


“Nor did I expect you here.” The Queen says with narrowed eyes. There seems to be a tension between the three of them and Jin can’t understand why.


“I would stand to bow as well, your majesty,” Yoongi says from the couch, “But I don’t want to move the dog.”


At a closer look, Jin can see that Rapmon’s eyes are shut tight and his body is limp in Yoongi’s lap. Jin and his mother move


“It’s alright. Let the dog sleep.” His mother dismisses the problem. “Why are you two here?


“We…” Jiwoo starts and then she looks over to her brother.


“We decided we want to change some of the terms of our agreement.” Hoseok says looking between his sister and the Queen. Agreement? What agreement? Does this have to do with Jiwoo being his sister.


“We are not backing out on it but we’d like to change our rewards.” Jiwoo quickly amends.


“If you wanted more money than why did you come here?” Jin can hear the held back anger in his mother’s voice.


“We don’t want any of your money, actually.” Hoseok says and then he smiles, “I guess I want a job, instead.”


Jin looks over to Namjoon and Yoongi to see Namjoon’s eyes narrowed like he’s trying to figure out what’s going on and that Yoongi just looks deadpan.


“What contract? What are you guys talking about?” Jin asks.


“A job?” The Queen asks confusion momentarily hindering her anger.


“Yes and a position for my sister.” Hoseok says. “And the only person that can grant that position is Prince Seokjin.”


“What?” Jin asks because he has no power to grant anyone titles yet. At least no titles of importance.


“Only the king can…” Namjoon starts and then his eyes go wide, “Oh my god.”


“I want my sister to be named the next Archbishop and I want to be your bodyguard, Prince Seokjin.” Hoseok says.


Only the king can grant that title. Suddenly Jin understands the connection Namjoon just made. Jin turns to his mother shocked.


“You hired them to kill the King?” His voice sounds like a whisper. He’s genuinely shocked. He never expected this from his mother.


“Oh dear.” Yoongi says simply.


“I would like for everyone to leave so I can speak to my son.” His mother says without looking away from Jin.


For a moment, no one moves. Then everyone gets up and does what she asks.


“You actually hired someone to kill him.” A part of Jin is so, so glad. But he also knows it’s wrong.


“I would of done it years ago.” His mother says as she pets Jjang-gu’s head, “But you weren’t ready. That was why I was so happy when you told me about Namjoon.”


“Did you guys ever love each other?” Jin asks because that feels important to ask. He thinks he already knows the answer.


“No,” She shakes her head. “After the war, after seeing his friends die. He was...he was not good. When I met him I was terrified of him. I tried to love him but I was so scared and he was not kind to me. He gave no regard to how I felt. By the time your brother was born, I despised him. But I loved being a mother. So I bit my tongue and had you as well.” Did his mother just insinuate what he’s thinking?


“For a while, I was alright. But then your brother died and it was even worse. You know just a well as I that this palace is a jail. Your father is my jailer.” She says.


“I understand.” He says but is it right . He doesn’t know what to do. Nothing feels right.


“We have to do this,” She says and then picks up his hands to hold, “You suffer, I suffer, the entire country suffers while he’s still on the throne. You’re ready. There is no time to waste.”


“I think,” Jin doesn’t even know what he thinks, “I need to talk to the Jungs. Namjoon and Yoongi, too.”


His mother nods and stands up, letting go of his hand, “I will get them. I think I will also take Jjang-gu for a walk around the lake. Let myself get away from all this so you can think.”


“Yes.” He says but she doesn’t move away from him. Everything is so slow. There’s so much he’s trying to process.


“Seokjin.” She says and he looks up at her eyes.


“Yes?” He asks not breaking eye contact.


“I love you. No matter what, remember that.” She says fondly, as her eyes flicker to each of his.


“I love you, too, Umma.” Jin says and he’s still confused but at least he knows he has that.


She straightens and exits the room, Jjang-gu in her arms.


Jin can feel his stomach’s emptiness. He takes the time to grab some of the Dasik from the table and pour himself some tea.


Only a moment later does everyone who previously left reenter. They all take the same seats they were in previously.


“So,” He says to Hoseok, “You want to kill the king and then become the next king’s bodyguard.”


“Well,” Hoseok shifts and a little smile appears on his face, “When you put it that way…”


“He’s not wrong.” Jiwoo says with a shrug.


“Look,” Hoseok says, “My family has been trying to take down the corruption in the Order for generations. We took this contract thinking that it could help us take down the Archbishop.”


“How?” Namjoon asks immediately after Hoseok finishes.


“By pining King Seokju’s death on the Archbishop.” Hoseok says. “The attack today? That was us.”


“You’re joking.” Jin says, shocked.


“We sent out fake instructions to the Conventional’s and asked them to arrest the king.” Jiwoo says.


“What about the Conventional who attacked me? Was that you two again?” Yoongi speaks up with narrowed eyes.


“No,” Hoseok shakes his head, “But we won’t lie, it definitely helps solidify the accusation.” Yoongi sits back, his mouth a line.


“But why do you want to be my bodyguard?” Jin asks. It seems like the sibling’s got what they wanted so why would Hoseok suddenly want to defend him?


Hoseok sighs, “I’ve been doing this for a long time. Mostly, there’s only two deaths at most involved. But this time, with those Conventionals. They all died for nothing.”


“Not nothing, they helped us make the church a better place.” Jiwoo intervenes.


“That is where we disagree, Noona.” Hoseok says, “We used them. Anyway, the point is, I can only stand killing when it’s the only choice left. Being your bodyguard means I only have to kill when someone tries to kill you.”


Jin nods. He can understand this. If anything, what Hoseok just said is noble.


“Or you could just quit being an assassin and start a farm or something.” Yoongi shrugs. “Avoid the killing thing entirely.”


“That’s true,” Hoseok smiles, “But I would get bored very quickly.” Hoseok turns to Jin, “So, what do you say, your majesty?”


Jin takes a sip of his tea and looks around. Now, he must decide his father’s fate


He remembers the play. He didn’t get to watch General Seoknam decide whether or not to kill his friend so you could help the land. But he knew from his lessons what happened. Seoknam had killed his friend.


King Seokju may be his father but he is not his friend.


The answer is obvious.


“I agree to your terms.” Jin says, “And I agree to my father’s death.”




Hoseok has done many assassination’s but he’s not naive enough to think this one won’t be the most difficult.


He had entered the King’s bedroom through the unpatrolled hidden hallways. He had been worried a guard would have been placed by the entrance but there had been none.


Now he stands inside the King’s bedroom, hovering over the bed. King Seokju is fast asleep completely unaware of his imminent fate. He’s breathing through his mouth and making a whistling sound because of it.


This is the part that he hates the most. When the target is unaware and Hoseok is left with his thoughts. The first person Hoseok had ever killed had been vile, a murder and rapist. Even then it still had been difficult. But once Hoseok would get past the decision he could stop thinking.


Since there are guards standing right there, on the side of the bedroom doors, Hoseok has to make this a quiet kill.


Hoseok pulls out the blue bottle he has in his inner pocket. It’s small but the powder inside costed his family nearly a century to save money for. Just the slightest bits will suffocate it’s victim. It’s called Blue Acid.


Hoseok holds the bottle over the King’s mouth and as the man breathes in he taps the powder out.


The King’s eyes fly open and his hands clutch at the sheets. His face becomes red and his eyes bulge out, looking straight at Hoseok. His neck muscles strain and his mouth opens for air like a fish out of water.


His gasps are too loud for Hoseok’s liking so he covers the King's mouth and waits for a full thirty seconds for the King to stop thrashing. The King’s eyes shut closed but he’s not dead. Only unconscious. It will take a few more minutes for him to lose his life.


Hoseok has only used Blue Acid a few times. It never ceases to terrify him.


Hoseok doesn’t want to do the next part he also doesn’t want to waste time and get caught. He pulls away the comforter and rips the King’s shirt open. He takes out his Sacrificial Knife, used traditionally used by people of the Order to sacrifice animals. He also takes out a pendent of a Sitting Dove.


Hoseok takes a deep breathe and presses the knife into the King’s chest. He carves out the design of a sitting dove using the pendant as a reference.


It’s gruesome work and it makes Hoseok’s stomach churn but experience has made him more resilient.


The blood that spills out of the King’s chest covers some of the image so he has to use the Kings ripped shirt to clean it away. When that’s finished, Hoseok wants to rub the stress from his face but he doesn’t want to get the blood all over.


He’s doing all this to add to the evidence against the Archbishop.


Now, he has to write a message on the wall. He dips his fingers into the blood with a grimace and turns to the wall. He writes out the characters as clearly as possible. He has turn back a couple of times to get more blood to write with.


When he’s done the wall reads, “ God’s do not die .”


Hoseok let’s out a deep breathe because finally, finally he’s done.


He makes sure that he has the pendant and the bottle of Blue Acid. He leaves the knife on the bed. It came from a church close to the palace, so Hoseok wasn’t worried about it being traced back to him.


Just before he leaves he notices something on the nightstand. It’s a small standing painting frame. At a closer look, Hoseok can see that the painting is of a teenage boy holding a sword. He realizes from the similar features to the Prince that he must be the elder brother and son.


The King must have really loved him.


God, does Hoseok never want to do this again.


Hoseok hears a noise from outside the main doors and his heart jumps. He dashes to the hidden exit and exits the room. His heart in his throat. It’s a bit of an overreaction but he definitely did not want to spend any more time in there.


Once he’s in the musty hidden hallway, the gravity of what he just did hit him.


He just killed the King. If anyone knew he couldn’t image what would happen to him. He just killed the King .


With that thought, he finds his way out of the palace and to the Hamlet.




Jin has always loved mornings. He loves waking up just before the sun rises and loves to watch the earth wake up around him.


He decides that morning that he’s not going to change his schedule even though he knows his father is dead and he is King.


So, Jin exits the Cottage and enters into the cool morning air. He walks down to the lake and onto the small dock. He sits down at the edge, cross legged. He can’t dangle his legs over the edge because the water is too high and his legs are too long.


Slowly, the sky becomes lighter. The clouds cover the entire sky and make a tinge of gray everywhere. The lake reflects the gray sky. Occasionally, its image is rippled from an fish or turtle disturbing the water.


After a good ten minutes, Jin hears footsteps behind him on the wooden dock and he looks back to see a puffy faced Namjoon. Silently, Namjoon sits next to him.


Jin waits a moment to break the silence, “You’re up early.”


Normally, Namjoon gets up at a reasonable time much later than this. Yoongi, on the other hand, will sleep in very late due to his midnight writing sessions keeping him up.


Namjoon nods in agreement and speaks with a voice still rough from sleep, “Are you feeling alright?”


Jin sighs and leans back, “I’m not sure. Do you think I’ll be a good king?”


“Yes,” Namjoon says and his quick answer makes Jin feel a small heat in his cheeks, “And you’ll always have me and Yoongi to help you.”


“Thank you,” Jin says and then smiles crookedly, “I suppose Hoseok will always be there to help now, too.”


“Do you think we can trust him?” Namjoon asks and his voice is much more awake now. “This could have just been an effort to gain more control. A ear to the King and the head of the church.”


“True,” Jin says but he when he heard Hoseok speak he didn’t feel like the man was lying, “But I think I have a way to lessen their power if that becomes a worry.”


Before Namjoon can respond, bells begin to ring from the palace. The play in the same sequence from when his brother died.


Jin sighs, “Did I do the right thing?”


Namjoon shrugs, “There’s no going back now.”


The answer doesn’t help his worried mind.


The tolls end and all is silent for a while. Then the bells start up again in the same sequence.


In Jin’s head, he hears a song.


“He’s dead as nail in the lamp room door…”


The bell chimes echo.


“And he won’t come worrying us no more. Oh poor old man.”