Yoongi never particularly liked going to the market.
It was crowded, and dirty and generally smelled bad, yet his good friend Hoseok more than often took him with him, claiming that companionship made the experience so much better, though Yoongi didn’t find it good in the first place.
But he knew that Hoseok found much pleasure in it so he wouldn’t deny him. Yoongi’s mother also claimed it was good for him to go out sometimes in between his studies.
It was a hot day in Hanyang(*) and Yoongi felt like suffocating under the layers of his durumagi(*) and hanbok and while Hoseok had found a stand with the newest cottons, Yoongi and one of his family’s slaves accompanied him to stand in the shade.
He only briefly glanced over to his friend who was still looking though the different shades of blue and green and it was not surprising Hoseok would roam the bright colors yet again, still leaning towards the rather childish shades of clothes(*). Yoongi knew that Hoseok’s father more than often tried to amend Hoseok wardrobe, but the young man still found too much pleasure in the more vibrant colors and Yoongi found is somewhat endearing. Hoseok was, after all, still quite a youthful mind. A bright green fit him.
Yoongi slowly turned away and mindlessly looked over the other stands of the market, maybe hoping to find something that would catch his interest after all.
Without really thinking about it he watched on boy carrying several boxes back and forth from a cart to the stand. He was most likely just another nobi(*) or maybe cheonmin(*), maybe fortunate enough to be working for a chungin(*), Yoongi actually didn’t care too much and he just kept watching him because he was working right across from him and there was nothing else to do.
Yoongi supposed it was quite impressive how much he was able to carry. The boxes looked heavy with cargo and the young yangban(*) saw how dirtied the tanned skin of the boy was, even from this afar. He fought the urge to look at his own skin, pale and spotless while that nobi boy in his white clothes that was turning gray by the dust and work.
It continued like this. Yoongi just watching the boy while Hoseok still busied himself with his shopping and more and more Yoongi grew bored and almost restless from the waiting and even watching that slave work did not offer him any entertainment.
That was until the boy suddenly lost his balance and the box in his hand fell onto the floor and shattered into pieces as if made out of thin glass. Inside were crops and corn that rolled all over the floor, some of them being trampled on by others and Yoongi watched the absolute horror on the boy’s face who was frozen for a second before kneeling down, starting to collect everything he could reach in a hastily manner. It was almost pathetic how he was moving in the dirt like an animal, almost sad really. Before long an older man came up behind the boy and suddenly he was grabbed by his black hair and the man slammed the boy’s face into the ground before started to kick him in the stomach.
“You useless little runt, do you know how much money you just wasted? Worthless piece, I will make sure to beat you until you can’t work for a day.”
Yoongi’s eyes widened as he watched what played before him. The man kept kicking and insulting the boy and without noticing Yoongi’s fists tightened and he grew angry.
“Come with me,” he hissed to the slave next to him who quickly moved with Yoongi who crossed the road and approached the pair.
Once Yoongi’s shadow hit the ground before the low borns, the older man stopped his assault and looked up to Yoongi. His face immediately changed and he bowed before Yoongi like the low life he was.
“Master,” he said and Yoongi’s gaze left him and went down to the boy who was now shaking on the ground, tears adorning his cheeks.
“I would like to buy everything that was in the box. Name your price.” At that the younger opened his eyes and his and Yoongi’s locked before the boy quickly averted his gaze, most likely been taught not to look directly at nobility. Well at least one of them seemed to have some manners.
“Master, the goods that used to be in this box are hardly to your standards. I will gladly offer you our best go-“
“And who are you to tell me what I am to buy and not? Are you implying you know better than me?” The man recoiled at Yoongi’s sharp tongue and quickly shook his head, his whole body still bent in front of the yangban as it should be.
“I would also recommend you to watch how you behave in public. What a disgusting display.”
“Yes, Master, of course. Not to worry, I will sell this worthless pile soon enough.” The man apparently thought that Yoongi had meant the boy’s mishap before. There was a short whimper and Yoongi looked down to the boy on the ground again whose eyes were tightly closed, whether in pain or at the words of the man.
“Do you own him?” Yoongi asked, not feeling like correcting the man, it would be a waste of his breath anyway.
“He is my son, Master.” Yoongi’s eyebrows shot up and he looked between the pair. A father planning to sell his own son.
“Why do you intend to sell him? Be honest with me.”
“I want to buy my freedom, Master.” Yoongi felt disgusted by the man in front of him. Not only did he want to sell his son, but he wanted to do it for his own fortune as if this stupid man would ever be able make something out of himself at this point.
Yoongi looked down to the boy again whose eyes were open now, but he stared into nothingness and he wondered how often the boy had to hear his father speak these words.
“Youngjae, help the boy up.” Yoongi glanced over to his slave and Youngjae immediately crouched down and pulled the boy up who looked around in confusion.
“I’ll buy him then. But listen to my words, low born: I’m not doing it for you. You will get my money, but you will never account to anything. Here, it should be quite enough.” Yoongi pulled out a sack of money and threw it in front of the man. The man looked from the money in front of him back to Yoongi in shock and the boy next to him also seemed to be surprised as well. To be honest, even Yoongi was surprised, he hadn’t intended to do any of that, but here he was. He bought his the first slave just to spite a low born. He will have to do some explaining at home.
Yoongi started to walk away, back to the spot where he had been waiting for Hoseok before (who was not shopping anymore, instead standing there and apparently had watched everything happen).
“My dear Yoongi-ssi, what just happened now?” Hoseok looked equally amused and surprised and Yoongi just shrugged. He turned around and found the boy being supported by Youngjae, still looking somewhat overwhelmed by what just happened. It was understandable.
“What’s your name, nobi?” It was the first time Yoongi had directly addressed him and the young one flinched at Yoongi’s sharp tone.
“J-Jimin, Master.” Yoongi eyed him some more and it was quite the pathetic sight. He bought himself such pitiful slave for a high price, his father would be livid.
“You should thank me, nobi. I did you a favor by freeing you from that scum.”
“He is my father…” It was a low mumble and both Youngjae’s and Hoseok’s eyes widened at Jimin’s counter. Yoongi stared at him without any change in his expression.
“So what? He just sold you. I am being lenient with you since everything that just happened was quite sudden. But learn to never talk back to me again or I will not hesitate to throw you out. Don’t think I did this because I found any liking to you. I do not need you and yet I bought you. Learn to show some gratitude.” With that Yoongi turned around and he ignored the look that Hoseok gave him as they walked away from the market and towards home.
It was almost comical to watch Jimin’s face when they arrived at Yoongi’s home.
Yoongi’s father was the paanyoon(*) and thus one the most important men in the capital bureau of Hanyang, the capital of Joseon. Wherever Jimin had been living or been owned by before, they could not have been as important as Yoongi’s family.
Their estate was almost like a park with three big houses. The main house that belonged to his parents, one for his younger brother, and one for himself. Yoongi had never owned his own slave before, always using those of his parents and thus the quarters in his house that were originally designed for the family’s slaves would get an inhabitant for the first time now. Well, there were people already living there, but Jimin was the first one Yoongi bought himself.
“Youngjae, show Jimin his room and then please make him shower and change, it reeks already. After that bring him to me. I’ll be in my study.” Yoongi didn’t look at them and approached the main house to talk to his mother first, hoping to be less in trouble that way. His mother adored him the most after all.
It has always been like that. His father, the impressive paanyoon, had always seen him as the weaker son. While Yoongi had always been one of the best in literature, he was yet only second best, inferior to his brother Namjoon who always produced the best results and was known to be a genius.(*) Yoongi didn’t despise his brother, not at all, he was actually quite fond of him and Yoongi could live with being the second best. He actually wanted for Namjoon to succeed. He was a natural leader and probably even of higher intellect than many other officials and he would become a great paanyoon following their father.
It still didn’t change the underlying bite of knowing that his father didn’t even consider Yoongi as his successor.
His mother, however, absolutely adored Yoongi. Yoongi was of smaller stature. While Namjoon took after their father – tall, broad, tanned – Yoongi was almost the complete opposite and the splitting image of their mother. His skin was as pale as ivory and stood out even more against his long black hair. He was generally lean and his limps were often teased to be as thin as of a woman’s. He was considered beautiful. Also, weak.
He entered the main house and directly went to his mother’s chambers, hoping to find her there if she hadn’t decided to spent her time elsewhere. But he appeared to be in luck, even running into her just outside the tea room.
“Mother,” he called out and the woman’s head quickly turned at his call and a gentle smile appeared on her face.
“Yoongi-yah, how nice of you to come by.” Yoongi walked up to her and took her hand to kiss it briefly, smiling back to the gentle woman.
Many people said that the paanyoon was the luckiest man alive for being married to a woman like this, saying that he wouldn’t even need any consorts or concubines(*). Of course he still did and it was not an outrageous thing, it common enough for a family like theirs. Yoongi knew that, but whenever he saw his mother’s lovely face and her smile, he found it unbelievable how anyone would want more than that. But maybe that was just him.
(He more than often found his thoughts to be straying from the norm of things. Namjoon had always encouraged that. Had told him that new thoughts mean progress. Yoongi only found it dangerous.)
“Mother, may I talk to you?”
“Of course, of course, come on let’s sit and drink some tea. I heard they harvested a new brew just this morning and I was anticipating to taste it.”
So Yoongi sat with her and first listened to her report of the day, listened diligently and because he was interested in it. Soon enough though she inquired about his matters. Yoongi admitted that he bought a slave today, though leaving out the details of the whole process. As expected his mother was understanding enough and only reminded him that the boy would now be his responsibility and he would – in return – lose Youngjae who had been assigned to help him by his parents.
“Has he ever worked in a household like ours?”
“I don’t believe so.”
“Then let Taehyung teach him. He has been with you the longest after all.” Yoongi nodded and slowly stood up to return to his own house and he bowed before his mother in goodbye, smiling and thanking her one last time before turning to leave.
“And Yoongi-yah, I will talk to your father for you.” Yoongi turned his head in surprise and his mother smiled knowingly at him.
When Yoongi returned and entered his study Youngjae and Jimin were already waiting there for him. While Youngjae sat on his knees without moving at all, Jimin looked already uncomfortable as if not used to sit still like this for such an extended time. Well, at least he now wore clean clothes and had taken a bath (probably after months, it actually made Yoongi’s skin crawl.)
“Youngjae, send Taehyung here and then leave for the main house.” Youngjae immediately stood up and left the room to do so as instructed and left Yoongi alone with Jimin who still struggled to sit still on his knees.
“What were your task until now?” Jimin jumped when Yoongi suddenly talked to him and he kept his hand down and his hands beneath his clothes around his legs.
“Physical work, Master. I worked on the farm. I helped to harvest, to transport, to process.”
“Did you receive any education?” Jimin stayed silent and that was enough of an answer, Yoongi looked away to the door, waiting for Taehyung. He would have to teach a lot to Jimin.
“So you are illiterate,” he remarked off-handedly.
“I’m not stupid.” Yoongi’s eyes snapped back to him and it was already the second time that that this low born had talked back to him.
“I don’t care, slave. I told you to mind your words, have I not?”
The temperature in the room dropped low and Yoongi more and more regretted his decision. He really shouldn’t have just bought any slave who didn’t even know how to work in a household like this. Who was uneducated, ill-mannered, and didn’t know how to behave in front of a yangban.
There was a discreet knock on the door and Yoongi was thankful for the interruption. After he allowed it, the door was opened and Taehyung appeared. He bowed to Yoongi before straightening up and smiling brightly.
“Master, you called for me?”
Taehyung was certainly special. He was also a slave for the family and he basically grew up in the Min household, seeing that his mother was Yoongi’s mother’s personal attendant. Yoongi had known him all his life and Taehyung’s intellect and manners were just as good as any nobleman. He was also considered quite attractive and his feature were naturally gifted, that was for sure. He was lucky to have grown up here, on the streets he could have ended on more dangerous turf.
He had also earned enough to become an independent slave, but he had still decided to stay. Taehyung most certainly had special privileges, especially with Yoongi, seeing that he didn’t view him as a slave, but a friend.
“Taehyung, this is Jimin. I bought him today. He needs to learn his ways around here and that will be your task. Make him useful to me. Also, you may move back into my house for now.”
Taehyung nodded and turned to Jimin, eyeing him before throwing his usual box-like smile his way. Jimin had been watching Taehyung with caution, but now returned a small smile of his own and it was the first time Yoongi had even seen his face not in fear or pain. But Taehyung did have that appeal on people.
“I’ll be leaving then, Master Yoongi.” Yoongi only nodded and Taehyung motioned for Jimin to follow him. When Jimin stood up and started to walk towards the door, Taehyung grabbed his arm to stop him.
“Jimin, you have to bow to your master whenever you leave and enter a room. You have been dismissed. Be respectful.” Jimin looked somewhat startled and Yoongi smiled at Taehyung’s serious look and he was reminded again why Taehyung was his favorite.
Jimin turned to Yoongi and bowed, even though it was quite unclean and way too short, but Yoongi would trust that Taehyung would take care of that.
“Well, we can still work on that, but better than before,” Taehyung remarked before bowing himself and then he took Jimin’s arm again and left the room.
What a day, Yoongi thought before leaning back and staring outside into the gardens and towards the sky that was reddening already, announcing the evening.
Jimin didn’t like any of this.
He didn’t like the colors of these fragile looking walls, how they were decorated with complex ornaments and which he feared to even look at too closely, or merely touch them, as they would surely threaten to crumble beneath his palms.
He didn’t like the prominent sweet smell of flowers and candles that stretched throughout the entire residence, even outside in the gardens that all looked just too perfect and too unreal to him.
He didn’t like how the people living here seemed soulless. How they mindlessly followed everything they were told. They were slaves, yes they all were, but were they really any less human?
In this world – yes.
And Jimin hated his new master. God, how much he hated Min Yoongi.
When he had first stepped up and had interrupted his father who was close to ripping his guts apart with his kicks Jimin had been astounded and grateful. When he had said he would be buying everything Jimin had dropped he had been amazed.
When he said he would buy him instead his amazement ceased. When he was taken away he grew anxious and whenever his new master talked to him, Jimin felt sick and the bile rose in his throat.
He was now sitting with Taehyung who was talking about the family and the residence itself and it was all hard to even process for Jimin. It was shocking to find out just important Min Yoongi was, his father being the paanyoon, and even more so when he heard of the chores he would have to do and things that were now expected of him.
“You are the first slave Master Yoongi ever bought on his own so I am assuming you will eventually grow to be his personal attendant. It’s a great honor.”
“How is that an honor?” Jimin asked in distaste. He thought Taehyung was the most pleasant person he had met yet. He seemed so-- real. He was friendly to him and even though he was burying Jimin with too much information, he was still kind to him.
“It is the greatest honor for us to become a personal attendant of such a noble and important family. The Mins are a good family and Master Yoongi is a good man.” Jimin looked at Taehyung in disbelief because he had yet to spot even one good quality in that man.
“It’s probably hard for you to understand, but I am sure you will grow to. You grew up in very different circumstances. Believe me, being owned by a Min is a good fate for the likes of us. I had the chance to leave, but I didn’t. I have a good life here. Stable, cared for, and prestigious, as far as us slaves can call out lives that. And trust me, the Min sons are by far the best members of this family. And of course their mother, what a lovely woman.” Taehyung was talking while readying a set of tea and Jimin was supposed to watch him because apparently making tea was really important and Jimin had never done it before. He hadn’t even had tea himself.
And this was how they spend the next few hours. Taehyung wanted Jimin to be able to attend to Yoongi the next morning and for that he taught him various things. Jimin was soon enough good at making the tea, but he lacked the delicacy to actually serve it right. He also had to remember so many other things on top of it, some of them that didn’t even make sense to him.
“Okay, Jimin, repeat again what you will do when you wake up tomorrow until you finished attending to Master Yoongi in the morning.”
“I, uh, I first go into the kitchen-“
“No, what is the very first thing you do. I want to hear every step.”
“I… I clean my bed?” Taehyung smiled and nodded and waited for Jimin to continue. “I wash myself, then put on my clothes. I go into the kitchen and start preparing the tea and wait for the kitchen staff to bring me Yoongi’s-“ – “Master Yoongi” – “Master Yoongi’s breakfast. I take it to his room and put it onto his nightstand. I open the windows and wake him gently and respectfully. I help him into his gown. I serve him the food and wait until he is done. I clean up what is left. I help him with- uh- his clothes. I… I wait for instructions?”
Taehyung looked pleased enough which meant that Jimin finally had everything right. By now it was late and his eyes were almost dropping.
“Okay, we’re almost done. You will do the attending part to me now again. Then you may go to sleep. Focus for one last time. I know it must be a lot.” Taehyung was smiling gently at him again and Jimin wished Taehyung could be his master and not Yoongi who treated him like dirt just like everyone else had done his entire life. Taehyung was the first person to be so kind to him.
Jimin got up and tried to attend to Taehyung as well as he could. The other slave still interrupted him several times and it took him another hour before he got everything right in one go.
When Taehyung nodded in confirmation that they were indeed done for today, Jimin let himself fall down onto his back on the floor, his eyes as heavy as his mind. Of course Jimin was used to hard labor. He grew up with it, but this was different. The finesse and detailed work was a foreign concept to him and it was strangely more exhausting, especially on his mind.
Whenever he had worked on the farm, he usually had just disconnected his brain from his body and let his limbs work on their own. It had been tiring enough, but it still let Jimin be in the world of his mind where he imagined great things. Jimin always had stories inside of his head. He didn’t know if they were any good or not, but it had always helped Jimin to survive. It distracted him from the harsh words and looks. Had protected him from his father’s treatment, his hits and kicks and anything else he had to endure. Jimin still laid on his back, staring at the pale ceiling of the room that looked almost like paper pulled over wood, and thought back to his father, wondering where he was right now and what he was doing with the money he had by finally selling him. He knew he had wanted to become independent, just like Taehyung was now. But when Jimin glanced over to Taehyung who was cleaning up the table and he could see that they were worlds apart. Taehyung was nothing but graceful. His movements were calculated and even every movement of his eyes seemed to be planned out. He talked like a nobleman and even held himself like one; only his white cloaks showed his lower status. Taehyung had said that he had decided to stay here and Jimin wondered why.
“Taehyung? Are you an attendant, too?” Taehyung’s hand froze over the cups he was picking up from the table – just for such a short moment that Jimin almost missed it – before glancing up to him with a small smile.
“Yes and no. I usually attend to Master Namjoon, he prefers me. But I am not his personal attendant, I officially am owned by the head of the household. Otherwise I couldn’t have moved in here to teach you. An attendant never… never leaves their Master.” Taehyung’s voice became quieter towards the end and Jimin struggled to hear him and he wondered why Taehyung voice sounded so sad suddenly. He never got to ask him because Taehyung ushered them out and brought Jimin to his quarters before leaving without looking back to him and Jimin wondered what really was hidden between the other slave’s smile.
The sun wasn’t fully up yet, the sky still a rich red, when Taehyung woke him from his sleep.
Jimin almost passed out the second his head had hit his futon and it had felt like seconds before Taehyung’s face was hovering over him with a slight frown on his face and a subtle smile playing around his lips.
“Jimin, you didn’t change before going to bed. Make sure to do that we don’t have too many clothes. Change and clean up. I’ll meet you in the kitchens. Be fast.” Jimin had still troubles keeping his eyes open and he watched Taehyung leave, already clad in fresh clothes and a pleasant jasmine smell around him that showed that he had already taken a bath.
Waking up when he was tired wasn’t something new to him, so it was not hard to get out of bed when he still yearned to sleep more. He had had to do that all his life. The rest, however, was a totally new deal. Jimin tried to ready himself as fast as he could, almost forgetting to put away his futon before going for a quick wash himself. He didn’t even know most of the bottles in the baths that were shared by all the slaves. It was empty and it seemed Jimin was the last one to wake up. His skin had a different kind of smoothness after he finished, apart from his hands and palms that would forever be rough from the labor on the fields. Jimin thought back to Taehyung’s big and smooth hands, free from any imperfection, and comparing them to his own small and ugly ones, he almost felt ashamed to have anyone see them.
Jimin stopped thinking about it and hurried to the kitchen were Taehyung was already waiting for him. He had probably taken too much time, but the other didn’t say anything. Instead he looked over to the tea set and Jimin started to prepare the tea just like Taehyung had showed him the day before.
He was surprised by himself when he found it easier than expected to get everything ready for breakfast and Taehyung seemed content too when he told Jimin to take the tray and leave for Yoongi’s chambers. Taehyung would be with him the entire time, but not interfere and it was comforting to have him looking over his shoulder because Jimin still felt highly uncomfortable around his master.
Jimin gently opened the door and stepped inside, putting the tray down onto the nightstand before turning to the windows to open them. He jumped a little when they made more sound than expected and he quickly glanced over to the figure in the bed that was still asleep. Jimin turned to Taehyung with an apologetic look, but he found Taehyung standing by the entrance trying not to laugh.
Jimin turned back to his master and swallowed before eventually approaching the bed. This was one of the parts he was most nervous about. He didn’t really know how to wake up someone gently. He hadn’t ever done it and Taehyung hadn’t specified anything (probably thinking it was a clear enough instruction and Jimin hadn’t want to ask, didn’t want to feel and look even more stupid) so Jimin kneeled next to bed so he was almost eye to eye with his master.
Min Yoongi slept deep and peacefully. The usual reservedness and his frown were gone from his face and instead his features were fully relaxed and he looked younger, or rather, his age. Jimin had no idea of the concept of beauty, didn’t know what was considered beautiful or ugly, he only knew what appealed to him and while he did not like his master’s personality, even he could see that Yoongi was beautiful.
While Jimin was rough, with a lot of flaws and edges, the yangban was delicate and smooth. His skin was pale and smooth without any scars or impurities and the slave looked at him, maybe for too long, until Taehyung cleared his throat behind him and Jimin remembered what he was here for.
He swallowed another time before hesitantly calling out his master’s name, this time not forgetting the title like he always did in his head.
“M-Master Yoongi… Master?” Yoongi did not even flinch when Jimin spoke out and he looked over to Taehyung, feeling a bit helpless, who just looked back at him with a wide smile.
“He has a deep sleep. You have to speak up more. Remember Jimin, you are not to touch him.” That had been the only thing Taehyung had told him about waking him up and it made everything so much harder. Jimin had always been woken up in a way rougher manner. Sometimes it had been a hit at the back of his head, sometimes dirty, ice-cold water had been poured over him. Jimin felt so incredibly stupid, he didn’t even know how to wake up someone.
“G-Good Morning, Master Yoongi,” he tried again, this time in a louder tone and Yoongi did stir, but remained asleep and Jimin swallowed down an exasperated groan. “Master Yoongi!” He knew he did something very wrong when his voice had travelled too far and Yoongi flinched awake and he heard Taehyung gasp behind him.
He couldn’t believe it. He had messed up such an easy task.
Jimin felt the embarrassment course through him and his cheeks turned red as he quickly pushed himself away from the bed and bowed down, not out of respect but because he wouldn’t have to look at his master that way because when they had locked eyes he had felt Yoongi’s anger and his instinct had told him to make himself small, to hide. He would get punished, he knew, he would get hit again.
“Good Morning, Master,” it was Taehyung’s voice that rang, smooth and pleasant, and Jimin heard his approaching footsteps. “I hope you had a resting night. Jimin prepared your breakfast.” Jimin knew Taehyung was trying to help him and he also knew that Jimin had to sit up again to continue his task. He slowly pushed himself up and tried to calm down his shaking hands and he avoided his master’s gaze which he felt boring into him. He tried to remember what he had to do first, looking from the tray back to Taehyung who still looked somewhat relaxed considering that Jimin was this close to panicking.
Jimin remembered – thankfully – that the gown came before breakfast, so he quickly stood up and walked over to the sliding door where Taehyung told him he would find the clothes. Taehyung had only described him what it would look like and while he helplessly looked around the closet room which was filled with all kinds of silks and gowns, he heard Taehyung talk to Yoongi who replied in a quiet voice, deeper than usual from sleep.
Jimin eventually found something that looked like it fit his teacher’s description and he carefully took it out and walked back to Yoongi. He became more anxious again when he bent down to put on Yoongi into the gown even though he had practiced this on Taehyung many times. But this was different. Jimin had expected for Yoongi to glare at him, regard him as coolly as yesterday, but he wasn’t even paying him any mind, instead talking to Taehyung who was having light conversation with him and Jimin wondered how he did it, how he did not have the urge to hide away.
Jimin carefully removed the dress he wore during the night and he tried not to touch Yoongi’s skin too much, not wanting his master to notice his calloused hands that looked just atrocious right next to his marble skin. Jimin hurriedly removed the night gown and dressed Yoongi in the fresh one before trying to fold the worn dress as best as he could even if it was probably not even remotely well done. He still had to close the gown and quickly moved back in front of Yoongi and Jimin cursed his hands for still shaking, for making it so obvious how incompetent he felt and was and the closer he got to Yoongi, the more he was sure to be struck because he had messed up; such a simple task and he couldn’t do it.
“Look at me, nobi,” Yoongi suddenly said and Jimin turned his head, but couldn’t bring himself to raise his gaze. His face was too close to Yoongi’s who had – at some point – stopped conversing with Taehyung and was now watching him instead. “I said look at me.”
Jimin slowly looked up. His hands had stopped working, but were still shaking and it was so noticeable now, it was so humiliating.
Yoongi’s expression was void of any emotions as he locked eyes with him and Jimin realized how stark and black they really were, such a contrast to his pale skin, and Jimin feared for a second that Yoongi could read his mind.
“Why are you frightened?” It was a simple question, but Jimin had problems giving an answer. He will be punished again, he knew. What a deluded idea it had been that Jimin would finally live a life that was empty of bruises and blood.
“Answer me,” Yoongi demanded and Jimin knew he couldn’t avoid answering anymore.
“I-I… I am awaiting my punishment, Master.” At Jimin’s words a frown appeared on Yoongi’s face. Jimin’s hand dropped down and he bowed his head in front of his master because it was what he could do best.
There was a cold hand gently pulling his head up by his chin and forcing Jimin to look up again. Yoongi was touching him. Him, a slave, a low born worthless slave. He had raised Jimin’s head and was looking at him with a calm expression.
“I never strike my slaves. So be at ease from now. Don’t cower yourself in front of me. You are mine, are you not? Min Yoongi’s. You should wear yourself like that, too. Now continue, I am getting cold.” Jimin stared at his master in wonder, trying to process the words just said to him. Yoongi pulled away his hand and now just sat in front of him, waiting for him to continue and Jimin averted his gaze and blinked several times to hide his tears. His hands were still shaky, but Yoongi didn’t say anything anymore. Jimin finished dressing him, and then started to serve him his breakfast and tea, before stepping back to leave Yoongi to his meal. Taehyung had sat down on his knees and Jimin joined him, even though he still found that position the most uncomfortable. Taehyung was looking at him with an unreadable expression, not his usual smile on his face and when their eyes met, the other slave looked away to direct his sight outside to the gardens.
They stayed like that, no words spoken and Jimin felt nervous again, but for a different reason. It was as if there was a new tension in the air that threatened to suffocate him, bury him beneath it and Jimin tried to distract himself from it, using the spare time to left his mind wander. A new story formed in his head and it was nonsense – as always – but it helped him forget about his surroundings and he wondered if he was insane for living in his head like that.
Yoongi pushed away his tray and Jimin stood up to take it away and this time he did not forget to bow before leaving the room after he had been dismissed. Jimin turned around to talk to Taehyung, but saw that he had remained with Yoongi and he just closed between them, leaving Jimin on the other side of it.
Yoongi rose from his bed as he looked outside of his window, looking over the flowers and trees in the garden, so carefully placed and planted to his mother’s liking.
“He did well, didn’t he?” Taehyung spoke behind him, even if he wasn’t prompted to, but Yoongi was used to that by now. He allowed it.
“He raised his voice to wake me,” Yoongi mumbled, while still looking outside, his voice not particularly angry even though he maybe should be. No one had ever woken him up like that.
“We both know that it is quite a challenge to wake you up,” Taehyung countered, his voice seemingly aloof, but Yoongi knew he stayed because he had something to say and Yoongi wished he would just come out with it.
“What do you want, Taehyung?” Yoongi turned around and found Taehyung still on his knees where he had been sitting next to Jimin moments ago. There was a smile adorning his face, subtle, but clearly visible and he was looking straight at Yoongi like he always did when they were alone.
Taehyung wasn’t, after all, a normal slave in this household.
“Why did you buy him? He is absolutely unfitting for the position so it can’t be skills. As far as we know he does not have a special talent to entertain you. He is a pretty little thing, but you are not one to bed your slaves. So why buy him? Why even touch him and comfort him? You have never touched any slave before.”
“I have touched you,” Yoongi defended and Taehyung just raised one of his eyebrows.
“Does not count.”
“And why would that not count?” Yoongi settled down on his side on the bed while regarding Taehyung who, at this point, almost smirked at him. Other masters would slit their slave’s throat for such disobedience, but Yoongi was amused by the conversation at this point, even if he still couldn’t quite figure out what Taehyung’s point was.
“The same reason why I may talk to you like this. Look at you like this. And when we were children we played pranks together on Namjoon. And I used to braid your hair when we were small. Sometimes yanked it when you wouldn’t stop whining. Oh, and do you remember-“
“What is your point, Tae?”
“My original question still stands. Why did you buy Jimin?” Yoongi didn’t answer immediately and Taehyung probably knew why. Because he didn’t really have an answer. Or couldn’t find one that really pin-pointed it down.
“You are fond of him, aren’t you? It is why you reached out to him when he was shaking.” Taehyung went on and Yoongi shook his head.
“Not really. I… I supposed I pitied him somehow. He comes from a background of abuse. Definitely physically. Probably emotionally, too. He probably expected me to hit him after how he woke me.”
“You pitied him? You? A slave?” Taehyung looked highly doubtful and even to Yoongi’s own ears it sounded unlikely, but it came closest to the truth. He couldn’t really explain it. He just knew that, when he saw Jimin dressing him, his whole body shaking and his face in a grimace of fear, he had to reach out to him, had to make it stop. He could maybe brush it off as annoyance because it made the slave work slower, but he knew that wasn’t true.
“You make me sound like a tyrant.” Taehyung just laughed and slowly stood up, before bowing to Yoongi which meant that he was leaving.
“I should be going. Jimin still has a lot to learn. I would like to finish his training by the end of the next week.” Taehyung grinned brightly at him and if it had been someone else but Yoongi they would have thought it was genuine. But the yangban saw immediately through it.
“The wedding is soon,” Yoongi called out when Taehyung almost reached the door and he watched closely how the other man froze in his steps and Yoongi regretted bringing it up.
“Yeah. She will move in next week.” And with that he left the room and a bitter aftertaste in Yoongi’s mouth.
For the next few days Taehyung taught Jimin almost everything he supposedly had to know. By now, the newest slave was able to attend to Yoongi alone for any of his meals, though he still struggled to find the perfect way to wake him up, but Yoongi never said anything.
He also had started to work around the house which was actually his favorite part; especially when he had to work in the gardens. Even cleaning wasn’t so bad, unless it was the delicate things like the beautiful tea sets.
It was after lunch and Yoongi had called for tea while he was in his study and Taehyung had trusted Jimin to go alone, saying that he would have to leave to a different house just for a short while.
Jimin had noticed that Taehyung did that a lot. Whenever they had free-time – and they did not have much of that – the other slave would excuse himself and Jimin watched him leave the house. Jimin didn’t know where he went, but he assumed that Taehyung had other tasks beside himself, which made sense. Maybe he even went to see his mother who worked in the main house.
Jimin hummed a quiet melody while preparing the tea and he was pleased to find that his body now remembered the movements on his own after just a few days, so his mind was able to wander to other places. This time he thought of a little boy going to a festival. The little boy’s eyes were wide as he took in all the different lights, the scents of all those food stands and the sounds of chatter by the other visitors. Jimin had never been to a festival himself, but they had passed one when he had been a child and back then his soul yearned to just run off and enjoy where all those magical things happened. But he couldn’t because whenever they had gone out on an errand his father would bind a rope around his throat and he would pull it, shutting off his air if Jimin dared to make a false move.
He could only dream, like he did now.
“What a lovely melody that is.” It was a voice behind him and Jimin jumped up at the unexpected company, almost dropping the hot water in the pot in his hands. He turned around and was surprised to find a face he hadn’t seen before.
It was a tall man with broad stature and in contrast to that he had a face with delicate features. He was smiling down to Jimin who could only stare back because he didn’t know what else to do. At least he could recognize that he must work here too, as his clothes were white as his own.
“I’m sorry to startle you. I just noticed your humming, it was quiet lovely. You are Jimin, right? The newest slave. Tae told me about you.” Jimin just nodded, still not really knowing what was going on, but if the other man knew Taehyung then he couldn’t be bad.
“Oh, I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Seokjin. I work in Master Yoongi’s kitchen.” Seokjin slightly bowed his head and the movement was so surreal for Jimin since no one had ever bowed to him and he automatically returned the sentiment. Seokjin’s eyes widened for a moment before smiling.
“You don’t have to bow to me, Jimin. I do, because you are Master Yoongi’s attendant and thus of higher status than me.”
“I- I am?” It was the first thing he had managed to get out and his voice was higher than usual because he couldn’t believe what Seokjin just had told him. Jimin didn’t even have any status. He never did.
“Of course. I mean, you are still in training, but yet you are and will be the young Master’s personal attendant which is the highest status we can achieve in this household. It’s an honor.” Jimin had heard those words before, Taehyung had told him the same about two weeks ago, but Jimin still failed to see what the honorable part about it could be. He was still a slave after all. But he didn’t want to be impolite, so he just nodded.
“Well, I don’t want to keep you from your work, I just wanted to introduce myself. I’m usually in the kitchens. If you are ever hungry you can come to me and I can make you a small meal, alright? And if you have the time, tell me what you like for your own meals.” What he liked? Jimin hardly had an idea of that. He mostly had eaten the same things all his life. He had been fortunate enough to never really starve, but it hadn’t been good food that had been given to him. And certainly not whenever he felt hungry. But again, he just nodded and thanked the other male with a small smile which was promptly returned before Seokjin bowed again (it was still unbelievable) and then left, going back further into the kitchen.
Jimin quickly turned to the tea again, not wanting to make his master wait longer and he quickly prepared the tray along with some small sweets (which were probably prepared by Seokjin, not that he thought about it) and left the kitchen area.
At first this house had been so overwhelmingly big to Jimin, but he quickly learned that he only needed to know certain ways and those he could find easily by now.
When he stood in front of the study, he announced his appearance by calling out “Master Yoongi, I have brought you the tea,” and he waited until Yoongi called him in before sliding open the door and stepping inside. He stood by the entrance and bowed down – which was still challenging with a tray in his hand – and then approached Yoongi who was sitting and reading without looking up to him. Jimin quietly started readying the tea for Yoongi to drink and he focused hard on the task at hand, not wanting to make any mistakes. When everything was prepared he sat down onto his knees in what Taehyung had called a ‘respectful distance’ and just waited. He didn’t know what else to do, really.
His master was still engrossed in the book he was reading and he seemed to finish the page first before gently closing it and putting it away. He still didn’t pay any attention to Jimin when he drank his tea and slowly started eating one of the sweets that Jimin had brought along. When he bit into it he made a short grimace as if he wasn’t pleased with it and he crunched up his nose which made him look incredibly young.
“Seokjin made them so sweet again,” he mumbled, more to himself, and Jimin didn’t know what to say – or if he should in the first place – so he just remained quiet and instead let his eyes wander around the study until the stopped at the all the books that were stored in here.
Jimin always wished he were able to read books, to read stories other had come up with, but someone like him would never get the chance of course.
“You seem awfully interested in literature for someone who can’t read.” Jimin’s eyes snapped back to his master in surprise to being spoken to and maybe Yoongi hadn’t meant it like that, but his remark stung. Jimin was aware that it was normal for someone like him to be illiterate, but it still made him feel so inadequate, especially in a household like this where all the slaves could at least read a little bit. They were all smarter than him, all more educated, and had better background while he himself was literally picked up from the bottom of the streets like garbage.
So Jimin just blushed, but didn’t say anything while Yoongi seemed to study him for a while, the steaming cup between his delicate hands.
“There is no shame for how you to feel. You never had the opportunity to learn after all, considering what you are,” again Jimin knew that Yoongi meant well, but the way he was wording it irritated the slave. “Don’t be embarrassed about something like that. It’s not like it is relevant for you to read or write anyway.” He was right of course, absolutely right, Jimin knew and he had to swallow down his protest, had to press his lips together so he would burst out his thoughts. His hands in his lap tightened into fists and he kept on staring onto the ground, only nodding and not saying anything instead.
There was more silence between them until Jimin heard Yoongi move and he slowly looked up to see that the older male had a page of blank paper in his hands along with fresh ink.
“Have you ever seen your name in written form?” Yoongi suddenly asked and Jimin was confused at the question, not knowing where this was going. He only shook his head which was apparently the answer Yoongi had expected. His master put the paper in front of him and then looked up to him again. “Sit next to me.”
Jimin hesitated for a moment before standing up and walking as close as he thought would be appropriate. He could now view the paper perfectly and he watched as Yoongi dunk the brush into the ink.
“Watch closely.” And then Yoongi was moving his arm and he drew – well wrote, but for Jimin it was like a painting more than anything – lines across the paper until there were two symbols next to each other, too complex and foreign to make any sense to Jimin. Yoongi carefully put away the brush again without spilling even a little spot of the black ink and then turned it to him.
“These two symbols make out your name. This one,” he pointed to the one on the left, “says ‘Jì’ and the other one reads ‘mín’.” Yoongi pushed the page further to him, turning it so it was right in front of the slave and Jimin stared at it in wonder, not knowing how any of these lines and curves could result in his name. Then again, he didn’t even know what he would have to look for. He must have looked quite amazed because he heard Yoongi chuckle next to him and when he looked back up, his eyes still wide, he found his master smiling.
“You may keep it. If you’d like I can give you some paper and coal and you can practice it yourself.” Jimin didn’t know it was possible, but his eyes widened even more and Yoongi was still smiling when he turned around to reach where the rest of his writing utensils were. He gave Jimin a small stack of fresh paper and a coal pen and Jimin stood up on his knees to take them with both his hands and then bow to his master, a wave of excitement going through him as he pressed his forehead to the ground.
“Thank you master. I-I don’t know what to say…”
“Sit up, Jimin.” A tingling feeling shook through his body when Yoongi said his name – for it was the first time he had directly addressed him like that – and Jimin followed the order to find Yoongi still smiling.
“I’ll show you how to do it. You shouldn’t just copy it like a picture. You have to write.” Yoongi got a new page and instead of the ink he also took a pen into his hand and slowly started to write again, told Jimin to pay attention in which direction he wrote, where he started.
“Can you read numbers?” Again Jimin shook his head and Yoongi just nodded and started to write down more symbols.
“But you can count so start here and just count until the end. These are the numbers from one until nine. The last symbol means zero. This could be quite useful to you, especially when we happen to go out to the market. Who knows.” Jimin was beyond excited. He always, always, always had wanted to learn how to read and now his master just suddenly started to teach him, even if it was only numbers and his name. It was more than he had ever imagined.
Yoongi repeated writing his name until he gave Jimin the pen and asked him to try it.
The object felt foreign in his hand and he didn’t know how to properly hold it, tried to remember how Yoongi had done it, but couldn’t really get it right.
“Think of it like it’s a chopstick. For now. You will soon find a grip for it.” He followed Yoongi’s instructions and then just let the pen hover over the paper, nervous to actually start and he must have stalled quite a lot because suddenly a hand covered his own and he looked up to see Yoongi reaching over to him and it was the second time his master had touched him and Jimin couldn’t even stare at him in astonishment because Yoongi told him to watch the paper, so Jimin did and then Yoongi was moving his hand. Yoongi pressed down the pen and led Jimin’s hand slowly, the pan leaving a steady trail behind and the two of them spelled out Jì mín together. Yoongi didn’t pause and just did it again and again until the upper part of the page was filled with the two symbols over and over.
“Try it on your own now,” Yoongi said, letting go of him and Jimin swallowed heavily, his hands unsteady now without the support, but he started and slowly finished the two symbols. The lines were shaky and not as defined as the ones Yoongi had done with him. But there it was. Jimin had written his name. He had written his name on his very own.
A bright smile filled his face as his fingers gently stroke over the lines and a laugh escaped him as he looked up, grinning brightly at his master.
“I did it! I wrote something! I wrote my name!” His insides were warm and everything seemed to be spinning and shaking, but in a good way, suddenly in a good way, and he had never felt like this before. “Master, I wrote my name! I wrote something!” He took the paper and turned it around to show it to Yoongi which was unnecessary since Yoongi had obviously seen it happening, but his master returned his smile, less enthusiastic, but still genuine and nothing could make this day bad because Jimin had written something.
“Thank you so much, Master Yoongi, I… I don’t know what to say, I just-“
“I didn’t do much. It’s just two symbols.”
“No, it is much. For me it is. It means everything to me.” His smile was still bright and Yoongi was still gently smiling back to him.
“Do it again, then. Show me again.” Jimin eagerly nodded and put the paper down again, immediately starting to write and while it was still very untidy and probably not comparable to his master’s (very likely) graceful handwriting, it was still amazing to Jimin. He finished faster this time and as soon as he finished the second symbol he did it all over again, leaning over the paper in concentration until he had filled the entire page with his name.
He hadn’t even noticed the little tears that had pooled in his eyes until one escaped and slowly fell down his cheek. Jimin quickly brushed it away and instead looked for a last free spot to write some more, though it was getting hard.
“You will have all the time to write more. I gave you the pen and the paper. Practice and show me what you can do tomorrow. I want to see the pen fly over the paper tomorrow.” Jimin looked up to his master, tears still pooling his eyes and making Yoongi’s face blurry.
Taehyung came back shortly after Jimin left Yoongi’s study. He had brought his new treasures to his room and while his fingers were itching to practice some more, he knew that he had to work. Taehyung had told him to meet him in the garden and it Jimin looked forward to the physical work. Taehyung was already waiting for in in the shade and he greeted him with his usual gentle smile.
“You seem to be in a good mood today,” he remarked as the two of them started working on the bushes, cleaning it up so it remained flawless. Jimin eagerly nodded and threw a wide grin to the other slave.
“Master Yoongi taught me how to write my name. He also taught me some numbers, though I still have to study them more. But I can write my name all on my own now!” A giggle escaped Jimin just at the thought of it and he missed Taehyung’s astonished impression, missed how he even stopped working.
“Master taught you how to write?”
“Yes! He gave me a coal pen and paper too and told me to study and show him what I could do tomorrow. I hope I can find some time for it tonight. It’s so amazing, Taehyung! I wrote my own name can you believe it?” Jimin still couldn’t believe this happened today and he used his finger to draw the lines in the dirt on the ground, smiling dreamily. “Here look, I still can do it.” He moved away and Taehyung leaned over and looked at what Jimin had written, his gentle smile turning just as huge as Jimin’s.
“That’s really amazing, Jimin! Really, I’m very proud of you!” Jimin blushed and shyly brushed away the letters of his name and continued working again.
“Master Yoongi must really like you, to indulge you like that,” Taehyung said next to him, also working again and this time Jimin stop to look over to the other.
“What? Me?” Taehyung nodded, not looking up and Jimin didn’t really know what to say so he didn’t say anything and thought about it, but that statement made no sense for him. Yoongi probably only pitied him again, maybe he had been bored. Someone like him wouldn’t care about someone like Jimin.
They continued to work in silence, Taehyung quietly humming while working on the flowers, while Jimin was pulling out weeds. He kept thinking back to what he had learned today and before he knew it his mind was lost in his own world, drifting away to a reality that most certainly would not ever be real, not for Jimin. He imagined learning to read and write more. Imagined going out and buying his own books, imagined his room full of them, with a desk just like Yoongi’s, his own little study where he would write his own books. What a beautiful dream that was. It would never happen of course.
“Ah, how diligent you are.” An unfamiliar female voice interrupted Jimin’s daydreams and he turned around – like Taehyung next to him – only to find a woman indeed standing behind them and Jimin immediately knew who she was. She was Yoongi’s mother.
They looked so much alike. Her complexion, her facial features, the dark eyes – she was undoubtedly the mistress of this household. Jimin immediately fully turned around and bowed deep and he knew Taehyung was doing the same next to him.
“Ah, you must be Yoongi’s new slave then. What is your name, nobi?” Jimin slowly righted himself, but left his gaze avert.
“Jimin, Mistress,” he answered and he found his voice to be thinner than usual. He was nervous, he had never met her and while Taehyung had spoken quite fondly of her, she still had an immense aura that intimidated Jimin.
The mistress only hummed and then turned her head to Taehyung who was also standing upright by now and a warm smile immediately appeared on her face.
“Taehyung-ah, come with me. You have to meet someone.” Jimin watched Taehyung bow again and then follow the mistress who was already walking back to the main house and Jimin followed them with his eyes and frowned when he saw that the usual gracefulness of Taehyung was overwritten by stiffness and his hands were in tight fists and Jimin hoped that everything was okay.
Taehyung didn’t return even when dinner time came around and he still wasn’t back when Jimin attended to Yoongi for the night. Or at least he didn’t come to Jimin.
He didn’t see him until he was getting ready for the night himself and returning from his bath, ready to practice some writing before bed. Jimin passed Taehyung’s room and found the door ajar and his eyes only glanced over it, but he stopped in his tracks when he heard the sounds of muffled and broken sobs and saw the outline of a person lying on the floor. For a few seconds Jimin just stood there, eyes wide in shock and not knowing what he should do. He hadn’t known Taehyung for that long, only about two weeks, but it was still a shock to see him like this in contrast to his usual chipper demeanor. Eventually, Jimin decided just couldn’t walk away, remembering every instance when Taehyung had been so patient and kind to him, had talked to him about so many thing, told him stories and jokes, had taught him everything he needed to know and Jimin slowly stepped forward, gently calling out to the other.
At hearing Jimin’s voice the other male’s head snapped up and now he could see just how ruined Taehyung looked. His face was wet and swollen, his eyes red from all the tears that were streaming down his face and his lips looked ruined by teeth that had buried themselves into them.
“I-is everything alright?” He shouldn’t have asked that, Jimin thought to himself. Of course it wasn’t. Taehyung only stared at him, still crying because he seemed to be unable to stop and he opened and closed his mouth several times before croaking something out.
“P-please g-get Y-Yoongi. Please, please, please, I can’t- he, I mean, please Jimin, please get him.” Jimin stared in shock at Taehyung’s request. He had never heard Taehyung address their master in such a familiar way, hell, he always reminded Jimin to use the proper title and how could Jimin go now and wake Yoongi up and then even bring him to Taehyung? He was pretty sure no slave was supposed to do that.
“I-I don’t know, I-“
“Please Jimin! I’m begging you okay? He will come if you say I need him. He will, just please get him I can’t- I-I can’t do this.” Taehyung pulled up his knees and buried his face in them, a loud sob escaping him and Jimin moved back and walked towards his master’s room and he speeded up when he got closer, remembering what Taehyung looked like and how desperate he had sounded. Jimin checked the halls to see if someone was watching him, but of course no one was around at this time of the day, so he quietly slipped inside into the chambers.
Jimin had expected to find the room dark and his master asleep, instead Yoongi was sitting up in his bed with a candle burning next to him and a book on his lap. He was looking up in surprise at Jimin who froze at the door way.
“Is there any reason you just barge into my room at night?” He said, apparently annoyed and God, Jimin knew he shouldn’t have done this. Jimin immediately felt the urge to cower in front of his master, but he knew that Yoongi disliked that even more, so he just bowed down as it was expected of him, even though his legs were shaking.
“I’m so sorry, Master. I- uh, it’s just. Taehyung… He said he, uh, he needed you? I don’t know, I found him in his room and he’s upset and-“ Yoongi didn’t let Jimin finish, he was already out of his bed, not even caring that he was wearing his night gowns and was barefooted, and started approaching Jimin in quick strides.
“Where is he?” Yoongi was right in front of him and Jimin slowly straightened up and swallowed once, not having expected for his master to actually do something.
“In his room, I’ll take you…”
So Jimin led his master to Taehyung who was still in the same position when they arrived and Jimin watched with wide eyes how Yoongi brushed passed him and immediately kneed down next to the crying slave, starting to brush his hair and pulling him close.
“Taehyung-ah, what happened? You can tell hyung.” Hyung? Did their master, Min Yoongi, head of this house, just call himself a slave’s hyung?
“You are dismissed, Jimin,” Yoongi called out and he wasn’t even looking at him, but Jimin still nodded and gently closed the door. He stayed in front of it, still shocked at what had happened and for a while he only heard Taehyung’s crying coming through the thin walls, until the first words were exchanged and Jimin shouldn’t stay, he had been dismissed, but his legs wouldn’t move from his spot and instead he leaned further in.
“I can’t do it, Yoongi, I can’t. I will be her personal attendant and I met her today. She is awful and I can’t do it. Not for her. Not if she will have him and I can’t.”
“Taehyung, you know what I have told you before. The offer still stands.”
“Do you know what she said to me? What she did? She said she knows how I look at him. She knows how disgusting and abnormal I am and she will make sure that I never leave her side so I won’t ever be able to be with him. Hyung, I can’t do it. The way she looked at me. A-and she touched me-“
“Where? Did she hurt you?”
“No, but the way she looked at me… she wants me like that, I know she does. I can’t do it. Not if I have to watch how he can’t be ever mine.”
“You knew what would happen.”
“Of course, I’m not stupid, but I didn’t think I would have to watch it!”
“I love him so much! God, how is it even possible for my heart to hurt this much.”
“I’m so sorry.”
Jimin stepped back from the door and he knew he wasn’t supposed to hear this. He didn’t understand what was going on and who they were talking about, but he knew this was none of his business and Jimin quickly fled to his room and busied himself writing his name over and over again until he got so tired that he passed out.
When Jimin entered his room the next morning, Yoongi was awake – not already, but still. He hadn’t slept the entire night considering what had happened with Taehyung and the memory of the last night still left a dull pain in his stomach.
Jimin seemed surprised to find him up already, but he didn’t say anything, also started to do his usual work in the morning, even though he did not have to dress Yoongi anymore, he had done that himself already.
Although he was not hungry, Yoongi forced himself to eat at least a little bit, just to give his hands something to do. Just anything really. It didn’t work.
“M-Master?” Yoongi’s eyes slowly wandered over to the other male in the room who was seating off to the side on his knees and didn’t look at, instead staring at the wooden ground. “May I ask you something?” Yoongi was about to reply that he wasn’t really in the mood for talking, when his door was suddenly opened with too much force and a familiar tall figure entered the room, almost trampling over Jimin who was sitting by the entrance and Yoongi acted like he hadn’t checked if Jimin was alright.
“Where is he?!” Namjoon’s voice filled the room and Yoongi wondered if he had run over here and he probably had. His younger brother was slightly out of breath and he hadn’t even changed into new clothes for the day. “Hyung, where is he?”
Yoongi stared at Namjoon and again a feeling of dread filled him and he bit on his lower lip, averting his eyes and instead focusing on Jimin who looked terrified. Well, he probably didn’t know who Namjoon was and his brother did look intimidating if you weren’t acquainted with him.
“He’s gone, Namjoon-ah.” Namjoon let out a sigh and quickly ran up to Yoongi, kneeing before his bed and grabbing his legs.
“What do you mean? How can he be gone? Where is he, hyung, where is Taehyung?” Yoongi registered a movement from the corner of his eye and he saw that Jimin had raised his upper body and was also staring at him in shock and of course, he also hadn’t known. Taehyung had left without saying goodbye. Only three people knew where Taehyung was now and neither Namjoon, nor Jimin were one of them.
“Are you really that surprised by that?” Yoongi said, looking back to his brother who looked beyond desperate and it hurt his heart to see his brother like this, but he also knew that it had to be done. Taehyung couldn’t have stayed. Not when the two of them fostered a relationship that never should have existed. Not between a master and a slave. No matter how special Taehyung was to them.
“I- he didn’t even… he didn’t even say goodbye.” Yoongi’s gaze softened and he reached out to briefly brush back Namjoon’s hair before pulling back his hand.
“I’m sorry Namjoon-ah, but you know it is better this way.” And at that his brother started crying and Yoongi pulled his head into his lap and let him, gently stroking his head. He briefly looked up to Jimin and made him understand to leave them and just when he was out the door, he called out to him, “Meet me for tea in an hour,” and he didn’t wait to see if Jimin had something to reply, instead leaned down to comfort Namjoon whose shoulders wouldn’t stop to shake.
He soon sent Namjoon back because he knew that people would wonder where the soon-to-be groom had run off to and he made sure to gently wipe his brother’s tears away, to talk to him in a soothing voice to be strong and to remember that this would make it easier for both of them.
He watched him leave, his usual confidence gone with only slumped shoulders left, but he knew Namjoon was strong and that he could do this. Yoongi would certainly always be there for him. He’d do anything for Namjoon.
Jimin came back after that as Yoongi had instructed him and by now Yoongi was still sitting on his bed, reading and trying to think of different things and he registered Jimin entering, he had allowed him to step inside after all, but he couldn’t raise his head yet, he didn’t know if his expression was neutral enough yet.
Eventually he looked up and he saw that Jimin had been watching him and the younger slave wore a face of worry.
“You are wondering where Taehyung has gone, correct?” Jimin only slowly nodded and Yoongi closed his book with a sigh and looked out of the window, saw the flowers of his mother and remembered easier days when him and Taehyung would hide in between them, giggling because Namjoon couldn’t find them.
“He was in love with Master Namjoon… right?” Yoongi’s eyes snapped back to the slave in surprise and Jimin was looking back at him and Yoongi remembered the first day when Jimin had told him that he wasn’t stupid and maybe he hadn’t been so wrong about that.
“Come here, Jimin.” Yoongi’s voice was quiet and maybe a bit colder than he had intended to and he patted the space next to him on the bed and Jimin’s eyes widened and he slowly stood up and came closer before reluctantly sitting down.
“How do you know that? Be honest with me.”
“I… Taehyung had said that he was already an independent slave, but he chose to stay. He also said that he wasn’t a personal attendant, but Master Namjoon preferred him. And he… he looked really sad whenever he talked about the Master. I don’t know what happened, but… uh, I think something bad and… the feeling must have been mutual, considering what happened this morning. Taehyung must have lost his reason to stay.” Yoongi stared at Jimin as he explained and the slave was indeed missing details, but it still summed up exactly what had happened. Jimin was indeed not stupid at all.
“Namjoon is to marry in a few days. Taehyung was told he would become his wife’s personal attendant.” Yoongi didn’t know why he told Jimin this, didn’t know why he kept indulging the boy, but he told himself it wasn’t important. Instead he focused on Jimin, trying to see his reaction and what he saw was sadness, raw and open sadness.
“Is he going to be okay? Taehyung I mean?” Yoongi looked away, his eyes going back outside to the flowers once again.
“Yes, he will. I made sure of that.” It became quiet between them and eventually Yoongi looked back to the slave next to him on the bed who was still watching him with uncertainty in his eyes. “Nothing of this will ever leave this room. You understand that, right?” And Yoongi had to admit when he wasn’t surprised to see no hesitation in Jimin as the boy immediately nodded and it showed him that this slave he bought may have been worth every single penny and he maybe could be able to give him a little trust.
“Jimin, tell me, did you practice your writing?” Jimin looked startled at the sudden change in topics, but he nodded again and Yoongi smiled. He had already expected that.
“Would you like to learn more?”
The entire residence felt emptier now that Taehyung was gone and maybe Yoongi was just subjective, but he missed him even after just one day.
Jimin was now on his own and while he sometimes still seemed nervous, he noticed that the slave was slowly getting used to his tasks and also getting used to be around him. Yoongi never had a personal attendant that was just his, only ever slaves that had belonged to his parents and had stayed with him, so he didn’t know if what he was doing was really “correct” or proper, but Yoongi didn’t really care. It wasn’t like his parents payed too much attention to him either.
The day Taehyung left, Jimin had stayed with Yoongi almost the entire time, only leaving to prepare meals, and they had practiced reading and writing. Yoongi taught him simple syllables and symbols and he still didn’t know why he had even started this in the first place, but whenever Jimin recognized a sound, his entire face lit up and he grinned brightly at him and Yoongi thought it wasn’t too bad to indulge him like that. It’s not like he had anything better to do.
The next day was spent in the same fashion, though after dinner Yoongi told Jimin to go to Seokjin who would tell him how to tend to Yoongi tomorrow as the wedding would take place and Jimin would be with him. Seokjin was usually just in the kitchen, but he still knew quite a bit and he would be happy to tell Jimin what he had to do.
Yoongi wasn’t looking forward to the festivities. He didn’t want to see Namjoon’s strained face, didn’t want to see the woman that had driven away his best friend. Didn’t want to see the reason two pure hearts had been broken and he especially didn’t want to see his father that would send him disappointed looks because his eldest son will never be what he hoped for.
It took Jimin some time to dress him this time, more layers to wear than before and at some point Jimin struggled so much that Yoongi just clicked his tongue and helped him with it. He saw Jimin’s flushed and embarrassed face and just like that morning before he slowly pulled his face up to look at him and told him to not be embarrassed. Yoongi ignored the thankful smile Jimin had given him then.
The ceremony itself was as bad as Yoongi had expected. He was introduced to Namjoon’s bride and she was undoubtedly a beautiful woman, but he also saw her pride and arrogance and when Jimin (and the other personal attendants present) bowed to her, she regarded them only with a disgusted look that, as if being in their presents was already too much for her and Yoongi saw what kind of yangban woman she was right away. More than ever was he glad to have sent Taehyung away because she did not deserve someone like him. Namjoon’s face remained emotionless and Yoongi knew he was being strong and before they sat down for the wedding, Yoongi reached out and squeezed his hand, giving him a secret smile and a promise to be there for him.
Not much more happened after that. Within minutes Namjoon was a married man and the festivities left Yoongi quite bored. The only good thing was that Hoseok and his family were invited and his friend eventually sat down with him, and the other man was able to make the time go by faster.
Hoseok was happily chatting away until Namjoon and his oh-so-lovely bride sat down with them and Yoongi immediately stiffened up. But Hoseok was always the conversationalist and easily carried on, including the two newcomers. Namjoon was talking to Chunghee - his wife - when Hoseok’s gaze travelled to Jimin who had been quietly sitting behind Yoongi the entire time.
“Ah, I remember you! Jimin, correct? Now it seems to me you have perfectly adjusted to your new home.” Hoseok had been speaking to both Yoongi and Jimin and the slave of course knew he wasn’t to answer unless Yoongi allowed it, but not even the man itself got to speak as the woman in their company was faster.
“You are not seriously talking to a mutt now, are you?” Hoseok seemed startled and looked over to Chunghee who once again wore a disgusted expression and Yoongi knew that this was the moment she lost any chance to be liked by Hoseok.
Hoseok was generally a very friendly person with a lot of charisma and smiles which made him widely popular in the community. But he had a set mind of morals and one of them was kindness, no matter the status (which made him extraordinary in Yoongi’s books and one of the many reasons he was so close with the other man) and when Chunghee had interrupted them to leave such a comment she did not make any friends.
The most beautiful thing was that Hoseok’s family was related to the royal court and thus made him of higher rank than the Min family which gave Hoseok every right to regard her in a coolly way.
“Pardon me, Chunghee-ssi, but I believe that it is none of your concern and matter to whom I refer to, correct? So maybe you shouldn’t interrupt my conversation again.” Yoongi kept his face free of any reaction, even though he wanted to grin and Hoseok’s harsh words had effectively shut Chunghee up who mumbled a quiet apology and when Hoseok turned back to them, Yoongi knew that this was the last time Hoseok would speak to her.
“As I was saying. I understand that you are quiet content with your attendant now, Yoongi?” Yoongi now smiled back to Hoseok and he felt many gazes glued to him, both the newlywed couple and Jimin behind him, and he found it surprisingly easy to answer.
“Yes, I am. He exceeded all my expectations.”
Jimin was quiet as he attended to Yoongi for the night and the yangban could tell that there was something on the boy’s mind.
“Just ask me what you what. I can tell your thoughts are quite occupied,” he eventually said and Jimin – as always – took time to make full eye contact with him and Yoongi’s eyes followed Jimin’s movement closely as the boy first bit into his lower lip before having his tongue swept over it.
“Are you… are you really satisfied with me? As your personal attendant?” Yoongi didn’t answer right away, only looked back to the other and his gaze seemed to make the slave more and more nervous. Eventually Yoongi chuckled and he couldn’t deny that he enjoyed teasing Jimin like this every once in a while.
“Do you think your master is dishonest, Jimin?” Jimin’s cheeks reddened immediately and he quickly shook his hands and waved his hands around.
“Of course not, Master! I would never indicate such a thing! I just, I mean I just wanted- when you-“
“Speak your mind. Use your words with purpose.” Yoongi watched as Jimin shut up and he pressed his lips together before taking a deep breath.
“I just want to know if I am really a good attendant to you. I hope I am. I-I never… I never worked in an environment like this.”
“So you want to please me? I could have sworn you hated me just two weeks ago.”
“I did, I- No! Wait! I didn’t mean to-“ Jimin looked close to tears at his unintentional confession and Yoongi just laughed and walked up to the nobi and raised his hand to pull up his head by his chin again, looking directly at Jimin who was now shaking. He still expected to be hit for his mistakes, the fear written all over his face.
“I am very satisfied with you, I was being honest. Remember what I told you. You are mine now and I take care of my things. I want you to respect me, not fear me, Jimin.” Jimin’s eyes widened at his words and a single tear left his eye and Yoongi followed it for a moment before looking back up. “This is my promise and it’s the promise of your master, Jimin. Never ever will I raise my hand against you. I am not that kind of man. I told you this before and maybe I will have to remind you again. So repeat it.” Yoongi waited for him, his hand still at Jimin’s chin and eyes still locked with him and the slave let out a shaky breath and it was practically visible how his entire body started to relax.
“You won’t ever raise your hand against me. I am yours and you take care of your things.”