Arrangements a #taekookau + #yoonminau
"But he is a mere painter, brother!" Taehyung shouts, "he is no class. No skill. No-"
"My mother wants you dead, Taehyung!" Yoongi thunders, "she wants you out as you are a threat to my throne. By marrying you off, I am keeping you alive!"
"So you are selling me off to a mere painter of your court," Taehyung blinks back tears, "he agreed because you offered him position and wealth. He doesn't even know me. What were you thinking?!"
"I was thinking of a way to keep you alive!" Yoongi shouts, voice hard, "please."
"What if he hates me? What if I hate him? He is not even literate!" Taehyung cries, "you are just getting rid of me. What if he kills me after taking the dowry?"
"I will keep him under my watch," Yoongi hisses, "I just need to make sure you are not in this family anymore."
Taehyung turns away, "you are sending me away. You promised you would never let me leave your side. I am your brother. I would never try to take your place. You know it!"
Yoongi closes his eyes, "you know how mother is. She sees you as a threat. You are the king’s second son!"
"I am the second wife's son!" Taehyung shrieks, "I can't be the king! I don't want to!"
"My mother will poison you to death if you carry our family name," Yoongi roars, voice echoing off the walls, "I saved you from her until now but I keep thinking one day she will succeed..."
"I will go crazy thinking that one day I will wake up to the news of your death!" Yoongi hides his tears, turns away, "so you agree or not, you are marrying that painter. End of discussion."
"Why a mere painter?!" Taehyung hugs himself, "why such a lowborn, illiterate, fool?!"
"Because a royal family won't stay under my feet," Yoongi murmurs, "this family will. I rule them. They are poor. They are illiterate. They fear me. They would never try to cross me. They will fear you, they will do whatever you say too-"
"You bought him," Taehyung whispers...
Taehyung's face contorts in disgust, "you bought the man and his family."
Yoongi lets out a curse, "I am paying them the dowry. There's nothing like-"
"I would like to talk to him," Taehyung announces, "the painter. I would talk to him and you will arrange the meeting."
Yoongi frowns, "why do you want to talk to him?"
Taehyung glares, "he is going to be my husband. I demand a meeting and you will arrange that."
Yoongi glares back, "meeting him won't change a thing, Taehyung, I have decalred your wedding. The announcement is done."
"I don't care what you announced," Taehyung shakes his head, tears brimming in his eyes that he tries hard to hide, "I am asking this from my brother. Yoongi."
Yoongi's face contorts, his grip on the sword on his belt tightening for a second before he is nodding, "very well."
The meeting is held at the royal palace. A room vast enough to have space between them and for others to wait by the door, keep an eye on them so they don't do anything 'obscene' before marriage.
Taehyung's skin crawls at the thought of that illiterate painter touching him.
The painter is kneeling, head bowed, hands on his knees.
There is a veil between them because no matter what, Taehyung is a royal prince and he never meets the commoner without a partition between.
He stands tall, watches the painter's back and lets out a sigh, "get up, please."
The painter gets up. He is about Taehyung's height. He keeps his head bowed, hands clasped in front of him.
Taehyung wants to cry.
"Look at me," he knows his voice cracks, "please."
There is clear hesitation. The painter's grip on his hand tightens as he blinks and looks up.
The first thing Taehyung notices is, the painter has huge eyes, or maybe they are huge with fear.
The next thing is... he is beautiful. A scoff goes past Taehyung's lips, at least he doesn't look terrible.
The next thing Taehyung notices is how built the man is. For a painter.
"You agreed to marry me," Taehyung says, sits down on the chair allotted to him and notices with a grimace how the painter doesn't have somewhere to sit, "why?"
The painter gulps, squirms on the place, looks down at Taehyung's feet, "your highness told me to marry you."
Taehyung wants to throw hands at Yoongi.
"What is your name?" Taehyung knows, he wants to know from those lips, "painter?"
Jungkook gulps, "Jeon Jungkook."
Taehyung hums, "if my brother asked you to die, would you agree to it so readily? Like you did to this wedding?"
A small smile ghosts across those lips before Jungkook coughs, "he didn't really ask. He ordered."
Taehyung closes his eyes, "so you had no other choice?"
"It was either I marry you or my cousin," Jungkook shakes his head, "he is too innocent to get dragged in this."
"You realize this is going to be a love less marriage, right?" Taehyung whispers, "I can't love someone like..." he stops when Jungkook nods.
"I understand," Jungkook is looking at Taehyung's feet still, "I am under no illusion, my prince. I know what this wedding will mean."
Taehyung twitches on the seat, "I can have lovers," he sighs when he sees those arms flexing around nothing at his words, "I might take lovers. Do you have a problem?"
Jungkook shakes his head, "I am under no illusion. You are free to do whatever you want, my prince."
Taehyung's jaw ticks, "well then, you are very gullible, painter."
Jungkook's eyes remain on Taehyung's feet, "I am."
Taehyung frowns, "you are not going to protest?"
Jungkook breathes, "there are weapons pointed at me, my prince, I may be gullible but I know when to stay quiet."
Taehyung hums, "so this is your facade then? When we are alone, you will not be so sweet and bashful?"
Jungkook smiles, "do you think sweetness is weakness, my prince?"
"It is," Taehyung hums, "it is a weakness."
Jungkook's lips twitches, "I see."
"Answer me," Taehyung sighs.
"I will be me with you," Jungkook says, "I won't be someone else. I won't put on a facade of someone I am not. I will be myself with you when we are alone."
"And how is Jeon Jungkook?" Taehyung asks, "what kind of a person he is?"
Jungkook lifts his head then, matches Taehyung's eyes, "I don't know what kind of a person he is, my prince, but he will be loyal to you. He won't take a lover."
Taehyung watches as the painter bows, watches as he straightens up.
"And I know you were trying to aggravate me."
"Pardon?" Taehyung arches his brow.
Jungkook smiles, "Prince Taehyung is trying to aggravate me into doing something that will call off the wedding. I may not be as educated you are, my prince, but you are not really a good trouper either."
Taehyung sucks in a breath...
Jungkook pulls out a white rose from the belt around his waist and kneels on the floor to keep it there, "it is a tradition in our family to give a white rose to your spouse when you meet them for the first time. It was our first meet, my prince. I hope you like it."
"I don't pick up fallen things," Taehyung says, chin held high, "It touched the ground."
Jungkook nodded, "very well. Let it be here, then. I would ask you to excuse me, my prince. I need to be in the royal court."
Taehyung nods, "you are excused then."
Jungkook bows. Leaves.
Taehyung leaves the room after the painter is long gone. He looks down at the rose and turns around on his feet and leaves with long strides.
No one bats an eye or even turns to look when the prince comes back, leans down and picks up the rose in his hands. He leaves again.
Yoongi looks at the house where the painter lives. He is here to solidify the union. He is here with the gifts and everything.
He nods at the welcoming chorus and goes through the welcoming traditions with his lips pressed tightly.
He hates his mother more by the minutes.
The house is satisfying because Jungkook's father was a knight and a very good one at that. He lost his life for the royal family. He was a good man.
The house was a gift from Yoongi's father.
Yoongi looks around at those many faces who came to greet him and see the king.
Yoongi hates the traditions, but he sits in the chair he was presented and accepts all the gifts the groom's side has chosen for him.
They are the normal things. Nothing he hasn't seen before or hasn't expected. He accepts a list that has the gifts listed for the royal family.
He is just placing his hand on whatever that is presented to him. Mindlessly hoping for the ritual to finish as fast as it can.
Then there is something soft grazing the pads of his fingers and he is turning his eyes on the thing with a sharp turn of his head.
It's a rose. Pink.
Yoongi's eyes follow the path of the hand that is holding the flower and the person is wearing the same colour's hanbok and is smiling at him.
Smile so wide, it's blinding.
Yoongi gapes. Hand outstretched, mouth parted, eyes on that smiling face of a stranger.
"Everyone is giving you something," he says, smile still on his face, "I had nothing prepared. So a flower for our king."
Yoongi can hear the hisses and gasps and murmurs raising around them. The flower's soft petals tickling his palm.
"It is so nice to meet you," the boy says.
Then there is a woman who is grabbing the boy by the neck and forcing him in a deep bow, "king. Call him your king, and what will he do with a flower?! You disobedient boy!"
Yoongi frowns, "he is in front of me," he says, "if someone can punish him, it would be the king. Right?"
The woman freezes, pulls away. The boy is pouting now, rubbing the back of his neck.
Yoongi reaches for the flower, takes it, "thank you," he arches his brow in question.
The boy's pout vanishes around a smile, "Jimin. I am Park Jimin."
He doesn't bow. Yoongi smiles.
"Thank you for the best gift, Park Jimin," Yoongi nods, then turns to the head of the family, now Jungkook's mother, "I would take your leave now, ma'am. I have a lot to arrange for the wedding. I hope you all can visit the royal court on the wedding day. Thank you."
He turns to Jimin who is looking at him, "I didn't get anything for you personally. Here," he pulls off a ring and holds it out for Jimin to take, "from me."
Jimin looks at the ring and up at Yoongi with a nose scrunch, "a ring is accepted only when it's given by my betrothed."
Yoongi stills for a moment and then smiles, "then what can I give you for this beautiful flower?"
Jimin's smile return, "I will ask for it when the time comes, my king."
Yoongi nods and then he turns to Jungkook, "I will see you on the wedding day."
Then the king leaves.
Taehyung sees Jungkook on their wedding day. He is dressed in the finest blue hanbok with his family's imprint on it. Fire. It's blazing and right on Jungkook's back.
Taehyung is wearing a silk, red hanbok. The dragon roaring on his back just the same.
He hates it all.
He sits in front of Jungkook. Holds out his hands for Jungkook to take and then Jungkook's mother is wrapping the cloth, with Jungkook's family's name and imprint, around their joined hands.
The priest is chanting something.
Taehyung is not supposed to look at his groom.
So he is looking at their joined hands. Feeling the way Jungkook's hands are so steadily holding his shaky and clammy ones.
"Do you accept him as your husband?" Jungkook is asked.
Jungkook's hand squeezes Taehyung's in his, "yes. I do."
Taehyung is asked the same.
The priest takes off the cloth wrapped around their joined hands and takes Jungkook's left wrist and Taehyung's right before tying it securely with the cloth.
It will stay like that for the rest of the night.
"Your husband will untie it on your wedding night," the priest says.
Taehyung feels heat raising on his cheeks. He tugs at the tied cloth and looks at where Yoongi is sitting.
Yoongi is looking at him, eyes on him, his face impassive.
But Taehyung knows his brother. He sees that small twitch at the corner of his brother's lips.
He glares at Yoongi
Yoongi sips the soju and looks away.
Taehyung feels like crying. He is in the middle of a room, surrounded with the whole royal family and Jungkook's family.
There are commoners around the hall. All here to see the wedding, and he wants to start crying. He is feeling like it.
There is a friction and the tie is twisting. Taehyung winces at the tug at his wrist before he stills.
Jungkook's fingers interwind with his, and then there is a soft squeeze where they are now holding hands.
It's weirdly comforting. It grounds Taehyung.
Taehyung lets out a sigh.
Jungkook knows. He feels how Taehyung feels. He understands what Taehyung is feeling because he is going through the same ordeal. More so.
Taehyung lets that thought comfort him. He lets their hands stay like that. He squirms closer to the painter.
Painter? Now his husband.
He can't eat! He hasn't eaten since morning, and now he can't.
His right hand is tied with Jungkook's and there are so many people who are coming up to them to introduce themselves to the newly wedded couple, and Taehyung has to nod and bow and talk.
He can't eat.
So when Jungkook holds out a spoonful of rice near his lips, Taehyung is grateful. He is taking a bite and letting out a moan of comfort before he can think what he is doing.
When he realizes, his eyes widen, and he is looking at his husband, who is smiling at him.
"You eat," Jungkook says, "I will shoo away my relatives. Just nod and smile. That's enough."
"They are my relatives now too," Taehyung sighs, "how can I eat and not talk to them?"
"They need to leave us alone for a few moments anyway," Jungkook shrugs, "here. Eat."
Taehyung eats the spoonful of whatever Jungkook holds out for him. He pushes a spoonful towards Jungkook when he notices Jungkook is not eating while feeding him.
"One spoon for you and one for me then," Jungkook concludes, eats, smiles.
Taehyung has never seen him smile. It's...
"Greetings to you, my prince!"
Taehyung jumps, eyes wide and on the man who is in front of him now.
Jungkook lets out a long groan.
"I am Park Jimin," he says, smiles, "I am his cousin."
"He is the bane to my existence," Jungkook rubs his forehead, "that is what he is."
Jimin's smile doesn't falter. He doesn't even acknowledge Jungkook.
"I am so sorry you had to marry him," he says, "I offered to be your husband but they won't let me. Said I am too childish to get married. He is younger than me, by the way."
Taehyung likes him. He knows he does.
He bows deep, smiles when he looks up, "I think I would have liked marrying you instead, sir."
Jimin's smile is blinding now. He giggles. Taehyung finds himself grinning too.
Jungkook lets out a groan, "don't support him, my prince, he will never stop teasing me then."
Jimin leans over, face of a spy, "I think we two can gang up on him from now on. If he bothers you, you call me and I will punish him. Yeah? Let's be friends."
Taehyung nods, genuine happiness bubbling inside him for the first time since the ceremony started, "I would like that."
"Either you go or I will tell the king," Jungkook threatens, "I will tell him you are..."
"The king!" Jimin closes his eyes, slaps his forehead, "I was supposed to meet the king."
"Oh, God, no," Jungkook panics, "please don't. Why would you-"
Jimin leaves. He runs off.
"Your brother will behead him!" Jungkook watches his cousin through the crowd, "oh, God, he will behead him!"
Taehyung turns to Jungkook with a smile, a teasing glint in his eyes, "I will save him, don't worry. I will exchange you for him."
Jungkook blinks, looks at Taehyung.
Then a small smile graces those lips and Jungkook is squeezing their hands together.
"I see, you have already chosen a lover," he smirks.
Taehyung looks away, blush high on his cheeks, "shut up, painter!"
Jungkook tugs at their joined arms, "call me your husband from now on."
Taehyung squints his eyes, "don't push it."
Jungkook holds out a spoon, "then eat and stop thinking about beheading me."
Taehyung takes the offered food and lets out a sigh, "I am not actually thinking of him like that, you know? I just.." he shrugs, "I will have a friend now."
"You will have more than one friend," Jungkook smiles, "you haven't met my older cousin yet. He couldn't come because everyone is here and someone needs to be at the house. You will meet him tomorrow."
Taehyung frowns, "your brother?"
Jungkook nods, "Kim Seokjin."
Taehyung squints his eyes, "I know that name!"
Jungkook smiles, "he is a teacher in our village."
Taehyung's eyes widen, "yes! I met him once. He is the nobleman who teaches the children of our royal family for a few years now! He is your brother?"
Jungkook nods, "he taught me and Jimin too. I was his favourite student because Jimin was very naughty and would never do his homework."
Taehyung pauses, "you..." he blinks, "you know how to read?"
Jungkook nods, holds out a spoonful for Taehyung to take, "I do. A few languages."
Taehyung's eyes widen, his mouth parting around a gasp, "why didn't you tell me?!"
Jungkook pauses, looks at him with a soft smile, "did you ask?"
Taehyung glares, agitated, "I called you illiterate! Why didn't you tell me?!"
Jungkook breathes out a laugh, "you never asked!"
Taehyung doesn't get to talk more because a few more people come to stand in front of them and they have to get back to greeting them.
His eyes keep finding Jungkook though. How the painter smiles, nods at everyone, bows so politely.
Taehyung feels the shame building in him.
"I married you," Taehyung whispers, "and I feel like I don't even know you yet."
Jungkook looks at him, in the middle of the chaos, his eyes so quiet and peaceful to look at, "we have a long time to know each other, my prince, if you have me for a long time, that is."
Taehyung doesn't know the future. He won't say everything will be going well or he can't even say he will stay with the man for the rest of his life because Yoongi has told him he has to stay married to Jungkook until Yoongi finds a way to remove his mother from the equation.
Then Taehyung will be free to come back to the palace.
Yoongi promised him if needed he would kill the whole family of the Jeons so no one says a word or makes a scene.
Yoongi will find a way to get him out of the hellhole. He promised Taehyung his freedom. One way or another.
Taehyung sits on that bench, holding the man's hand, and he knows he is promised his freedom at the cost of the man's death.
He can't say it.
He won't say it.
It's a plan between him and his brother.
His brother keeps his promises. He always did, always will.
So Taehyung doesn't say anything. He forces himself to smile at the man he will call his husband from now on, and turns to face the flood of people who come forward to greet them.
He nods and smiles and eats.
He leaves the royal palace with tears in his eyes and a heavy heart.
The journey back to Jungkook's house is gone in a blink. Taehyung gets out of the carriage, along with Jungkook, and does all the rituals before stepping into the house.
It's a simple house. Two-storey with a premise in the middle.
Taehyung is ushered to the first floor.
Jimin gets him in the room and waits by the door as Taehyung looks around.
There is not much to look at. There is a bed in the middle of the room that Taehyung ignores. There is a window behind the bed and a shelf at its left side. Another rack, filled with books, on the left.
Taehyung squints when he reaches the window. The room is not even big enough as Taehyung's changing room.
This is Jungkook's bedroom. Taehyung turns to the bed and realizes it's small. Way too small. It looks painful.
The mattress is not as fluffy as his used to be.
Jimin is looking at him and Taehyung lets out a forced smile, bows a little, "thank you. If you would let your maids come in to help me change.."
Jimin's face contorts with confusion. He blinks and bites on his lips.
"Help you change?" he asks, "you need help changing clothes?"
Taehyung falters, hesitates, "uh... there was always two of my maids who helped me change."
"We don't have that here," Jimin is fast to answer, "I mean... we are not really wearing something so complicated for us to need maids."
Taehyung blinks, "you don't have maids at all?"
Jimin shakes his head, "no, we do. But they are for cleaning and washing the clothes and dishes. We don't have maids for the entire day's work."
Taehyung blinks, looks down at himself and then looks at Jimin with worry in his eyes.
Jimin is looking back with confusion.
"Tonight he can help you change," Jimin then says, "you two need to untie that knot around your wrists anyway and it's the wedding night. So..." he smiles, mischievous and playful.
Now Taehyung notices Jungkook's presence beside him. Now he sees the man beside him. He blinks.
He was so lost in looking around and observing this place, he forgot Jungkook is tied to him. He forgot he is supposed to wait on the bed for the man to undress him as per the ritual.
The anxiety starts to build and Jungkook notices. He turns towards Jimin with a roll of his eyes
"If I am supposed to do all the work, why are you even here? Get out!" Jungkook glares at his brother, "now, get out."
"I see someone is eager!" Jimin giggles, nods, "I will see you tomorrow at dawn, my prince."
He leaves the room. Jungkook steps towards the door and locks it.
When he turns to Taehyung, they are alone in the room.
Taehyung feels the way his feet drag on the floor as Jungkook takes him to the bed and holds his shoulders to make him sit.
Taehyung sits upright and stiff. His eyes over Jungkook's shoulder.
He knows the rituals. He waits.
Jungkook places his index finger under Taehyung's chin and lifts it. Taehyung closes his eyes, throat bobbing around a gulp.
He feels the tears threatening to fall, and he holds his breath.
He waits. Hands tight in fists on his lap.
Tears rolling out of his eyes.
"I didn't know the prince would be so delicate behind closed doors."
The words make him flutter his eyes open and Taehyung watches how Jungkook is looking down at him.
Taehyung lets out a breath, "I am not. I just... this is my marital duty. If you..."
Jungkook smiles, "I see."
Then Jungkook is reaching out to swipe his thumbs over Taehyung's eyes, wiping away the tears. Taehyung watches Jungkook look at his thumbs, light reflecting on those tear drops he gathered there.
Then those eyes are back on him and Jungkook is wiping his thumbs on his hanbok.
"I would never touch you," Jungkook murmurs, "I would never demand anything from you, my prince. You will be respected. Your choices will be respected. You will have just as much say in this arrangement as I will. But I would like one thing from you. If it's not too much to ask?"
Taehyung just watches him.
Jungkook breathes in, "I would like to ask for your friendship because we will be living in close proximity from now on. If we don't get along at all..." he makes a face, "it will be unbearable for both of us. Don't you think?"
Taehyung nods jerkily and Jungkook is smiling at him.
"Then if you would let me, I will untie this bond," he points at the cloth wrapped around their wrists, "because the meaning of this thing is taken so out of context nowadays. Can I?"
Taehyung nods again and watches Jungkook untie the knot and drop the cloth on the bed.
He rubs his fingers over his wrist when he feels it tingle as blood rushes back to the surface. Taehyung looks at the cloth and looks at Jungkook.
"What is the context of that cloth?" he asks.
Jungkook looks at the cloth and smiles, "it's supposed to be our soulmate bond," he shrugs, "we are tied under god's watch for the rest of our lives and if the bond is strong we will find each other through this tie in our next lives. I think we don't understand how it works."
Taehyung squints and Jungkook breathes out a short laugh.
"There is not supposed to be a cloth tying us up," he sits beside Taehyung, "the string that is supposed to bind us is our feelings for each other. The cloth is a material. It can't hold anything beyond life...."
"It's supposed to be our love," Jungkook holds Taehyung's wrist, "our love is that invisible tie that binds us together, not only in this life but beyond it. It's our love that makes us find each other without, actually, physically tying us together with a mere cloth. I think."
"God doesn't shower his blessings over a cloth that will rot and fade, but he blesses our love that is invisible but gets so strong that we find ourselves tied to each other. Through our hearts. Not because of a string or a cloth physically binding us. It's our hearts."
"One heart binds the other without caging it," Jungkook traces his finger over Taehyung's wrist, "it binds the other heart beyond a life. I think that's the actual meaning. Not this cloth. Not like this."
Then he is looking at Taehyung and smiling, "I talked too much. Right?"
Taehyung shakes his head, gulps, "do you..." he looks down at where Jungkook's hand is holding his, "do you believe in love like that? So strong, so empowering, it crosses the border of life and reaches beyond it?"
Jungkook nods, "I dream of having that love. I dream of it."
Taehyung bites on his lips, "oh."
Jungkook is now playing with Taehyung's fingers, turning to face him properly, "you? You don't believe in love like that?"
Taehyung blinks, looks down at their hands and shakes his head, "I don't think I deserve it. Not anymore. Not after..."
Jungkook stills, his fingers stopping over Taehyung's pulse point, "not after this wedding."
Taehyung closes his eyes, sucks in a breath and nods.
When he opens his eyes, Jungkook is looking at him.
There is a small smile on his lips.
Taehyung frowns in question.
"I tell you what?" Jungkook squirms closer, leans as if he is telling Taehyung a secret and Taehyung leans closer to hear it, "if you find that kind of love, I will help you run away with them."
Taehyung blinks, straightens, watches Jungkook, "what?"
Jungkook nods, "I promise."
Smile breaks out of Taehyung's lips and he is giggling. He is throwing his head back and giggling.
"I will make a scene and tell everyone how you didn't want to leave but oh, your prince charming came in his white horse and took you away from this cruel society!" Jungkook wails.
Taehyung laughs until he can't and Jungkook is still doing those dramatic lines.
Taehyung reaches and places his hand over Jungkook's mouth then, effectively muting him.
Those wide eyes stare at him and Taehyung grins back.
"Shush," he feigns anger, "people will talk otherwise."
Jungkook takes Taehyung's hand in his and squeezes, "so you believe me when I say we can be friends and you don't have to worry about finding a lover? You can and if you find someone worthy, I will let you go?"
Taehyung hums, nods, "I understand. Now let me go. I need to sleep."
"Do you want me to help you?" Jungkook asks, points at the hanbok, "we are friends now. I can help you."
Taehyung hesitates and Jungkook waits patiently. Taehyung nods then, slips off the bed and turns his back to Jungkook.
There are ties of the hanbok on his back he can't reach.
Jungkook unties them for him. One by one. Taehyung can breathe more easily as the ties come undone. He closes his eyes in mortification when the last string comes undone, and he knows Jungkook can see his bare back.
He looks over his shoulder to see Jungkook has his eyes closed.
The way his heart squeezes in his chest, it scares Taehyung and he is stepping away from Jungkook and facing him.
"Thank you," he whispers, watches how Jungkook opens his eyes and smiles at him, "for helping."
Jungkook shrugs, "any time, my prince. You have a friend in me now."
"Taehyung," Taehyung says in a whisper, nods when he sees Jungkook's wide eyes, "call me Taehyung from now on."
Jungkook hesitates, "are you sure?"
Taehyung nods, earnest, "call me Taehyung."
"Taehyung.." Jungkook breathes out the name as if it's a mantra, something pure, "Tae.."
Taehyung steps back, his own name from those lips sound so euphoric. It sounds to scary. So full of emotions.
He turns away and goes to retreat his night clothes.
He closes his eyes when he is far away from Jungkook. Breathes in and reminds himself this is just a facade. For now.
Taehyung clutches the clothes in his hands, bows his head as dread fills him. He doesn't want to be the cause of their death, but he can't live here for the rest of his life.
This can't be his life for the rest of his time on this earth.
This place can't be his home. He can't.
"Tell me when you are done," Jungkook calls out, breaking his trance, "I am not looking back."
Taehyung wipes at his eyes and hums, gets out of the handbok to wear his night clothes. When he turns, he sees Jungkook standing by the window.
He coughs, "I am done."
Jungkook turns and smiles, "now get on the bed. I think I will sleep on the floor."
Taehyung frowns, "on the floor?"
Jungkook nods, "I mean... the bed is already so small. How can you sleep on it with me?"
He is right. Taehyung can't.
"Are you sure?" Taehyung asks, "I can slee-"
"I will sleep on the floor," Jungkook shakes his head, "I have done it so many times. I am okay."
Taehyung goes over to sit on the bed and looks at Jungkook, "you have slept on the floor many times?"
Jungkook nods, "when I paint, I forget time and place. Spend hours in that room"
Taehyung nods, "oh. Where is that room? Where you work."
Jungkook shrugs, "on the north side of the house. The corner one."
"Will you show me your drawings?" Taehyung lies down on the bed, squirms when he feels how rough the bedding is.
Jungkook goes to pull out his clothes.
"Some day," Jungkook nods, "I will. Some day."
Taehyung turns away when Jungkook starts tugging at the strings of his hanbok. He closes his eyes and hears the rustling of clothes.
When everything goes silent and the room goes quiet, he looks over his shoulders.
Jungkook has blown out the candles and is now sitting on the floor, arranging the bedding. The moonlight is hitting him where he sits and he is glowing almost.
He is glowing in his cotton shirt and a pyjama and Taehyung watches Jungkook untie his hair. Let it flow over his back.
Jungkook combs it thoroughly and ties it while humming a tune, and Taehyung feels his eyelids getting heavy as time goes by.
The last thing he remembers is Jungkook knotting his hair in a bun over his head, and then Taehyung is out in a dreamless slumber.
He wakes up alone. He wakes up to a small note, tucked under his pillow. Visible enough for him to see.
Taehyung takes it in his hand and reads it. He notices how beautiful the handwriting is and smiles at the note after reading it.
When Taehyung is out of the bed and freshly washed, he hears the knock on the door.
He opens the door to see Jimin standing there. A smile on his face, and he bows as soon as Taehyung opens the door.
"I will help you get dressed," Jimin smiles, "and then I will take you out."
"Today," he holds Taehyung's shoulders and manoeuvres him around as he pleases, "you will meet a few of the most important peoples of this village."
"Who?" Taehyung asks, sits down on the bed as he watches Jimin go through his belongings.
"You will see," Jimin sing-songs.
Jimin makes sure they get Jungkook's mother's permission before leaving the house. Taehyung follows the man as they go through the village.
Taehyung has never walked alone on these paths, and now that he is... he likes the freedom of it. He likes how Jimin never stops talking.
The first house is just across the street. Not a house. Just a hut with a premise full of kids. They are nodding in rhythm and repeating a chant.
Taehyung understands it's the number table of four.
He follows Jimin to the front of it, where someone is reading something acutely.
"Hyung-nim, we are here!" Jimin calls, bouncing on his feet, "I brought you the prince."
Taehyung blinks, looks at the man who is finally looking up from the book.
For a second, Taehyung just looks. Breath caught in his chest.
The man looks back.
"Kim Seokjin hyung," Jimin says.
Taehyung has seen the man but he is still enthralled. He is still breathless by how gorgeous the man is.
He stands up to his full height and comes up to them. He bows to Taehyung and Taehyung bows back.
"Prince Taehyung," Seokjin says with his hands clasped in front of him.
Taehyung hums, "it's nice to meet you again, hyung-nim."
Seokjin smiles, "now you will meet me every day. You married my idiot of a brother, after all."
Taehyung smiles, nods, "I see. I haven't seen you in the wedding."
"Someone had to stay here," he gestures, "sorry."
Taehyung waves it off, looks around, "you teach a lot of kids."
"The whole village and the neighbouring ones too," Jimin hums, "some actually stay here."
Taehyung smiles, "it must be great to be able to share your knowledge."
Seokjin hums, nods, "draining in another sense too."
Jimin lets out a groan and Taehyung watches how Seokjin's jaw locks as he looks over Taehyung's shoulders.
Taehyung turns to see a man has entered the premise. He is holding two flowers in his hands as he grins at Jimin.
"Hi, Jimin," he says, breathless.
"You didn't come to the library today," the man says, breathless, "I was waiting."
"Aren't you supposed to be too busy to wait around?" Jimin asks, frown settling on his brows, "I told you not to wait for me."
The guy, Namjoon, flushes bright red, ducks his head, "I was there..."
Jimin seems to soften at that. He reaches and takes the flowers. Sniffs them and holds them close to his chest.
"You don't need to do this, Namjoon, I told you I am not interested in you."
Namjoon blinks, looks at Jimin, "but you promised to give me a chance. Right?"
"I won't marry someone who doesn't know anything about books and is a swordsman. I am sorry," Jimin shakes his head, "please don't force me to break our friendship too."
Taehyung watches how Namjoon blinks at him.
"This is Kim Namjoon," Jimin says, "my friend, Taehyung."
Namjoon notices him then. His eyes finally leaving Jimin to fall on Taehyung and he gapes.
Then he is dipping so low for a bow, Taehyung fears he will break his spine.
"Prince Taehyung," Namjoon stays bowed, "it's an honour to meet you finally. I am the king's knight."
"Yes, and a very illiterate one at that," Seokjin says, face contorting in disgust, "a brut with nothing fine about him."
Namjoon is still bowing, but he looks up to glare at Seokjin, "says a man who is good as a corpse in protecting himself from any attack."
"I will take Taehyung around," Jimin grasps Taehyung's elbow, "and Namjoon, please stand up properly. You will break."
Taehyung smiles, bites back a grin, "he is right, Namjoon ssi, no need to bow that long for me. I am not the king."
"Oh, he licks the path the king walks on," Seokjin says, "bowing is not really what it is for the king."
Namjoon straightens to keep his glare fixed on Seokjin, "I may not be a nobleman like you but I know who deserves respect. My king does."
Seokjin scoffs, "My king. I see."
Jimin tugs at Taehyung, "we will take you two's leave. Taehyung needs to see the whole village. See you two later."
Taehyung lets Jimin drag him out of the hut. Running to follow the man as they go to their next destination.
Namjoon watches Jimin go with a forlorn expression.
"He doesn't like me because I am an illiterate, isn't it?"
Namjoon plays with his fingers as he looks at the path Jimin took, "he doesn't want a man who would never understand a word of the books he frequent the library for. Right?"
Seokjin says nothing. Namjoon turns to him.
"Would you teach me?" he asks, "would you teach me how to read?"
Seokjin blinks, "what?"
Namjoon nods, "I will do anything you want for you. Just teach me how to read. Please?"
Seokjin frowns, "you are going insane, Namjoon. I don't have time to indulge in your lunatic idea.."
"Sharing knowledge and bringing people out of the darkness that is illiteracy, isn't it the noble work you do?" Namjoon asks, "I am begging you to teach me to read. Educate me so I can read all those books Jimin talks about all the time. Please, teacher-nim. I will do anything."
Seokjin points at the kids behind them, "you will have time like them? Will you be able to let go of your pride and listen and obey me? Will you? You hate me and I can't stand you. How-"
"I will come by every evening," Namjoon nods, "I will leave my swordsman status outside."
"I will be just Namjoon for you," he bows, "accept my offer, teacher-nim. I will pay you with whatever you want."
Seokjin groans, "first, stop bowing to me. I hate how you are so...." he gestures, "you. Don't be like this."
Namjoon stands up with a frown, "I am so me? What?"
Seokjin shrugs, "I will teach you. Fine. Just..." he points a finger at Namjoon, "leave your status outside."
"How do I pay you?" Namjoon asks, eyes crinkling with happiness.
Seokjin stares, lets out a sigh before turning away, "after we are done, don't show me your face again."
"My face bothers you that much?" Namjoon frowns, then he smiles, "if I marry your cousin, you will have to see my face every day."
Seokjin squeezes his eyes closed, lets out a breath, "Namjoon, leave. I have work to do."
Namjoon chuckles, "see you tonight, teacher-nim."
Taehyung and Jimin are sitting by the pond. Jimin has pulled out a pouch, filled with walnuts and almonds. They are sitting by the cemented steps and eating when someone comes from behind and places their sword against Jimin's neck.
"Where is my share, you pretty boy?!"
Taehyung jumps to his feet, he grabs the sword and twists it out of that stranger's hand and holds it against that man's throat in a blink.
The man gives out a shriek and then gapes at Taehyung.
"Who are you?!" Taehyung glares, presses the sword firmly against his jugular.
Jimin jumps up too, holds Taehyung back, "Tae! He is Hobi hyung! I know him."
"Oh, my lord!" the man shrieks again, "get the sword off my neck, please. I was joking. I know him. Please!"
"He is Jung Hoseok," Jimin giggles, "the village mayor!"
Taehyung lowers the sword, "oh! I am sorry."
Hoseok gulps, shrugs, "I mean, wow, you were about to cut off my neck! Hello, prince Taehyung. I am Jung Hoseok. This village's mayor. Nice to meet you."
Taehyung bows after Hoseok is done with it and returns his sword.
"Can I have my almonds now?" Hoseok sits down beside Jimin and Taehyung, "I am so hungry and Jimin, you are late!"
Jimin shrugs, grins, "had to steal these for you. Then I had to introduce Taehyung to Seokjin hyung. Met Namjoon. Then came here."
Hoseok hums, "busy man. I see."
When Taehyung and Jimin walk back to their house, Hoseok comes with them. They bid him bye when the mayor goes over to Seokjin's hut.
Jimin and Taehyung turn to their house.
"He is a really nice man," Taehyung smiles, "I liked all of them."
Jimin grins, "and how is your husband?"
He points at Jungkook, who is coming back from somewhere. He is carrying books in his hands.
Jungkook pauses by them, smiles and comes forward.
"Where have you been?" Jimin asks, "library?"
Jungkook nods, "needed a few books," he turns to Taehyung, "went around the village?"
Taehyung nods, "I met your brother, Namjoon hyung and Hoseok hyung. A few more people in the village."
Jungkook smiles, "I see you are already calling them hyungs."
Taehyung ducks his head, "they asked me to."
Jungkook hums, "come inside. You wanted to see my studio last night."
Jimin coughs, "I will take your leave."
"Where are you going again?" Taehyung asks.
Jimin shrugs, "I need to pluck a few more flowers for the crown I want to make. See you for lunch, Tae."
He waves at them before running off.
Taehyung turns to follow Jungkook inside.
Jungkook takes him to the room where he works. Taehyung follows Jungkook and leaves the shoes by the door as they enter the room. Jungkook places the books on a desk and asks Taehyung to sit on the chair.
"Where will you sit?" Taehyung asks, looking around the room.
Jungkook sits on the carpet, "I am fine on the floor. You on the other hand-" he stops when Taehyung comes to sit beside him. Taehyung says nothing. He just sits cross-legged and looks around as if he did nothing.
A smile spreads across Jungkook's face. He chuckles.
Jungkook talks about his paintings and shows Taehyung a few. They sit side by side and talk about the colours and shades and how Jungkook seems to only draw scenarios.
"Portraits don't appeal to me," Jungkook says, "I mean, if I am commissioned then I do. Like I do for the king."
"Otherwise, nature is my genre," he points at a few more and Taehyung goes through them.
"Why not portraits?" Taehyung wonders, touching the surface of the dried paint.
Jungkook hums, thoughtful, "maybe I never found someone enticing enough to draw or capture forever, you know?"
Taehyung smiles, "no one ever caught your eyes?"
Jungkook shakes his head, "I mean... no. I never looked at someone and thought I have to capture their beauty in a painting, you know?"
Taehyung hums, rubs his finger over a paint, "it's sad that no one every enticed you."
Jungkook looks at him, "did you ever find yourself in someone's presence who captured your eyes?"
Taehyung chuckles, "I grew up around flashy people, Jungkook. There were so many gorgeous people. Rich. Money makes you perfectly poised and alluring."
"No," Jungkook shakes his head, "I am saying, did anyone ever make you think they are beautiful enough to be painted? So pretty and pure, you wanted them caught in a paper for you to look at? Beautiful?"
Taehyung hums, thinks, "my brother is."
Jungkook laughs, "not like that!"
Taehyung pouts, frowns at Jungkook, "then like what?"
Jungkook smiles, "like you feel your breath catch in your chest when they look at you? Like you want them to look at you and have those eyes only on you. Forever. Like you want them to touch you, make you feel things..."
"Things?" Taehyung whispers, feels like he can't raise his voice more than this, "what things?"
Jungkook's eyes are piercing, so sharply on him, it catches Taehyung's breath.
"Things those books talk about," Jungkook murmurs, "things a lover feels for another. Things like that."
"I have never read those books," Taehyung looks away, breathless, "I was never allowed to read those books."
Jungkook breathes out a laugh, "you never just... sneaked around to read them?"
Taehyung frowns, "I never disobeyed my mum and brother's words."
Jungkook hums, "I see."
"So you have never looked at another person and thought of having them for yourself?" Jungkook wonders, "never wanted someone's lips on your own? Pressed against your lips? Against your skin..."
"That's a sin!" Taehyung breathes out, "how are you... you brut! That's sin!"
Jungkook laughs, "who decides what is sin and what is not? Who punishes you for your thoughts? God?"
Taehyung bites his lips, "you don't believe in God?"
"If you were so innocent and did everything your God accepts, then how come you are here, married to me?" Jungkook asks.
"And how come not somewhere in another kingdom, married to a powerful king, while enjoying your life like you deserve?" Jungkook smiles, "why are you punished like this?"
Taehyung has no answer. He stays quiet. Then he frowns.
"Have you ever? Thought of someone like that?"
Jungkook looks down at the paintings on the floor, "I have."
Taehyung sucks in a breath, "really?"
Jungkook smiles, "you have never been like that? Never got behind your brother's back to find a nobleman for yourself?"
Taehyung's cheeks colour bright red, "I am not like that!"
"There is nothing wrong in embracing your physical needs, Tae," Jungkook lets out a sigh, "there is nothing wrong in indulging in those needs. It's not wrong. If God created us, then he is the one who gave us these urges. If he hated these, why would he? Right? Don't you think?"
Taehyung has never think like this.
"So next time you see someone you want to kiss, you should do it," Jungkook laughs when Taehyung's wide eyes fall on him, "I mean, you can. You should. Why waste a life refraining from our urges?"
"Have you kissed someone?" Taehyung asks.
Jungkook hums, "yes. I have."
Taehyung blinks, looks at him, "you are not... you didn't marry them?!"
Jungkook frowns, "uhh... they were already married. How..."
Taehyung twists away, "you kissed a married person?!"
Jungkook chuckles, "I slept with them."
For a second, Taehyung freezes, and then he is gaping at Jungkook with wide eyes.
"Are you thinking of me as a brut again?" Jungkook laughs, "I am sorry. If it bothers you. I..."
"Will you do it again, after the wedding, I mean..." Taehyung asks, frowns down at his hands.
Jungkook's hand covers his and Taehyung looks up at those eyes.
They are the softest orbs Taehyung has ever seen.
Jungkook smiles, "I may be a brut, Taehyung, but I will never cheat on you like that."
Taehyung looks away, ducks his head, "but what about your urges?"
He blushes when Jungkook laughs.
"My urges..." Jungkook hums, "I will control them. Maybe this is my punishment from God for being naughty?"
Taehyung bites back a smile, "shut up!"
Jungkook squeezes his hand, "I am sorry if I bothered you with my words. That wasn't my intension."
Taehyung shrugs, "I didn't know all this. I don't know what to think..."
"Don't," Jungkook shakes his head, "don't try to change your way of thinking just because we don't think the same. I respect your opinions, Tae, I hope you do mine."
Taehyung nods, playing with his fingers..
"So you have kissed many people?" Taehyung asks, "can you count them on your fingers?"
Jungkook bites back a smile, "I never kept count, Tae, do you want me to recount them?"
Taehyung shakes his head, "n-no. I just..." he flails his hands, "brother always said it's a sin."
"Said he never indulged in these physical needs..."
Taehyung pauses when Jungkook scoffs, "what?"
Jungkook coughs to hide his amusement, "I am sure Min Yoongi never indulged in physical needs. I am sure the king of the country never indulged in these things. Sure."
Taehyung pouts, "are you calling my brother a liar?"
Jungkook is biting on his lower lip, "well... I am calling him that if he told you what he told you. Yes."
Taehyung blinks, "you think he has lovers?"
Jungkook grins, "I am sure he does. He is the king!"
Taehyung frowns, "oh!"
"Well," Taehyung shrugs, "it doesn't matter. I have kissed my parents. Brother. I found no interest in the act to crave it anyway, you know? I am fine."
Jungkook breathes out a laugh, "oh, God, did you just say that?!"
Taehyung frowns, "why? What?"
Jungkook is laughing now.
"What is a kiss, Taehyung?" Jungkook asks, still grinning ear to ear, "can you show me?"
Taehyung blushes scarlet but holds his head high, "I can! I know what a kiss is!"
He leans and places his lips against Jungkook's cheek for a moment before he is pulling away like electrified
Jungkook smiles, a broad grin, and then he is shaking his head, "I think you are very sweet, my prince."
Taehyung frowns, lips jutting out in a pout, "what do you mean?"
Jungkook lets out a sigh, points at a picture, "didn't you say, you want to know the process of that one?"
Taehyung may be innocent, but he knows when the subject is being changed. He lets it happen. He is already feeling jittery inside, and he doesn't know how to handle that.
So he nods and lets Jungkook describe the process of painting a piece.
Taehyung listens, leaning against him.
Jimin sees the man walking down the path alone. Taut shoulders, head held high. Black hair knotted in a bun. Hand holding a cane in a tight grip.
Jimin follows the man as he takes the road that leads to an empty house, now debris, and a dead end of the village.
He looks odd.
He is too poised. His walk gives out an aura too strong for a villager and his stout figure tells he is not from a shabby family.
Jimin knows of the spies going around the kingdom since the new king sat on the throne. He knows they want to dethrone the young king.
He knows it all
So he breaks a branch off the tree and rushes behind the man until they cross the last house of the village and on that empty road.
Then he steps closer and holds the branch against the man's neck.
"Move and I will slit your neck open!" he hisses, "I have a sword sharp enough!"
The man pauses, lets out a chuckle, "your footsteps are too loud to be of a knight or someone who knows how to handle a sword, let alone attack someone out of the blue."
Jimin blinks, "who are you and I will slit your neck open!"
The man sighs, shoulder dropping, "you brat."
"First," the man speaks in a languished tone, as if Jimin doesn't scare him at all, "you can't slit someone's neck open. That's throat and second," he turns so fast and knocks the branch right out of Jimin's hand in a blink before grasping his wrist and tugging him forward...
Jimin stumbles forward and collides with that chest.
Arms hold him, steadying him on his feet, and lips lower to his ear.
"A sword doesn't scare me."
Jimin looks up, breathless, arms on the man's chest. His eyes widen when he sees that face.
"My king!" He breathes out.
Yoongi smiles, "I owe you a gift, boy, I don't owe you my life."
Jimin steadies himself, looks at the man with his mouth gaping open, "you are... the king!"
Yoongi hums, lets go of him, "I am."
Jimin fumbles for words, "why are you here? Why like this? Wha-"
"My brother is living in this village now," Yoongi looks around, "I had to make sure he is safe."
"By coming to check the village yourself?" Jimin asks, disbelief colouring his voice.
Yoongi looks at him, "he is all I have. His wellbeing is all I care about. I love him."
Jimin nods, "so you came as a commoner to fool the villagers."
"I failed," Yoongi chuckles, "you caught me. You have good eyes, boy."
"Jimin," Jimin says, "and you look too good to be a commoner."
Yoongi raises an eyebrow, "now did I?"
Jimin nods, "you are terrible at disguise."
Yoongi laughs, hides it behind a hand that he rubs his nose with.
Jimin knows tales. Tales of the man being a nightmare to many. Tales of the man winning battles and flowing blood as he wishes.
But this man, right here, smiling at him, looks so different.
Jimin smiles. Wide.
"Why are you here?" Jimin asks, "there's nothing here. Only a house that is empty for so long. I never saw anyone there."
Yoongi hums, "empty house can shelter bandits. I need to make sure there is no one there, and I will order my men to destroy the place. I need to see it."
"I can take you there," Jimin says, "I know every path of this village. I know everyone too."
Yoongi watches him, "I can't take you with me. What if there are people there?"
Jimin shrugs, "then you will protect me," he steps ahead of Yoongi with a smirk, "swords don't scare you."
Yoongi smiles, "show the way then, Jiminie."
Jimin halts, "Jiminie?"
Yoongi hums, places his hand on the back of Jimin's waist and pushes him along the road, "can't I call you that?"
"What do I call you?" Jimin asks, "you are not a king here, right?"
Yoongi smiles, "Yoongi."
Jimin halts, "your name?"
Yoongi nods, "is that a problem?"
Jimin bites down on his lips, looks away, "you are a king. I can't take your name."
Yoongi breathes out a sigh, "you just said I am not a king here."
"Still," Jimin glares petulantly, "how about Yoon?"
"No one ever called me by my name," Yoongi walks again, slowly as Jimin follows him, "not even my parents. I was either, son, brother, my prince or my king. Yoon..." he lets out a breath, "I never knew my name can be said like that."
"Your parents never called you by your name?" Jimin frowns.
Yoongi shakes his head, "I was to know my status. So since birth I was 'prince' to them. To Taehyung, I was always 'brother.' Others always called me 'prince' or 'king.' I find my name useless to be honest."
"What about your lovers?" Jimin asks, blushes scarlet when Yoongi's head turns towards him with a sharp twist.
Jimin shakes his head, "I am sorry if I-"
"I am always the king," Yoongi has his eyes on Jimin now, "in bed, out of bed. I am the king."
Jimin nods, "your life is sad."
Yoongi pauses, "because no one took my name?"
Jimin smiles, shakes his head, "because no one really loved you for you then."
Yoongi frowns, "that... what?"
Jimin shrugs, "they loved your status, your value. No one seems to love you for you. For being Yoongi."
Jimin smiles up at him, plucks a flower off his belt and reaches to tuck it against Yoongi's chest, between the fold of the cloth.
Yoongi watches him, doesn't protest.
"I will call you 'Yoon' then," Jimin fixes the handbok and looks up at Yoongi, "You will be 'Yoon' to me."
Yoongi stares at him and Jimin stares back.
The leaves of the trees fall around them, on the road, the flowers on those trees swaying with the breeze.
A leaf blows down on Jimin's head and Yoongi plucks it for him.
"Let's go?" Jimin steps ahead of him and Yoongi follows silently.
Taehyung is combing his hair when Jungkook comes back to their room.
Taehyung looks up at him and smiles. Jungkook smiles back. He looks exhausted. Paint smeared all across his face and hands.
"I am going to take a dip, you want to join?" he asks Taehyung, "if you want?"
Taehyung smiles, "okay. Draw the bath, I will be there. Do you have rice water?"
Jungkook pauses, "uh? Rice water?"
Taehyung hums, "for the skin. It's good. If there's none, it's okay. I will get some flowers for the bath. You go, I will take one after you."
Jungkook is gaping
"What?" Taehyung asks, frowning in confusion, "go, take a bath. I will take one after you. I need to get the flowers."
Jungkook's frown deepens, "you will... throw flowers into the pond?"
Taehyung pauses, "no? In the bathtub? What pond?"
Jungkook's eyes widen, "bathtub?!"
"Yeah?" Taehyung gapes back, "where are you taking bath then?"
"In the pond!" Jungkook points at the window, "the one behind our house!"
Taehyung's eyes widen in disbelief, "in that pond?! That's a public pond!"
Jungkook fumbles, "none of us have bathtubs in the house, Taehyung!"
"So you..." Taehyung tightens the hanbok around himself, "bath in a pond?"
Jungkook shrugs, "I mean, there is a bathroom where we have a tub. I can fill it for you, but I am not sure if you will fit? And what rice water?"
Taehyung gapes, "you don't take rice water baths?!"
Jungkook lets out a sigh, "come with me. You will see."
Taehyung shakes his head, "not in a public pond!"
"So what? You will never have a bath?" Jungkook arches his brow, "just come with me. I promise, it's good."
Taehyung pouts, "you have to fill that tub for me every day!"
Jungkook smiles, nods, "from now on, I will keep that tub filled for you, Tae, but for tonight, let's go to the pond. There will be no one there. I promise, no one will see you."
Taehyung shakes his head, "it's a public pond. The water will be disgusting! No. I refuse!"
Jungkook makes a face, "the water will come from there anyway! The one I fill the tub with. Come on. I promise, it's clean. Your brother keeps the ponds clean. He has people cleaning the water every month. Come on. Please?"
Taehyung hesitates. Stares at Jungkook with a frown.
Jungkook chuckles, "are you going to sleep with all the day's dirt on you? Is that hygienic?"
Taehyung shakes his head, gets out of the bed slowly and goes to pick up his clothes and a cloth to dry himself with, "you brut, how come you don't have a bathroom with a tub?!"
So they end up by the pond. Jungkook discards his clothes and steps into the water in his undergarment, and Taehyung sits on the edge, legs dipping into the water.
Jungkook looks at him, smiles, holds his hand out, "come on, my prince, the water awaits."
Taehyung looks around.
Then he looks at Jungkook.
Jungkook is standing in the water, waist deep, water dripping down his sculpture. He has his hand outstretched for Taehyung to take, and Taehyung hesitates, looks around.
He is still fully clothed. He lets out a shaky breath and looks at Jungkook.
Then Taehyung is shrugging out of his hanbok and dropping it on the step before he is slipping off the step and into the water.
The surface is slippery. Taehyung yelps as he slips and almost falls on his back, but Jungkook is there, grabbing his hand and holding him upright.
Taehyung finds himself in Jungkook's arms. Jungkook supports him until Taehyung finds his footing.
"Don't take another step," Jungkook murmurs, "the steps end here and then you have to swim."
Taehyung's hands clutch at Jungkook's shoulder, eyes on the man, "I am scared of water."
Jungkook smiles, the moonlight reflects on those water droplets on his face as he looks at Taehyung.
"I won't let you slip away, my prince," he promises, "stay in my reach."
Taehyung gulps, looks around.
The pond is surrounded with trees. They create a sense of privacy at least.
It's full moon. The moonlight beams down on the water, making it reflect on the two of them.
Taehyung can see Jungkook clearly and if he looks around, he can see odd shadows on the trees and houses.
He is scared. He is terrified. He steps closer to Jungkook.
"I have never..."
He sucks in a breath and shakes his head, "I have never tried this."
Jungkook's form shakes with silent laugh, "this? Took a dip into the pond?"
Taehyung nods, "I don't know how to. I am scared of too much water."
Jungkook smiles, "hold your breath and dip for a moment."
"I can't," Taehyung shakes his head, "you will leave my hands."
Jungkook shakes his head, "I will never let you go if you don't want to."
Taehyung looks at him, large eyes pleading, "you promise?"
Jungkook nods, "I promise. I will hold on as long as you want me to."
Taehyung nods, looks around and whimpers, "I am scared."
Jungkook steps closer, so close that their chests touch and Taehyung have to lean back a little to match those eyes.
"Then don't dip," Jungkook's words are a whisper against Taehyung's skin, "I will help you. Wait."
"I will take water in my hand and pour on you," Jungkook says, "is that okay?"
Taehyung shakes his head frantically, "don't let me go! You promised."
Jungkook laughs, "then what do we do? Stand here for the rest of the night?"
Taehyung bites his lips, "you stand while I dip."
Jungkook nods, "I will hold your hands."
Taehyung grips Jungkook's hands and looks at him, "hold my breath and do it?"
Jungkook smiles, nods, "for a moment. To let your hair and face get wet and then come right up."
So with a long breath, Taehyung takes a dip. Hands in Jungkook's
He resurfaces right away, gasping for breath and gripping at Jungkook as he sputters.
"It's okay," Jungkook laughs, holds Taehyung in his arms, "it's over. One dip for the first time. You did well."
Taehyung hides his face against Jungkook's chest, "I hate you! I hate you!"
Jungkook is warm in the middle of cold water. He is solid, reassuring, in the middle of the frantic waves.
Taehyung soaks up the warmth as his teeth clatter, he tucks his head against Jungkook's neck, lips parted around a gasp as cold wind touches his soaked skin.
Jungkook's hands are on his hips, thumbs rubbing on the dip of Taehyung's waist.
"What did I do, my prince?" Jungkook asks in a hushed tone, lips pressed against Taehyung's ear, "what is the reason for you to hate me?"
Taehyung looks up at those eyes, tilts his head sideways...
"You make me feel so incompetent," Taehyung breathes out, "I am not. I..." he rests his forehead against Jungkook's collarbone, "I am good at things too. It's just that..." he breathes out, "all of this is so new to me. I know nothing. You make me feel so naive. I hate it."
"I am not a useless prince," Taehyung squeezes his eyes closed, "I am not useless... I feel like it since I met you and it's just for a few days and I already feel like I understand why brother sent me away. I am so useless. I am sure everyone thinks I am a fragile prince and..."
Jungkook's arms closes around him, tugs him so impossibly closer, their breaths tangle between them. Taehyung feels Jungkook's lips pressing against his forehead.
"Your brother sent you here because he knows how strong you are and how you will survive. You are so strong to..."
"...come from a completely different social standard and try to settle in a new place. You are strong to accept the challenge that is a new life. A lot of us can't do that. You took this challenge, you are brave, my prince. You are so strong to even agree to this at all..."
Taehyung looks at those eyes, sees the sincerity in them and lets out a breath, "you really think so?"
Jungkook nods, leans to pick up some water in his palm and pour it on Taehyung's head, smiles when Taehyung scrunches his nose up, "you are my brave prince."
Then Jungkook's smile is turning playful and he is splashing water at Taehyung.
Taehyung gasps. Eyes widening and mouth falling apart.
Jungkook grins, "but I think my prince needs some washing."
Taehyung is held by his waist and splashed at by the same person.
He easily gets out of Jungkook's hold and by his grasp on the man's neck, he shoves Jungkook down into the water.
When he pulls Jungkook up again, Jungkook is sputtering and Taehyung is grinning at him.
"Never try to pick a fight against me, sir," Taehyung says, "you won't win."
Jungkook gapes at him, and then he is grinning, "oh, see? You are already proving my point."
Taehyung laughs, "don't try to sugar coat words to win the war."
"War?" Jungkook frowns and curses as Taehyung ducks him again into the water.
This time Jungkook comes up to glare at him.
You come here," Jungkook grabs Taehyung's wrists and tugs him forward, so they are chest to chest and then Jungkook is tickling Taehyung's sides.
Taehyung squeaks, laughs and squirms to free himself.
Jungkook is merciless, "say sorry."
Taehyung giggles, arms going around Jungkook's neck to hold himself upright. He looks at Jungkook when Jungkook stops.
They smile at each other, into each other's arms.
"I am not sorry," Taehyung juts out his chin, "you started the fight."
Jungkook grins, "I am sorry then."
Taehyung bites down on his lower lip, watches how Jungkook's eyes drop to his mouth.
Jungkook's smile dims, his eyes sharpening. Taehyung doesn't know why, but his breath catches in his chest, and he parts his mouth. Waits. For something Taehyung can't fully grasp.
Jungkook leans, so slightly closer, looks. Taehyung holds his breath. Too scared to move a muscle.
Then Jungkook's eyes are flicking up to his eyes and the painter is frowning, shaking his head and pulling back as much as he can while still holding Taehyung in his arms.
"We should go," Jungkook points over their shoulder, "it's late and the water is freezing. You will catch cold."
Taehyung feels the way his breath leaves his chest and he nods, "okay. Yes. Let's go."
Jungkook helps him up and gets up himself.
They change in silence before leaving
Namjoon knocks for the third time and no one answers. He frowns and this time he opens the door and gets in. He locks it.
It's evening now. Seokjin should lock his doors.
Namjoon gets in the premise and no one is there. He takes those two steps and gets into the room.
Seokjin is not in the room.
Namjoon looks around and comes back out to hear the running water.
He follows the sound to the side of the room. Where there is another small room.
Seokjin is bend over something. Namjoon steps closer and leans forward.
"What are you doing?" he asks.
With a shriek Seokjin jumps and flinches back, collides with Namjoon's legs and in result Namjoon falls over him.
Seokjin lies on the ground and Namjoon lies on top of him.
Both of their eyes wide and mouth agape.
"What is God's name are you doing here?!" Seokjin shouts.
"I am here to learn," Namjoon frowns, "you forgot?!"
Seokjin has his hands on Namjoon's chest, and he is pushing now, "learn how to knock and wait outside! What are you doing coming here and scaring me like this?!"
Namjoon doesn't budge, "you were not answering! I did knock!"
"Get off me, you are heavy!" Seokjin is still shouting, "get off me right now!"
"As if I am enjoying being on top of you!" Namjoon grumbles, looks down to see how red Seokjin's face suddenly turns, "what?"
Seokjin glares, face and neck so red, "get off me! Right now!"
Namjoon scrambles on his knees and moves away. He watches how Seokjin schools himself before sending him a withering glare.
Namjoon glares back.
God, if this village had a better teacher, he would go to them.
So Namjoon has to endure. He sits on his hunches and waits.
"Next time you knock and if I don't open the door, go away," Seokjin hisses, turns to the pot and sighs, "got it?"
Namjoon glares at the man, "got it. Next time, if you don't answer, I break the door down."
Seokjin looks at him, jaw locked, "is this the attitude you will have?"
Namjoon nods, "if you are going to be so difficult..."
Seokjin fixes his glasses and looks away, "wait. I need to cook while I teach you. Did you bring anything?"
Namjoon frowns, "bring what?"
Seokjin looks at him and lets out a breath, "a notebook? Quill? Ink?"
Seokjin nods, "wash the rice for me. I will get you everything."
"What?" Namjoon eyes the pot, "rice?"
Seokjin nods, "I need to cook dinner while I teach you. Wash the rice and I will be back."
He leaves and Namjoon stares at the rice before going over to wash it.
Seokjin comes back to rice everywhere on the floor and Namjoon gathering them in his palms before dumping them into the pot.
"What in God's name are you doing?" Seokjin asks, astonished, "what happened here?!"
Namjoon glares back at him, "I was washing the rice! I don't know."
Seokjin looks at the rice on the floor, "how come it's on the floor?!"
Namjoon flails his arms, "I don't know how to wash rice, okay? I have never cooked in my entire life! I am a swordsman! I am not here to learn how to cook."
Seokjin comes to kneel beside him, "I see."
Then he is looking at Namjoon's stressed face and a smile is breaking on his face.
"Get over there and open the books," Seokjin sighs, "I will clean this all up and come to you if you need. The first parts are very easy and common. You will get it."
Namjoon goes over to the corner of the room, pulls the candle closer to him, and opens the book.
Seokjin comes over to sit beside him after he placed the pot of rice on the oven.
Seokjin sits beside him and holds Namjoon's hand to guide him as he learns the letters.
Namjoon asks a lot of questions and Seokjin answers them all. He patiently sits and listens to Namjoon's questions and describes the things Namjoon doesn't understand.
He holds Namjoon's hand whenever he misses a thing while writing a letter and guides him through it.
Namjoon watches him cook and come over to help him.
Namjoon looks up when Seokjin asks who cooks for him after Namjoon's parents died.
Namjoon didn't expect this question. He lets out a sigh.
"I have a maid who comes once per day, cooks my meals and leave."
"You eat that cold food?" he asks, "you heat it?"
Namjoon looks at him, quill still in his hand, "no. I just... eat it."
Seokjin frowns, "oh. Okay."
Namjoon doesn't understand why that question was necessary.
He doesn't understand why Seokjin holds out a platter for him.
Seokjin, when asked, shrugs, "you are my student now. If you fall ill and miss my class, I will be very angry. Eat."
So Namjoon eats, watches how Seokjin shares his portion with him silently. Notices how Seokjin places the bigger amount of rice and vegetables on his bowl.
When Namjoon gets up to leave, Seokjin holds the candle till Namjoon is by the doorstep.
Namjoon ties his shoes and straightens up to look at the man.
Seokjin is looking at him, "tomorrow you will knock and only come if you are done with the homework. Okay?"
Namjoon nods, "okay."
Seokjin turns to leave but Namjoon grabs his wrist, pauses him, "what do I owe you for the food?"
Seokjin looks down at where Namjoon is holding him and pulls away, "nothing. Good night, Namjoon."
Namjoon stands by the door as Seokjin closes it behind himself and leaves.
"Good night," Namjoon tells the door, "you are so..." he has no words, he shakes his head and turns away, "you."
"Happy one month anniversary of our wedding," Jungkook grins at Taehyung as he enters the room.
Taehyung is sitting with his mother-in-law, his eyes on the pot that is brewing his favourite kind of tea.
A gift from the royals. His brother sent it.
Taehyung looks at Jungkook.
Jungkook pauses when he sees his mother and blushes beet red when she smirks at him.
Taehyung can feel his face heating up too. He looks down at the pot.
"I can't believe my son remembers a date," his mother smiles, "you are changing him, Taehyungie."
Taehyung blushes even more.
"There is a jester's group that came to the next village," Jungkook murmurs, rubs the back of his neck, "mother, can we go?"
Taehyung's chest flutter at the aspect of going somewhere out of this village. He looks at her too.
She looks at her son and then back at Taehyung.
"Ask for a few securities," she points a finger at Jungkook, "ask the king for a few securities. He is a prince, Kookie. Then you two can go."
Taehyung lets out a relieved breath and looks over at his husband, who is smiling ear to ear. Taehyung smiles widely.
Their eyes meet and they both smile at each other. They are going out tonight.
"Should I take Jimin and Hobi hyung with me?" Taehyung asks.
Jungkook hums, "I will ask Seokjin hyung too. Let's all go together."
Taehyung grins, "okay. You ask them. I will ask Jiminie."
So it's settled.
On their one-month anniversary, they are going to the next village to watch a jester's group along with their friends.
Taehyung lets out a sigh, "I wish my brother could join us."
He can't. Taehyung misses him. Yoongi never came to meet him in this one month.
"The jesters are well-known," Yoongi nods, leaning against the tree trunk as he eats the almonds Jimin hands him, "Tae always loved jesters."
Jimin eats one almond and waits, "so going there is safe?"
Yoongi hums, takes another fistful of nuts, "I will send guards."
Jimin hesitates, looks down at the pile he brought for them, almonds, nuts, raisins, everything mixed and carefully collected for the king, "and you?"
Yoongi looks at the sky, humming, "what about me?"
Jimin sighs, "don't you ever just.. go out?"
"I am out here now," Yoongi says.
"No," Jimin frowns, looks at the side where the house stands, silent, empty, "just... for these things. Don't you go out?"
When he gets no answers, he turns.
Yoongi is looking at him. Jimin looks back.
Yoongi cracks a small smile, "I am the king. I can't show up like that."
Jimin sighs, nods, "right. Of course."
He plops a nut into his mouth and startles when a flower touches his cheek, Yoongi is tracing his jaw with the flower, a teasing smile on his lips, "but if someone invites me... I might show up."
Jimin scoffs, "as the king? No, thank you."
Yoongi breathes out a chuckle, "you seem to hate that I am the king."
Jimin looks at him, "you love it."
Yoongi nods, "of course I do. I get to live like I want. I get to do whatever I want. I love ruling my people, taking care of them. I love every aspect of it."
"Your brother had to leave your side because of your title," Jimin murmurs, watches how the smile freezes on Yoongi's face, "your own mother is plotting Tae's death. You come here to ask about him but never get to see him. You come here in disguise because the king can't be out."
"Everything comes with a price, Jiminie," Yoongi sighs, looks up at the sky, "I became the king a few years ago. I need to make the throne mine and while doing so, I need to endure a few things before the kingdom can flourish under my touch. I will sacrifice those things..."
"It will be worth it."
Jimin nods, "okay."
Yoongi tugs at the sleeve of Jimin's hanbok, "now tell me, where is this jester's troupe showcasing their performance?"
Jimin knows when Yoongi is trying to change the subject, so he nods, "the cherry field in the next village? There."
Yoongi hums, "I will send my guards. Enjoy the show, Jiminie."
Jimin hums, eats resolutely while shoving a few into Yoongi's hand. Yoongi eats in silence.
"I didn't get a wink's worth of sleep last night," he says all of a sudden, "had to go through the papers of the kingdom."
"Then sleep now," Jimin points at the ground, "It's not late. We have time. Sleep a little."
Yoongi watches him, "the king is taught to never close his eyes under unfamiliar circumstances and with untrustworthy companions."
Jimin frowns, "I am not trustworthy to you?"
Yoongi's eyes roam over his face, "you are a village boy who comes to meet the king every week with a pouch of nuts. I don't know anything more about you, other than you are Jungkook's cousin."
Jimin sighs, looks away, "then do whatever you want. Stop bothering me."
Jimin sucks in a breath when he feels weigh on his thigh.
He looks down to see Yoongi's head resting on his thigh as the king lies down and looks up at him with a small smile.
"Wake me up when it's time to leave, yes? I can rest myself on you, right?"
Jimin's hand goes to the king's hair, fingers combing through the mane, "yes. Okay."
Yoongi closes his eyes.
Jimin can't look away, he doesn't want to. His heart beats a little fast as he looks at the peaceful face of the king. He feels the swell of emotions so unknown to him.
The dead leaves fall around them and Jimin finds himself looking at the king with something breaking in his chest.
In his whole twenty years of life, he has never thought of a future.
Now he does.
And there is no way the king is in that future.
And suddenly it hurts.
Suddenly, an unreasonable flare of jealousy engulfs him that the king comes here to ask about Taehyung.
Jimin is just someone who delivers his news to the king.
Jimin pulls his hand back, fingers shaking, his vision blurs.
The king looks so beautiful like that. So peaceful.
Unaware of the turmoil he raises in that young man's heart.
Unaware how that village boy, who never really thought about feelings and heartache and thought about a future, is breaking apart at the realization that...maybe he is falling for the man who sleeps on his lap.
But unlike the village boy, the man is the king. The man who sleeps so peacefully, holds the kingdom's rein in his hands.
He is not a villager or a swordsman. He is not just a knight.
He is the king.
And Jimin... Jimin is, between these meetings, falling for the king, Min Yoongi.
~~ We are entering the angst/feelings/pining/unrequited love/hurt-comfort/heartache zone of the story ~~
You were warned
That is how Taehyung feels as he sits in front of the mirror in his hanbok while Jimin braids his hair.
"Do you want it up in a knot?" Jimin asks, smiles at him through the mirror, "or leave it as a braid?"
Taehyung glances at the mirror, "which one would look better?"
Jimin hums, "I would say leave it as a braid. You have very soft hair, Tae, you will look very beautiful with a loosely done braid."
Taehyung looks at himself, stares at his image, nods, "okay then. Leave it like that."
Jimin's hands work.
"Where have you been since morning?"
Jimin pauses for a moment before he resumes, "I was taking a walk around the village, why?"
Taehyung shrugs, "I went to Jin hyung's hut, he was asking about you."
Jimin smiles, "was he now? I will see him tonight. He is coming, right?"
Taehyung nods, "had to beg him to come."
Their conversation halts when Jungkook walks into the room, already dressed and ready. He looks at Jimin and then down at Taehyung.
Taehyung's eyes matching his through the mirror. Jungkook stares and Taehyung stares back. His heart picking up speed.
Jungkook looks away, "ready?"
Taehyung looks down at his hands, frowns, "I am."
Jimin finishes his braid, "how does your husband look, my dear brother?"
Jungkook is looking at him and Taehyung waits. Bites down on his lips and waits for some words.
Jungkook chuckles, "he is looking good. Now let's go."
Taehyung doesn't understand why his heart sinks every time Jungkook avoids him. Taehyung hates how he wants Jungkook's words of approval.
He is the prince. He is handsome. He doesn't need a painter's approval for it.
But he wants to hear it from Jungkook. Once. He never says it.
Taehyung stands up, follows Jungkook and Jimin out of the house.
Jungkook's mother tells them to come back as soon as they can and tells them to not leave each other's side.
They nod and follow each other to the carriage the king has sent for them.
There are two carriages.
"Who is going on which carriage?" Hoseok asks, fixing his sword on his belt, "Jungkook and Taehyung in one carriage. Jimin? You with them?"
Seokjin looks at the carriages and points at the second carriage, "how about Namjoon, Jimin and Hoseok in one, and I follow Tae and kook?"
Jimin frowns, "why am I not with Taehyung and Jungkook?"
Seokjin squints, "you are always with them. Let them breathe, boy."
Hoseok grins, pats Jimin's back, "come on, Jiminah, I will keep you company."
Jimin whines, "yes, but..."
Seokjin is already getting into the carriage.
Namjoon makes sure the first carriage with Jungkook and Taehyung is protected, as per the king's order, and then frowns when he sees Seokjin getting into that carrigae, "why are you here? Jimin is not going into this one?"
Seokjin sighs, "you are just plain stupid, Namjoonah."
When Namjoon just stares at him, Seokjin makes a face, "it's a long ride. You can talk to him. Let him know you are taking classes. You can talk. Get it?"
Namjoon's eyes widen, "oh!"
Seokjin gets into the carriage, "everything is not written in a book, Namjoonah, get hints."
Namjoon watches Seokjin and Seokjin watches him.
Then the teacher is closing the door of hte carriage and the swordsman is standing there with his eyes on the teacher though the window.
Seokjin doesn't look back at him.
Namjoon goes over to the other one.
"You look a little sad," Jungkook says, watches how Seokjin ignores them and looks out of the window as the vehicle moves along the path, "is everything alright?"
Taehyung nods, looks out of the window, "everything is fine. Do not worry."
Jungkook nods, "are you sure?"
Jungkook frowns, reaches out to take Taehyung's hand in his, "but I do worry. You are... nowadays you look a little lost and tonight you look upset."
"So you notice how I look?" Taehyung smiles, frees his hand, "good to know."
Jungkook blinks, "what are you talking about, Tae?"
"Nothing," Taehyung resolutely looks at the view outside the window, "please excuse me."
Jungkook leans back on his seat, when his eyes fall on Seokjin, the man is hiding a smile behind his hand.
Jungkook raises his brows when their eyes match, Seokjin grins, looks away...
It's a fair. The villagers from the neighbouring villages are there in the fair too. So many people loitering around, buying things from the stalls, eating the foods the stalls are selling.
There are so many shops of goodies, weapons, flowers, varieties of things are getting sold
Taehyung has never been to a fair before. He finds himself lost in his walk. He looks around frantically, smiles at the smallest things, tugs at Jimin and shows him all the things he wants to buy or watch.
There are so many random shows going on, scattered around the field.
The six of them go around until Jimin wants to buy a few seeds for his garden and Seokjin stops by a bookstore, followed by Hoseok, who finds a friend in the fair and stops to share greetings.
Jungkook and Taehyung go on their own ways.
They promise to meet for the jester's show.
"It's not starting in two hours or so," Seokjin says, points at the sand-clock on a store's shelf, "let's meet by the stage around that time. Until then, look around. Yes? The guards can follow Taehyung and Jungkook. We don't need them."
They all agree
Taehyung and Jungkook leave
"Where do you want to go?" Jungkook asks Taehyung, grabs his hand, "wherever you go, just don't get lost. Hold my hand tightly. Okay?"
Taehyung looks down at their entangled hands and nods, "okay. Can we go and eat something from those shops? I have never eaten street food."
So Jungkook nods and follows Taehyung with a grin on his face to the sweet shop that sells sugary goodies, shaped as animals or mainly bears.
Seokjin is standing by a book store, going through the manuscripts the seller is showcasing. He is lost in them as he stands there.
"Are these good?"
Seokjin startles, whips his head sideways to see Namjoon hovering over him. Seokjin looks behind himself and then back at Namjoon.
"Where is Jimin?" he asks, squints.
Namjoon frowns, "he went to the flower shop for seeds."
Seokjin frowns, "and you didn't follow him?"
Namjoon rolls his eyes, picks up a manuscript himself, "he doesn't like when I follow him around like a lost puppy. I want to stand my ground and this time I want him to come to me, you know? Besides," he hesitated, looks away...
"Besides?" Seokjin asks, watches how Namjoon goes through the pages, understanding a few words he learnt, "besides what?"
Namjoon shrugs, "I really wanted to see these books."
Seokjin looks at the shopkeeper, "do you have somehing for a beginner in literature? Anything?"
The shopkeeper hands them a manuscript of folklores, and Namjoon makes a face.
Seokjin smiles, "read this. Folklores teach a lot of valuable lessons on daily lives, and it teaches you moral, the culture of our society. It's good. It has pictures, you will like it."
Namjoon hums, nods, "okay. If you say so."
"Two bronze coins for a dozen of lilies?!" Jimin's eyes widen, "you are looting me at this point, sir!"
The shopkeeper smiles at him, "even you know, sir, I am not. Now, give me my coins or I take the seeds back."
Jimin frowns, "uh."
The shopkeeper reaches for the pouches in Jimin's hands, and Jimin is ready to fight and bargain some more when someone clutches at his elbow and holds out a gold coin for the shopkeeper.
The shopkeeper's eyes widen, vision sharpening, "sir! I don't have change for that. I-"
"Keep the coin," the man says, tugs Jimin away and rounds the corner, so they are behind the shops.
Jimin's eyes widen, "Yoon! What are you doing here?"
Yoongi frowns, "do you always sit on the ground and bargain for such silly things?"
Jimin snaps his mouth shut, glares.
"Your tongue is red!" Taehyung grins, "your lips are red too!"
Jungkook makes a face, "the drink was too sweet! Disgusting!"
Taehyung slurps from the glass, still in his hand, "I really liked it. What colour is my tongue?"
He sticks it out. Jungkook's eyes drop to his mouth.
Jungkook smiles up at him, "it's blue."
Taehyung grins, "you don't want to drink yours? Give me. I will drink it and my tongue will turn purple. The last colour of the rainbow."
Jungkook watches him, holds out his drink, "you are just..." he shakes his head, "going to kill me."
Taehyung frowns, "what?"
Jungkook shakes his head, points at the other stall, "come on. You wanted to buy some ribbons."
Taehyung looks over at the shop, where a young lady is selling colourful ribbons and clothes. He grins and downs both of their drinks, "let's go."
"Don't follow me around," Seokjin sits by a bench, hands straining from carrying so many manuscripts, "go around. Leave me alone."
Namjoon frowns at him, "you look like you will die if you carry those anymore. Let me help y-"
"Kim Namjoon," Seokjin hisses, "leave me alone. Go."
"No," Namjoon crosses his arms over his chest, "I am staying here and I am carrying that bag for you," he snatches the bag from Seokjin, "you are just so stubborn."
Seokjin pushes the glass up on his nose and looks at Namjoon, "don't let me get used to this. You are not going...
...to be around all the time. Will you? I am fine. I have always taken care of myself and I can do it just fine."
Namjoon can't answer because Hoseok has found them and is now coming over with a handful of snacks, "nothing beats the experience of cheap snacks in a fair."
Seokjin smiles, the smile genuine and warm, "you are still a kid, seoksie."
Hoseok grins, "come on. Tell me how it is."
Namjoon watches as the mayor feeds Seokjin and Seokjin smiles as he eats. He stands there with hands full of bags, and Hoseok feeds Seokjin the snacks...
"The papers are so good," Jungkook says, eyes wandering from the papers and the brushes in the art shop, "god, how much for these?"
The shopkeeper takes a look and smiles, "one silver coin, sirs."
Jungkook pauses, "Isn't that too much for just a few papers and brushes?!"
The shopkeeper hums, "but the papers are of great quality, sir. You will not find it anywhere here. It will stay like this forever and your work will flourish on this paper. The brushes are also made of fine-"
"Here," Taehyung holds out a silver coin, "pack us the supplies."
"Taehyung!" Jungkook grabs his wrist, "you can't pay for my supplies!"
The smile on Taehyung's face dims, "why not?"
Jungkook shakes his head, "it is your money. You can't pay for-"
"My money?" Taehyung frowns, "and I can't buy you anything with my money? What is the problem?"
"No," Jungkook shakes his head, "I don't like that you are paying for..."
"Would you not take Seokjin hyung or Jimin's money if you needed?" Taehyung asks, frown deepening, "why can't you take my money?"
"Because," Jungkook gulps, "you are not," he sighs, "you are not them."
"I am not them," Taehyung repeats Jungkook's words, "I am not as close to you as they are. Right?"
Jungkook frowns, shakes his head, "no. That's not what I mean."
"Then what do you mean?" Taehyung asks, "why are you being like this with me for a few days now?!"
"Like what?" Jungkook frowns, "how am I behaving with you for a few days now?"
Taehyung falters, looks away, "like..." he gulps, "like... you are different."
Jungkook doesn't understand, so he just stares, "what are you talking about?"
Taehyung looks up at him, "let me pay."
"First tell me," Jungkook reaches to hold Taehyung's wrist but Taehyung pulls away, "let me pay first. I want to. Please?"
Jungkook looks at the coin and back at the shop, "It's your money..."
"And I want to gift you these," Taehyung insists, "please let me buy these for you."
So Jungkook nods, watches the prince buy him the supplies, and he thanks Taehyung before they are moving again. This time, Jungkook takes Taehyung's hand and drags him under a tree, "now tell me what do you mean by I am ignoring you?"
Taehyung looks away, "aren't you?"
Jungkook frowns, "I don't understand, Taehyung, why do you think I am ignoring you?"
Taehyung looks down at their hands, "nowadays, you come to our chamber at the late hour of night," he blushes at the discomfort of saying it out loud, "I wait for you, you know? Every night."
"You are not home mostly," Taehyung picks at his sleeve, "whenever I visit you in your room, you tell me you are busy. I don't know if I did something to hurt you but..." he looks up at Jungkook, "I have never been good at understanding someone, Jungkook. You have to tell me."
"Be honest with me," Taehyung sighs, "I spend the day with Jimin, Seokjin hyung, Hoseok hyung and sometimes Namjoon hyung joins us but you," he bites down on his plush lower lip, "you are never around. Is there something I did wrong? Please be blunt with me, Jungkook. Say it."
Jungkook watches the prince, "is it that easy? Being honest? Honesty takes away a lot, Taehyung, don't you think? It will take away our friendship," Jungkook whispers, eyes roaming over Taehyung's face, "it will take away the promise I made to you. That I will stay your friend."
The way Taehyung's eyes widen and then that face fall, it makes something ache in Jungkook's heart and he is reaching out.
Taehyung steps back, "you don't want to be my friend anymore. I see," he nods, sucks in a breath, "did I give you any reason to change your mind like this?"
Jungkook breathes out a chuckle, "plenty. You gave me plenty of reasons to change my mind. You are completely at fault."
Taehyung's expression sadden and he is nodding, "I see. What did I do?" he asks with urgency, "tell me so I can rectify it. I am sorry. Tell me what I did."
Jungkook steps closer, effectively pressing Taehyung against the tree, "oh, you did plenty."
Taehyung watches him, eyes large and hesitant, "oh?"
Jungkook reaches to brush his thumb under Taehyung's lower lip, feeling the outline of the lip, "you did so much wrong, my prince."
Taehyung shivers, lips parting under Jungkook's touch and Jungkook watches him, eyes zooming onto the plump lip under his thumb, "I come late to our chamber because otherwise I have to see you get ready for bed and it's..." he presses his thumb on Taehyung's lower lips...
"It's maddening," Jungkook's thumb dips, feels the moisture of Taehyung's mouth against his skin, "it's maddening how alluring you look. How naive you are to not notice how you drive me insane by just being there, mine," Jungkook hisses the last word, "but not really mine."
"It's maddening how you don't notice my eyes on you when you sit in front of that mirror of yours and apply lotion on yourself, your skin glisten and I..." Jungkook lets the moisture smear across Taehyung's lower lip with his thumb, "want to press my lips against your skin."
Taehyung whimpers, sucks in a breath, Jungkook feels the way that lip trembles under his touch. He looks up at those eyes.
So large, so vulnerable, so naive.
"It drives me insane that you sleep on my bed, in my sheets and I can't..." Jungkook presses his thumb down, hard...
"I can't just be there," Jungkook shakes his head, "I can't be there and keep my promise when you brush your hair and arch your back to reach the lower part of your hair while combing them. I want to touch those strands, I want to kiss that arch of your spine."
"And the guilt," Jungkook pulls back, hand tightening in fist beside him, "the guilt that I even think like that when you are-" his face contorts, "you are so innocent. You are so naive, have no idea of how ungodly those thoughts are in my mind, the guilt that comes afterwards...
"The knowledge that you will feel so disgusted if you knew the thoughts I have," Jungkook closes his eyes, "you will know I am a filthy man when you hear the way I have imagined you, my prince. It's the guilt that comes with all of this. I can't be near you like that, I fear."
"Wh-what way," Taehyung's voice is strained, "what did you imagine?"
Jungkook looks at him, expression pinched with pain, "don't make me humiliate myself more. Please, I beg you. Spare me the humiliation."
"Tell me," Taehyung reaches to grip Jungkook's hanbok, "It's an order."
Jungkook lets Taehyung pull him closer. He lets the prince eliminate the distance between them.
"Tell me," Taehyung's voice is shaking, Jungkook doesn't understand if it's with fear or disgust, "tell me, Jungkook."
Jungkook grips Taehyung's wrists in his grasp, "I want you."
"I want you when you join me every night for my baths," Jungkook whispers, "I want you every night when you go to my bed and I watch you from the floor. I want you when you wake up, all dishevelled and smeared around the edges like my best oil paintings, I want you when you...
"...practice sword fight at the back of our house. I want you more than a friend. I want you like..." he pauses, searches Taehyung's face, "I want you as a husband and I can't have you like that. Can I? That's why I stay away. I need to. I am not a very great person, my prince.."
"I am not innocent," Jungkook closes his eyes, "I thought about undressing you," he blinks his eyes open when Taehyung lets out a shaky breath, "I have thought about painting your skin with my colours," Jungkook's eyes wander,"I want to trace your curves with my fingers..."
"I want to lay you bare for my eyes," Jungkook's voice dips an octave, "I want more and I am selfish so I tend to forget that you don't want any of these. That's why we need to maintain distance, my prince, because I might break my promise and I don't want to stoop so low."
"I don't know what I want," Taehyung breathes out, "I have never," he shakes his head, "I don't have experience. You know that."
Jungkook looks like he is in pain, "don't say anything. Just," he shakes his head, "just forgive me for hurting you and we will forget all this. Okay?"
"Jimin told me kissing your lover is an act of intimacy," Taehyung murmurs, colour blooming on his cheeks, "that kissing them on their mouth is an act of showing you want them. Just as much."
"I need to kill Jimin," Jungkook murmurs, "oh, God, don't listen to him. I beg."
"He said he is saving his first kiss for someone special," Taehyung bites back the smile that blooms on his face, "and when I asked, he blushed so prettily and told me to shut up. I think he likes someone. Maybe Namjoon hyung."
Jungkook frowns, "okay, we are changing a weird topic to a weirder one. Okay."
Taehyung looks down at his feet then, "that's not the point I am trying to make."
"You are not trying to change a weird topic to another weirder one?" Jungkook asks, "because I am cringing harder."
"I didn't know kisses like that exist," Taehyung's voice is too low for the chaos of the fair but Jungkook hears him, "I still don't know how to kiss someone on the mouth and not feel disgusted. Apparently it's not supposed to be a bad thing, Jimin said," Taehyung sighs...
"He saved it for his special someone and I," Taehyung leans against the tree, as if his legs are not supporting his weight any more, "and I want to share mine with you, Jeon Jungkook. I want you to be my first special kiss."
Jungkook's inhale is loud and Taehyung feels the way his own pulse rate escalates. He watches the man in front of him and Jungkook watches him back.
Taehyung waits, stares, tries to read the man and Jungkook is staring right back.
"Why?" Jungkook whispers, "why do you want it?"
Taehyung frowns, "because..."
"Because I am your husband?" Jungkook frowns, "because you feel obligated to like me?" his face contorts, "because Jimin probably told you how you should dote on your husband and no one else? Because the society think you should -"
"Because I think I would like that," Taehyung stops him, voice stern, eyes fixed on Jungkook, "because I find you," he looks away, "I find you interesting. Because," Taehyung closes his eyes, "I crave your touch."
"My touch.." Jungkook whispers, "what do you know about touches?"
Taehyung frowns, "if you don't want me, you can say it, Jungkook. Don't invalidate my feelings just because you know more about this," he looks down at his feet, "I may not be as experienced but I know what I am talking about."
"We will talk about this," Jungkook murmurs, "okay?"
"But not here," Jungkook looks around, "we will get home and we will talk about whatever you told me. You will not hide anything from me and I will try to understand what happened. Do you get it?"
Taehyung nods, "I do."
Jungkook reaches and takes Taehyung's hands in his, "okay."
"Now, let's go, the jester's show will start any moment now," he pulls Taehyung along with him.
Taehyung holds his breath when Jungkook locks their fingers together, holding him close.
"If you don't want to kiss me," Taehyung murmurs, "you don't have to. You know? It's okay."
"I want to kiss you, my prince," Jungkook sighs, "but I don't want you to feel pressured or confused. I need to know what brought this to you. Yes? I need to understand what is going on. This is..." he shrugs, "a little sudden for me. Okay?"
Taehyung nods, "okay."
"How does it look?" Jimin asks, a flower crown on his head, smiling at Yoongi who is looking at him, "do I look good?"
Yoongi hums, nods, "it's good."
His eyes are roaming around, as if he is searching something. Someone.
Jimin's smile dims, he drops the flower crown.
"I will take you to him," Jimin smiles, tries, "come on."
Yoongi turns and looks at him, frowns, "to whom?"
Jimin is already walking, "Taehyung? You came here to see him, right?"
Yoongi doesn't answer, he looks ahead and walks beside Jimin in silence.
Jimin sighs, "come on."
"There it is," Yoongi suddenly reaches and grabs Jimin's elbow, he tugs Jimin towards a shop that has Jimin's eyes widening.
Jimin watches as Yoongi drags him to a jewellery shop.
Lots and lots of gold and silver pieces are displayed on the stands.
Yoongi is going through the chains, his index finger trailing over the pieces until he stops and picks up a box.
Jimin watches the man smile at the chains and then turn to him.
Jimin sucks in a breath as Yoongi steps closer and ties the golden one around his neck.
Yoongi looks at the pendant, and then he is smiling at Jimin.
"You like it?" he asks, touching the pendant, "the pendant?"
Jimin didn't notice the pendant yet. He unhooks the chain around his neck and holds it in his palm.
The pendant is a leaf. The chains are for two people.
"The leaf..." Yoongi pauses, "that day when you met me under those trees, there was a leaf that fell from the tree and on your head," he shakes his head, "I don't know why I remember that but this pendant will remind you of our meeting?"
He sounds hesitant, tentative, confused.
"And you like flowers," Yoongi smiles, "noticed you collecting them and you said a lot of people give you flowers?" he chuckles, "if a lot of people give you flowers, you will not remember a specific one. So I will give you the leaf. Not as precious as flowers but unique? Yours."
"Mine?" Jimin asks, clutches the pendant in his hand, "mine?"
His voice gives away the sheer amount of hope that blooms in his chest. His eyes give away the vulnerability he never felt before. Jimin knows he is a fool and he knows he is setting up for nothing good. But he hopes..
Yoongi nods, "yours. Flowers are a few, Jiminie," he smiles, "I will give you those leaves. All of them. Is that okay?"
Jimin gulps down the bile that raises to his throat, "as the king?"
Yoongi shakes his head, "the king," he looks away, "he is poor by heart. He can't give you anything."
Jimin's heart clenches, "then..."
Yoongi smiles, "as Yoon. I will give you this as Yoon."
Jimin knows Yoon has to leave one day. When the leaf dries, he will fall away but...
Until then, Jimin will collect as many as he can. So he smiles, nods.
"You could have given me an actual leaf," Jimin mumbles, "I would have liked that."
Yoongi shrugs, "for now, this will do."
He buys the chains and make Jimin wear the gold one.
Jimin holds out the silver one, "can I?"
Yoongi's eyes move over Jimin's face, his smile melancholic, "please."
Jimin ties the knot, makes sure it's secure. He pulls back to watch the king in that chain.
"Silver chain will stand out between your gold ones," he sighs, "you-""
"It should," Yoongi shrugs, "I want it to stand out. Not as costly as the gold ones but so precious. So unique," Yoongi lets out a breath, "only one."
Jimin turns away, closes his eyes, "let's go. The show will start. You can't miss it. I don't want to."
Jimin hurries then...
"We will be late for the show," Hoseok says, "I will go now. Meet up with the others. You two hurry."
Seokjin watches him leave and turns to see Namjoon waiting beside him.
He reaches for the bags in his hand, "go, follow him. The show is about to start. Don't miss it."
"What about you?" Namjoon frowns, "where are you going?"
Seokjin sighs, looks at the horizon, "the sun is setting."
Namjoon looks at it, nods, "I see that."
Seokjin points at the horizon, "From my house, I can't see the sunset properly. I will watch it."
"What is there so see in a sunset?" Namjoon asks, "it's just the same thing every day?! What are you going to watch? The egg-yolk dip behind the horizon? You will miss the show for this?"
Seokjin sighs, "enjoyment comes in different forms for different people, Namjoon."
"For me," Seokjin sighs, looks over at the sky, "seeing the sunset is happiness. I like the feels it give me. I like the promise it holds," he shakes his head, smiles, "you won't understand. Go, enjoy the show. Jimin is waiting, probably."
With that Seokjin starts walking.
Namjoon watches the man. His silhouette getting small to smaller as he walks towards the paddy, out of the fairground.
Namjoon startles as the announcers start to play the tambour and announce the jesters' show.
Namjoon looks away from Seokjin and runs towards it.
"I can't sit with you all," Yoongi murmurs, stops Jimin, "you go and sit. I will sit a few row behind you all. I can't give myself away like this."
Jimin frowns, "didn't you com ehere to meet your brother?"
There is hesitance in Yoongi's gestures before he shrugs, "yes."
"Then?" Jimin doesn't understand.
Yoongi sighs, "he will be an easy target if someone comes to know I come to visit him. You go and sit with him. I will be here. Okay?"
Jimin nods, he looks at Yoongi one last time before he is moving away towards Taehyung and sitting down.
The show is going well. The whole tent, where the show is taking place, is filled with villagers and the jesters are showcasing their acts at the front.
People are laughing, cheering, shouting for them in excitement.
No one notices the time. It's getting late and dark outside.
There is a shrill whistle. Everyone jumps in the tent and the children are pressing their hands to their ears. The noise breaks the bubble of happiness and before anyone can settle, there is the sound of glass breaking.
The few lamps in the tent break, leaving the place in dark.
Yoongi can't see anything. He stands up on his feet and reaches for the sword hidden between his folds of clothes.
The time it takes to pull it out is enough for the arrows to start piercing through the air.
Some people are screaming as the arrows hit them.
They are under attack!
The light comes in the form of the tent burning, and the people start running towards the only exit. Yoongi can see everyone now. The place lightens up because of the fire, but he can't breathe.
The smoke is rising, it's causing people to choke on it. There are cries, shouts.
Yoongi blinks, makes sure to breathe in a small amount of air because he doesn't want to start coughing and lose his focus.
His eyes settle quickly and he sees someone dodging the arrows with their swords out.
He is dodging those arrows coming his way.
The arrows are for him. The attack is for him.
Yoongi grits his teeth and watches as Taehyung and two other men cut through the arrows and are trying to move towards the exit. Between them are Jimin and Jungkook, squeezed and holding each other.
They are scared. Both are.
"We have to get out of here!" Taehyung shouts, voice demanding, like a leader, "don't break the circle. Don't close your eyes. We have to get these two out of here!"
Hoseok cuts an arrow that comes his way, nods, "move. Move in a circle."
"Don't expose Jimin and Jungkook," Namjoon shouts, "keep them in the middle of the circle!"
"Move towards the exit!" Taehyung shouts, "come on! Now!"
"No!" Yoongi shouts, runs towards them and slices a few arrows on his way, "the exit is blocked. There are so many people there!"
"Brother?!" Taehyung's eyes widen, "you-"
"Careful!" Jimin shouts, squeezes his eyes closed when an arrow comes towards him.
Yoongi cuts the arrow in half, "not the time! We can't get out of the exit. Namjoon," he knows the general, "cut the tent open on the other side!"
"Nothing will happen to you two!" Taehyung promises, "we are here! We will get you out of here!"
Yoongi shields a side and nods, "move now!"
They move towards the other side of the tent, the darkness helping them as the smoke engulfs everything.
The fire is spreading now...
Namjoon slices the tent open with his sword and they are out in fresh air.
Yoongi looks around, "duck! Now!"
There are men waiting outside. They are armed.
Everyone drops on the ground.
"How will we get past this?!" Hoseok shouts, "there are so many of them!"
Taehyung looks at his side, "we need to get Jungkook and Jimin out of here!"
"We all need to get out!" Jungkook shouts, "all of us!"
"Where are our guards?!" Taehyung roars, "they were supposed to protect us!"
Yoongi curses, "mother! They fled. They are following her orders!"
TW/ Violence / blood/ wounds /
"We will die here if we stay here any longer!" Hoseok cries out, "do something! What are we going to do?!"
Namjoon curses, "we don't even know how many are there! We can't retreat."
"The tent is on fire!" Taehyung looks at the darkness, he can't see how many people are there.
"Okay, I will distract them," Namjoon nods, "you have to get out of here."
"Do not do something foolish!" Yoongi hisses, "what are you-"
Namjoon cries out, thrashing on the ground and everyone watches as the arrow sticks out of his left arm.
"Namjoon!" Hoseok screams, "oh, God!"
"Scatter!" Taehyung shouts, "I will take Jungkook with me, brother, take Jimin. Hobi hyung, take Namjoon hyung! Scatter!"
"Scatter where?!" Hoseok looks around, "they are everywhere!"
Taehyung knows that. His mind is not working. In his grip, he feels Jungkook's hand shaking.
"I don't care if we die," Taehyung shouts, "get these two out of here!"
Yoongi curses, "shut up! Taehyung! Not the time to think through your heart! We all need to get out!"
Taehyung hisses, "then find a way because look, they are closing in on us! Look!"
They are. Dark figures are closing in on them. Bows held high in their hands and aimed at the six of them. They are decreasing the distance, shortening the circle.
The six are trapped.
On the floor.
The arrows keep coming.
"If they are your mother's men," Jungkook hisses, "they won't hurt you, hyung!" he addresses Yoongi, "you can order them to stop! Otherwise, they will kill you too!"
"They don't know me! They are assassins. They won't recognize me!" Yoongi ducks from an arrow, "we are trapped!"
The fear engulfs Taehyung then. They all are going to die.
They all are going to die right there. On that fairground.
Tears brim his eyes, and he squeezes Jungkook's hand, tugs him closer.
"I am so sorry!"
Jungkook's eyes are wide, on him, fear so apparent in those eyes.
"It's not your fault," the painter's voice waver, "don't," he winces as an arrow goes by his ear, "don't blame yourself!"
Jimin whimpers, turns to hide his face against Yoongi's arm, "Yoon!"
Yoongi feels the way his heart churns, he pulls Jimin underneath him, hides him, "shh."
Yoongi covers Jimin with his body, ducks his head to protect Jimin, "no arrow will go through me to you, okay? You will be fine!"
Jimin is crying, arms grasping at Yoongi's hanbok, "Yoon, that," he sobs, "that's not reassuring!"
Yoongi has no other words. Neither does Taehyung.
The sound of gallops makes all of them look up. A carriage is coming their way.
It comes to a halt in front of them, hiding them from those assailants, and the door of the carriage opens with a slam.
"Get in!" Seokjin shouts, "get in right now, all of you! Come on!"
They scramble to their feet. All of them. Taehyung drags Jungkook up to the carriage and steps aside for Yoongi to push Jimin inside.
Hoseok, Namjoon get in. Taehyung and Yoongi follow right behind.
Then the carriage is moving. It's rolling away from the fire and the fair.
They are squeezed together in the carriage and they are still reeling from what happened just then.
"Are you all okay?" Seokjin looks at each one of them before gasping and reaching for Namjoon, "the arrow, Namjoon!"
Namjoon winces, "I am fine!"
Seokjin blinks, "no, the arrow!"
"I will get it out when we reach," Namjoon hisses with pain, "I need something to stop the bleeding when I pull it out!"
Seokjin nods, "okay. Okay. We will go to the medic."
"Are you all okay?" Yoongi asks everyone, eyes moving on each one of them until they all nod in assurance.
Taehyung cups the side of Jungkook's face, "are you? Okay?"
Jungkook nods, smiles, closes his eyes when Taehyung leans to press their foreheads together, "I am okay, my prince. I am okay."
Taehyung feels the tears prickling his eyes. He sniffles.
"I am so sorry," he whispers.
Taehyung looks around at everyone, "I am so sorry. It's all because of me. I-"
"It's not!" Yoongi hisses, "it's because of my mother! I am sorry-"
"Can we all stop being sorry?" Hoseok smiles, leaning against the wooden wall, "we are fine. We got out fine. Let's remember that."
"Are you fine?" Yoongi asks Jimin, who has ended up on his lap, curled up against him, "are you?"
Jimin squirms closer, he is shaking as he nods, "I am."
He is not.
Yoongi wraps his arms around him, presses his lips against Jimin's temple, "I am sorry. I am so sorry, Jiminie."
"It's not hurting too much, is it?" Seokjin asks, eyes on the arrow still lodged into Namjoon's arm, "is it?"
Namjoon squeezes the hand Seokjin has in his, breathes out a sigh, "are you worried?"
Seokjin blinks, "I should not be?"
Namjoon chuckles, "you hate me."
Seokjin stills, stiffens before he is pulling his hand away from Namjoon's and looking out of the window.
Namjoon's fingers flex around emptiness and he locks his jaw when he finds, he doesn't like the cold emptiness.
"I will get you all to the medic," Seokjin says, "okay?"
None of them are harmed except for Namjoon, but they all nod.
Seokjin closes his eyes, lets out a breath, "thank heavens, I was outside. Huh?"
Hoseok chuckles, "you saved us, hyung! You saved our arses!
They all look at Hoseok, and then they all are laughing. All of them.
"Are you going to be fine?" Yoongi asks, grips Taehyung's hands as they sit in the medic's premise, "do you want me to send more guards?"
Taehyung snorts, "your guards flew, hyung. Remember?"
Yoongi grits his teeth, "I will behead them. All of them."
"Don't," Taehyung sighs.
"I will be fine," Taehyung nods, "you promise me you will tell me what you were doing in that fair when you come to meet me again?"
Yoongi nods, "not tonight. I will take your leave now."
Yoongi's eyes skim over everyone, "I will see you all soon. Good night."
He looks at Namjoon and Hoseok, "you two fought really well. Meet me tomorrow at the royal court. I will see what posts you hold in the army and give you promotion."
Hoseok bows and Namjoon nods from where he is sitting.
"Good night, everyone," Yoongi nods and leaves.
Jimin follows the king outside. He runs to grasp at the king's ankle where he sits on his horse and Yoongi looks down at him.
Jimin looks up, eyes brimming with tears, "are you going to be fine there?"
Yoongi frowns, "in my palace?"
Jimin nods, grasps at Yoongi's ankle, "yes?"
"Why won't I be safe in my palace, Jiminie?" Yoongi asks, grasping the reins of the horse.
Jimin shrugs, eyes still focused on Yoongi, "your mother..."
"Loves me," Yoongi sighs, "she didn't know I was in the fair. Did she?"
Jimin gulps, feels the way his heart breaks...
"If," he gulps down the clog that closes around his throat, "if coming here," he looks down at Yoongi's foot, "if being near us," he presses closer to his forehead rests against the king's knee, "if it gets you in trouble then stop coming to meet me. Please. I beg, my king."
When Yoongi doesn't answer, Jimin closes his eyes, muffles the sobs against Yoongi's leg.
Then he feels that hand on his head. The touch he craves.
Those longs fingers grasp at his hair lightly, lovingly, playfully and tugs Jimin back to look up at Yoongi who is smiling softly.
"My life is in danger everywhere, Jiminie," Yoongi's hand comes down from Jimin's hair to cup the side of his face, thumb wiping away Jimin's tears, "I am in danger everywhere I go. But when I am with you," his smile turns melancholic, "I feel safe. I feel so at peace."
"But if you want, I will not come to you ever again," the king's eyes are glossy or maybe Jimin is seeing things, "because... I don't want to endanger your life too by being near you. I was thinking the same. That this should be our last meeting."
Yoongi's eyes fall on the chain around Jimin's neck, then the king is looking at his face with a small smile. The smile is so achingly painful.
"Will you remember me, Jiminie?" the king whispers, "will you remember Yoon? Remember our meetings? Those secret meetings?"
"A mere village boy who was lucky enough to meet the king so many times," Jimin chuckles through his tears, "how can you even ask, my king? I will-"
Yoongi pulls away, face contorting as he closes his eyes, "will you remember me as a king then? As Min Yoongi?"
Yoongi nods, his face locking into impassiveness, and the man is looking down at Jimin.
"Goodbye then, Jimin," Yoongi whispers, voice devoid of any emotion, "stay safe."
Before Jimin can reach, grasp at the man, Yoongi is tugging at the reins and the horse is taking off.
Jimin watches the road, dust particles left behind in the air as Yoongi's horse takes him away.
Jimin clutches at the pendant against his chest and sniffles, "how long was this going to go on anyway, Yoon?" he wipes at his eyes, "how long was a leaf going to survive the blossom?"
Jungkook's head rests against Taehyung's thigh. He is back in his bedroom with the prince combing his hair with his fingers.
Taehyung is humming a song he used to hear from his nanny, and Jungkook is listening to it.
"For a few moments, I thought I was going to die."
Taehyung stills, fingers freezing in Jungkook's hair, and Jungkook is looking up at him. A small smile on his lips.
"I thought I was going to die, and you know what else I thought right after?"
Taehyung tries to smile, shakes his head in silence. He watches as Jungkook sits up.
Jungkook leans closer, their knees are touching as they sit face to face.
Jungkook's hand reaches out to cup Taehyung's face, and Taehyung leans into the touch.
Jungkook smiles at him, "I thought I will never know how your lips would feel against mine."
The tears spill from his eyes and fall on Jungkook's hand. Jungkook tugs Taehyung closer until the prince is sitting on his lap.
Jungkook's arms around his waist and Taehyung's arms around Jungkook's neck as he cries.
The evening's events are catching up with him, and he cries.
"I thought I was going to lose you," Taehyung cries, shakes with the fear that is finally catching up with him, "I thought I was going to be the reason you, Jiminah, Hobi hyung, Namjoonie hyung and hyung die."
Jungkook tugs him closer, "it's not your fault, my prince. Please."
Taehyung cries harder.
He cries against Jungkook and unlike the maids in the palace who would tell him to quiet down because 'a prince should not cry,' Jungkook encourages him to let it all out.
So Taehyung cries, feels the way his chest loses the tightness with every teardrop.
When he quiets down, silent tears streaming down his face, he feels Jungkook's lips pressing against the side of his cheek.
Jungkook presses his lips against Taehyung's eyes, each one, soft press of lips that sends tingles down Taehyung's spine.
The prince stills and waits.
Jungkook kisses down the trail of tears on Taehyung's cheeks, and when he reaches the corner of his lips, Jungkook pauses.
His lips press against the corner of Taehyung's lips, and Taehyung can feel Jungkook's hot breath against his skin.
The prince shivers. Skin prickling.
"May I?" Jungkook's words are pressed against Taehyung's lips.
Taehyung's palms come to rest on the painter's chest, fingers grasping at the hanbok there, and Taehyung nods hesitantly.
His eyes close slowly.
"Yes," Taehyung breathes out the word as a sigh, "you may."
Jungkook lets out a breath as if he was holding it forever. As if he is just as scared. He cups the prince's face in his hands as if Taehyung is made of everything precious, and waits.
Taehyung's eyelashes flutter and he squeezes them, doesn't look because he is a little scared.
"Thank you, my prince," Jungkook whispers against Taehyung's lips, "for saving my life tonight."
Taehyung's hands fly up to grip at Jungkook's wrists, they squeeze Jungkook's wrists in silent pleading.
Taehyung is waiting. He is scared and he is waiting.
So Jungkook kisses Taehyung.
Jungkook presses his lips on Taehyung's quivering ones and still them under his touch.
Taehyung jerks as if electrified, and his grip on Jungkook's wrists tighten.
The prince stills, squeezes his eyes tightly closed, and waits.
He feels so vulnerable.
Jungkook's lips are warm against his. They are shaped in a way, it fits against his.
Taehyung feels them and he waits because he doesn't know what he is supposed to do.
He lets out a shaky breath when Jungkook pulls back a little.
"Are you crying?" Jungkook asks.
Is he? Oh, God!
Taehyung hurries to wipe his eyes, shakes his head, "I just..." he closes his eyes as if then Jungkook would not see him, "I don't know what to do when you..." he bites down on his lower lip, "do that."
Jungkook reaches, pushes a strand of hair back from Taehyung's face...
"You don't have to do anything," Jungkook whispers, places his index finger under Taehyung's chin and makes him look up at those eyes.
Taehyung watches how Jungkook is watching him.
With so much tenderness.
"I will take care of you, my prince," Jungkook mumbles.
"Out there you took care of me," Jungkook smiles, "behind closed doors," he leans again, "I will take care of you."
Taehyung nods, stills, waits for the press of those lips on his again.
"You will have to let me," Jungkook murmurs, "okay? You will just have to give up control."
"Okay," Taehyung nods, "okay."
Jungkook kisses him again, and this time he tugs Taehyung closer by his hands on Taehyung's cheeks.
Jungkook kisses him open-mouthed, tilts his head a little to fit closer to Taehyung.
Taehyung clutches at the painter's chest when Jungkook invades his mouth. The painter kisses him with urgency.
Taehyung feels the way his skin is breaking with goosebumps.
His stomach flutters, something is tingling in his abdomen.
He feels so lost yet his senses are intensifying
"Stop me," Jungkook speaks between kisses, words vibrating against Taehyung's mouth, "stop me when it gets too much."
It is already too much.
Taehyung feels too much.
He doesn't want to stop the painter.
So he clutches Jungkook closer, "kiss me."
Jungkook is kissing him.
Jungkook says that much, and Taehyung doesn't know what he wants. He just wants the painter to tell him what he wants.
He wants the kisses.
He wants to explore that tingling feel in his abdomen.
Taehyung wants the painter.
He wants Jungkook to kiss him. For the rest of his life.
"I thought something will happen to you," Jungkook is pulling back, looking at him with wild eyes and lips stained with saliva, plump, "I thought I will never get to kiss you."
Taehyung leans back on the bed as Jungkook leans forwards, "please."
Jungkook hums, "yes, my prince?"
"I want," Taehyung lies back on the bed, watches as Jungkook hovers over him, "I want you to kiss me."
Jungkook nods, "I am kissing you."
Taehyung shakes his head, desperate, frustrated, "no," he shakes his head, hair stands falling on his face, "not on mouth. No..."
Jungkook leans, tucks his face in Taehyung's neck, "here?"
He presses that question against Taehyung's skin, "you want my lips here?"
Taehyung arches off the bed, gasps, "y-yes."
Jungkook kisses him on the side of his neck, "my prince.."
The words make Taehyung shudder, "yes."
"Tell me," Jungkook demands in his whispered voice, "tell me you are my prince."
Taehyung is nodding before Jungkook can finish his words, "your prince."
Jungkook's lips are scorching when they touch the back of Taehyung's ear, "my prince?"
Taehyung nods, "your prince. Yours."
Taehyung jerks when he feels Jungkook's teeth pressing down on his earlobe, tugging at it.
His hands fly up to grasp at Jungkook's shoulders, "Jun-Jungkook!"
Jungkook is leaning down, pressing his body against Taehyung's squirming one to still him, "yes, my prince?"
"What- what are you doing?" Taehyung asks, large eyes on Jungkook who pulls back a little to look at him.
"Am I hurting you?" Jungkook asks, "you want me to stop?"
Taehyung shakes his head, "no, just," he sucks in a breath, "what are you doing?"
"I am biting you," Jungkook grins, "can't you feel?"
Taehyung's face heats up, "but why?"
Jungkook leans to bop Taehyung's nose with his, "because I want to leave my traces on your skin. I want you to look at yourself and remember me."
Taehyung gulps down the whine.
He wants to tell Jungkook that he doesn't need those traces to remember this.
He wants to tell Jungkook he will remember this night for the rest of his life.
Taehyung wants to tell the painter that he will always carry these touches in his heart no matter where he goes.
"Okay," Taehyung nods, "okay."
Jungkook looks at him, something tender flashes through his eyes, "may I?"
Taehyung thinks Jungkook can ask for anything right at that moment and Taehyung will say yes.
"You may," Taehyung arches his head up, baring his neck for the man.
Jungkook leans slowly, and he presses his lips on the column of Taehyung's throat, nips there.
Taehyung's arms loop around Jungkook's neck, and he takes those soft sting along with those kisses.
He takes them and feels how the painter is trailing down towards his chest.
"You are so beautiful," Jungkook is saying, words pressed against Taehyung's collarbones, "the prettiest person on earth. My prince."
Those two words unfurls something in Taehyung, and he is gasping for breath.
"I am the luckiest man to have you like this," Jungkook whispers...
"I want to call you mine," Jungkook's voice is tight, and he is looking up at Taehyung, "but the absurdity of that word stops me."
Taehyung's fingers combs through Jungkook's long hair, he holds them, "why?"
Jungkook dips to kiss him in the middle of his chest, "because..."
Jungkook's lips press against the left side of Taehyung's chest, tugging Taehyung's hanbok away to press his lips against Taehyung's skin.
Taehyung hopes Jungkook can't feel the way his heart lurches against his ribcage, thuds against those bones as it escalates its beats.
"Because you can't belong to me," Jungkook chuckles, hot breath ghosting over Taehyung's heated skin, "you are too bright of a presence to belong to someone and even if you do, I am not the person you should belong to. I am nothing."
Taehyung grips Jungkook's hair...
"I can be yours," Taehyung nods, gulps down the clog around his throat, "I can be yours."
Jungkook's eyes are glossy, he is looking at Taehyung with so much vulnerability, "how? How can you be mine?"
Taehyung's eyes brim with tears when he remembers the plan as he lies there...
None of this will be his to have. He will not be Jungkook's to have.
This is not where he belongs, but...
Taehyung tugs at Jungkook's hair until the painter is hovering over his face.
Taehyung touches his lips against Jungkook's and sighs, "just call me your prince again."
Tears roll out from the corners of Taehyung's eyes and smear against his hairline as he looks up at Jungkook and urges him to believe his words.
"Call me your prince. I will only be your prince. You will always have that. Just call me your prince. Call me your prince. Please."
"If we have nothing for the rest of our lives," Taehyung initiates the kiss this time, "you will always have that. I will always be your prince. No one else's. I give you that."
"My prince," Jungkook whispers, voice breaking as if he understands Taehyung's meaning, "my prince."
Taehyung lets Jungkook lie beside him, and he crawls closer, fits himself against Jungkook's side.
He lets Jungkook pull his face up to kiss him tenderly this time.
"We don't have forever, do we?" Jungkook asks, as if he knows, as if he understood it tonight, "we don't."
Taehyung buries his face against Jungkook's neck, "Jungkook..." he whispers it as if that's a plea.
Jungkook's arm comes around him, pulls him closer, impossibly so, "I had a hunch," he lets out a breath, "your brother loves you too much to leave you in this place forever."
When Taehyung says nothing, Jungkook sighs, "I can't offer you anything that you don't have, my prince, or need. I won't be stupid enough to try either," Jungkook chuckles, "and I think I would like to see you in your true place too. Somewhere you belong. But..."
"As long as you are here," Jungkook presses his lips against Taehyung's forehead, "I will try to take as much as I can because, when you leave," Jungkook pulls away to smile at Taehyung and Taehyung's chest hurt to see the tears in those eyes, "that's all I will be left with."
"Don't talk about it," Taehyung shakes his head, presses his palm against Jungkook's lips, "don't talk about it."
It scares him how much he means it.
It scares Taehyung how much he already wants to stay.
It terrifies him how much he already feels.
So Jungkook rolls them over and kisses Taehyung. His hands hold Taehyung's beside his head as he kisses Taehyung breathless.
"Okay," Jungkook nods, "we will never talk about this again," he kisses the prince breathless, "and the day you tell me you have to leave," Jungkook dips.
Those lips suck a bruise at the side of Taehyung's neck as if Jungkook is letting go of his fear, his worries and his feelings in that mark that he leaves behind, "I will let you go. Without asking questions. I will let you go."
Taehyung recognizes it.
"You don't have someone in your house who can clean the wound and reapply the liniment every hour for the night?" the medic asks, frowns, "the wound is fresh and it needs to be treated very diligently until a day passes!"
Namjoon grits his teeth, "I will do it myself."
The medic nods with a frown, "fine. Visit me tomorrow. I will wash the wound for you."
Namjoon takes the small container of the ointment and turns to leave.
He pauses when he sees Seokjin standing behind him.
Seokjin doesn't say anything as he follows Namjoon to his house.
Namjoon hesitates while he opens the door. He looks at the man beside him and opens the door of his hut.
"I live alone," Namjoon mumbles, "the maid," he shakes his head, "doesn't really do much."
Seokjin hasn't said a word on his way here, and he is not speaking now either.
"No one really comes here except for Hoseok," Namjoon doesn't know why excuses are needed as he looks around his hut.
It is a mess.
Seokjin doesn't bat an eye.
He points at the bed, "lie down."
Namjoon goes over and sits on the bed.
He watches Seokjin look around.
Seokjin goes out of the room to the premise, where he sees the fireplace and a few pots.
Namjoon can see the man from his perch on the bed. He watches Seokjin start cooking with whatever he has in his house.
It's not much. Namjoon knows.
He leans back against the wall, sighs.
Seokjin comes back minutes later. Namjoon watches as he sits by the edge of the bed and holds out the plate for Namjoon.
Namjoon takes it, winces as his arm throbs with the pain.
Seokjin watches him. Namjoon hesitates.
"Your dish?" he looks at Seokjin's empty hands.
Seokjin shakes his head, "you didn't have much for two people."
Namjoon closes his eyes with a curse. When he opens them, Seokjin is shrugging.
"I am not hungry," he says, pushes at Namjoon's hands, "you eat."
Namjoon frowns, "you didn't eat since lunch."
Seokjin ignores him.
Namjoon watches as Seokjin gets up and starts folding the clothes Namjoon has strewed around the room. He folds them one by one, never asks why they are scattered or never taunts as he cleans the room.
When he is done, he stands beside Namjoon's bed, "eat?"
He holds out his hand and Seokjin's eyes drop on it before they are back on Namjoon's face.
"Come here," Namjoon murmurs, hand outstretched, "come on."
Seokjin ignores his hand and sits at the very edge of the bed.
Namjoon's hand drops beside him and he takes a spoonful of rice.
He holds it out for Seokjin, "share with me?"
Seokjin's eyes are on the spoon and then on his face.
Namjoon holds the spoon out, waits.
"I will eat later," Seokjin shakes his head, "you eat fir-"
"Eat, Jin," Namjoon ignores the frown he is given for that name, "come on."
They eat in silence afterwards.
When Namjoon lies down on the bed, Jin sits beside him.
"How long will you stay up?" Namjoon asks, pats the side, "you can lie down too, you know?"
Seokjin looks away, "go to sleep, Namjoon."
Namjoon feels the medicine working, he is falling asleep
"How long will you stay?" Namjoon asks, yawns, blinks to stay focused.
Seokjin's watches him, "as long as you need me."
Namjoon falls asleep.
When he wakes up, his bandage is freshly done.
The side of the bed is cold.
So Seokjin didn't sleep the whole night.
And he is gone.
"My king," the sweet voice is layered with honey, "you called for me."
Yoongi looks at the tumbler in his hand, nods, "come here."
The woman moves elegantly as she comes to kneel in front of Yoongi, "yes, my King?"
Yoongi chugs the liquor, "stop the act. You know what to do."
Her touch burns as she places her hand on his knee, leans up on her legs, "how do you want me, my king?"
Yoongi closes his eyes, "I want your mouth."
She hums, smiles so polietely, "of course, my king."
Yoongi lets out a breath, "don't waste time."
She tugs at the strings of his pajama.
She is tugging it down.
She leans, her skilled mouth touches his skin.
Yoongi's hand reaches to grasp at her hair.
She is letting out a moan at his touch.
She takes him in her mouth, and Yoongi bites back a curse.
He doesn't feel good.
This feels forced.
The chain around his neck burns.
Yoongi feels that touch of chain against his skin more than he feels her mouth on him.
Behind his closed eyelids, he sees 𝘩𝘪𝘮 . . .
That face burns against his skin, and he is pushing her away.
He is standing up, tying himself up and leaving the room.
The image burns.
That face urges him to just... take his horse and go.
But Yoongi knows. Jimin is right.
Jimin is right about them.
What is he even trying to achieve?
There is nothing good that will come out of this, whatever this is.
Yoongi knows. He just doesn't know why the urge is too hard to ignore.
He just doesn't know why he burns to see that face again.
He doesn't know why he feels so restless.
He ends up in the garden. The moonlight reflects on the pool, and he sits on the marble bench right beside it.
He watches how the reflection of the moon is breaking with the tiny waves of the water and notices how the water is glistening against his skin.
Yoongi feels so alone.
He hears the sound of footsteps, and he knows who it is because he is a trained soldier who was taught to recognize sounds from afar.
He doesn't stand up. He doesn't acknowledge. He doesn't talk.
She comes to sit beside him.
He hates how her scent is too thick.
Her presence bothers him.
She places her hand on his back, and Yoongi fights the urge to move away.
"How long will you stay so alone, my king?" she has her voice trimmed, lowered.
Yoongi snorts, "I wasn't alone until you sent Taehyung away, mother."
She lets out a deep sigh.
"That's not what I meant, my king, and you know it."
Yoongi knows. He doesn't have to acknowledge it, though.
"It's time you settle down," she rubs her hand on his back, "find a bride. Have your heir. Hmm?"
Yoongi watches how the reflection breaks on the water, "heir..."
"I think it's time..."
"I will think about it," Yoongi nods, "unless, you have already..."
She chuckles, "I have someone you might like. I have my eyes on someone. But it's up to you."
Yoongi is no fool. He knows she has chosen someone, and that's the person he is to marry.
He nods, "I want to marry too, mother. I want to forget the betrayal I felt tonight."
Her hand stops moving, and she looks at him, "betrayal?"
Yoongi hums, "I never told you, mother, but I went to see Taehyung every day. Since his wedding."
He feels the way her hand stiffens.
"You did?" she asks, voice tight.
Yoongi nods, "tonight there was an attack on him."
He feels the way her hand tightens in a fist over his back, and he closes his eyes.
"He," he gulps, sniffles, "he used me as a bait against them."
She pauses, eyes on Yoongi and Yoongi waits.
"What do you mean?" her voice is icy, chilled, "used you as bait? What do you mean, my king?"
Yoongi lets out a sniffle before he hides his face in his palms, "he threw me at them. Saved himself and his husband by handing me off to those attackers. I can't believe he did that!"
"What are you saying?!" her voice raises, it's a rare occurrence, "he betrayed you? Just like that?! You are his brother! The only person who loves him more than himself in this world!"
Yoongi shrugs, "I guess," he wipes at his eyes, "you were right, mother, he hates me."
The queen grasps at Yoongi's hand then, pulls it in her lap, "that is why I kept telling you to see the reality. In this world, no one is your friend or devoted to you. You are the king. You will always be alone. Think like that, my king, think for yourself only."
Yoongi nods, "I now understand that, mother, I now realize what a fool I was to take his side and ignore the only person who loves me and wants good things for me. Thank you. Thank you for your patience and thank you for looking after me, mother. I am so glad."
He glares at the pool then, "but I want revenge now, mother. I want to take revenge for his betrayal. I will kill him!"
"Not like this," she grips his hands, "don't be so hot-headed, my king, listen to me."
Yoongi nods, "tell me. I will only follow whatever you tell me, mother"
"I have a spy in that family who keeps his eyes on Taehyung for me," she smirks.
Yoongi feels the way his blood sizzles in his veins.
He feels the anger surfacing, and he smirks at his mother, "oh, really? Oh, my Lord, mother, I can't believe you are so clever! Who is it?"
"Before that you have to promise me you will not get mad if I tell you something," she mumbles, looks down at their joined hands, "promise?"
Yoongi wants to snap her neck. He squeezes her hands and shakes his head.
"I would not, mother. Not after tonight."
She smiles at him.
"I planned the attack on Taehyung."
It takes everything in Yoongi to not take out the knife he has hidden in his belt and slit her throat.
"Oh, my Lord," Yoongi sounds shocked, "how did you know he was going to the fair?"
"The spy told me," she sounds proud, "he told me."
"Who is the spy, mother?" Yoongi is losing his mind.
He hopes he comes across genuinely interested and happy.
She smirks, "who in that family do you think needs the money, my king? Who is there with no stable present and secured future? Who is the one with no job?"
Yoongi can feel his heart dropping. He can feel the way his blood freezing in his veins, but he holds his ground.
He looks at his mother and waits.
She is letting out a breath, "it was easy to buy him, you know? Just an assurance of a government job and a steady income."
"Tell me who it is, mother," Yoongi's voice drops, "you know I don't like suspense."
She chuckles, "who do you think, my king? What kind of person just roams around a village, looks pretty and does nothing to earn for his future? What kind of person can be that carefree?"
"The name, mother," Yoongi smiles, "I want the name."
She quirks her eyebrows, "you are very eager to know, my king."
Yoongi shrugs, "I want to give them a visit, and thank them for their service."
She smirks, nods, "Park Jimin. You know him, right?"
*SHORT NOTE - If you come for Jiminie, I will come for you! Thank you!
Yoongi nods, gulps down the bitter bile that raises to his throat. He feels the way his heart stops beating for a few seconds and starts to escalate.
Jimin's face flashes across his eyes and he-
He closes his eyes and reminds himself,
"How can I trust you, mother?" Yoongi asks, "how can I trust someone who always told me I think too much about Taehyung? How can I trust that you trusted what I told you and are not making up lies for me to believe?"
She smiles, "I can call for him and you can see for yourself?"
Yoongi doesn't want to.
He doesn't want to stand and see his past month's worth of memories, the memories he treasures in his heart, shatter like that.
He doesn't want to stand there and watch what a fool he was to meet Jimin almost every day after court.
He doesn't want to.
Yoongi grips the edge of the bench and watches her.
His mind reeling and telling him,
So he nods, "how am I going to meet him?"
"Just like I meet him?" The queen says, "I will send my maid to get him, and he will be in the east wing's last room. Waiting. Okay?"
Yoongi nods, "when?"
She shrugs, "tomorrow afternoon?"
Yoongi nods, "okay, mother. I will wait."
So he waits.
He waits behind the wall, and he leans against it.
He waits with his hand on the pommel of his sword.
He doesn't have to wait long.
He hears the sound of someone walking into the room and his mother asking them to stand up.
So they were bowing.
"Did you get what I told you to?" she asks, voice polished and demanding.
Yoongi holds his breath.
"Yes, my queen, I did."
The walls are closing in on him and Yoongi grips the sword tightly in his hand.
He knows that voice.
He knows that voice by heart.
He knows Jimin's voice.
"Did Taehyung suspect anything?" she has an edge in her voice.
"No," Jimin's voice is timid, "he was sleeping. He didn't even notice I was in the room. He hasn't suspected anything yet."
Yoongi's chest burns. His eyes are burning along with it.
He feels his legs giving up.
In front of his eyes, Yoongi sees those memories breaking into pieces.
He sees them scatter all around his feet, and suddenly he feels them prickling against his skin and eyes.
Just like that, he lost his trust.
He lost his treasured memories.
They meant nothing to Jimin.
"You are doing good, boy," the queen hums, "keep working like this and whatever is promised to you will be given. Keep your eyes on Taehyung and tell me whatever you see. Okay?"
"Yes, my queen," Jimin hums.
"Here is a prize for all of your hard work," the queen says.
Yoongi knows his cue, and he wipes at his eyes.
He never did well with pain or sadness. He never did well with heartbreak, and he never really felt heartbreak like this before.
Now he does, and he channels it to anger.
He fuels his one feeling to crush the others.
He pulls off of the wall and walks around it.
He watches the queen watching him, and he watches the way colour drains from Jimin's face.
He watches how Jimin's eyes widen and those lips part around a gasp.
Yoongi comes to stand beside his mother, "hello."
"I have some work to attend," the queen coughs in her fist and points at the door, "if you will excuse me."
Jimin and Yoongi are too busy staring at each other to answer her.
She reaches the door.
"Mother," Yoongi stops her, eyes still on Jimin, "lock the door behind you."
The queen arches a brow, breathes out a laugh, "why, my king? Are you planning to kill him? Don't, he is very useful."
Yoongi shakes his head, eyes fixed on Jimin who is looking back at him, "I won't, mother," Yoongi sucks in a breath, "he is precious to me."
The queen nods and closes the door behind herself and, by the sound of it, locks it.
Yoongi knows there are guards stationed there. One word from him, and they will open the door.
But he needs it locked.
He needs Jimin in this room.
Without a route of escapade.
Jimin is watching him and Yoongi is watching him back.
They are seeing each other after three weeks and they both are so deprived of each other.
Yoongi sucks in a breath and pulls the sword out of the scabbard.
He smirks at Jimin, "ever felt a sword cutting through you, Jimin?"
Jimin shakes his head, eyes never leaving Yoongi's face, "no..." he hesitates, "Yoo-"
"King," Yoongi snaps the words out, cuts Jimin, "your king, you would call me."
The way Jimin's eyes lose a little bit of light, it breaks Yoongi's heart.
Jimin nods, "my king."
Yoongi focuses on the blade, rubbing his thumb over the sharp edge of it, "you know the first person I killed was my best friend," Yoongi hums to himself, "he was the closest to me as a friend. My everything to be honest. You know why I killed him, Jimin?"
Jimin shakes his head.
"Because he pushed Taehyung off a tree, knowingly. He was trying to hurt him," Yoongi now looks at Jimin, "I didn't hesitate when I drove my sword through him. You know why?"
Jimin says nothing.
Yoongi smiles, "because Taehyung always comes first. My brother. My everything."
"After that, it was easy. I erased each and every obstacle from his life. He has my undying attention, and he will forever be my first priority. Everything else," Yoongi glances at Jimin, "everyone else comes after him for me. Even my wellbeing comes after him. You know?"
Yoongi pokes at the top of the sword now, frowning as if deep in thought, "that brother of mine was there, that day, in the middle of an attack. An attack where he could have lost his life," his grip on the sword tightens, "where he got harmed. Where he could have died..."
Jimin lets out a shriek when in a blink of an eye, Yoongi grips at his elbow, pulls him closer and presses the sword against his jugular.
Yoongi's face is inches away from his, and the king is glaring at him. Those red-rimmed eyes are oozing fire that burns against Jimin's skin.
"And it was all because of you!" The king's voice echoes in the room.
It feels like the walls are vibrating with the roar.
Jimin flinches but he doesn't look away from Yoongi.
Yoongi is panting, his anger burning in his veins, "my brother could have died and it's because of you!"
Jimin's eyes are glossy, but he is still staring right at Yoongi.
Yoongi squeezes the grip he has on Jimin, "do you know what will happen to you now, Jimin?"
Jimin says nothing.
Yoongi's ribcage is closing in on his heart, "I will have to get rid of you. You know that, right?"
Jimin still stays silent and it's killing Yoongi.
He shakes Jimin in his grip, "say something! Give me an excuse! Tell me why you did this or," Yoongi's voice drops, he begs almost, "tell me why you didn't do it. Tell me!"
Those tears topple over and Jimin is crying.
"There," Jimin's voice is muffled, as if his throat is closing in on his words, "there is a sword pressing against my throat, my king," he gives Yoongi a wobbly smile, "I think you have already made your decision. Anything I say will not change it. So why waste time?"
"Don't be diplomatic!" Yoongi hisses, presses the sword harder against Jimin's throat, "do not try to manipulate me. Give me your reason. What was your reason to do what you did. Tell me! Either accept or deny the blame with reasons."
"I did it," Jimin murmurs, "I accept your accusation."
The room, for a second, zooms out of focus around Yoongi and then everything comes back with a bounce and Yoongi is gasping for air.
He holds himself up with sheer willpower as he looks at Jimin.
"What?" he whispers...
There was a sliver of hope in Yoongi.
At the corner of his heart he was still holding onto that hope.
Jimin's nod wipes it all away, leaving behind nothing but emptiness. A hollow. So deep, it's scary.
Jimin nods, "I spied on Taehyung. I got close to you for information. I did."
"Why?" Yoongi chokes out, "why?"
Jimin chuckles, tears still spilling from his eyes, "I have no future in that place, my king! I have no one! What am I going to do if one day they kick me away?! I needed the job I was offered. I needed that position. I needed that security."
Yoongi is looking at him, as if he is watching Jimin for the first time, "for that you put those innocent lives at risk? For a secured future, you let her ruin so many lives? People died that day. Even if not any of us, so many innocent lives were lost! How could you do that?"
"I am alive and that's all I care about!" Jimin hisses, sniffles, "I didn't die. I am fine. I don't care what happens to others. I don't care. The price was supposed to die too! It would have been-"
With a wild cry, Yoongi raises his sword, and Jimin doesn't flinch.
He looks at Yoongi. As if he is waiting for that sword to come down on him.
As if he is waiting for Yoongi to kill him.
There is no fear in his eyes. There is no hesitation in his eyes. There is no effort of saving himself in Jimin.
He doesn't even move an inch. He stays there.
"You are lying," Yoongi whispers, "you are lying."
The effect is immediate.
Jimin's eyes flash with fresh tears and his lips tremble.
Yoongi notices how he gulps, throat bobbing.
The hope ignites in Yoongi again. Slowly, very weakly, it raises.
"You are lying," Yoongi whispers.
"You are lying," Yoongi steps closer, watches how Jimin steps back this time, "you are hiding something. Right?"
Jimin gives him a breathy chuckle, "what do I have to hide, my king? I am not lying. You already got me. I don't see-"
"Tell me," Yoongi steps closer still, "tell me."
Jimin shakes his head, eyes still on Yoongi, "I am not lying, my kin-"
"Yoon," Yoongi whispers, lets his own emotions clog the word, "if you can't tell your king, tell Yoon. You have Yoon."
Jimin's steps falter, he closes his eyes, "don't!"
Yoongi steps forwards, "Jiminie..."
"Don't!" Jimin shakes his head as if that word pains him, "don't call me that!"
"Jiminie," Yoongi chants it like a mantra, "Jiminie, Jiminie, what are you hiding? Tell me."
Jimin whimpers, eyes blinking open and on Yoongi, "don't play games with me, my king. I don't like it."
"I am a mere village boy," Jimin cries harder, "I don't understand your politics and games. Don't play with me like this. I accepted my fault. Punish me. If my punishment is death, I accept that too. Just please," he sobs now, "don't play with me like this. I beg you."
"Jiminie-" Yoongi is stopped as Jimin holds up a hand.
"I tried to kill the prince, your brother," Jimin wipes at his eyes, squared up his shoulders and glares at Yoongi, "I hate him. I hate how he has everything I don't. I hate how he is everything I wanted to have. I hate him."
"That's why when the opportunity came, I took it," Jimin hisses, "I was envious. I wanted to have that job and I wanted him gone. I hate him. If given the chance, I will not hesitate to kill him myself. I wanted him to die that night, but-"
Yoongi nods, "come here."
Jimin's eyes drop to the sword in Yoongi's hand, and he steps closer. His steps confident and his eyes on the sword.
He pauses when Yoongi throws the sword away.
The metal making a clanking noise as it hits the floor.
Jimin pauses on his steps, looks up at Yoongi with a frown.
"Come here," Yoongi orders, hands by his side, "closer. Come to me."
Jimin gulps and his eyes are searching Yoongi's stormy ones.
He steps closer until their feet touch.
"My king..." Jimin murmurs, "I accept whatever punishment-"
He gasps as Yoongi reaches for him...
Jimin lets out a whimper as Yoongi's arms pull him closer against his chest.
The king is hugging him, tightly.
Yoongi's nose bury in Jimin's hair, "the king can misunderstand you, Jimin, but your Yoon would never. Are you okay? What happened, Jiminie, tell me. You have me."
"I helped in the plan that could have killed your brother," Jimin murmurs against Yoongi's chest, "then why-"
Yoongi's arms tighten around him, "you did?"
Jimin nods, tears spilling from his eyes, "I did. I spied on him for the queen."
"Not for a stupid job," Yoongi murmurs...
Jimin stays silent.
Yoongi's chest burn, "she threatened you, didn't she?"
Jimin stays silent.
Yoongi's jaw locks, "you were forced into this."
"It doesn't take away the fact that I spied on Taehyung," Jimin murmurs, "I got him to that fair. I-"
"You didn't know there will be an attack," Yoongi whispers against Jimin's temple, "you didn't know that."
Jimin closes his eyes, "how do you know that? How are you so confident?"
Yoongi chuckles, "what kind of a selfish person, as you described yourself to be, will end up in that crossfire and not save themselves if they knew something like that was going to happen? You could have died too, Jiminie. Do you think I will believe everything you say?"
Jimin shakes against Yoonig's chest, sobs breaking through him, "I thought I will be free from this worry and I-"
"Worry?" Yoongi frowns, pulls away a little to look at Jimin in the eye, "what is the worry, Jiminie? Tell me."
Jimin wipes at his eyes, "I can't. She-"
"Tell me," Yoongi murmurs, "you have my protection now. She won't be able to touch you. No one is going to harm you..."
Jimin looks up at him, eyes searching Yoongi's face, "you think I will throw my friends in that situation if it was ever about me?"
Yoongi falters, "what?"
"There are people," Jimin trembles in Yoongi's arms, "your mother's people, behind Kookie and Jin hyung," Jimin breaks into another sob, "they are being watched, all the time. They," Jimin cries harder, "they are my everything, Yoon, if she does something to them..."
"I haven't slept in ages," Jimin breaks down in Yoongi's arms, "I keep thinking something might happen to them. I had no one whom I can tell about this. You stopped coming to meet me," his body shakes, "I was so sacred. She is the queen and I saw those men. They," he whimpers...
"They kept showing up just for me to know they are there. Any wrong move and they will do something," Jimin's legs give up, and he falls into Yoongi, the king holds him up against his frame, "I was so terrified. I had no one. I wanted you to end it for me. I wanted it to end."
Jimin looks up at Yoongi, "and I wanted you to kill me so I could just," he closes his eyes, "be free from this trauma I am living in. I feel so terrible every time Taehyung calls me his best friend nowadays. I can't match his eyes. I can't match my own eyes. I hate it."
Yoongi is fuming. He is fuming and he grips Jimin closer to him.
"You will be fine," Yoongi murmurs, promises to Jimin, "everyone will be fine. I will take care of everything now. Okay? Do you hear me?"
Jimin chuckles, "you will just protect Tae and get him out of there. Right?"
"I know how you promised Taehyung that you will get him out of there," Jimin nods, pushes away to look at the king in the face, "I know because the queen told me. She knows your plan. She is way ahead of you. She knows you want to kill her too. She knows, and she said..."
"You promised Taehyung that you will get him out of there, his marriage, and afterwards, you will kill our whole family," Jimin's eyes tear up again, "you don't care about us. You will just protect Taehyung and let my family get killed. I know. I don't trust you. I know you now!"
Yoongi reaches for Jimin but Jimin shoves his hand away.
"I know you won't bat an eye if my brothers are killed," Jimin shouts, "I know you will kill them yourself if they raise their voices against you. Do you deny it? That you promised Taehyung an escape when it's all done?"
"I don't deny it," Yoongi nods, voice tight, "It was my plan all along. I would have killed them all. Each one of your family member. I planned to kill them all."
Jimin stills, eyes fixed on Yoongi, "would have?"
Yoongi nods, "I would have. That was the plan."
Yoongi closes his eyes, when he opens them Jimin is looking at him like a hawk.
He clearly doesn't believe Yoongi and Yoongi doesn't blame him.
He doesn't believe himself, either.
"I promised Taehyung that for him, I will kill each one of your family members. When needed."
"You will?" Jimin's shoulders drop, "see?" he chuckles, "I..."
"But now," Yoongi gulps, "I won't do that."
Jimin frowns, "you won't? Why not, my king?"
Yoongi lets out a shaky breath, "for him I can kill, Jiminie, for you, I will save whoever you want me to. For you, I will."
Yoongi steps closer, closer until they are inches away, "what hurts you, I will not do it. I will not raise a finger at whomever you love. I will not. For Taehyung, I have killed, Jiminie, but for you," Yoongi kneels in front of Jimin, "I will protect whoever you tell me to."
Yoongi bows his head, "I have caused you pain, I am sorry. I have made you believe you had no one to turn to, I am sorry for that. I have made you feel so alone. I am sorry. For all those sleepless nights, I caused you when I could have been there, I am sorry. Forgive me."
Jimin watches as the king kneels in front of him.
He watches as the king's head bows in front of him.
Jimin's heart lurches in his chest and he is dropping right in front of the king.
"My king," Jimin whispers, "you don't have to-"
Yoongi shakes his head, "I failed as your friend. You were alone, suffering, and I didn't see it. I failed you as your friend, and I failed you as the king. I am supposed to protect everyone in this kingdom, and I failed you. I am sorry. Forgive me. I am so sorry."
Jimin doesn't know what to do. He doesn't know what to say.
So he squirms closer and pulls Yoongi in a hug, "a king should never kneel in front of a commoner, my king."
Yoongi looks at him, "I will always kneel in front of you," he pulls Jimin closer, "to you, I am not a king."
"Or did I lose my position as your friend?" Yoongi whispers, eyes vulnerable.
Jimin's eyes brim with tears, "my king..."
Yoongi's eyes are glossy too, "I am not your Yoon any more. Am I? I lost that privilege?"
Jimin throws himself in Yoongi's arms, "Yoon. Yoon. Yoon..."
"You have me," Yoongi grasps at Jimin, buries his face against Jimin's neck, "if no one, you have me. You will always have me. I am sorry for leaving you like that. I am sorry for whatever you had to go through. But you will have me, Jiminie, and your Yoon will make it right."
"Okay," Jimin nods, "okay."
Yoongi wipes at Jimin's eyes, "you trust me?"
Jimin nods, leans into Yoongi's touch, "I have always trusted you."
Yoongi's face crumbles, "even when I left you like that?"
Jimin chuckles, "I have always trusted you, Yoon."
The news of the neighbouring kingdom's newly positioned king coming to visit Yoongi reaches the village pretty quickly.
Taehyung grins as he hears the news of Park Bogum and his sister, princess Jieun coming to visit their kingdom.
Prince Bogum is Taehyung's childhood friend.
"Brother called for me," Taehyung grins, combing his hair, "and I need to meet Bogum hyung too," he looks at Jungkook through the mirror, "come with me."
Jungkook smiles, shakes his head, "I have work, my prince. I am going with the inspector to draw a suspect. Sorry?"
Taehyung shrugs, "then come to get me at night? We can come back together?"
Jungkook smiles, nods, "that I can do."
He comes to lean over Taehyung, "now... before going," the painter turns Taehyung's head a little, plants a soft kiss on his mouth and smiles, "goodbye, my prince."
Taehyung blushes, tilting his head back as he watches Jungkook leave.
He then gets dressed and gets out of his room to see Jimin reading something by the staircase.
He runs to Jimin and hugs him from behind, "come with me to the palace?"
Jimin jumps, looks over his shoulder...
"Tae?" Jimin smiles, "to the palace?"
Taehyung nods, "my brother asked for me. You come with me too."
Jimin nods, blush settling on his cheeks, "okay. Can you wait, I need to change first."
Taehyung frowns, "you are already dressed for the day, Jiminah."
Jimin rolls his eyes, "shut up. I am going to the royal palace, I need to be dressed."
Taehyung watches as Jimin gets in his room and he waits.
Jimin comes back after a few long minutes and he is dressed very pleasantly.
Taehyung smiles, "you look very pretty, Jiminah."
They get to the palace in a carriage and Taehyung goes straight to the king's wing.
Jimin follows behind. He has never been in this wing.
His eyes roam over everything and he is starting to think... he knows nothing about the lavish life the king leads.
Not his Yoon.
The guards bow as they see Taehyung approaching and announce his presence before opening the door for them.
Yoongi is getting ready for the day.
His hair untied, still moist from the bath, and his handbok is not fully buttoned.
He smiles at Taehyung through the mirror, nods.
Then his eyes move onto Jimin and his smile is freezing. Those eyes are wide and on Jimin and Jimin can't move.
He stares at the king and Yoongi stares back.
"You are getting dressed up, my king," Taehyung's voice drips with playfulness, smirks, "for your betrothed? Right?"
Jimin stills. He feels the way his heart stops in his chest.
He can't look away from the king and Yoongi is smiling at Taehyung.
Jimin doesn't know what expression he is wearing because... he feels the hollow swallowing him up.
He feels the way his body shakes with that one word.
Yoongi has a betrothed.
Of course, he has a betrothed.
He is the king. He needs to give the kingdom a heir. He wasn't going to... he wasn't Yoon. He can't be Yoon forever.
He can't come to visit Jimin forever and carry on whatever they were doing.
Oh, Lord, he is betrothed.
"I called for you because I wanted to talk to you, Taehyung," Yoongi smiles at Jimin, "now that you are here with Jimin," he gestures, "why don't you meet the princess and the king before you come to meet me?"
Taehyung frowns, "what do you need to talk to me for?"
Yoongi shrugs, "go and meet them first. We will talk later. I need to hold the court too."
Yoongi completely ignores Jimin and Jimin lets Taehyung drag him out of the room.
But by the door, Jimin turns back and finds Yoongi's eyes on him.
The king's eyes shift away...
The first room Taehyung takes Jimin to is given to the princess.
The princess' chaperone, Ms. Kim, bows to them and announces their arrival before they enter the room assigned to the princess.
Jimin pauses by the door and Taehyung walks right up to the woman standing in the middle of the room.
The princess smiles, bows as Taehyung does the same and Jimin has never seen a prettier woman in his life.
He grips his hanbok as he watches the princess and Taehyung talk.
Taehyung turns to find him and smiles, "Jiminah, come here," he points at Jimin, "my best friend and my husband's cousin, Park Jimin."
The princess shifts her eyes on Jimin and smiles warmly at him before bowing, "hello, sir."
Jimin bows, "princess Jieun, nice to meet you."
The princess points at the seats, "please," she smiles at them, "take a seat."
Taehyung shakes his head, "I have to meet your brother and you must be tired from all the journey?" he chuckles, "take rest."
Jieun nods, a small smile on her face, "I will see you around, prince."
Jimin bows when Taehyung does, and then they are leaving the princess' room.
Jimin, before leaving, turns to watch her one last time.
She is looking at them.
The window behind her open to give her the soft glow of the sun.
She looks ethereal when she smiles at Jimin.
The king from the Park kingdom welcomes them with a huge smile on his face.
He hugs Taehyung for a long time, before smiling down at him, "you have grown taller, Taetae."
Taehyung smiles, wide, "so have you, my king!"
Jimin shifts on his feet, watching them...
The king's eyes glide over him, and there is a certain hesitance as he nods when Jimin bows.
"Are you going to stay here tonight?" the king asks, "for dinner?"
Taehyung shakes his head, "my husband will come to get me, my king. I can't stay the night."
The king nods...
"We have so much to catch up with," the king points at the seats, "have a seat, Tae."
Jimin feels awkward, standing there as the two friends start conversing.
"Taehyung," Jimin murmurs, "can I look around the palace? I will come here by evening?"
Taehyung frowns, "are you sure? You can sit with us, Jiminah."
Jimin smiles, shakes his head, "I am absolutely sure. I will come and get you when Jungkook comes, yes?"
Taehyung hesitates before he is nodding, "okay. If you get bored, I will be here. Find me."
Taehyung doesn't get to talk to Bogum for a long time.
Yoongi comes to the king's chamber to get him after he is done with court.
"We need to talk about a few things, Taehyung," Yoongi looks at Bogum and back at Taehyung, "I think you need to come to my chamber. Come on."
"What is it you need to talk to me about?" Taehyung asks when they are back in Yoongi's chamber.
Yoongi tells the maids to wait outside, and he starts undressing himself as Taehyung sits on his bed.
"I have found a solution," Yoongi murmurs, shrugging out of his hanbok...
"...of your loveless marriage," he looks at himself in the mirror, "king Park has agreed to marry you," Yoongi lets out a long sigh, "in exchange for me marrying his sister without demanding any land from his kingdom. He," Yoongi smiles at Taehyung, "he loves you, Taehyung."
"Wh-" Taehyung breathes out, "what?"
Yoongi hums, gets out of his trousers and pulls up the cotton one placed neatly for him, "you always liked him too. He is a powerful king. Not as powerful as me," he smirks at Taehyung, "it's better that way, I will have a say in everything."
"But," Yoongi smiles at the mirror as he pulls up the night shirt, "he loves you and I can see that."
For a few minutes, they both stay quiet. Yoongi dressing himself for the night and Taehyung sorting through the words he just heard.
"What will happen to Jungkook?" Taehyung asks, voice breaking at the edge of Jungkook's name, "are you..." his throat closes, "are you going to kil-"
"No," Yoongi shakes his head, "I won't do anything to him," the king turns to face his brother, "he will be on watch but no."
Taehyung's eyes focus on his brother, "what changed?"
Yoongi looks away, at the mirror, "I am," he lets in a long breath, "not answering that, Taehyung. But when I found a way where no one gets affected, why not take this one?"
Taehyung snorts, "no one gets affected, huh?"
Yoongi's eyes find his brother. He notices how Taehyung's eyes are sparkling with tears and his lips are trembling around unsaid words.
Something lurches in Yoongi's chest.
The protective urge to wipe away the reason that is causing Taehyung tears.
He reaches for his brother...
He grasps Taehyung's cheeks and cups his face, forces Taehyung to look up at him, "why are you crying?"
The words have always been so assuring to Taehyung because he knew, always, that all he has to do is tell Yoongi why he is crying, and his brother will take care of it.
Today though... he doesn't know why he is crying. He holds Yoongi's wrists and lets those tears fall.
He cries because...
"I am not a toy," Taehyung sniffles, "I am not a toy you once abandon into a pigsty and now take out to throw in a gold cage. I am not a plaything!"
"I am sorry!" Yoongi nods, eyes glistening, "I am so sorry, brother. This is the last time. You know I had to find a better place for you. You know, I had to find someone who really wants you and not just marrying you for what you are going to own. Yes? Last time, I am sorry."
When Taehyung still cries, Yoongi stills. He looks at his brother's face and frowns.
A cold shiver runs down his spine as he watches the prince cry, "Taehyung," he gulps, "have you," he sucks in a breath, "have you fallen in love with that painter?"
Has he fallen in love with Jungkook?
Taehyung closes his eyes.
What is love?
"How would I know?" Taehyung murmurs, blinking back tears as he looks up at Yoongi, "I don't know what love feels like, brother."
Yoongi lets out a sigh, "Does the idea of leaving him scare you?"
Yoongi's eyes roam over his face, "does the idea of leaving him scare you more than the idea of living your entire life in a place like that?"
Yoongi nods, "forever in a household like that. With almost nothing to live on for."
"No luxury, no helping hands, no class," Yoongi murmurs, "no one to take care of you. Doing everything on your own. Being on your own. No one you can share your knowledge with. No one to understand your hobbies or be able to afford them. Can you live like that forever, Taehyung?"
"You chose," Yoongi whispers, "a life like that with Jungkook or a life where you will be appreciated for being you," Yoongi smiles, "where you will be the prince that you are."
Taehyung's heart fights his brain.
Those words echo in his heart.
"What does he has that can ever sum up to what Bogum can give you?" Yoongi asks, "tell me, Taehyung."
Jungkook has nothing.
"Bogum's family love you so much," Yoongi chuckles, "you know that, right?"
Taehyung does, he loves the king's parents and cousins too.
In front of his eyes, Taehyung can see Seokjin making his favourite dishes for him. Taehyung can see the man eating it first to check everything before feeding it to Taehyung.
Taehyung can see Jimin combing his hair, choosing his outfits for him. Taking him out. Being his friend.
Taehyung can close his eyes and see Hoseok hyung waiting for them by that pond with handfuls of nuts and sweets that they can share.
Taehyung can easily see Namjoon hyung bringing him to the practice ground, combating with him and praising him for his good moves.
He can see Jungkook's mother sharing the biggest portion of rice with him.
He can see her smiling at him and telling him he looks beautiful every day when he comes down from his chamber, kissing his forehead before he goes out of the house.
Just like she does for Jungkook.
And... Taehyung sniffles... he can see Jungkook.
Those eyes full of mischief, full of warmth, so full of wonder, staring at Taehyung.
He can see the man taking him along for a dip in the pond.
Bringing him to the room where he works.
He can see Jungkook letting him draw nonsense.
He doesn't think he knows what love is, but Taehyung thinks...
Every time Seokjin fed him something with that wide smile, it was love.
Every time Jimin came to his room, listened to him talk while making him fancy hairdos, it was love.
Every time Hoseok brought him those sweets and forced Taehyung to have the sweetest ones and grinned at him as he ate it, it was love.
Taehyung knows every time when Namjoon lost to him deliberately and praised him over and over again... it was love too.
When Jungkook's mother made sure Taehyung ate, sat beside him while he worked and told him he was doing good and shooed him away for overworking himself, it was love.
He found love.
In that poor, shabby, miserable place, he found different kinds of the same emotion, love.
Through his soft kisses, pressed chants of praises against Taehyung's skin, kind gestures of his own heart... has woven the strings that connect his heart with Taehyung's and if that connection is love then yes...
Taehyung loves Jungkook.
The prince loves the painter.
And maybe his face gives him away because Yoongi's eyes are tearing up too.
The king blinks back the tears, jaw locking, "sometimes," he lets out a long breath, "when we love someone very dearly, brother," his clutch on Taehyung tightens, "it's better to detach them from us."
Taehyung blinks, looks at his brother and Yoongi nods.
"We are born into royalty," Yoongi pulls away, eyes lost somewhere Taehyung can't fathom, "we are not meant for love. It takes too much. It demands too much and no matter how rich we are," he closes his eyes, "we can't pay."
"The price is the ones we love," Yoongi whispers, voice breaking, "the price is keeping them beside us at the cost of their lives," he looks down at Taehyung, "the moment someone gets to know you have a weakness, they will come for it. They will use it and break it to break you."
"The more you climb the ladder of the wealth and power, the more alone you get, why?" Yoongi turns his back to Taehyung, "because power demands sacrifices, Taehyung, and we are not brave enough to sacrifice the ones we love. Are we?"
Taehyung knows he is not.
"They got into that attack," Yoongi murmurs, arms locked behind his back, "because my mother wanted to get to you. Just like that, in future, if someone tries to get to you, they will get their hands on those innocent people first. They will use them to break you, right?"
"Can you let that happen?" Yoongi whispers, "can you see them get hurt?"
Taehyung flinches, "no!"
Yoongi turns to him and Taehyung notices those moist eyelashes, leaving traces of tears on Yoongi's pale skin, "love hurts the most, huh? All those poets were lying, right?"
Yoongi wipes at his eyes, "but you are still free to choose, Taehyung," he shakes his head, "if you choose to stay with the painter, I will give you protection. I will do anything I can to protect you and your choices. You just have to tell me. Do you want to stay with him?"
Taehyung knows Yoongi will do anything to secure his protection, but he knows Yoongi can't control everything.
He knows he can't promise Taehyung a secured future.
If Taehyung, the prince, stays with Jungkook then there will be hurdles and some might be life-threatening.
And Taehyung can't.
He wipes his eyes, shakes his head. He can't see any of those people get hurt because of him.
"Can you give me tonight, brother?" Taehyung breathes out a sob, "to say goodbye?"
Yoongi nods, face crumbling, "of course."
When Jungkook comes to the palace, Taehyung gets the news through the maid.
"I will see you tomorrow," Bogum and Yoongi stand by the door as Taehyung, Jimin and Jungkook leave.
Throughout the journey, Taehyung doesn't talk. Neither does Jimin.
"I am not hungry," Jimin mumbles as soon as they are in the house, "I feel tired. I will just go to sleep. Good night."
Jungkook and Taehyung watch as he leaves.
Taehyung looks at Jimin's retreating figure and looks at Jungkook's mother, "I am not hungry either. We ate there."
"I will go to my room," Taehyung yawns into his hands, nods at her when she tells him to rest well and climbs the stairs.
Taehyung sits on the bed, waits.
Jungkook comes back after dinner and closes the door behind himself.
"You look tensed," he murmurs, coming closer...
Taehyung curls in on himself on the bed, eyes on the floor, "remember how you told me when the time comes, you will let me go?"
Jungkook's confusion turns into blankness, "what?"
Taehyung nods, feels the way his heart clenches, he closes his eyes, "I am leaving tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" Jungkook breathes out a laugh, "leaving for where?"
Taehyung closes his eyes, grips the mattress tightly, "I am leaving tomorrow."
"I asked for where and for how long?" Jungkook comes closer, reaches to grip Taehyung's elbow, "where are you going? For how long?"
When Taehyung says nothing, Jungkook grips the prince tightly, "where are you going, my prince and for-"
"I am leaving you!" Taehyung screams, snaps his head to glare up at the painter, "I am leaving you. My brother found someone," he closes his eyes, "someone better for me."
Jungkook's grip loosen on Taehyung and he is watching the prince, "what?"
Taehyung nods, lets out a breath. He can't speak. He can't keep eye contact. So he looks down at where Jungkook's hand is holding his elbow.
But Jungkook lets go, slowly stepping back, "someone... better?"
Taehyung has two ways in front of him. He can leave Jungkook broken.
Or he can leave the painter furious.
He thinks anger dulls the heartache better, so he chooses that path.
He nods, chuckles, "yes, someone better. Didn't you see him? The king of the neighbouring kingdom?"
Jungkook looks at him, eyes roaming over the prince's face, "the king of neighbouring kingdom..."
Taehyung nods, wipes at his eyes, "he is a strong ally. He is a king. He is powerful. He has the power to stand beside brother when he needs it. He is capable of taking care of me."
"You can take care of yourself," Jungkook murmurs, "you are a prince. You don't need someone else to take care of you."
Taehyung closes his eyes, shakes his head, "he is powerful. The queen has her web spread around the palace and in the army. When brother goes against her...
...those generals, knights, barons, lords will support her and not brother. They will help her and if she dies all of a sudden, they can upraise the people against brother. Then brother will need help and the king can help him. He is powerful. Can't you get it?"
"No, I don't get it!" Jungkook murmurs, "I don't get how he gets to decide your life! I don't get how you don't say anything against it! I don't get how you are so fine with whatever he is trying to make you do..."
"Because I want an out of this hellhole too!" Taehyung shouts.
The room is silent after that. Jungkook's eyes are on him and Taehyung is panting for breath.
Jungkook pulls himself back, hand falling beside him as he nods, "right."
Taehyung feels that word in his heart, piercing through it.
He watches as the painter steps further back...
Jungkook grips the side of his hanbok and nods, "okay, my prince. If that's what your wish is, then I won't stop you."
Taehyung watches as Jungkook bows to him, "excuse me," he turns away to leave.
Taehyung stands up from the bed, "where are you going? It's late."
Jungkook pauses, shrugs, "I will go to Jin hyung. You rest, my prince," his chuckle sounds hollow, "I am sorry for all the trouble I might have caused you for the past few months."
Taehyung's heart cracks as he watches the painter, "Jungkook..."
Jungkook shakes his head...
"I am sorry for all this time thinking you liked us all," Jungkook wipes at his eyes, "at least as a friend. I am sorry for every time I teased you or talked to you like we are equal. I am sorry for forgetting who you are and how you were very clear about your thoughts on us."
"I am sorry if I ever crossed a line," Jungkook sighs, looks over his shoulder, "I am sorry for everything."
Taehyung reaches out, "Jungkook.."
Jungkook flinches, shakes his head, "I won't take more of your time, my prince. Excuse me. Have a good night," he bows before leaving.
"Don't!" Seokjin glares at the man, trying to free his wrist, "Namjoon! Leave my hand!"
Namjoon grins, wicked smirk on his face, "free yourself, Seokjin. Come on."
Seokjin is pressed against the wall of his own room, the swordsman in front of him, trapping him.
The swordsman leans, lips closer to Seokjin's ear, "say sorry."
Seokjin turns his head away, breath caught in his chest, "for what?"
Namjoon presses closer, eyes roaming over the face of the teacher, "for pouring water on me."
Seokjin curses, "you were teasing me!"
"I just asked a question!" Namjoon sighs, "how is that teasing?"
"Asking your teacher if he ever kissed someone is a cockiness you shouldn't have! How dare you ask me that?!"
Namjoon chuckles, "it was a very innocent curiosity, teacher. How was I wrong is asking that?"
Namjoon's eyes take in how the moonlight cuts a shadow over Seokjin's face, how beautiful the man looks.
Seokjin is breathing unevenly against Namjoon and Namjoon has the stupidest urge to lean and press his lips against that reddening ear.
He smiles, "you never kissed someone."
Seokjin closes his eyes, "why is that your concern?"
"It's not," Namjoon shrugs, "it's just that, you poured that cold water on me for asking when it was you who told me I can ask you anything."
"About your study," Seokjin hisses, glares at him, "not about my life!"
Namjoon rolls his eyes, easily grabs both of Seokjin's hands and press them against his head on the wall.
He leans until there is no space left between him and Seokjin.
Their noses touching.
"Wh-what are you doing?" Seokjin stutters, tries to pull away, "Namjoon! Let me go!"
"Have you ever fell in love, teacher?" Namjoon smirks, "ever found yourself falling for someone? Has anyone ever made your heart beat a little faster?"
Seokjin's eyes are roaming over his face, "Namjoon..."
Namjoon chuckles, "what? No nobleman caught your attention? Teacher?"
"No one you wanted to have a future with?" Namjoon asks, playful smirk on his lips, "no one you fell in love with?"
Seokjin closes his eyes and Namjoon is mesmerized.
For a second he just stares at the man in front of him.
Then those eyes are opening and Seokjin looks tired.
"I do," Seokjin nods, tight bob of his head, "I love someone."
Namjoon raises his brows, "what? Really?! Who is it? Did you tell them?"
Seokjin shakes his head in denial.
Namjoon frowns, "why not? Why didn't you tell them?"
Seokjin's eyes lose the fire, those orbs are lost, and they are roaming over Namjoon's face before the teacher is giving him a defeated smile.
Namjoon notices the glistening eyelashes, the moonlight reflecting against those glistening orbs...
"Because he loves someone else," Seokjin murmurs, looks away, "and the person he loves, I stand no chance in front of them. Even if I did, I won't take that person's happiness away like that either because I love that person dearly too."
Namjoon's clutch loosen and Seokjin slips out of his grip.
Namjoon notices how Seokjin wipes his eyes quickly before turning towards Namjoon.
"Now go back to study! You still have two more tables to-"
"Who won't love you?" Namjoon murmurs, "who won't want to be with you?"
Seokjin pauses before he is smiling, soft, tender, so, so soft, "you won't."
Namjoon blinks, "what?"
Seokjin's smile is melancholic for a second before he is shrugging and a grin breaks on his face, "I am saying, you won't have to think about it! Just focus on studies."
He grips Namjoon's wrist and pulls him down on the floor to sit in front of the notebook, "you don't need to worry about my love life. You need to focus on your studies, be a scholar, court Jimin properly and get out of my hair, so we don't have to see each other every day."
Seokjin squeezes Namjoon's shoulders, "okay? Now focus."
He looks down at the pages, but the thought swirls in his head.
That after he is done with his exams, he never has to come to this hut again.
He never has to meet Seokjin again. They have no reason to meet.
He opens his mouth to say something when there is a slam and they both jump.
They look over at the door to see Jungkook standing by the door.
Seokjin blinks, "Jungkookah?" he stands up, "why are you here? It's so late-"
Jungkook's face contorts, "he is leaving!"
Before Seokjin could reply, Jungkook is barrelling in and throwing himself into Seokjin's arms.
Namjoon watches as Seokjin's arms wrap tightly around his brother, and Seokjin immediately tugs Jungkook closer.
"Who is leaving?" Seokjin sounds panicked, "what happened, Kookah?"
Jungkook's sobs are loud, his cries break the silence of the room and Seokjin manoeuvres the man to sit.
"He is leaving," Jungkook chants as if he knows only that, as if that is the only thought that matters, "he is leaving me. He is leaving."
"Who is leaving, Kookah," Seokjin shares a panicked glance with Namjoon, "tell me. Tell hyung so hyung can take care of it."
Jungkook wipes at his eyes, suddenly he looks so much younger. As if he is back to being a kid.
Those wide eyes are tearful as they stare at Seokjin.
"Taehyung is leaving," Jungkook's voice breaks, "he is leaving tomorrow."
Seokjin's arms tighten around him in reflex, "what?"
Namjoon frowns, stares at the man, who is sobbing anew now.
"Why?" Seokjin feels the way Jungkook shake in his arms, "why is he leaving? Kookah..."
"He found someone worthy of his love," Jungkook murmurs, "I wasn't," his eyes brim with fresh tears, he sniffles, "I wasn't," he shakes his head, gulps down the painful lump in his throat, "I wasn't that person for him, hyung. I wasn't his love when he became mine!"
And just like that, Seokjin sees himself in Jungkook. Crying for a love that will never be his.
Just like that, Seokjin sees the man he adores the most in the world, his youngest brother, stand exactly where he stands.
They are on the same boat and Seokjin feels the heartbreak.
This time the heartbreak hurts even more because Jungkook doesn't deserve this.
Anyone in this world but Jungkook. Jungkook doesn't deserve the pain Seokjin goes through every day.
Jungkook, the brother he raised on his back, crying like that breaks Seokjin and he is crying too.
Seokjin is tearing up and pulling Jungkook closer to hide him from the world like he used to when they were kids.
He would hug the younger and promise him that nothing harmful will touch him ever.
But now the promise breaks because Jungkook is already breaking down. Already hurt.
"Then you let him go," Seokjin knows he can say a lot of things to make Jungkook hope but when hope breaks, it hurts the most and Seokjin would never hurt Jungkook, "if he found someone he loves and who will treat him right, you let him go. You be happy because he is happy."
"It's not easy," Jungkook whimpers, "it's not easy..."
Seokjin sniffles, nods, "but it gets easier. When you see him happy," his eyes reach Namjoon who is looking at the two of them and Seokjin gives a small smile, "when you see them improve for that person they love. When...
... you see how they are living the life they always wanted and wished for and you realize you helped them achieve it, it gets easier. They are happy. Somewhere in this world, they are happy. Living the life they wanted," Seokjin looks down at Jungkook and gives him a small smile
"I think that's enough. I think you can either be bitter and ruin everything, or make peace with it. I choose to make peace."
"No, you choose to not fight for the love," Namjoon cuts in, "you choose to give up before the war even begins. You choose defeat before the end."
Seokjin looks at Namjoon, eyes heavy on that face, "how can you win love with force? How can you go to war with your heart, swordsman? It's love and it has no rules, no war, no winner or loser. It has mercy, you forgive them for unknowingly breaking your heart. It has patience...
"You give yourself time to heal, and it has hope. The hope that one day you will move on. Healed. It's not a war, Namjoon. You can't fight for love. The heart wants who it wants."
Namjoon shakes his head, not agreeing with Seokjin, "but-"
"He can remember you as a person with whom he has good memories," Seokjin wipes Jungkook's eyes, smiles, "or you can make it difficult for him and every time he remembers you, you leave a bitter taste in his heart. What would you choose, kookah?"
Namjoon looks at Jungkook...
"I would rather he remembers me as a friend," Jungkook wipes at his eyes, "than a person who stood between his happiness. I would rather let him go than cage him where he can't breathe."
Seokjin's smile widens, tears roll out of his eyes at the same time, "I am proud of you."
"Can I sleep here?" Jungkook asks, looks hesitantly at Seokjin and Namjoon, "are you two busy?"
Seokjin shakes his head, "you sleep. We will continue our study outside. Okay? Don't think about it too much."
Jungkook nods mutely, watching as Namjoon collects everything.
"Hyung," Jungkook calls Seokjin as they are about to get out of the room, "if he comes to say goodbye," Jungkook's face contorts with pain, he looks away, "don't let him get to me. I don't-" Jungkook shakes his head, "I can't watch him leave, hyung. I don't think I can."
"You go to sleep," Seokjin smiles, "I will not let anyone near you until you say so."
Jungkook nods, dims the gaslight.
Seokjin and Namjoon come out of the room and Seokjin closes the door behind them.
"Spread the mat on the premise," Seokjin murmurs, "we will study here."
Taehyung does come to say goodbye. His eyes are red-rimmed and puffy. His expression doesn't give anything away, but Seokjin knows heartbreak when he sees one.
He doesn't know the reason of the prince's decision, but when Taehyung stops in front of him, he is not mad.
Namjoon stands beside Seokjin and Seokjin is grateful.
"He doesn't want to see you," Seokjin steels his voice, "I will have to stop you here."
Taehyung's lips tremble, eyes turning glossy. He looks over Seokjin's shoulders at the closed door and waits.
His eyes brim with tears.
"Tell him," Taehyung whispers, voice tight, "tell him," Taehyung's eyes water as they turn on Seokjin, "tell him..."
Seokjin's heart breaks and he reaches to grab Taehyung's hands, they are cold, "Tae..."
Taehyung lurches forward, arms going around Seokjin, "hyung!"
"Hyung," Taehyung sniffles, "hyung, you know. You know."
Seokjin hates that he suddenly understands everything.
He hates how he holds Taehyung and feels the way Taehyung's heart breaks into pieces. Again and again.
He hates how he feels those shreds cutting through them both.
"I can't stay," Taehyung sobs, "I can't stay but hyung, don't hate me?" his body shakes with the sobs, "Jiminah refused to talk to me. He refused and shouted how we should have never came to his life. Mother didn't even talk to me," Taehyung cries harder, "she didn't come out..."
"I couldn't even meet Hobi hyung," Taehyung buries his face against Seokjin's chest, "tell him goodbye for me? And," Taehyung pulls back, wipes at his eyes, "you," sobs break through those trembling lips, "Namjoonie hyung," his eyes seek Namjoon out, "forgive me for whatever..."
"Hurt I caused you," Taehyung wipes at his eyes, grips Seokjin and Namjoon's hand in his, "forgive me."
"I don't know what to say, Taehyung," Namjoon murmurs, "I don't know why you are doing this because I know you loved being here. You weren't suffering. I don't know..."
Taehyung shakes his head, breathes out, "I am a prince, hyung, we," he looks at that closed door again, "I can't live like this foreve-"
"Don't lie," Seokjin presses his hand over Taehyung's lips, eyes filled with tears too, "in front of me, don't lie. You said I would know..."
Seokjin nods in earnest, "I know."
Taehyung's shoulders slump, his lips moving against Seokjin's hand.
"Hyung will try to get everything right," Seokjin wipes at his eyes, "if what I think is the reason, Tae, you go," he nods firmly, "I will see what I can do."
"What are you talking about?" Namjoon frowns, "what can you-"
"I will see you, Tae," Seokjin wipes the man's eyes, shakes his head, "hyung will do whatever he can to fix this. For you, for," he looks at that closed door, "kookah. Hyung will try. Yes?"
Taehyung shakes his head, "you can't. My hyung couldn't help bu-"
"I will meet him," Seokjin frowns, "we were taught by the same teacher. We used to be classmates. I will meet him. I haven't visited him ever, but I will for you two. I will talk to him. Okay?"
Namjoon nods, "I can help you. I am posted as his bodyguard from tomorrow. I will be able to talk to him."
Taehyung shakes his head, "don't give me hope, hyung, don't," he sniffles, "I don't want to hope for something I can't have and then-"
Seokjin pulls him in a hug, "Tae..."
A smile adorns his face as he looks at Namjoon, "someone told me we should fight for our love. So, I will fight for yours," Seokjin presses a soft kiss against Taehyung's hair, "now go. I will meet you soon. You have to keep this to yourself until then, okay? Do not tell anyone."
Taehyung pulls back, steps away, "I will see you again?"
His voice carries hope, tentative, fragile, but there.
Those eyes search Seokjin's face, moves onto Namjoon's before going to that closed door, and they fill with tears again.
"Promise?" Taehyung asks, "hyung?"
Seokjin nods, "I promise. Hyung will take care of it."
Namjoon nods too, giving Taehyung a small smile of his own, "we will make it right."
So Taehyung, with a last glance at that door, leaves.
Seokjin and Namjoon watch as the guards follow the horse Taehyung rides onto.
"So you will fight for their love," Namjoon turns his head to look at Seokjin, "what about yours?"
Seokjin lets out a breath, "Jimin."
Namjoon frowns, "what?"
Seokjin points at the house, "he was crying, and he is surely upset. Go, talk to him. Yes? This is the right time."
"Right time?" Namjoon frowns, follows Seokjin inside the house.
Seokjin sighs, "he is alone. He is hurting. Go, talk to him. Be there for him. Let him see you as a companion. Give away the hint that you will always be there for him. Yes? Go. Let him see you as something more."
Namjoon frowns, "are you telling me to use his vulnerable moment to-"
"I am telling you to comfort him," Seokjin glares at Namjoon, "and I am telling you to leave. You are starting to stay for the whole night nowadays. It's morning now, Namjoon. Go away. I need to have a bath."
Seokjin gets inside his room, tiptoes to his cabinet and pulls out his clothes and a freshly cleaned towel.
He gets out of the room, closes the door and sees how the premise is empty.
A sigh leaves his chest.
Of course, he did.
Seokjin goes to the pond for a bath...
Jimin finds himself back at that empty house at the end of the village.
Where he used to meet the king. Every week on this day.
Jimin sits under that tree, tears filling his eyes.
He looks up to see the branches of the tree are now almost naked.
The leaves falling away.
Winter is coming.
The air is carrying cold rather than the warmth Jimin likes.
He leans against the tree and closes his eyes.
Tears spill out of his eyes as he recalls how Taehyung left.
He tries to imagine how Jungkook might be feeling, and his heart squeezes with pain.
He thinks about the princess in that palace.
Here to marry the king.
He thinks about the king.
He thinks about Yoon.
Jimin cries when he thinks about Yoon.
Who was Yoon? A fragment of everything Jimin wanted in a person he could...
Jimin doesn't want to name that emotion.
He buries his face against his knees and sobs. Curses at fate for ever making him meet that king.
He curses everything that caused him and his brother so much pain.
He wishes he could go back and stop this.
Jimin jumps, startled, and looks up.
Yoongi stands a few feet away from him and for a second Jimin thinks he imagined the person up.
For a few seconds, he just sits and stares.
Yoongi comes forward, "Jiminie..."
"What are you doing here?" Jimin asks, voice cracking, "why are you here?"
He stands up on his feet.
He steps back, feels the tree behind him and glares at the man in front of him, "why are you here?!"
Yoongi pauses, reaches out, "I just came-"
"Why?" Jimin hisses, wipes at his eyes, "to see how much I am suffering? To see how much you hurt my brother? To see how I am doing?"
"Was this your plan all along?" Jimin cries, "is this your punishment for us?! Me?!" he clutches at his chest, "is this how you wanted me to suffer? You kept me alive, us alive to suffer every day?!"
Yoongi stands there, eyes roaming over Jimin's face, "I am trying to save-"
"Your brother!" Jimin nods, "your brother, your family. Everyone. But us."
"Why are you so angry," Yoongi mumbles, steps closer, "you knew Taehyung couldn't stay there forever. You kne-"
"You are marrying her!" Jimin screams, silencing Yoongi, "you are marrying the princess!"
"You are marrying the princess," Jimin trembles with rage, frustration, hurt, "and you-"
Yoongi steps closer until their feet touch, until he is looking down at Jimin, "and me, what?"
"You," Jimin grips the chain around his neck, tugs at it, "and you made me believe..."
"You made me believe in," Jimin has no word, he tugs at the chain until it comes undone in his hand, and he throws it at Yoongi's face, "take that and leave! Leave us! Leave me! Leave our lives! I hate you! I hate what I have become after meeting you! I hate you so much!"
"I was living my life," Jimin trembles with each sob, "I was okay with my future where I might get married to someone my family choose for me. I was okay knowing I will fall in love with my husband. I was okay in my life. I am poor, I am not meant for anything special, I knew."
He grips Yoongi's hanbok, jerks him closer, "then why did you come into my life?!"
Yoongi lets Jimin shower punches on his chest, he stands as Jimin cries and his hands tear at Yoongi with everything he can't say.
"Why did you have to come and make me hope," Jimin cries...
"I am the king," Yoongi murmurs, "what did you expect me to do?" he breathes out a snort, "marry you?"
Jimin pauses, looks up at those eyes. His body leans against the tree as he stares at the man he weaved all his dreams around.
Yoongi raises his brows, "really? You thought?"
Yoongi breathes out a laugh, "I was here for my brother. I was here for my brother, and you were here. I just," he shrugs, "I found you amusing."
Jimin stumbles, eyes searching that face he can't match with his Yoon.
"You really thought there was something more?" Yoongi smirks.
"I would have killed you that day," Yoongi's jaw tightens, "for hurting him. But I couldn't," he grips Jimin's elbow, pulls him closer, "because Taehyung would have made a fuss. He came to love you all. You really think I kept you all alive because I got weak for you? You?"
"I am the king," Yoongi pulls Jimin up on his toes, their eyes matching, "I have boys like you in my harem. So many like you. What can you possibly give me that they can't?"
Jimin trembles in that grip, eyes searching the man he has never seen before.
Yoongi eyes him, "what?"
"That stupid chain," Yoongi looks down at where it is on the ground and Jimin does too.
Yoongi presses his foot over that chain, smirks when Jimin gasps.
"I just wanted you to give yourself to me," Yoongi whispers, "I am not going to lie, I desired you. I really did."
"But, Lord!" Yoongi curses, "you got mouthy! You really thought I will give up everything to have you? As what?" he laughs, throws his head back and laugh, before looking back at Jimin with a snarl, "as my husband?!"
Jimin squirms in that grip, pushes at Yoongi's chest.
"You are trying to tell me that I should leave that princess for you? Are you listening to yourself?!" Yoongi frees Jimin with a jerk, watches as Jimin leans heavily against the tree, "I came here one last time to meet you, boy, to tell you," he pulls out his sword...
The tip of the sword pokes against Jimin's jugular, "my guards will come to your house to arrest you," Yoongi's jaw locks, eyes hardening, "you will be prisoned for the crime of spying on the prince and scheming the demise of the king. I expect you to accept your punishment."
Jimin looks at Yoongi, a small smile curving his lips. He pushes the sword away with a snort and steps closer to the king.
"You said you desired me," Jimin murmurs, comes to stand right in front of the man, "you said you were here to amuse yourself," he nods, "I see."
"If that was the only reason you came here to meet me then," Jimin tugs at the string of his hanbok, eyes fixed on the king, "then I will give you that. What you desired," he tugs the hanbok loose, looking up at Yoongi's face, "you wanted me, right, my king? You can have me."
"If you have me," Jimin tugs at the collar of the hanbok, pushing it off his left shoulder, "the king, if he wants to have a boy, a mere street-side boy, then I will let you have me. I will even consider myself lucky that you wanted me," Jimin smiles, "despite having a harem."
Jimin tries to shrug out of the hanbok when there is a strong grip on his wrist and Jimin looks up to see Yoongi glaring at him.
"What on God's name do you think you are doing?!" Yoongi's voice is low, trembles with anger, "what are you doing, Jimin?!"
Jimin chuckles, "why?"
"You want me," Jimin shrugs, "don't you? You said yourself," Jimin steps forward, tugs Yoongi's hands and places them on the sides of his waist, "touch me. You can, my king, you can touch me."
Yoongi's hands curl, grip tight as he jerks Jimin forward, "what is wrong with you?"
Jimin tilts his head, "nothing is wrong with me, my king, I just want to give you what you want."
Yoongi tugs the hanbok up around Jimin's shoulder, hurries to knot the belt, "do not," he glares, "do this!"
Jimin's eyes are glossing over, he sniffles, "I should tell you that."
He grips Yoongi's hanbok and tugs Yoongi forward, eyes roaming over Yoongi's face, "the man who always was so gentle with me," Jimin's eyes pool with tears, "the man who would always make sure I got home safe, even when I live here. The man who would bring me sweets..."
Jimin steps closer to hug Yoongi, placing his head on Yoongi's chest, "the man who would read poetry to me, tell me stories. Who would look at me so lovingly. The man," Jimin turns his head to bury his face under Yoongi's chin, "who taught me how love happens..."
"Today suddenly he is telling me he was here for physical attraction?" Jimin breathes out a chuckle, "I am sorry, I lashed out," Jimin presses closer, silent sobs shaking him, "I am sorry, I made the goodbye hard on you, Yoon," he looks up, shakes his head, "but don't do this."
Jimin shakes his head, "I know you are trying to make it easier on me," Jimin's voice cracks, "trying to make me hate you so," Jimin's eyes are losing focus, "that I can forget you sooner but don't do this."
Jimin breaks down then, "don't do this. Don't do this to me."
Yoongi says nothing. His eyes are not on Jimin. They are focused over Jimin's shoulders at nothing in particular.
Those eyes are tearing up as he listens to Jimin's sobs.
Yoongi closes his eyes when Jimin hugs him again, as if Yoongi is the only reason he is still standing.
"After today," Yoongi's voice is unusually tight, "we might never meet, Jimin," Yoongi's arms come up slowly, holding Jimin against him, "and I was trying to," he shakes his head, "I didn't mean for this to happen. I didn't mean for us to," the first teardrop rolls out his eye...
Jimin pulls back, looks at the king, "fall in love?"
The words. The confirmation. The acceptance that, yes, they are indeed in love...
It crashes against Yoongi. It breaks him into pieces and, by the look of it, Jimin too.
"Love," Yoongi nods, "We are in love."
Jimin nods too, tears spilling from his eyes, "and that's all I will ever need."
Yoongi frowns, "what?"
Jimin clutches the hanbok over his chest, gives a wobbly smile, "I will live my entire life knowing you loved me," Jimin sniffles, "that I loved you, and you loved me too."
Jimin shakes his head, "I don't need more," he takes a step back from Yoongi, "I knew from the start who I was falling for," he stumbles and Yoongi reaches for him but Jimin takes another step away from him, "I knew I will never have the one I fell in love with but..."
"I never knew I will have your heart," Jimin shakes his head, "I don't know if in the future we will find someone else and I don't know if this kind of consuming feeling ever comes back or not but," Jimin wipes his eyes, "I will have no regrets. I will live my entire life knowing
"Yoon," Jimin gulps, "who came into my life, taught me what true love feels like and made me fall in love with him. And the day he had to leave," Jimin tilts his head, "I came to know, even for those few months, even if he finds love again, he loved me. That's enough."
"Even if you find, love," Jimin smiles, "it will be the king. My Yoon," Jimin points at himself, "he loved me. That's enough. That's enough for me. That's all I wanted to know. If I was alone in this and I was not-"
"The king," Yoongi whispers, "what about the king, Jiminie?"
Yoongi's eyes are red, those lips trembling, "the king has to marry his friend but he doesn't love her that way," Yoongi takes long strides to come and hover over Jimin, "the king has to live his entire life in a lie because," Yoongi wipes at his eyes, "the king loves you too."
"Wha-" Yoongi couldn't finish his words when he stops.
His eyes are over Jimin's shoulders and Jimin watches as that broken expression turns into something alert and Yoongi is grasping at his elbow and dragging him towards the antiquated house.
Jimin stumbles as he follows.
Yoongi gets Jimin into the house and presses him against a wall. Jimin gasps as a hand comes to press over his mouth and Yoongi is pressing closer to him.
"Don't talk," the king whispers, eyes squinting through a broken window of the house, "do not make a sound, Jimin."
Yoongi watches as men, four or five of them, come into view. They are holding swords in their hands, one of them has a knife in their waistband.
Yoongi frowns, as he watches them look around.
"He came here," one shouts, "I saw him come here. Where did he go?!"
The man with the knife looks around, "search him! We have to kill him! We have to! Otherwise, her majesty will have our heads."
Yoongi freezes and the way Jimin's hands clutches at him, he had heard it too.
Yoongi looks down at Jimin and Jimin is looking at him.
They both understood what the men are saying, who they are searching.
They are here to finish off Jimin.
"Taehyung went back to the palace," Yoongi murmurs, mostly to himself, "she doesn't need your help any more," he glares, "you are more of a risk to her now. A loose string."
Jimin's eyes are wide and his lips are trembling under Yoongi's palm.
Yoongi looks at Jimin, "no matter where you go, they will find you and then they will..." Yoongi presses closer to Jimin, "you can't go back to your house. They will be there. Waiting for you."
"My family," Jimin grips Yoongi's wrist, "my family!"
"I know a back door," Yoongi whispers, "I found it when I came here and waited for you. Come on, we have to leave and reach your house. I need to appoint Namjoon and Hosek as the guards at your place, and I will send more."
So Jimin nods, holds Yoongi's hand, and they run.
They run through the backdoor and get to Jimin's house.
"I will send twenty or so guards," Yoongi says as he leans against Seokjin's house, "I will send them right away but Jimin can't stay here. I don't trust my mother."
"The assassins will not harm the family," Seokjin says, "they would not want to create trouble in the village and get attention to them. They just want Jimin gone."
Yoongi nods, "I will send you protection, but the family is going to be fine. Only Jimin needs protection."
"Where will he be the safest?" Namjoon murmurs, looks at Jimin who is leaning against the wall, breathing heavily.
Seokjin looks at Yoongi, "take him to the palace."
Everyone jumps, looks at Seokjin and Seokjin looks at Yoongi.
"What?!" Yoongi glares.
Seokjin nods, "the palace."
"My mother lives there!" Yoongi hisses, "are you really-"
"You live there too," Seokjin smirks, "Taehyung lives there too. Your loyal guards live there too. The queen would not be stupid enough to harm Jimin when he is in the palace. People will talk."
"They will point fingers at you for not being able to protect someone who was in the royal palace, your dominion!" Seokjin points at Jimin, "keep him with Taehyung. One arrow, two birds. Guards will be around them. Keep them both safe. Take him with you. Right?"
Namjoon smiles at Seokjin, he looks at Yoongi, "my king, he is right. Jimin will be the safest in the royal palace. That place is the most protected in this kingdom. You have so many loyal guards all around Taehyung. Jimin can stay with him. Taehyung will be happy too. Trust us."
Yoongi looks at Jimin and Jimin is looking at him already.
They both gulp and look away.
"What?" Seokjin frowns, "you have a better idea?"
No one does.
Yoongi nods, "fine. Jimin will come with me. Right now. Namjoon," he points at Jimin's house, "appoint guards for the house."
"I want you to choose the guards you have worked with and know," the king looks at Jimin then, "and you are coming with me. To the royal palace."
Jimin gulps, looks at the king and then back at Namjoon and Seokjin.
They both smile at him assuringly.
Jimin has no other option.
"Make sure the portrait is done by full moon," the general says, "the celebration of the prince's birthday is nearing. Okay?"
Jungkook nods, bows, "of course, sire."
"You are excused," the general leaves the court.
Jungkook stands in the empty courtroom. His eyes on the door.
It has been two months since Taehyung left and Jimin too.
They both live in the palace now.
Jungkook doesn't know why Jimin is here. All he was told was someone was trying to harm Jimin. So he is staying with the prince.
Jungkook meets Jimin every day.
Just like tonight...
He knows Jimin will be in the garden. Jungkook sets out for it. He holds the bag strapped on his chest tightly as he walks through the palace.
He doesn't like this place.
He doesn't like venturing through these halls.
He doesn't like how everything reminds him of Taehyung.
Jungkook stops by the sound of footsteps, and he stills when he sees Taehyung.
The prince is alone. Wrapped in a shawl and head bowed as he walks through the hallway.
He is coming from the other end, and Jungkook doesn't know if he should leave or walk past.
Jungkook can not walk past. His eyes are stuck on the prince as Taehyung walks closer.
He has not seen the prince since that night.
He has not seen the prince in these past months.
Jungkook grips the strap of his bag and bows his head, speeding up.
Jungkook closes his eyes, head bowed. He stops on his track, but he doesn't have the guts to look up and match those eyes.
Taehyung is in front of him.
The prince is standing right in front of him, and Jungkook prays the ground to swallow him up.
"You can't even look at me," Taehyung's voice waver, "can you?"
Jungkook feels the words in his bones, pain turning into anger as he stands there.
"I understand," Taehyung chuckles, "I didn't give you any reason to forgive me."
"Forgiveness," Jungkook finally lifts his eyes...
"How can I, a mere painter," Jungkook chuckles, "give you anything, my prince? Be it forgiveness or anything else. You don't need anything that I can give you. Not even forgiveness."
Taehyung steps closer, "Jungkook-"
Jungkook shakes his head, steps back, "don't, my prince."
"Don't let a poor man hold you back from your busy schedule," Jungkook steps aside, bows, "forgive me for coming your way. I will change my route. Make sure you don't have to see my face ever again."
Jungkook bows again. Turning on his feet to leave.
Jungkook stops in his track when arms come around him, Taehyung hugging him from the back.
Taehyung's forehead rests on Jungkook's back, and he clutches at Jungkook's hanbok.
"Please," Taehyung whimpers, "please, don't leave. Please, Jungkook. Listen to me."
"You are betrothed to someone else," Jungkook closes his eyes, his chest tightening, "you should not do this, my prince."
"How can you leave when you still call me yours," Taehyung sniffles, "tell me."
Jungkook shakes his head, "I didn't. You did. You left me. Us. Remember?"
Taehyung sniffles, "I had no choice. I had no other choice."
Jungkook tugs himself free, looks over his shoulder, "I understand that. But I can't let you string me along anymore, my prince. I am sorry. You have to understand, you are breaking me. You are breaking my heart!"
"And you think it's not breaking me?!" Taehyung tugs Jungkook to face him, glares at him, "you think all of this is easy on me?!"
Jungkook watches the prince, "you chose this. You chose your comfort, your luxury, your happiness. Then what more do you want now?"
"You chose this over us," Jungkook knows he is losing temper too, "you chose him over me!"
Taehyung breathes out a curse, "if I didn't leave, there were consequences! I didn't want you to suffer!"
"You think I am not suffering?!" Jungkook lets out a hollow laugh, "now?!"
"I am hearing news of your upcoming engagement," Jungkook hisses, steps closer to the prince, "I am listening you will marry him very soon. Right after your birthday," he crowds the prince against the wall of the hallway, "I heard the gossip how you two are already so close-"
"Are you implying something with that?!" Taehyung glares, grabs at Jungkook's hanbok and pulls him closer, "huh? Are you saying-"
"Where are you going this late at night?!" Jungkook hisses, hands grabbing Taehyung's waist under the shawl, "you are naked under the shawl!"
Jungkook's eyes drop to Taehyung's exposed shoulder, the shawl giving way as the prince squirms, "you are going to him?"
Taehyung hisses, "do you think so?! You think I am going to him?! Like this?!"
Jungkook snorts, "how would I know? Who am I to question you, my prince?"
"I cannot believe you think this low of me!" Taehyung's eyes sting as he looks at the painter, "I cannot believe you think I would go to him like this-"
Jungkook shakes his head, "I don't know what to think of you any more. I thought I knew you but," he gives Taehyung a smile...
"But I was wrong, wasn't I?" Jungkook's hand on Taehyung's waist tighten, he leans closer, "I thought I knew you, but I never did. I was always wrong about you. Was not I?"
Taehyung glares, eyes gleaming with tears, "you are. You still are. You have been. Always! I hate you!"
"That would have bothered me," Jungkook pushes Taehyung away, "if you ever loved me."
He looks at the prince for one last time before he is turning to leave...
The coming footsteps halt them both.
Jungkook watches as the king and Namjoon turn the corner, head bowed together as they talk.
They look deeply in thoughts, and Jungkook doesn't know how the king would react if he sees him with the prince.
Taehyung drags them inside the bathroom, closing the door behind them with a bang.
He presses his back against the door, breath heaving in his chest.
Jungkook watches, eyes wide, as the prince looks at him, with equally wide eyes.
They wait as the footsteps approach the door.
"Taehyung?" Yoongi asks, "is that you?"
Taehyung sucks in a breath, clutches the shawl closer to himself, "y-yes, brother. It's me."
"Why are not there any guards here?" Yoongi sounds irritated, "did you come here alone? Where are the maids?"
Taehyung lets out a breath, "brother, I just wanted to take a bath alone. I don't need them. I just wanted to be alone for some time."
"You need guards, Taehyung," Yoongi sounds more agitated, "I told you to not go around on your own."
"Then appoint some guards outside," Taehyung hisses, "but let me take a bath on my own. Please."
Yoongi is silent.
Jungkook watches Taehyung and Taehyung watches Jungkook.
"Fine," Yoongi's voice is gravelly, "I am letting you go this time, Taehyung, next time bring a guard."
Taehyung lets out a long breath as he hears the footsteps fading.
He hisses when Jungkook reaches for the door, "you are not going anywhere until we talk, you get it?"
Jungkook tries to get out of Taehyung's grip, but Taehyung tugs him towards the steps of the indoor pool.
"I don't want to talk about anything," Jungkook shakes his head, "I have nothi-"
"I will elope with you," Taehyung cuts through Jungkook's words, nods when Jungkook's wide eyes match his, "I would run away," Taehyung tugs Jungkook closer, "I will stay with you as you keep me."
"If it was just about me, I would let you take me away anywhere you want," Taehyung sniffles, "you know I would."
"I know?" Jungkook asks, "what do I know? How do I know" Why would you leave everything for a mere, poor, painter like me?"
Taehyung's eyes are watering as he looks up at Jungkook, "for the same reason I know you would take my hands and run away with me if I really ask you to."
Jungkook's chest squeezes, heart skips a beat, "I would do that. I would let the king kill me if by that I can save you."
Taehyung grips at Jungkook's hanbok, tugs him closer, "and why would you do it, huh? Why would you sacrifice yourself for m-"
"Because this painter is madly," Jungkook's arms hold Taehyung's wrists, tugs him closer, "uncontrollably and stupidly in love with the prince."
"The painter will paint himself red if the prince wants," Jungkook's eyes are determined, "he will let the king behead him if in turn he gets the promise that the prince will be alright. He loves the prince. He loves the prince so much. That is why," Jungkook steps back,
"I can't get you in trouble," he takes several steps away from Taehyung, "that is why I can't stay here and let anyone see you, question your dignity. I love you and that is why I can't let you face anything troublesome. I am sorry. I have to go."
Taehyung stumbles on his feet, running behind Jungkook.
His shawl drops on the ground in his haste, leaving him in his undergarments.
Jungkook halts on his steps when Taehyung throws his arms around Jungkook's waist and hugs him from behind.
"Please," the prince whimpers.
"Stay," Taehyung grasps Jungkook's hands when Jungkook places him on his bed and steps away to leave.
"Your guards saw me," Jungkook murmurs, "they will inform your brother. Do you really want to face him when-"
"I want you to stay," Taehyung pulls him closer, "please."
Jungkook shakes his head, "it's dangerous and how can I?" he looks at the prince on his bed, "how can I spend night with you?"
"We just did," Taehyung can't finish the sentence, his eyes lowering on their joined hands, "you will leave me afterwards? Just like that?"
Jungkook lets out a breath, "your brother-"
"I will handle him," Taehyung looks up at Jungkook, "okay?"
"Why are you doing this?" Jungkook clutches at the prince's hands, "why are you doing this when you left? When you are getting married soon? Why-"
"Why did you do it?" Taehyung asks, pulls the shawl tightly around himself, "wh-"
"Because I love you," Jungkook chokes out, eyes on the prince, whose eyes are wide and on him now.
Jungkook nods, "I always prided myself in not being selfish, but I guess, your love made me that."
"I will take whatever you give me," Jungkook murmurs, blinking fast to ease the sting in his eyes, "I will take as much of you as I am allowed before-" he looks away, "before you leave this kingdom and I never see you again."
Taehyung shakes his head, "I am not leaving."
Jungkook snorts, "is that even up to you?"
Taehyung looks at the painter, "I will do something. I will make it work. I promise. I-"
"Why?" Jungkook stops Taehyung, "why would you do that?"
The prince pauses, eyes roaming over the painter's face, "because..."
Taehyung holds his breath, "because..."
Jungkook's eyes are on him, "because?"
Taehyung looks down at their joined hands, "my feelings are the same as yours."
Jungkook flinches, jolting back, "don't! Don't lie! My prince, you don't need to lie. Please."
Taehyung looks at the man, eyes watering, "you think I gave myself to you, but I don't feel the same?"
Jungkook pauses, eyes moist, "what good would possibly come from this? What good would this love bring us?"
Taehyung shrugs, tears rolling out of his eyes, "I didn't love you after judging the pros and cons, Jungkook. I just fell in love. You don't measure profit and loss in love. Do you?"
Jungkook snorts, wipes his tears, "This love is hopeless. What we have. This is hopeless."
Taehyung curls up in himself, "then leave. If that's all you think of us, then leave."
He buries his face between his knees and waits for the man to leave, so he can let himself break down.
He waits for the door to close or the footsteps.
Taehyung waits still.
There is a dip on the mattress and Taehyung looks up to see Jungkook sitting in front of him.
The painter shrugs, "I have married you because I had no choice. I fell in love with you on my own and I will," he looks at the prince, "stay because I want that too. Okay?"
Taehyung watches the painter, "you will?"
Jungkook nods, eyes glossy as he sees the prince's face contort, "yes, my prince. I will stay and let you handle everything. I will do whatever you want me to do. What do you want me to do, my prince?"
Taehyung tugs Jungkook closer, dropping on the mattress as the painter hovers over him.
"I want you to stay," Taehyung whispers, "I want you to stay right by my side."
"For how long?" Jungkook asks, leaning down to press his lips against Taehyung's, "my prince?"
Taehyung whimpers into the kiss, feeling how the painter's hand travels lower, "forever. I will make sure you stay forever."
Jungkook nods, "your wish is my command, my prince."
"Tomorrow we will start to roll with the plan," Seokjin points at Hoseok and Namjoon, "the queen needs to be gone but it needs to look like an accident."
Hoseok and Namjoon nod.
"I will go with her to the celebration," Namjoon points at the map, "make sure to be ready."
Hoseok nods, "the men will be ready. The king sent a few too. The king told us to meet him before we leave."
Seokjin nods, chewing on the kimbap, "we will. I have talked to him. The plan is fixed. She is not coming back."
Namjoon hesitates, "do you have to come with us?"
Seokjin nods, "I have to. This chance, we can't miss it, Namjoon. Why are you-"
"You don't know anything about these things," Namjoon frowns, "you are not experienced or trained in handling swords and all. Can't you just leave it on me?"
Seokjin snorts, "are you worried?"
Namjoon doesn't miss a beat as he nods, "I am."
Seokjin stops chewing, eyes on the man, "why?"
Namjoon looks away, "who would teach me if you die?"
Seokjin breathes out a sigh, "you are going to give the examination in two weeks, Namjoon. You will be fine."
"Besides," Hoseok shakes his head, "no one will die. Okay? We will make sure it's only the queen. Okay?"
They look at each other and back at the map in front of them.
They nod together.
"She is not coming back," Seokjin murmurs.
"She is not," Namjoon and Hoseok agree.
"Oh, my lord!" Jimin jumps, running behind the curtains to plaster himself agianst the wall, "my king, how many times do I have to tell you to knock before entering my chamber or make then announce-"
"I am sorry," Yoongi pauses by the door, "are you not descent?"
Jimin closes his eyes, "can you close the door? Your guards are there behind you!"
Yoongi closes the door behind himself, leaning against it, "I did."
Jimin peeks through the curtains, "now you turn around. I left my night-shirt on the bed."
Yoongi's eyes fall on the clothing.
Yoongi slowly walks up to the piece and picks it up. He looks at the man hiding behind the curtains, neck craning to look at him.
Yoongi walks up to him and watches how Jimin tugs the curtain around himself to hide behind it.
The king pauses right in front of him, "here."
Jimin sntaches it away and frowns at the king, "now turn your back and let me dress. Why are you here?"
Yoongi can't hide his soft smile as he turns away, hears the soft rusting of clothes before Jimin is coming around him to stand in front of him.
"𝘏𝘰𝘸 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘪𝘵 𝘣𝘦 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘦𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘪𝘯 𝘮𝘺 𝘳𝘰𝘰𝘮 𝘢𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘢 𝘥𝘢𝘺'𝘴 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘩 𝘰𝘧 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘬?"
The thought curls in Yoongi's heart and Yoongi's smile dims.
"Why are you here, my king?" Jimin enquires, he has stopped calling Yoongi as Yoon.
Yoongi shakes his head, "I was just..." he doesn't know why he is here either, "I was just walking by. My room is right next to yours. I missed it."
Jimin watches him, face giving away nothing but those eyes are breaking along with Yoongi, "oh. I see."
Yoongi doesn't know what to say when Jimin turns away, "I-"
"It's late, my king," Jimin goes over to blow out the candles one by one, "I think you should retire to your chamber."
Yoongi can't move.
Jimin stops when he notices Yoongi is not leaving and looks at him, "yes?"
Yoongi shakes his head, looking at the man in front of him, "I just-" he lets out a deep breath, "I just wanted to tell you, you will be free soon. I promise you that, Jiminie. You will be free very soon."
Jimin watches the king, then looks back at the candle, still glowing.
A small smile tugs on his lips and those shoulders droop, "thank you."
Yoongi frowns, steps closer, "don't you want to be free from here? Are not you happy?"
Jimin watches the light of the candle, "how can you free me, my king, when I am tying myself willingly with you?"
Jimin blows the candle, darkness engulfing them except for the moonlight coming from the window.
Jimin looks up at Yoongi, eyes reflecting the moonlight as they brim, "how can you free me when you have my heart, my king? How can I ask for freedom when it feels so agonizing?"
Jimin chuckles, "But I will not stand between you and your duties," he shakes his head, bowing to the king, "thank you for taking me under your wings, and thank you for whatever you are going to do now. I am grateful, my king. Thank you."
Yoongi reaches out, grasps at Jimin's elbow to pull him closer, "you have nothing to be grateful of. I didn't give you any reason to-"
Jimin leans, rests his forehead between Yoongi's chest, "I am grateful that my heart chose the right person to love, my king. I am grateful."
Yoongi stills, eyes wide and hand dropping away as if he is burnt, "what?"
Jimin smiles, forehead still resting against Yoongi's chest, "you show a little concern and this hopelessly romantic village-boy loses his heart to you, my king. It's pathetic, really. Shameful."
Jimin shakes his head, "but my love is not pathetic, my king. I am not here to demand your love. I know how maddening that would be. I know my place, but," Jimin looks up, eyes brimming with tears, "please, accept my love. That's all I can give you anyway. My entire heart."
"And hope you accept it. I hope you-"
Yoongi closes his eyes, "stop it. Stop it, Jimin. I beg you, stop it."
Jimin stops, lips trembling. A tear rolls out of his eye and he hurries to wipe it. A smile blooms on his lips.
"Would you look at that? It's so late!"
"Heart is a traitorous thing, Jiminie," Yoongi murmurs, silencing Jimin, "heart wants what mind knows is impossible," those feline-like eyes are on Jimin and the king looks broken, "my heart is bruised, silenced and locked behind shackles for ages now. I had to do that."
"As the king, I had to bury my heart so deep, now that I try to find it, it's dirtied. It's broken and it's ugly. Now that I," Yoongi reaches out, wiping at Jimin's eyes, "want to hold it out for the person who it belongs to, I realize I have no right to. As the king, I can't."
"And as a person, I know they deserve someone way better. A heart less bruised, less torn, less broken," Yoongi cups the side of Jimin's face, "I realize they deserve something so pure, so beautiful and so everything I am not, and I can't. So, forgive me. I am sorry."
Jimin's eyes are puzzled, pained and on the king, "he doesn't want your heart. He knows it's not possible for him to take care of that heart. But tell him at least," Jimin steps closer, grips the king's hanbok, "tell him he was not alone in this. Tell him he was not delusional."
Jimin jerks Yoongi forward, "tell him he was not the fool who felt all those things when the person he loves so much didn't feel a thing. Tell him the fear he feels, thinking how stupid and alone he was all those times, he is-"
Yoongi's arms pull Jimin closer, "he was not alone."
"The person he loved," Yoongi's voice cracks, "walked the path along with him," tears roll out of his eyes, "the person that stupid village-boy loved was stupidly in love with him too."
"Was?" Jimin's hands tighten on Yoongi's hanbok, "was?"
Yoongi watches Jimin, shakes his head.
"Was?" Jimin's breath hitches around a sob, "was?"
Yoongi lets Jimin cry, his chest closing in on him. Breath shallow as he watches Jimin break apart in front of him.
"Is..." Yoongi murmurs, matches Jimin's shocked eyes, "is..." he pulls Jimin into a tight embrace, "is."
They cry, in each other's arms.
Jimin's arms so tight around Yoongi as if he is scared that the moment he lets go, Yoongi will disappear.
Yoongi's arms grasping Jimin closer, as if the moment he lets go, Jimin will leave with everything Yoongi has in himself.
"I love you," Jimin cries, "I am so in love with you."
Yoongi buries his face against Jimin's neck, "nothing good will come from it."
Jimin shakes his head, "I am not trying to gain anything. Just be honest. In this room, at this moment, in my arms, be my Yoon. One last time."
"I love you," Yoongi says it with fear rolling off of him, he curls himself around Jimin as if otherwise he would break apart, "I am in love with you."
Jimin holds him tightly, lips trembling around a whimper.
"I love you," Yoongi pulls back, steps away, "and I can't."
Seokjin stalls, eyes moving from one face to another as they wait for the queen to come out of the palace.
Namjoon is on his horse, already gearing up for the ride. Hoseok and a few more guards are talking among themselves, making sure the plan is in motion.
When the murmurs halt around him and everyone stands tall, Seokjin whips around to see the queen coming down towards them, armed with her personal guards.
Seokjin counts them in his head, eight in total. All of them loyal to the queen.
All of them need to be dead too.
Seokjin bows, stands up when he sees the queen's feet right in front of him.
"Your highness," Seokjin dips again, a smile on his lips, "we are ready for the journey."
Her eyes skim over the carriage and everyone waiting for her, and a smile quirks her lips, "I see that."
She points at the carriage, "join me, Seokjin."
The smile stills on Seokjin's lips, and behind him, he hears a horse screeching.
Seokjin can clearly see the challenge in the queen's eyes. The queen is reluctant to get in the carriage alone.
Oh, lord, she can't have a doubt!
Seokjin bows, "of course, my queen. You take your seat. I will inform the general and join you right after. It's my pleasure to be your travel companion."
The queen lets out a breath, nodding, "okay, make it quick."
Seokjin nods, bows as the queen goes into the carriage.
Seokjin goes over to Namjoon who is looking at him with a frown, "she wants me to join her in the carriage."
Namjoon's frown morphs into a worried glare, "we are supposed to derail the carriage down the hill, Seokjin. You can't be in there. Then-"
"Do it anyway."
Namjoon frowns, "what?!"
Seokjin nods, his jaw set in finality, "derail it anyway. We have to get rid of her. You go on with the plan."
"Have you gone mad?" Namjoon hisses, voice icy as he glares at Seokjin, "have you lost your entire mind, Seokjin?! What are you saying?!"
Seokjin lets out a curse, "to save my brothers' lives, to make them happy, to get rid of her, if something happens to me, I have no problem. Things like these need sacrifices and if I am the sacrifice then I have no problem. Go with the plan, Namjoon!"
Namjoon grabs Seokjin's elbow, drags him closer, "are you seriously saying I should let the carriage trail off the edge of the hill along with you?!"
Seokjin nods, eyes determined, "do exactly that."
Namjoon's grip on his elbow tightens, "you are out of your mind!"
"We have to do this, Namjoon!" Seokjin hisses, begs almost, "we will never get another chance like this. You have to do this! Why are you faltering now?! It's just me."
"No!" Namjoon shakes his head, "what do you mean, it's just you?! It's you!"
Seokjin snorts, "yeah, and?"
"And..." Namjoon's shoulders drop, his face losing the anger to leave behind vulnerability, "I can't," those eyes roam over Seokjin's face, "I can't lose you."
Seokjin gulps, "when things get back to normal, you will finally have Jimin back in the house. You can ask him to-"
Namjoon's jaw tightens, "are you trying to sway me with Jimin?"
Seokjin gives him a small smile, "I am trying to tell you how much you will have if you just let me go."
Namjoon frees Seokjin's hand, steps back, "if you want to die so badly, go ahead. I will go along the plan."
Seokjin gives him a toothy smile, "thank you."
Namjoon watches the man turn on his heels and hesitate.
Seokjin looks over his shoulder at Namjoon and lets out a sigh, "for everyone."
Namjoon looks away, nods, "for everyone."
The carriage is going ahead of them, and Namjoon lets it take another curve. They are climbing up the hills and Namjoon knows a few more curves, and they will be at the top of it.
Namjoon grips the reins in his hands, eyes focused on the carriage.
Hoseok is going ahead of them.
Seokjin is looking out through the window of the carriage, eyes skimming over the view.
The queen is fighting sleep as the carriage rolls along the path.
Seokjin is waiting for the whistle. He is waiting for Namjoon to whistle.
He wishes it happens soon.
Hoseok thanks his stars that he is ahead of the march.
He blinks back tears, sniffling as he focuses on the road.
He thanks god because he doesn't have to see the carriage roll off the hill.
He doesn't have to see his childhood friend- Hoseok doesn't want to think any more.
"𝘕𝘢𝘮𝘫𝘰𝘰𝘯! 𝘞𝘩𝘺 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘴𝘰 𝘮𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘺? 𝘐 𝘢𝘮 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘵𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘳! 𝘐 𝘥𝘰𝘯'𝘵 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘥𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦!"
"𝘕𝘢𝘮𝘫𝘰𝘰𝘯! 𝘕𝘢𝘮𝘫𝘰𝘰𝘯! 𝘕𝘢𝘮𝘫𝘰𝘰𝘯..."
The words echo in his head and Namjoon feels his throat closing in on him.
"𝘑𝘪𝘮𝘪𝘯 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘣𝘦 𝘧𝘳𝘦𝘦," Namjoon tries to remind himself, "𝘢𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘰𝘥𝘢𝘺, 𝘑𝘪𝘮𝘪𝘯 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘣𝘦 𝘧𝘳𝘦𝘦. 𝘐 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘑𝘪𝘮𝘪𝘯. 𝘐 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦 𝘑𝘪𝘮𝘪𝘯. 𝘐 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦 𝘑𝘪𝘮𝘪𝘯. 𝘐 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦..." Seokjin's image is so clear in Namjoon's memories.
Seokjin's frowning face when Namjoon doesn't get something right, even after he explains it for the nth time.
Seokjin's smile when he just can't hide it and gives in to Namjoon's teasing.
Seokjin's blushing eye-rolls whenever Namjoon compliments him.
"𝘠𝘰𝘶 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘴𝘦𝘦 𝘮𝘦 𝘱𝘢𝘴𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘹𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯. 𝘠𝘰𝘶 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘣𝘦 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦- 𝘚𝘦𝘰𝘬𝘫𝘪𝘯..."
Namjoon sees the guards are looking at him, waiting for the whistle.
Namjoon sees the last curve of the hill is nearby.
Namjoon sucks in a breath.
Taehyung hears the commotion from his room. He and Jimin look at each other and frown.
They are looking at the door when it bursts open. Bogum stands there, panting for breath.
"Your highness?" Taehyung stands up, "is everything-"
"The queen's carriage," Bogum pants, gulps down a few breaths before looking at Taehyung, "it rolled off the cliff."
Taehyung stills, hears the long inhale from Jimin, "what?!"
Bogum nods, points over his back, "the ones who went with her are coming back. Come on."
Taehyung stumbles on his feet as he rushes past Bogum and hot on his heels is Jimin.
The three of them run down to the balcony, where Yoongi already stands.
Taehyung, Jimin and Bogum join him.
They all lean against the railing as they watch the march come inside the palace.
The path that leads to the palace can be easily seen from the balcony, and Taehyung watches with bated breath as those people walk through the crowd towards the gate that will lead them inside the palace.
Taehyung looks at Yoongi and sees the king's eyes fixed on the march.
Yoongi's expression doesn't falter under Taehyung's gaze, but his fingers tremble when Jimin's hand covers his over the railing.
He blinks, doesn't look at where Jimin's hand is on top of him, but a long breath escapes him.
Jimin's eyes are already watering as he stands there.
Taehyung first sees Hoseok, beside him is Namjoon.
Behind them are the guards and there is no carriage in sight.
Taehyung gulps, "so..."
Yoongi stands up properly, squares his shoulders, "you two, in the courtroom. Now!"
Namjoon, Hoseok and everyone bow and Yoongi leaves.
Taehyung and Jimin run behind Yoongi and follow him into the courtroom.
Yoongi sits on the throne and waits.
Bogum is not allowed here.
Taehyung takes the seat he is assigned to and Jimin sits beside him when Taehyung drags him down to sit.
They watch Namjoon and Hoseok get in.
Namjoon and Hoseok bow, stands up when Yoongi tells them to.
"Was there any trouble executing the plan?" Yoongi asks, leaning forward, ignoring the gasps coming from Taehyung and Jimin, "her guards?"
Namjoon shrugs, "killed them. All."
"Will tell everyone they died trying to save the queen," Hoseok murmurs.
Yoongi hums, eyes sharp of his two generals, "everything went according to plan?"
Yoongi curses, "then why you two look so shaken? Is her demise concerns you this much? What are you hiding?"
Hoseok blinks, looking down at the carpet, "n-nothing, my lord. It's nothing."
Namjoon has no expression on his face, "I have carried out your order, my king. Her guards are gone. No one would suspect anything. It was an accident. Now that she is gone, her web will fall loose."
Yoongi nods, "any loose strings I need to tie?"
Namjoon shrugs, "her loose web. The heads she had underneath her. They might try to dislodge you now that she is gone."
Yoongi snorts, "I will take care of them. Anything else?"
Namjoon shakes his head, "nothing else."
"Namjoon," Yoongi murmurs, voice carrying out in the empty hall, "if everything went according to plan, if there is nothing to worry about... if we have no immediate harm coming our way, then," the king leans forward on this throne, "why are you crying?"
His hand flies to his cheek to see he indeed is crying.
His fingers are shaking on their grip around his sword, and his palm is icy cold against his cheek.
Namjoon feels nothing, his eyes find the king, and he breathes out a chuckle, "I don't know, my king. I don't know."
Good night, my loves
Yoongi frowns, looks at the general, "everything went well, right? Are you hiding something?"
Namjoon shakes his head, "I am not hiding anything, my king. Everything went well. Now, if you will excuse me, I will personally go for a few errands to tie up the last few strings."
Yoongi nods, "Hoseok, you need to stay. You know who in your village were working with her, and we need to discuss how we will break this news to the mass. Stay."
Hoseok bows, "as you say, my king."
Taehyung looks at the men and lets out a sigh, "my king-"
Yoongi shakes his head, "not now, Taehyung. You need to go and rest. I will tell you everything tonight. Not now."
Taehyung pauses, looks at Jimin who is looking at the king, he nods, "then excuse us too, my king."
Yoongi nods, waving his hand as he steps down from the throne.
"Let's go," Taehyung grabs Jimin's hand, "we need to find Jungkook. Now we need to talk."
Jimin follows Taehyung out of the hall, and the last thing he sees is Yoongi and Hoseok standing in front of each other, their faces breaking into smiles.
Namjoon drags himself out of the royal palace. His eyes are on his boots as he walks, muscle memory taking him back to the place where he finds himself stopping.
The hut's door is open and Namjoon stands in front of it, eyes roaming over the house.
He can hear the voices in his head. Those soft laughs, those curses thrown at him, those promises of things in exchange for Namjoon just... studying.
Namjoon closes his eyes, tears swimming in them and rolling out.
He sniffles, lips trembling around unsaid words.
Namjoon grasps the door of the house, standing by the threshold he looks at the premise.
Those nights flash across his eyes. Them, on the mat, studying and throwing jabs at each other.
Namjoon looking at Seokjin who is busy describing something just for Namjoon to not ignore it.
Namjoon stumbles as he steps inside, his eyes on the steps where Seokjin would sit and teach the kids.
Where he would be waiting for Namjoon to come.
Where he would sit and glare at Namjoon by now if he was late.
Namjoon breathes out a sob, lips trembling around a breath.
And Namjoon is looking over at the kitchen.
Where Seokjin would always cook for them. Always have a plate full for Namjoon. Waiting. He would sit and watch as Namjoon finish his food.
He would re-fill Namjoon's plate, ignore Namjoon's protests.
Tell him how he needs to eat.
Namjoon slowly drags himself to the bedroom, pushes open the door and looks inside.
Namjoon blinks, steps in.
Seokjin is sleeping on the bed, carefully tucked under the bedcover.
Namjoon stumbles to reach him, drops right beside the bed.
He reaches out...
His trembling fingers caress the soft, smooth skin.
Seokjin frowns, the side of his forehead bruised, blood oozing from the cut.
Namjoon doesn't pull back when those eyes open and shift to match his.
Seokjin gulps, "Namjoonie..."
Namjoon feels the way his heart breaks, "yes?"
Seokjin winces, "it hurts."
Namjoon nods, "I know. I am sorry."
Seokjin blinks, a small smile on his lips, "are you really?"
Namjoon breathes out a snort, shakes his head, "no. I would have broken your bones if it was needed. Just to keep you alive."
Seokjin snorts, "this was your idea."
Namjoon nods, thinking back how they had reached the hill and went to the destination and on their way back when Seokjin went to climb the carriage, Namjoon had pushed him from behind.
Seokjin had lost balance, missing the step and hit his head against the footboard.
It cut his forehead deeply, making him fall back against Namjoon, unconscious.
Namjoon had ordered one of his men to carry Seokjin back to his home.
Safely sending him back before the incident.
Namjoon now takes some fresh cloth and dips it in cool water. He wipes the cut, inspects it and knows the man who brought Seokjin here, had called the doctor.
He is on the way.
Namjoon just cleans the wound, stills when Seokjin grips his wrist.
Their eyes match.
"Why?" Seokjin asks, blinking back fatigue, "why did you take the risk? What if she caught on? She would have had your head."
Namjoon shrugs, the realization coursing through his veins, "would have died. So?"
Seokjin frowns, "why? Just to save me?"
Namjoon pauses, heart squeezing painfully in his hcest, "can't live without you, might as well."
Seokjin blinks, "what?"
Namjoon wipes the wound, eyes fixed on it, "what, what? Nothing. I couldn't let you die on me. No."
Seokjin pushes his hand away, "was that risk worth it?"
Namjoon grabs Seokjin's wrist, nods firmly, "yes," his eyes are sharp and glare fixed on Seokjin, "every risk is worth it if I have to take them for you. I will do anything to save you. Did you really think I would let you roll off the cliff? Just like that?! Really?"
"Why would not you?" Seokjin's chin juts out in petulance, "why did you risk our plan? Why-"
"I can't live without you," Namjoon grips the wet cloth in his hand, "I can't live a day without you. A day? An hour. A minute. I can't live without you."
"What do you mean..." Seokjin's eyes are vulnerable, brimming with tears, "what, Namjoon. I-"
"I am so in love with you," Namjoon breaks then, folds in himself to hide his face against Seokjin's neck, "Jinnie, I am so in love with you. I am an idiot to realize it so late."
"When you got into the carriage," Namjoon drops the bowl on the floor, curls himself against Seokjin on the bed, "when I saw you willingly leaving like that, it felt like someone took my heart and threw it into that carriage along with you. To take away. Forever."
"The thought that I will never see you again," Namjoon shakes his head, "I have lost my parents, I know grief, Jinnie, but when I thought I will go on with life, and you will not be here beside me," Namjoon grasps at Seokjin, "I don't want a life like that. Never. No."
"Jimin-" Seokjin sucks in a breath when Namjoon's lips press against his jaw.
"Whatever I felt for Jimin," Namjoon shakes his head, "I will never insult it, but those feelings hold nothing against the amount of feelings I have for you."
Seokjin closes his eyes, "really?"
"I had two ways today," Namjoon murmurs, "I was either going to save you or going to follow you off the cliff."
Seokjin gasps, "don't say it!"
Namjoon hovers over the man, "I know you might not feel the same and I will leave you alone if that is the case but I had to tell you."
"I don't want to take what is Jimin's," Seokjin's eyes water, "I would not be able to live knowing I took you from him."
Namjoon looks at the man, a small smile on his lips, a sad one, "but you didn't. My heart is mine first, right? And I already gave it up to you."
Seokjin looks away, a frown on his brows, "but you gave it to Jimin too."
Namjoon lets out a breath, "I would kill anyone who comes for Jimin, yes," he holds Seokjin's eyes when the man looks at him, "but for you, I will sacrifice mine. Do you see the difference?"
"You don't have to accept me," Namjoon turns to get up, "you are fine. That's all I wanted. You to be fine. I will love you from a distance. I knew somewhere deep in my heart that a scholar like you would never love a swordsman like me back. I never had hopes to begin with."
Seokjin grabs Namjoon's wrist, pulling him back, "and who are you to decide whom I love?" Seokjin sits up then, facing Namjoon with a glare, "don't call yourself with anything disrespectful. You will pass the examination and be a scholar yourself. Don't downplay yourself."
"And since when love sees all these boundaries?" Seokjin grasps Namjoon's shirt, "and if it does, mine is not that cheap. Mine never saw you like that. My love rests for you, Namjoon, not Kim Namjoon from the king's army. Okay?"
Namjoon blinks, "your love is for me?"
Seokjin's cheeks bloom red and the teacher looks away, "yes."
Namjoon cups Seokjin's face with urgency, forcing him to face Namjoon, "since when? Since when do you love me?"
Seokjin closes his eyes, can't match those orbs anymore, "forever. Since I knew what love is."
Namjoon trembles with happiness, disbelief, "why did not you tell me? Why did not you ever-"
"How could I?" Seokjin's eyes are closed, but tears roll out of them to soak up his cheeks and Namjoon's hands, "how could I when you always wanted Jimin? How could I ever tell you?"
"Oh, Jinnie," Namjoon tugs Seokjin into his arms, lips pressing against Seokjin's bruised temple, "oh, my Lord! I am sorry! I am sorry for you putting you through so much! I am sorry. I love you," the words still make him flinch, "I love you so much, Kim Seokjin."
Seokjin buries his face deeper in Namjoon's chest, a small smile fighting with the tears of guilt, "we should not do this. Jimin-"
"I don't love him," Namjoon's arms tighten around Seokjin as if he would slip away, "don't you think it will be upsetting if I still go for him?"
"He doesn't love me and I don't love him," Namjoon breathes out a chuckle, "so you can feel whatever you want, Jinnie. I am staying here forever. With you."
Seokjin trembles in Namjoon's arms, "forever?"
Namjoon hears the uncertainty, he nods, "forever. I love you."
Seokjin does not say it back, but his lips press against Namjoon's heart, and Namjoon knows.
Namjoon closes his eyes, tears stinging them.
He knows Seokjin needs time to get over his guilt, but as those lips stay pressed against his heart, Namjoon knows Seokjin loves him too.
=== Phew, we are done with one couple, next is taekook and then we wrap this story up. Just a heads-up, prepare yourself for Yoonmin sad ending. I am not sure yet but yeah ===
"Can we talk?" Taehyung stands by the door of Bogum's room, eyes on the king who is standing by the window.
Bogum turns, eyes lighting up when he sees Taehyung, "of course, Tae, come in."
Taehyung doesn't smile, he slowly steps in and bows, "thank you."
Bogum chuckles, points at the bed, "sit. What do you want to talk to me about?"
Taehyung knows delaying is not a luxury he has in his hands, he stands straight and matches Bogum's eyes, "I can't marry you, my king. I came here to talk about it."
Bogum's smile dims, his eyes moving over Taehyung's face, "Tae... if this is a prank of yours-"
Taehyung shakes his head, steps closer in urgency, "my king, I know how terrible it must sound like, and I know I should have thought this through, but I can't wait any longer."
Taehyung sucks in a deep breath, keeps his eyes on the man, "I am in love with my husband. Still."
Bogum frowns, "your husband... that painter?"
Taehyung nods, gulps, "him. I," he looks down, "I love him."
Bogum lets out a long breath, "then why was I invited here to marry you?"
Taehyung's shoulders slump, "you know how she was," he sits beside Bogum, picking up on loose threads on his hanbok, "you know how-"
"If you love the painter, how could you agree to this, Taehyung?" Bogum murmurs, reaching out to take Taehyung's hands in his, "it is not fair."
Taehyung's eyes are fearful as he looks at Bogum, "please don't be angry. Please, hyung. Please don't be angry on me or hyung. Please promise me you will not attack us or-"
Bogum snorts, "I would never do that, Taehyung. You know I will never do that. Right? No matter what."
Bogum lets out a long breath, "I just want to understand what was going on. What were you thinking when you agreed to marry me when you still loved your painter."
Taehyung closes his eyes, "I thought with time, I would forget him."
"But you did not," Bogum chuckles, "you thought you would force yourself to love me?"
Taehyung's eyes are teary, "I thought I would force myself to not love him."
Bogum squeezes his hands in a tight grip, "love doesn't work that way, Tae. I hope you know that now?"
Taehyung looks up at the king, tears rolling out of his eyes, "I didn't want to do this. I did not want to drag you in this mess but the queen. You know... you know how-"
Bogum nods, his eyes glossy too, "I know how she is but when Yoongi said you agreed to marry me, I hoped."
Taehyung sniffles, "I am so sorry. I am. I wish I could forget him. I wish I could love you. I wish none of this happened, and I never met him. Life would have been so easy if I never met him. I would have married you and went off to live with you. I wish I never met him."
"Do you, really?" Bogum snorts, reaches out to wipe Taehyung's eyes, "do you really want that, Tae?"
Taehyung bites his lower lip, "life would have been easier. If I could forget him."
Bogum hums, "but do you want that easy life?"
Taehyung does not. He would never want that.
Bogum knows. He pats Taehyung's hands.
"I am not mad at you, Taehyung," he assures, "I am not going to leave your side or attack this kingdom. One, because I am not mad to attack Yoongi. I can't win. Two, because love or not, we are friends first. I would never do that."
Taehyung cries, throws his arms around Bogum in a tight hug, "thank you. I owe you my life, hyung. Thank you."
Bogum wipes his own eyes, shrugs, "no need to thank me. You saved us both from a love-less life. I should thank you for being honest with me."
Taehyung pulls back, "thank you for understanding. Thank you for understanding how I feel."
Bogum's eyes roam over Taehyung's face, a gentle smile on his lips, "how would I not understand love, Taehyung? I do."
Taehyung pauses, "hyung..."
Bogum shakes his head, "what I feel is not up to you, Tae. Okay? It is not your fault. You are not accountable for how I feel. Now let me talk to Yoongi or you have already told him?"
Taehyung shakes his head, "I came to you first."
Bogum nods, "then let me talk to him."
Taehyung wipes his eyes, "thank you. Thank you for understanding, and I am so," his voice breaks, "I am so sorry."
Bogum smiles, waves him off, "it's okay. It happens. We are friends first, Taehyung. I understand. Okay? Now go. Talk to your painter. Yes?"
Taehyung nods, stands up, "I will see you?"
Bogum smiles with a nod, "of course you will, Taehyung. I am here for my sister's wedding at least, yes?"
Taehyung nods, smiles, "of course. I will see you."
Bogum watches with a small smile as Taehyung runs away.
Jungkook sits by the window, the canvas empty in front of him.
The king wants him to draw a portrait of the prince before his wedding, and Jungkook can't seem to get Taehyung's face in his mind as he sits there.
Jungkook looks at the empty canvas and sighs...
"Why can't I draw him?!" Jungkook hisses, rubs his temple as he looks at the canvas, "why is this so hard!"
Jungkook knows the answer. Because he is dreading it. Dreading recalling how the prince looks. He is avoiding those memories so vivid in his mind.
"Want some help?"
Jungkook jumps when he feels arms loop around his neck and someone whispers against his ear.
He looks up behind him to see Taehyung smiling down at him.
Jungkook flinches, stands up on his feet and faces the prince, "my prince?"
He bows deep, "good afternoon."
Taehyung smiles, "do you want me to sit in front of you? Is that going to help?"
Jungkook does not understand the smile. He does not understand that bubbly excitement in Taehyung.
He can't match this Taehyung with the one he left in his chamber, "my prince?"
Taehyung hums, "did you forget my face? How can you not draw me?"
Jungkook watches the prince come to stand in front of him, "uhh?"
Taehyung breathes out a chuckle, "how can you forget how I look," his arms loop around his neck, lips against Jungkook's, "my dear husband?"
Jungkook pulls away as if he is burnt, "do not call me that. Never call me that!"
Taehyung blinks, "my husband? Or dear?"
Jungkook clutches the brush in his hand, "are you playing with me, my prince? Is that it? Am I a laughingstock to you now?"
Taehyung's smile dims, "you would never be a laughingstock to me, Jungkook. How can you think like that?"
Jungkook shakes his head, "then why are you here? Why are you doing this? What are you saying? What is the meaning of all this?"
Taehyung steps closer, "I broke off my wedding."
Jungkook blinks, "you did what?"
Taehyung nods, eager, tears brimming in his eyes, "my wedding. I broke it off."
"Why?" Jungkook murmurs, "why?"
Taehyung sniffles, "because I can't marry someone else when I love you!"
"Y-you love me?" Jungkook whispers, "you really- you broke off your wedding?"
Taehyung nods, wipes his eyes, "if you don't accept me any more, if you don't want anything to do with me any more, then it's okay but," the prince trembles where he stands, "I love you."
Jungkook's brush drops on the floor with a clatter and the painter's eyes are watering too, "you are not lying, right? You really-"
Taehyung nods, "I broke off my wedding. I can't. Now that the queen is gone, I have no fear. I know she will not harm you. I know it, so..."
Taehyung takes a hesitant step towards Jungkook, "if you would have me," he shakes his head, "I would like for us to be together again. If you want me, that is."
Jungkook looks at the prince who is now standing right in front of him, "my prince..."
He opens his arms and pulls Taehyung into them, "like a love-sick fool, I will always want you."
Taehyung breaks into a sob, burying his face into Jungkook's chest, "always?"
Jungkook is crying too as he nods, "forever. My prince, you will forever be my prince."
Taehyung shakes as he cries in Jungkook's arms, "promise me this time if I want to leave you, you will try and stop me. Promise me you will fight for us. You will not let me go that easily ever again. You made me question your love for me!"
Jungkook chuckles, shakes his head, "how could I stop you, my prince? I promised you that whenever you find someone better than me, I will let you go. How could I step back from my promise?"
Taehyung pouts, "no, promise me that you will never let me go. Promise?"
Jungkook nods, lips pressing against Taehyung's temple, "I promise."
Taehyung grasps Jungkook's hanbok, "now we have to talk to my brother."
Jungkook nods, "whatever you want, my prin-" he stops, smirks, "my husband."
Taehyung feels that word deep in his heart as he blushes.
Jungkook gives a smug smile before Taehyung is jerking him forward for a kiss.
Taehyung closes his eyes as their lips meet, "I love you, you idiot painter."
Jungkook smiles into the kiss, "and I love you more, my dearest husband."
"We are leaving the palace after the wedding," Taehyung comes barrelling into Jimin's room, "you, me and your brother. We are going back to live in your house."
Jimin looks up at the prince, "you two talked?"
Taehyung nods, grins, "I talked to my brother too."
"Oh?" Jimin closes the book on his lap, "what did he say?"
Taehyung grins, "he said we will have a ceremony again. With his wedding. He does not want to prolong it. He is arranging the wedding in two days. Yoongi does not want to wait anymore."
Jimin's hands feel clammy, "oh?"
Taehyung grins, "he is so eager to marry the princess, Jiminah. You should have seen him! He said he just wants to get this over with. But I know. He is just eager to start his own family. He is so in love-" Taehyung pauses, "Jiminah?"
Jimin hums, "yes?"
Taehyung hurries closer, cups Jimin's face, "Jiminah, you are crying!"
Jimin tries to smile, fails to terribly, "happy tears, you goof. I am happy for you and my brother," he wipes his eyes, pulls away from Taehyung, "I am happy that we are leaving the palace."
"I am happy that he is happy," Jimin chokes on the words, "I am so happy that I will never have to see his face again."
Taehyung stills, "Jiminah..."
Jimin wipes his eyes, shakes his head with a wide grin, "I am so happy I will be back in my house. I feel breathless here!"
"This place suffocates me," Jimin looks around, "everything here feels like him," his face crumbles, "everything here reminds me of him. Everything here reminds me I don't belong here. I never will be. He can't wait to get married? I can't wait to leave this place, either!"
"I can't wait to leave," Jimin whimpers, the wide grin breaking into pieces as a loud sob breaks through is lips, "I can't wait to forget him. Why can't I forget him? Why am I the only one stuck with our memories? Why is he not breaking like I am? What did I do to deserve this?!"
Taehyung hurries to wrap his arms around Jimin, his eyes wide, "oh, my Lord! Jiminah? You and-" he gulps, "you are brother? Did he ever..." Taehyung can't find the words, the words are lodged in his throat, "did he mislead you?"
Jimin closes his eyes, tears soaking Taehyung's hanbok as Jimin clings to him, "I wish, Tae, I wish he did."
Taehyung frowns, "what?"
Jimin shakes his head, "if he did, hating him would be so easy."
And Taehyung understands.
"Oh, Jiminah, what have you done?"
Yoongi watches the preparations. He is sitting on the marbled bench on his balcony as his eyes roam over the people working in his garden.
They are hurrying to decorate the palace with flowers and everything for the wedding.
Yoongi watches them from where he is.
His eyes are on the men, but his mind is not with them.
Maybe that is why when Taehyung comes to sit beside him, Yoongi does not notice him at first.
"Jimin and me," Taehyung murmurs, "we are leaving after the wedding."
Yoongi blinks, the name crashing against his skull, "right."
"Jungkook wanted us to leave right away but Jimin wants to stay," Taehyung looks ahead, at the horizon, "he wants to see you get married."
Yoongi's hands feel clammy, he grips the edge of the bench, "you did not want to stay for the wedding yourself?"
Taehyung looks at him finally, his eyes boring into Yoongi's skin, "no. Not after knowing everything."
Yoongi does not match Taehyung's eyes, but he knows what Taehyung is saying.
He nods, "I see."
Taehyung lets out a breath, "do you? Really? See?"
Yoongi lets out a breath, "I see everything, Tae-"
"No, you don't!" Taehyung shakes his head, "no. You only see what is good for the kingdom and what is good for the family and what is good for everyone. You don't see what is good for you and what is good for him!"
Yoongi looks at his brother, jaw clenched, "I am doing my job, Taehyung. You don't need to tell me that I need to be selfish for the sake of what?" he snorts, "love? I am sitting here after I planned my mother's demise. I don't believe in love! It changes with time!"
Taehyung frowns, "what do you mean?"
Yoongi lets out a breath, his jaw still clenched, "he..." Yoongi gulps, "he will fall in love again. Find someone for him. I don't need to think and bind myself with love when that emotion never lasts long enough. Okay?"
Yoongi snorts, "I mean, you were going to marry Bogum. Were not planning to never love him? Love is a habit. It grows. You never planned to love Jungkook but with time, you learnt to-"
"No!" Taehyung stops Yoongi, glare fixed on him, "he is not my habit! He is my choice."
"Despite everything, I chose to love him," Taehyung grits out, "loving Jungkook is my choice and I made it and I will choose to love him every day for the rest of my life. Even if we are apart. Love is not a habit, brother, if it was, you would be in love with Jieun!"
"And who told you I am not?" Yoongi hisses, "who told you I don't love her?"
Taehyung lets out a chuckle, "you. Your enthusiasm about this wedding. The way you look at her. The way you act around her. She is nothing but a compromise you are doing and you both deserve better!"
Yoongi stands up, eyes fiery and on Taehyung, "you have always been the one who thinks with his heart, brother. I have to think with my brain. How many weddings do you think happen out of love? How many?"
"Yours could have been," Taehyung murmurs, "if you were not a coward!"
Yoongi shakes his head, "well, I am a coward then. A practical coward who needs to think about the future of this kingdom. Of this family. I can't rush behind something foolish like love, an illusion at best-"
"So you will forever be unhappy because that's what the kingdom needs?" Taehyung frowns, "so the kingdom gets to decide how you should act? If the kingdom has so much say about your life, leave this kingdom, brother."
Yoongi laughs, "please don't make me laugh, Tae. Take your leave. I am happy that you got whatever you wanted but don't try to act like you understand how politics or a kingdom works. You don't. So, leave that on me."
Taehyung knows when he lost a battle. This one is a lost case.
"Are you upset?" Jungkook asks Taehyung as they sit in Taehyung's chamber, "about Jimin?"
"Are you not?" Taehyung asks, head resting against Jungkook's chest, "don't you want your brother to be happy?"
Jungkook kisses the top of Taehyung's head, "I want that."
"But being with your brother might be the last thing to make him happy," Jungkook sighs, "I mean, how can it possibly happen? How can a king like your brother marry him? A man, I can see it happen, but a village boy with nothing to his name? I can't see it happening."
Taehyung buries his face against his husband's chest, "you should be positive."
Jungkook hugs Taehyung closer, "and if holding onto hope hurts? Then what?"
Taehyung shrugs, looks at Jungkook with a small smile, "I will always hold onto hope. I will because no one is doing it."
When Jungkook rolls them, hovering over Taehyung to kiss him silly, Taehyung smiles into the kiss.
When they fall asleep that night, Taehyung looks at the moon through his window and closes his eyes with a silent prayer.
He will always hope for his brother to be happy.
Yoongi is getting ready for the day when his eyes fall on the chain around his neck.
The silver chain gleams under the lights, and Yoongi looks at it with nothing but a hollow in his chest.
"Do you want me to take it off, my lord?" the maid asks, reaching out already.
Yoongi shakes his head, "no," he gulps, "let it stay."
He wears his chains over that flimsy one and ignores how the burning in his chest intensifies.
"Where is my brother?" He asks, wearing the rings next, "have not seen him since yesterday."
The maid hesitates, "he went to meet his in-laws."
Yoongi smiles, nods, "oh, okay," his eyes fall on the door when the guards announce the princess' presence.
Yoongi turns when she walks inside the room, along with her chaperon, and bows.
Yoongi bows back, "my princess?"
Jieun smiles, "I just came to talk to you. If that is alright?"
Yoongi frowns, "is everything okay? Do you need something?"
Jieun shakes her head, "do we have to talk when we need something from each other? My king?"
Yoongi stammers, "of course not, my princess. Come on."
They sit by the bench on the balcony and Jieun folds her hands on her lap as she sits.
Yoongi does not know what they are doing here, so he just sits and waits for the princess to say something.
Jieun lets out a long breath, "when my brother told me I will marry you, I was ecstatic," she blushes, looking down at her hands, "I mean, as a princess, I knew I will have to marry for the kingdom's wellbeing but when they said it would be you, I was happy. We were friends."
"I always thought I will learn to love you and you will learn to love me too with time," she looks ahead with a rueful smile, "I never wished for something more, my lord. I know how weddings work in our families. It is all profit and loss. Nothing from the heart."
"But I never thought by marrying you I would be coming between two lovers," she looks troubled, "I never thought I would be coming between something so beautiful like love. I never want to be the reason Jimin does not get his love, my lord. I will never want to be that person!"
Yoongi gapes at the princess, "did he?" his frustration seeps into his voice, "did he tell you-"
Jieun gives a small smile to Yoongi, "he never opened his mouth. He never uttered a word that involved you, my lord, but I am a woman. I have my senses. I feel it. I can see it."
"The way he tenses whenever you are mentioned," Jieun smiles, "the way he is so attentive whenever we are talking about our childhood. The way he asks so many questions as if he wants to know about your childhood, you, more. The way he behaves around you, it's very palpable."
"I thought it was one-sided at first," Jieun sighs, "thought he was in love, and you were not, but then," she hides her smile behind her hand, "I saw you were a greater fool in this. He was at least trying to hide it you are so stupid, you cannot even hide your feelings well."
Jieun's smile dims, "and I can still marry you. I can still marry you because I know you are thinking how you need an heir and this kingdom needs the next king. I would still go through with this wedding if you want but do you really want that, my lord? A love-less life?"
"My own father married my mother because of hierarchy," her face darkens, "and he loved his mistress more than he ever loved my mother. I have never had any expectation from marriages. I would marry you for a comfortable life but would that be enough for you? Think about it."
"Jimin will never see your face after the wedding," she sighs, "I have come to know how he is. He has self-respect. He would never stay like my father's mistress did. He would never be that person. Would you be able to live your entire life like this? Tell me, my king."
Jieun looks at Yoongi, eyes clear and sharp, "because I can live in a love-less marriage, my lord, but I refuse to stay in a marriage where my husband is so madly in love with someone else. I cannot. So you have to tell me why you are doing this. Is this worth it?"
"Will you be able to forget him? Will you be able to love me?" Jieun blushes, looks down at her hands, "how would we ever have children when you can't even look at me properly, my lord?"
Yoongi feels breathless, "my princess, with time-"
She smiles, "do a thing for me, my king, think about a time in the near future. A few years ahead from now, we are married. You are about to have your firstborn, and it is with me," she sighs, "and you hear the news that Jimin is getting married. Which one affects you the most?"
The princess' eyes fall on Yoongi's fist, tight and clenched.
She lets out a breathy chuckle, "if you know the answer and still hesitate to acknowledge it, you are just running from reality, my king. How would you be practical when you never want to face the reality?"
Yoongi looks at the horizon, "if you don't want to marry me, my princess, you can leave. I would never force you. I will find someone-"
Jieun lets out a breath, "If you still want to go through with this, then I want to know why. I need to know why. You get that, right?"
"Because how can I marry him?" Yoongi does not want to scream, but his frustration gets the better of him, "how can I marry him?"
Jieun searches Yoongi's face with a frown, "how can you not marry him? You love him."
Yoongi glares at her, "and you think love is enough?"
Jieun shrugs, "enough. Indeed it is. What is stopping you?"
Yoongi lets out a chuckle, "my mother and my father were in love when they married. Things changed pretty quickly when she got a taste of power. Love is a feeling, and feelings change. I can't believe in just love."
"He is no one noble," Yoongi glares at the horizon, "he is of no name. He does not know how royalty works. He is so innocent. I don't want to drag him in this dark hole and ruin his life. I don't want to snatch away his smiles. Here no one belongs to no one."
"All relations are fake," Yoongi snarls, "I planned my mother's death. She planned Taehyung's death. We sleep with one eye open because we don't trust anyone here. I don't want to push him into this mess just because he thinks loving me would be enough to endure everything!"
"If he is out there, getting married to someone who loves him, and he is happy then I will be happy for him," Yoongi looks back at Jieun, "and I will be happy for my firstborn too. Different kinds of happiness can co-exist, princess, you don't need to measure feelings."
"Then how are you measuring his feelings and invalidating his love for you?" Jieun tilts her head, "how are you measuring your mother's love and his love for you? How are you assuming the worst without taking the chance? Why cannot you see the other side of the coin?"
"What is the other side of the coin?" Yoongi glares, "that we ride off to the sunset? Live happily ever after?"
Jieun shakes her head, "as long as we live, we will fight to do so, my king, but when your companion is someone you love, the battles get easier to fight."
"If you have someone you love, you will find yourself battling your fights along with them. They will be your strength. They will not push you down but hold you up. You will find yourself satisfied, no matter where or which circumstances you are in. He will be there for you."
"No one's life is easy, my king," Jieun places her hand on Yoongi's, "but if you choose the person you want beside you when life gets harder, and they love you enough, it helps. It helps immensely. Do you get me? All I am saying is, talk to him. Once. Talk to him about all this."
She nods when Yoongi looks at her, "Jimin loves you and you love him. Thus, you two deserve a chance at happiness. Talk to him. This time, when he speaks, listen and really try to understand. Listen to your own heart, too. For a few hours, be just Yoongi. Not a king. Please."
Yoongi frowns at the princess, "why are you doing this? What would you gain from this? Even if we marry out of an arrangement, it will still be a wedding. You will," Yoongi coughs, looks away, "I am not boasting, but you would be married to the most powerful king on this land."
Jieun smiles, "I would be married to a man who loves someone else. I am a woman, my lord, a woman who wants her husband to at least love her with time. How can I marry you when I know you will never love me? I don't want that, my lord. No wealth is worth it."
"If you are worried that if the wedding breaks off then my family might go against you, it will not happen," she assures, "I will promise you our loyalty, my lord. If nothing, for the sake of our childhood friendship, I will honour our friendship. So will my brother. I know."
She stands up, bows, "if you do not mind, I would take your leave. I need to talk to my brother. You," she bites back a smile, "you need to talk to Jimin. Please, my lord, talk to him. Once. That boy is suffering for something he is not guilty of."
"As a king, you should put him out of his misery," she bows once again, "talk to him. May I take your leave now?"
Yoongi looks at her, "you will always have my loyalty, my princess," he stands up to bow too, "Min Yoongi promises you, whenever you need me, whatever you need me for
"I will be there," Yoongi pulls out a ring he was wearing and holds it out for her with a small smile, "a token of friendship. Your friend will always stay here, in this kingdom, for you. Never forget that. I promise you my loyalty."
She takes the ring and kisses it, "thank you, my lord. Now, excuse me."
Yoongi watches her leave. A small smile plays on his lips.
She turns, brows lifted in a question.
Yoongi smiles, "you will make a great wife to someone."
She blushes, nods, "thank you."
"Let's go," Taehyung comes to Jimin's room, "we have to go back to the palace. It is getting late."
Jimin is sitting on his bed, looking out of the window, "I do not want to go back, Taehyung."
Taehyung frowns, "what?"
Jimin nods, eyes still on the lake behind the house, "I do not need to go back, do I?" he turns his eyes on Taehyung, "I thought I would be able to be there and watch him get married but-" he looks away, "everything is sorted here. I do not need to go back. I do not want to."
Taehyung hesitates, "but... we came here just for the day. We are supposed to return-"
Jimin chuckles, "who would notice my absence there, Taehyung? No one," he looks down at his hanbok, frowns, "I can't stay there any longer, Tae. No one would miss me. You should leave."
Taehyung sits on the bed, "I will miss you."
Jimin's eyes are moist as he looks at Taehyung, "you will be back here soon. I will wait for you. Okay?"
Taehyung's own eyes are tearing up, "the palace will be empty without you."
Jimin sniffles, "I don't belong there. Do I?"
Taehyung cannot force Jimin to go back with him. He hugs him instead.
"I will miss you," Taehyung whispers against Jimin's hair, "I will miss you."
Jimin does not say anything, he hugs back tighter.
When Jungkook comes to usher Taehyung away, Jimin follows him till the gate.
"I will be back soon," Taehyung holds Jungkook's hand in his, "after the wedding, I will be back. Okay?"
Jungkook kisses Taehyung's knuckles, gives a smile, "I will wait for you, my prince."
Taehyung blushes, eyes moist, "visit me there tomorrow?"
Jungkook nods, "I will."
"Everything alright back there?" Yoongi asks as soon as he steps inside Taehyung's room.
Taehyung smiles with a nod, "they are good. All of them. I talked to everyone. Everything is fine there. After the wedding, I will be leaving too."
Yoongi hesitates, "right, I see."
Taehyung frowns, "is everything okay? You look disturbed."
Yoongi blinks, "me? I-" he coughs, "no, I am fine. Did you go alone to meet them?"
Taehyung shakes his head, "no. Jimin went with me," he pauses, "he stayed back. Did not want to come back here again."
Yoongi frowns, "why?"
Taehyung shrugs, "he said he does not have to, and he feels suffocated here," Taehyung starts to take off the jewels, "told me how he feels like he does not belong here. He is right, so I did not force him to come back."
Yoongi nods, "oh. I see."
Taehyung hums, "did you need something from him, hyung?"
Yoongi shakes his head, "I just-" he looks at anywhere but Taehyung, "I just came here to tell you I am not marrying the princess."
Taehyung pauses, eyes wide, "what?! Why?!"
Yoongi shrugs, "she does not want to marry me."
Taehyung frowns, comes closer to Yoongi, "she does not want to marry you? Why? All of a sudden?"
Yoongi shrugs, "she thinks," he coughs in his fist, "she thinks I love someone else."
Taehyung pauses, blinks, "she thinks you love Jimin?"
Yoongi winces, "I did not say that."
Taehyung curses, "so now what? You find someone else and get married? Just to prove that you are not in love with a low-class village boy and just to repeat the same thing that I don't understand how royalty works, and you do? Is that it? You will find someone new?"
Yoongi sighs, "I do not know. Okay? I do not know what to do anymore. I don't know."
Taehyung gives Yoongi a small smile, "if you still do not know, brother, then it is good that Jimin left. He does not deserve someone who would not choose him like he chose you."
Yoongi shakes his head, "good night, Taehyung."
Taehyung watches as his brother leaves.
A sigh escapes him as the prince closes the door of his bedroom.
"You don't look good frowning."
Yoongi curses, eyes closing briefly before he glares over his shoulder at the intruder, "who asked you to be here?"
Hoseok grins, coming to stand beside Yoongi on the roof, "I was just going over the plan for the safety of the west border."
Yoongi sighs, "and why are you here now?"
Hoseok shrugs, "I asked Jimin to marry me. I am here to ask you if you would come to the wedding. You se-"
"What?!" Yoongi stands up properly, "what did you just say?"
Hoseok frowns, "that I asked Jimin to marry me."
Yoongi blinks, "since when-" he gulps, "since when do you-" his eyes roam over Hoseok's face, "why?"
Hoseok lets out a sigh, leaning back against the railing of the terrace, "since forever. I really liked him, but he never really paid attention, you know? Nowadays," he smiles...
"He looked upset, and I was there as his friend," Hoseok smiles at the horizon, "I don't know how or what, but I think he started to like me too? Must be the reason why he said yes."
Yoongi flinches, "he said yes?"
Hoseok nods, grins, "we are getting married next month."
Yoongi grips the railing, "he agreed?"
Hoseok chuckles, "of course he did. I mean, I was very charming, you know?" he winks, a smirk playing on his lips, "kissed hi-"
The sword pressing against his jugular stops Hoseok midway, his eyes wide, "Y-Yoongi-"
"Do not," Yoongi presses closer, pressing Hoseok against the railing, "utter a single word," the blade presses more against Hoseok's throat, "if you want to have your head attached to your neck."
Hoseok matches his eyes, "why can't I say I kissed him?"
Yoongi snarls, "because-"
"Because?" Hoseok frowns, "because what, Yoongi? I will marry him. He will be my husband. I will kiss him, be clos-"
Yoongi grips the sword tightly, "Hoseok, if you love your life-"
"I love him more," Hoseok juts his chin out, "and eventually, he will love me just as much."
The sword raises, the blade shining under the moonlight.
Hoseok does not flinch. His eyes never leaves Yoongi's bloodshot ones.
Yoongi pauses, breathing heavily, "why? Why are you doing this?"
Hoseok leans back against the railing, "because I love him?"
"Stop it!" Yoongi grits out, "stop it! You don't love him. You know you don't! Stop-"
"I do," Hoseok insists, "I love him more than you can imagine. I am sure I will be able to change his heart too. One day he will love me just as much. He will forget that man he loves now."
"One day he will be my husband and love me," Hoseok steps closer to Yoongi, "one day he will forget the man who gave him nothing but tears. One day he will realize how pathetic and coward that man was and understand how blessed he is to find me. He will forget his Yoon one day."
"He will forget his Yoon because Yoon is not a real person," Hoseok jabs a finger against Yoongi's chest, "Yoongi is, and he is a coward. He is a terrible lover who left when things got tough. Jimin will realize how you don't deserve his love, and he will love me that day."
"We will be happy," Hoseok grits out, "I will give him everything he deserves and more. Unlike you, who gave him nothing but pain. You are such a coward, my king, if you never planned to act on your feelings, then why did you lead him on? Why?"
"It does not matter," Hoseok smirks, "because now none of this matters. Jimin said yes, and I will make sure he forgets you. I will give him so much love, he will forget you exist. I promise, he will fo-"
Hoseok stops midway when Yoongi turns on his heels and leaves the terrace.
The mayor stands on the roof as he watches the king leave the palace on his horse. He leans on his elbows against the railing with a smile.
"I am sorry, Jiminah," Hoseok sighs, "for sending him to you like this but," he chuckles, "I know my friend and I know he needed the push."
Sleep does not come to Jimin as he lays awake on bed.
It gets tiresome. The thoughts never leave him, and he finds himself twisting and turning on the bed.
With a frustrated sigh, he gets out of the bed and comes out of the house after wrapping a shawl around him.
Jimin sits by the lake beside his house, eyes on the water as the moonlight reflects on it.
The sound of a horse makes him frown.
He looks up to see a silhouette coming towards their house.
Jimin stands up with a frown as he watches the man ride closer.
Jimin's eyes widen as he sees the man. The horse comes to a screeching halt right in front of him, and Yoongi jumps off of it.
Jimin blinks, "my king?"
Yoongi's eyes are not on him, he slowly ties the horse to the nearest tree and then turns to face Jimin.
"What are you doing here?" Jimin asks, wide eyes fixed on the man in front of him, "without any guards? Alone? At this time of the night? Wh-"
"Congratulations," Yoongi stops Jimin midway, "I am here to congratulate you on your wedding. Congratulations."
"My... wedding?" Jimin frowns, "what are you-"
Yoongi snorts, "were you up thinking about that?" he points at the house, "were you up and out here waiting for you lover?"
Jimin watches Yoongi, "my lover...?"
Yoongi steps closer, reaches to grab Jimin by elbow, "stop acting!"
"Stop acting right now!" Yoongi snarls, "tell me, were you waiting for him? Were you out here, waiting for him to come to you?!"
Jimin's eyes roam over Yoongi's face, "I did not know he would come to me," his eyes are tender, "I keep waiting every day. Nothing is new."
Yoongi's face breaks, "do you love him?"
Jimin nods, without hesitation, "so much."
Yoongi sucks in a breath, eyes puzzled, troubled almost, "since when-"
Jimin's eyes are watering, "why do you want to know?"
Yoongi wipes his eyes, "because I need to know. You love him?"
Jimin turns away, walks up to the steps of the lake, "you need to leave, my king. Someone mig-"
Yoongi follows behind, "tell me you love him and I will leave. Tell me."
Jimin's eyes are on the water, his own eyes watering, "you know how I feel. Then why-"
"So you love him," Yoongi wipes his eyes, jaw clenching, "I don't know why I came here. I-" he closes his eyes, "I have no rights. I had no rights. I am sorry. God, what am I doing?"
Jimin turns to see Yoongi tugging at his hair, "what are you doing?"
Yoongi breathes out a garbled laugh, "I am a fool, am I not? I told you we cannot be anything. I told you to move on. I told you there can never be anything between us, then why do I feel like ripping Hoseok apart when he said he wants to marry you? What a hypocrite I am!"
Jimin watches with a frown, "who said what?"
Yoongi shakes his head as if he cannot hear Jimin, "like a fool I came running to you as if you would still wait for me. As if I have any rights to ask you questions. As if you owe me anything. Like a fool I got so angry at you!"
"You did not betray me," Yoongi screws his eyes shut, "you have no obligation to stay loyal to me when I was getting married right in front of your eyes. But," Yoongi looks at Jimin, "when he said you will forget me, when he said you will love him instead, I-" he gulps...
"It hurt so bad," Yoongi steps closer, arms reaching out for Jimin, "to think one day you will forget me," Yoongi's eyes are watering, he ignores it in favour of holding Jimin, "to think you will love someone else. Someone else will be yours, and you will be theirs..."
Yoongi pulls Jimin closer, their chests pressed together, "to think someone else will have you like this," he breathes out a chuckle, "I never kissed you, you know? Thinking I will ruin something so pure like you," he sniffles, "to think he kissed you..."
"To think he touched you," Yoongi's face crumbles, his forehead coming to rest against Jimin's, "it makes me mad and I know I have no rights," he cups Jimin's face, "I lost my rights that night when I walked out on you. You can be someone else's and kiss whoever you want-"
"Who did I kiss?" Jimin murmurs, hands coming to cover Yoongi's, "if you know so much, I would like to know who is this gentleman I kissed?"
Yoongi blinks, "are you trying to hurt me by asking me this?"
Jimin shakes his head, "I just want to know his name. My lover, you said."
"Hoseok," Yoongi's lips curl around distaste, "you kis-"
Jimin's snort pauses Yoongi and Jimin is pulling back a little to look up at him, "I kissed Hobi hyung? Where? In your dreams? Are you here because you had a nightmare?"
Yoongi frowns, "what?"
Jimin's smile turns sour, "I know you do not love me, my king, but do you think my love this so cheap that I will forget you in a few days and kiss someone who comes my way? Do you really think so low of me? Forget hobi hyung, you tell me, what is this?!"
"When I told you I love you, I meant it," Jimin screams, "when I told you I will always love you, I meant it. I know you never felt the same about me, but how dare you think so low of me? Don't you trust me? Don't you know me? Do you really think so low of me?"
"I am not desperate for a man or marriage," Jimin grips Yoongi's hanbok, jerks him closer, "I love you!" his eyes water, "like a fool, I love you, and you not only insult me but my love! How dare you think I will go around kissing others when I am still so in love with you!"
"But-" Yoongi frowns, "Hoseok said-"
"Hoseok said, and you believed," Jimin's shoulders drop, a teary laugh escapes him, "and when I am screaming about my love for you, you cannot believe that?" he steps away, "I see, my king," he wipes his eyes, "leave. Leave right now!"
Jimin turns away, hugs himself as he cries, "leave me. Leave me, please. Let me at least mourn my love. Leave-"
"I am tired of leaving," Yoongi breathes out, "I am so tired of leaving. Every time I leave you behind, it feels like I leave a piece of my heart with you and..."
"Now I am empty," Yoongi reaches out to hold Jimin by the elbow, turning him to face him, "you have my entire heart now, and I can't run away anymore. I am so tired of running. I am so, so tired of denying myself who I really want. I am so tired of denying my love for you."
=== THEY GET TOGETHER AND HAPPY ENDING ===
Can I do that? *pouts* No. You will have to endure a royal wedding. *sigh* and another smut.
YOONMIN NEED TO KISS, FFS, SOMEONE POINTED OUT HOW THEY NEVER EVEN KISSED! I-
Bear with me.
We will be back soon. x
Jimin looks up at the king, his eyes vulnerable, "don't say something you might regret. Don't say something you might not be able to hold onto tomorrow," his eyes water when Yoongi cups his face, "don't give me hope to snatch it away, my king, I am done hoping against hope."
Yoongi presses his lips against Jimin's forehead, "not as Yoon, as the king, I ask you tonight..."
Jimin's lips part around a gasp as he watches the king kneel in front of him, takes Jimin's hands in his and looks up at him.
"Will you marry me, my blossom?"
Jimin blinks, mouth agape, "wh-what?"
Yoongi gives a small, teary smile, "I am done thinking about others' happiness. For once in my life, I want to choose my own happiness. You have all the reasons to not want this. You will be the king beside me. It is a huge responsibility -"
Jimin shakes his head, "the k-king?"
Yoongi nods, "you will rule the kingdom with me," he looks at Jimin with stars in his eyes, "you will be my partner. My king. My blossom. You are the bloom after my wintry life. You are the bloom I have waited my entire life craving."
Yoongi leans to press his forehead against Jimin's knuckles, clutched tightly in his hands, "choose me. I am not worth your love. I don't know why you love me, and I am terrified that one day you will realize I am not worth it but like a selfish fool, I want you to choose me."
Jimin feels the tears smudge against his skin as the king cries. He watches the ruler of their kingdom, the fierce fighter of their generation, kneel in front of him, asking him hand in marriage.
"Choose you..." Jimin murmurs, "choose you against what?"
Jimin drops on his knees too, grip tight on Yoongi's hands, "you have never been an option to me, my king. You are," his voice cracks when Yoongi looks up at him, "you are my everything. I don't need to choose you. I was yours when you gifted me that chain. You tied me to you."
"I am yours," Jimin shakes his head, sniffles, "as the king, as my yoon, as whatever you want. I am all yours."
Yoongi tugs Jimin closer, "this is not going to be easy. I am giving you one last chance to back out, Jiminie, this will be tough. Being my husband."
"We will face hate," Yoongi frowns, "we will face questions, doubts, threats. I will protect you with my everything, but you have to know, there will be backlash. We wil-"
"As long as it's 'we,' against everyone," Jimin smiles, "I will be fine."
Yoongi's eyes are soft, his smile is widening under Jimin's watch.
"You will marry me then?" Yoongi asks, still scared, tentative.
Jimin blushes scarlet, looking down at their hands, "you have to ask my family. You can't expect me to say yes just because you are the king."
Yoongi chuckles, "I will come to ask for your hand to them tomorrow. But I need to know what my groom thinks. Does he want to marry me?"
Jimin bites back a grin, nods, "yes."
Yoongi's heart flutters, he breathes out, "may I kiss my husband?"
Jimin breathes out, his face heating up as his hands tremble in Yoongi's grasp, "now?"
Yoongi arches a brow, "shall I wait for the wedding?"
Jimin looks down, "I have never-" he blinks at their joined hands, "I don't know who told you what, but I have never-"
Yoongi smiles, leans closer to press his lips against Jimin's cheek, "I will wait forever if you want me to, blossom. You don't need to rush when you don't feel like it. Okay? I understand."
Jimin looks at Yoongi, "are you leaving?"
Yoongi smiles, "you do not want me to?"
Jimin looks at the lake, "can we? Sit? For a little? Here?"
Yoongi nods, earnest, pulling Jimin closer to him, "whatever you want, blossom. Whatever you want."
Jimin blushes, looking at the lake, "thank you."
Yoongi hums, "I will come back tomorrow. To ask your family."
Jimin nods, holds Yoongi's hand in his, "you promise?"
Yoongi looks down at the man in his arm, "I promise."
"Can you not?!" Taehyung hisses, fixing Yoongi's hair, "why are you chewing on your nails? Leave them alone!"
Hoseok fixes the hanbok, "this is the third time I am fixing a crease I cannot even see! Is this fine?"
Taehyung blows out a sigh, "the crease is still there!"
"I should have run away with him," Yoongi mutters, wincing as the crown drops on his head while Taehyung glares at him, "this is taking too long! God, just be done with it!"
"It's your wedding!" Taehyung glares, "so help me, lord, if I am trying to make it perfect!"
"God, you are so eager to marry him," Hoseok smirks, "look at you, all dressed and jumpy like a cat."
Yoongi glares at his friend, "I am still thinking of beheading you, so refrain yourself from pulling my leg!"
Hoseok rolls his eyes, "history will remember me as the reason of two lovers' union. Please!"
"The groom is here," a maid runs into the room, wide smile on her face, "they are here."
Yoongi curses, "I really think I should have run away. I really think-"
"How are you feeling?" Seokjin asks Jimin while the carriage moves towards the palace.
Jimin smiles down at his hands, "scared? Excited? I don't know, hyung, I feel like I might vomit."
Seokjin chuckles, "eager to marry him?"
Jimin blushes, nods, "yes."
Seokjin reaches out to place his hand on Jimin's fidgeting ones, "Jiminah? Are you happy?"
Jimin blinks, looks up at his brother.
Seokjin nods, "I am just... are you happy?"
Jimin holds Seokjin's hand in his, "I am marrying the person I love, hyung. I am the happiest."
Seokjin does not need anymore words. He can see it on Jimin's face.
The glow, the bright blush, the smile, everything tells him his brother is happy.
The guilt he felt for taking Namjoon away, starts to slowly fade away, and it vanishes when they reach the palace.
Because the way Yoongi looks at Jimin and the way Jimin's smile lights up his entire face when they stand in front of each other, it is enough proof for Seokjin to know Jimin is happy.
Looking at Yoongi, Seokjin knows Jimin will always be happy because... they are so in love.
Seokjin looks at Taehyung and Taehyung's eyes are fixed on Jungkook who is standing right beside him.
Jungkook's arm is around the prince and there is a silly smile on his lips as he looks at Taehyung.
Taehyung leans to press his lips against Jungkook's cheek, and Seokjin smiles.
He looks at their joined hands and a sigh escapes him.
Jungkook and Taehyung are moving to the palace. Along with Jungkook's family. Because Yoongi does not want to leave his brother and, Taehyung convinced their entire family to come and live in the palace.
Seokjin accepted the role of the royal teacher, and he is asked to stay in the palace too. Along with his fiancé, Namjoon, who is the general of Yoongi's army now.
Hoseok is the only one who is living in the village as the mayor, but he will move too because Yoongi is thinking of giving him the post of the head minister beside him.
So, Seokjin has nothing to complain about.
For now, at least, everything seem to go well.
"Do you take him as your lawfully wedded husband?" The priest asks with a smile.
Jimin smiles, nods, "I do."
Yoongi lets out a breath as everyone cheers around them and when asked, he accepts Jimin as well.
Their hands are tied together then.
They are each other's. Forever.
"What?" Namjoon asks as he notices the teacher's eyes on him, "what are you looking a-" he pauses when Seokjin throws his arms around his neck and pulls Namjoon down for a kiss.
Namjoon stumbles, eyes wide as he returns the kiss.
"What was that for?" Namjoon asks, a smile on his lips, "Jinnie?"
Seokjin smiles, tears reflecting the moonlight, "I just... I was always feeling this guilt that I took you away from Jimin. But today, seeing him so happy, I realized, I can finally accept you as mine. My joonie."
"Someone will see!" Taehyung blushes when Jungkook presses him against a pillar, "Jungkook!"
Jungkook leans in to press his lips against Taehyung's throat, leaving soft marks, "I am making out with my husband. If someone sees, who cares?"
Taehyung giggles, arms going around Jungkook's neck to pull him closer, "you are getting brave, I see."
Jungkook shrugs, hands moving to unfasten Taehyung's hanbok, "my brother is now a king too. I don't fear your brother anymore!"
Taehyung laughs into the kiss, "you idiot!"
Jungkook pulls back to look at Taehyung, a small smile on his lips, "are you happy, my prince? With this arrangement?"
Taehyung's grin dims into a small smile, he nods, earnest, "marrying you is the best arrangement I agreed to, my husband. I am happy."
When Jungkook pulls Taehyung in a kiss, Taehyung goes easily.
Maybe... some arrangements are not so bad.
Some arrangements are made by the universe to bring the lovers closer.
Some arrangements are needed to connect one heart to another.
=== Come back tomorrow for Yoonmin first night and the final part of the story ===
Jimin pulls his knees closer to his chest as he hears the laughs and teasing remarks just outside of the royal chamber. His eyes are closed, chest tightening around a breath he can’t seem to get out.
His startled eyes fly open when the door of the bedroom slams open and Yoongi stumbles inside.
“Enjoy the night, my king!” Namjoon’s voice is heard, loud laughs following his words.
“I pray for Jiminah,” Taehyung’s shout is heard next.
“God, you all, leave them alone!” Seokjin laughs as he says it.
“Do not break the bed, my king!” Hoseok giggles, peeking inside the room, “all the best, Jiminah.”
Yoongi slams the door closed, locking it securely, before he turns to face Jimin. His face is bright red, and Jimin knows his own face is mirroring the king’s.
Jimin holds his breath as Yoongi comes around the bed, sitting down on it to look at him. Jimin’s hands are clammy when Yoongi reaches to place his hand on top of his.
“Are you scared?” Yoongi asks, voice soft, “blossom?”
Jimin gulps, eyes not matching the king’s but on his hand, “I am.”
Yoongi lets out a breath, slips closer, “you don’t have to. We don’t have to do anything if you are scared. You know that. Right?”
He nods, “thank you.”
Yoongi squeezes his hand, “of course.”
Jimin watches the king go to the dressing table, taking off his jewelries.
Jimin lets out a shaky breath before getting out of bed. He steps closer to the king.
Yoongi stops when Jimin hugs him from behind, “Jiminie…”
Jimin buries his face against Yoongi’s back, arms crossed around Yoongi’s chest, “I am scared,” he presses his words against Yoongi’s back, “but… I want to.”
The words alone make his skin break into goosebumps and when Yoongi turns in his arms and forces Jimin to look up by placing his index finger under Jimin’s chin, Jimin can’t match those eyes.
“You want to?” Yoongi repeats, “you want to, what, blossom?”
Jimin closes his eyes, head tilted so Yoongi can see his face clearly, “I want you to accept me. Fully.”
Yoongi hums, “I have accepted you. Fully. We are married.”
Jimin’s eyelids flutter as he opens his eyes to look at the king, “you are my husband.”
Yoongi has a soft smile on his lips, his eyes glinting, “I am.”
Jimin’s lips part, “please… my king…”
Yoongi understands. His eyes drop to Jimin’s lips, and he is leaning closer to rest his forehead against Jimin’s.
“Are you sure?” Yoongi whispers, “voice your consent, my blossom.”
Jimin whimpers, “I am sure. Please…”
Yoongi cups his face, eyes trailing over Jimin’s lips, “I love you.”
Jimin whimpers, “I love you more.”
Yoongi’s lips press against his, soft at first, making Jimin startle. Yoongi’s lips are warm against his, Jimin whimpers. His lips part and Yoongi advances. His tongue invading Jimin’s mouth.
Jimin’s eyes are screwed shut, his chest heaving with breaths as he kisses his husband. His lover. For the first time.
Yoongi kisses like he is starving. His lips mould around Jimin’s, sucks his lower lip before biting down on it.
Jimin’s hands are clutching at Yoongi’s hanbok and Yoongi’s arms are gripping Jimin’s waist.
They part to breathe, their eyes on each other. They both are panting. Jimin lets out a whimper when Yoongi tugs him closer.
“Undress me,” Yoongi murmurs against Jimin’s lips, kissing him ardently, “undress me, blossom.”
Jimin hurries, lips captured in a deep kiss while his arms tug at Yoongi’s hanbok. He fumbles with the strings before untying it.
He pulls back to see the hanbok come loose around Yoongi.
Yoongi shrugs out of it, throwing it on the ground in his hurry. Jimin grasps at the numerous necklaces around Yoongi’s neck.
He tugs them up and over Yoongi’s head, places them on the dressing table.
Yoongi’s hands are on him, squeezing his hips, “may I?”
Jimin looks at his husband, nods jerkily, “ye-yes.”
Yoongi leans to trail kisses down Jimin’s throat, “god, you will be the death of me.”
Jimin whines, feels Yoongi’s hands tugging at the strings of his hanbok. Those hands are in hurry.
The tugs are so forceful it makes Jimin stumble forward and slam against Yoongi’s chest.
The king holds Jimin closer to his chest, undressing him in a hurry, “forgive me,” Yoongi whispers against Jimin’s hair, “I am… I have waited so long.”
Jimin’s face is heating up as he feels the hanbok coming loose.
He nods, buries his face in Yoongi’s chest when the hanbok finally comes loose.
Yoongi pushes it off of Jimin, the material pooling around Jimin’s feet.
Jimin wants to cover himself, he wants to turn away. His flimsy undergarments are hiding almost nothing.
He hugs Yoongi instead, grasping at Yoongi’s midriff, “my king…”
Yoongi chuckles, “are you shy?”
Jimin trembles when he feels those lips press down on his shoulder, leaving soft bites, “ohhh…”
Yoongi’s hands squeeze Jimin’s hips, “if you don’t want, we don’t have to do anything.”
Jimin shakes his head, “I want to,” he almost buries himself against Yoongi, “I just…” his nose rub against Yoongi’s skin, inhaling the intoxicating scent of the king, “I don’t know how to. I –”
“I am here,” Yoongi murmurs, “I will take care of you.”
Jimin looks up at the king, “you have been with many…”
Yoongi looks down at him, “does that bother you?”
Jimin’s hands clutch at Yoongi, “it will if after marrying me –”
“I will never,” Yoongi breathes out, “I would never do that. You know.”
Jimin’s eyes searches the king’s with a small pout on his lips, “promise?”
Yoongi smiles, nods, “I promise.”
This time the kiss is urgent. Jimin tugs Yoongi down to press all his insecurities, fears, hesitance into the kiss and Yoongi gets it. He hums in the kiss, smiling against Jimin’s lips.
“I like it when you get possessive of me,” he murmurs against Jimin’s lips, “I like it a lot.”
Jimin bites down on his lower lip, “shut up!”
Yoongi laughs, slowly tugging at Jimin’s undergarments, “may I?”
Jimin breathes out, nods, looks away as the king proceeds to take off the last clothing on him.
Jimin stands in front of the king. Completely naked.
His eyes downcast, arms crossed against his chest.
Yoongi’s eyes roam over Jimin, his throat drying as he takes in every curve and edges of Jimin.
Jimin cannot take the silence anymore.
He steps closer and buries himself in Yoongi’s arms.
“Stop looking!” he whines, face hot, “stop it!”
Yoongi laughs, tugs Jimin closer, “now I can’t look at my husband?”
Jimin whines, bites back a smile, “you are an idiot.”
Yoongi grabs Jimin’s waist and hoists him up in his arms.
Jimin’s eyes wide and a screech leaving his lips as he looks down at Yoongi.
Yoongi has a smile on his lips. He takes Jimin to the bed, slowly dropping him on the mattress.
“Lie down,” Yoongi whispers, slowly getting out of his own clothes as he watches Jimin lie down on the mattress.
“I understand the worries you might be having regarding the heir for the throne,” Yoongi speaks over the crowd, sitting on the throne and looking at the mass who have gathered to congratulate the king on his wedding and to hear the announcement...
“but I have never liked the Monarchy system. I never liked the idea of someone becoming the king just because they are the firstborn of the king. They might not be capable. They might not be able to be a good king and I never wanted to leave my kingdom in incompetent hands.”
Yoongi looks at the surrounding faces.
Jimin is sitting beside him, eyes on the crowd, lips pressed together.
Taehyung is beside him, on his own seat. Beside him sits Jungkook.
Seokjin has his seat too, as the royal teacher, he gets his own seat in the courtroom. Along with his fiancé. Namjoon.
Hoseok sits on Yoongi’s other side. As the newly chosen minister.
Yoongi smiles at his men. The seven who would rule the country now. Together.
He looks at the crowd again, “so I am announcing democracy,” he stands up, “you all will choose the next king when the time comes. You all will choose someone. They can be a royal, a civilian, a commoner, anyone...
...You all will choose your next king and I will happily give up my throne when I age. Thank you for loving me and accepting me as I am. I hope you all support me and help me rule this kingdom for as long as I can...
...Thank you for accepting my husband,” he smiles at Jimin who blinks up at him, startled, “thank you for coming here to listen to me. Please enjoy your feast now. I announce a week-long celebration in the name of my husband, Min Jimin.”
Jimin blushes as the crowd erupts in cheers and shouts his name. They happily shout out their support for the newly-wed.
Yoongi comes to sit beside Jimin, “they love you.”
Jimin looks at Yoongi, “and I love you.”
Yoongi’s smile is breathtaking as he pulls Jimin closer to him, “I love you more.”
“When are you two getting married?” Taehyung asks, back in the royal dining room, “hyung?”
Seokjin and Namjoon look at each other.
“In a month,” Seokjin mumbles, face bright red, “I guess.”
Namjoon grins, “In a month.”
Jungkook has his hand in Taehyung’s as he grins at his hyungs, “you two look so shy about it!”
Taehyung laughs when Seokjin looks up to squint at Jungkook, “you were shy too when you got married to Taehyung.”
“I will forever be a bachelor,” Hoseok whines, “get me someone.”
“Who do you want?” Yoongi wonders, “tell me, I will ask them to marry you.”
Hoseok rolls his eyes, “I can ask my partner out. I don’t need your help. You almost ruined your own love life. Please.”
Everyone laughs at Yoongi’s indignant protests and bickering fills the room.
Jimin and Taehyung’s eyes match over the dinner and they share a smile.
Their hands are locked with their loved ones, they look at each other in contentment.
“Namjoon passed the examination,” Seokjin announces with a proud smile, “with scholarship. He is a scholar now!”
Everyone looks at Namjoon whose dimpled smile is lighting up the room.
As they all start talking about the future and what they have planned for it, Taehyung leans closer to Jungkook.
“Would you hate me if I ask you something?” Jungkook murmurs against Taehyung’s ear.
Taehyung looks back at his husband, “what is it?”
Jungkook smiles, “would you let me draw you? I really want to.”
Taehyung looks at Jungkook with a small smile, “I thought you did not like drawing portraits?”
Jungkook snorts, his eyes tender, “I think I finally found my muse. My prince.”
Taehyung’s heart flutters as he leans to accept the kiss Jungkook pulls him into.
“I love you, my painter,” Taehyung smiles into the kiss.
“I love you more, my prince,” Jungkook presses closer.
Once again, Taehyung thanks the universe for this lovely arrangement. As he looks around the dining table, taking in the other six people, he cannot think of spending his life never knowing them.
He smiles, holding up his glass of wine, “to us,” gains everyone’s attention as they hold up their glasses too, “to our friendships, loves and this beautiful arrangement of the universe.”
I remember when u Posted this as a prompt I was so excited... Damn good old days TT..
The ongoing run BTS episodes & the way I used to take ss's & tag u :(
This fic's the best thing to exsist in the world of ffs..
Thank you for this masterpiece anu.<3
'll always cherish it.
'Arrangements,' has a special place in my heart. An AU I wrote out on impulse after seeing that Run BTS episode of Historical setting, and it turned out to be one of my favourite works.
@_Bangtaegurl_7 thank you so much for this beautiful moodboard. I have no words! Thank you!