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It was like listening to a perfect song. The feeling of raindrops on hot summer skin. It was eye contact with a beautiful stranger across a busy street, hoping for the start of something new.

Inventing spells made Namjoon feel alive.

“He’s doing it again, Miriam!”

“Kids these days. No respect for property,” chided Miriam.

“Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry used to be a proper magical institution!”

“I hope the Headmaster gives you a beating!”

Namjoon snorted, dragging his wand across the brick wall. The renaissance paintings on the other side of the hallway griped at him. Namjoon liked to think that art wasn’t art until other art started complaining. That made perfect sense.

His wand burned hot in his hand. Namjoon rushed to finish the phrase, and pulled back from the wall. Red smoke rose from his inscription. He felt the heat on his fingers.

Namjoon beamed at the paintings behind him.

He said, “Wouldn’t that have been embarrassing, if my wand got fried from the new spell?”  

His audience of old-fashioned paintings booed in response.

“A good burning might stir some sense into you!”

“Back in my day, children were burnt all the time! It built character!”

“I hope the Headmaster lights you on fire!”

Namjoon rolled his eyes, and spun back to reread his words.

You need to survive.

The spell was too volatile. After little adjustment on his intonation, the spell would surely cool down. After that, Namjoon could write whatever he pleased in his longest-lasting graffiti spell. Ink and quills? No way. That was amateur anarchism if ever he saw it. He nodded at the wall for a job well done, and stashed his wand back into his pocket.

The paintings had stopped crowing, and started tittering nervously, as though he were an actual dangerous criminal. He wasn’t going to draw on their faces--at least, not until the new spell was perfect.

Namjoon grinned. He gave them a sarcastic wave good-bye. A painted man with shiny grapes shrieked. Namjoon’s smile faded.

He began to head back to Gryffindor Tower, when he overheard the footsteps of strangers behind him. He paused, and casually leaned against the wall to eavesdrop.

“...I know we’re a traditional sort of school, but, just once, I want the house elves try making, like, ethnic food... ”

His companion burst out laughing.

“I’m serious!”

Namjoon could almost hear the goofy smile in his voice. The stranger spoke with warmth dripping from his every word. “I want noodles, or burritos, or--”

“--Hold on.”

The second voice was lower, and more authoritative.

“Do you smell that?”

Namjoon heard the two sniffing. The authoritative guy coughed.

“I mean like... paint and smoke?”

The pair started walking again.

Namjoon twitched with anticipation.

The other guy sniffed again, and coughed like his friend did before.

“Merlin’s pants. Yeah, what is that?” His warm voice sounded distressed.

They stopped walking.

“What the...?” The low voice mumbled with shock.

Slowly, the other person read aloud.

" 'You need to survive.’

Namjoon covered his mouth to suppress his giddy laughter.

There was a stretch of silence.

“Is this a curse or something?”

The other one gulped.

“The words are burning into the wall,” he said anxiously. “Is it going to break down the school’s protective enchantments or something?”

Immediately, the other guy responded. “We should get a teacher.”

“Or the Headmaster,” agreed the soft-spoken boy.

Namjoon grit his teeth. That was not the reception he expecting.

He wanted more awe and inspiration; less horror and fear. If these two were going to report him, he needed to make a hasty escape. Namjoon stood up straight. He tried to inconspicuously power walk away from the so-called crime scene.

The two boys were promptly barraged with a choir of complaints from Namjoon’s biggest fans.

“Ah, excellent! You two have prefect badges! Professional tattletales!” One of the paintings shouted.

“Snatch up that tall boy over there with the horrible haircut!”

“He wrote all over our wall!”

“Burn him!”

Namjoon groaned, and broke into a sprint.

“Wha--?” one of the prefects shouted. “Hey you! Get back here!”

Namjoon’s ran, legs pumping, wildly searching for an escape route.

Prefects. Of course, it was just Namjoon's luck that his audience would be uppity rule-enforcers. No wonder they were so scared. Prefects were such squares.

Namjoon was in some deep trouble now. Gryffindor Tower was on the other side of the school. There was no way he could reach it without getting caught. Besides, he was too skinny and out of shape. The distance would probably kill him. Namjoon knew a hundred of hiding places in the school, but he had chosen an abandoned hallway specifically for the new spell. He had thought it would add to the sense of mystery, but instead, Namjoon set his own trap.

One of the prefects almost caught up to him. Namjoon made a sharp turn towards the downstairs. He heard yelling, and glanced at the framed paintings. The angry portraits were also chasing him. Fantastic.

“They’ll catch up in no time!” Miriam cooed.

“I can’t wait for the Headmaster to roast you over a warm fire!”

“Dangling over hot coals!” cried a knight on horseback.

Namjoon pointied his wand at the paintings and cast a spiteful, non-verbal ‘ Silencio! ’ spell on them. While they silently pounded and waved their fists, Namjoon spotted at the staircase.

Dangling over hot coals. Huh. Now, that was certainly an idea.

Namjoon looked behind him. Those damn prefects were catching up. For once, he had no time to overthink.

He took a deep breath, bent down, and jumped over the stair banister so that he dangled over the side, hidden from view. His right arm gripped the column and his left hand held his wand like a lifeline. Namjoon seriously needed to do more chin ups. This crazy gambit had better work.

One of the prefects reached the staircase. The boy was short, black-haired, and fairly fit. He was one of those uptight upperclassmen who never let anyone get away with anything. He look as though he had never smiled in his entire life: a scowl was permanently glued to his face. Namjoon hated him instantly.

The other prefect caught up. Namjoon felt a jolt. The boy's eyes were framed in long lashes.  He had smooth skin and perfect, plump lips. High cheekbones. Tall. Broad shoulders. His symmetrical features were all too familiar. Kim Seokjin. Head Boy of Hogwarts. The pride and joy of Gryffindor House.

The worst hall monitor of them all. Namjoon especially hated his stupid, perfect blonde hair. It was definitely bewitched in several grooming spells to make it so lustrous and shiny. Namjoon always felt self-conscious of his own hair in comparison: his previously punk pink hair had faded into a silvery, lightning struck disaster.

That was besides the point. There were more pressing matters at hand-- he was dangling from a staircase, for starters.

“Did he get away?” Seokjin asked.

The scowling one replied that the culprit had vanished.

Seokjin sighed, and patted him on the back.

“Whatever. Let’s just go report right now.”

Namjoon was screwed. His breathing was too loud. The prefects needed to pass him by soon, or else Namjoon's arm was going to fall off.

The black-haired prefect continued to scowl suspiciously. Namjoon faintly remembered  him berating first-years Slytherins after last week's school entrance ceremony.

What a dumb stick in the mud, Namjoon thought.

Sharply, the prefect cried, “Hominum revelio!"

Uh oh.

Make that a smart stick in the mud.

The spell whooshed through Namjoon's stomach, causing the stream of blue light turning red upon human contact.

“Dangling from the stairs?” the prefect yelled. Him and Seokjin rushed towards him, wands pointed straight at Namjoon’s face.

“Namjoon?” Seokjin said instantly. His nose wrinkled in disgust. “Seriously?”

“Seriously!” Namjoon spat out. “Glisseo!”

The staircase flattened under the two prefects’ feet.

They tumbled down the flight of stairs, screaming, their arms flailing wildly. Namjoon would've laughed, if his arm didn’t feel like it was hit with a jelly jinx.

“Come on, come on,” he muttered to himself, desperately attempting to drag himself over the banister. “Almost there.”

Namjoon’s left arm wrapped around another column, and he nearly made it up, before his arm cramped up with intense pain.

“No, no, NO--!” Namjoon shouted.

He desperately clung to the banister, before falling, in what felt like slow motion, down to the hard, stony floor.

Namjoon swore he heard the paintings on the floor above him cheer. Either he had a concussion, or he really needed to brush up on non-verbal spells. That silencing charm wore off way too quickly.

None of his bones were broken, but bruises bloomed on his back. Namjoon bit the inside of his cheek, resisting the urge to scream.

Faintly, he heard panting and footsteps running towards him.

The irritable prefect grabbed him by the front of his robes. Namjoon kept his eyes shut.

“Oh Merlin, he fell really far down!” Seokjin shouted behind them.

“This guy just burned a curse into the wall, and then ran like a coward,” spat the irritable prefect. “Don’t cry just yet.”

Namjoon forced his face to relax. He collapsed, loosening his body into a corpse. His jaw went slack, and his mouth opened. He hoped the bite on his cheek bled vividly.

“Yoongi, he’s passed out! We have to take him to the Hospital Wing!” the Head Boy yelled fervently. Namjoon was home-free. They would leave him alone in the Hospital Wing, and then he could run back to Gryffindor Tower, no sweat.

The grip on his robes did not slack.

“Jin, you’re not thinking straight,” said the boy in front of him. His wand poked Namjoon’s chest. “Ennervate.”

Namjoon glared at the boy on top of him. The boy smirked triumphantly.

“Yeah yeah, I faked unconsciousness,” Namjoon snapped. “But for your information, I didn't curse the school. It was a silly spell I created for fun. Satisfied?”

The prefect forced him to stand up.

Namjoon glared. “I hate professional tattletales.”

“Well, I hate meaningless vandalism,” the prefect said right back.

Namjoon jerked back, and punched the prefect in the face.

Before he could retaliate, Namjoon yelled, “Stupefy!

The boy fell to the ground with a heavy thud.

Namjoon groaned. This was far too much collateral damage for writing on a wall. He started to run again.

 


 

“And can you explain why this memory stops short so suddenly, Namjoon?”

He ignored the question, as he pulled his face back from the swirling white depths of the Pensieve. Namjoon blinked his eyes rapidly as they adjusted back to the bright lights of the Headmaster’s Office.

He used to love this room. Namjoon wished to explore each crevice of it, years ago: it was packed with fascinating trinkets, old books, student records, and portraits of the past Headmasters of Hogwarts. There was always the soft buzz of interesting music emitting from a curly, silver instrument on a shelf. Next to that instrument was the Sorting Hat. Namjoon always wondered what sort of magic made that hat so intelligent.

The office was stuff and reeked of prestige, but Namjoon found all of it extremely impressive in his younger years. Almost as impressive as the Headmaster himself.

Headmaster Bang Shihyuk traveled the world as a renown Auror. He caught criminal wizards and witches with ease, before becoming an acclaimed Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts. He was promoted sixteen years ago to Headmaster.

The man looked like a handsome wizard melted and weathered by age-- although, Namjoon had no idea how old he actually was. As far as Namjoon knew, Bang Shihyuk might have appeared, fully formed, crawling out of the sea, like an uglier, wiser version of the Roman goddess, Venus. He had a modern spiky, black haircut, contrasted against his puffy, wrinkled face. The man wore flamboyant, strangely-made robes suitable for rockstar wizards and rebellious teenagers. He had perpetually sleepy expression and spoke in a high-pitched, lispy voice that never raised to a yell.

The Headmaster was easy to mock from a distance. When Namjoon had first arrived to this school, he wondered how such an awkward man became the leader of Britain's most important wizarding school.

That all changed when Namjoon got to know of the Headmaster's true nature. His public persona was a carefully constructed farce to put people at ease. Embodying a weird, out-of-touch wizard more appealing than his actual personality. In reality, Bang Shihyuk was a cold man. He was always had a plan. He was rich, and powerful, and from an important pureblood-wizarding family. Bang was a descendant of infamously wealthy and powerful wizards who had ties with Namjoon's family. There was a reason he was considered a talented negotiator and auror: he always had a scheme brewing underneath that harmless-looking mask.

Namjoon rubbed the back of his neck. All of the bruises from his fall had been vanished by the Headmaster. Namjoon hadn't thanked him.

Avoiding eye contact, he focused on the swirling, liquid-gas of the Pensieve instead.

The Headmaster’s office held many treasured items, but none were as mysterious and special as this container for magical memories.

“What happened next?” The Headmaster repeated gently.

The temptation to kick and shatter this precious bowl increased every year Namjoon looked into it.

"Namjoon."

Sometimes, he also wanted to kick and shatter this old man.

“Seokjin used a stunning spell on me,” he mumbled.

“Yes,” Headmaster Bang nodded. “As expected, from the school Head Boy.”

Namjoon’s ears turned red.

This whole trip down memory lane was such a parade of humiliation.

Of course, it was just Namjoon's luck, that the moment he toed out of line, he was caught by the school's student leader, and his irritable little sidekick. Now Bang was going to hover over Namjoon for his entire school career like some frantic mosquito, sucking up his life force and leaving an itchy urge for freedom.

“You’re parents are worried about you,” Bang said abruptly, crashing into Namjoon’s train of thought.

There were more than 300 students in this school. Namjoon wondered if any other student saw this office as much as he did. There were plenty of other kids to obsess over. Plenty other important, pureblood families with terrible children. Yet, Bang singled Namjoon out, again and again.

Headmaster Bang sighed, and walked back to his desk. Namjoon sat in the stiff, ornate chair set up for him.

“They don’t like seeing their brilliant son caught up in petty offenses in school. Frankly, neither do I.”

“I’ve been behaving this year,” Namjoon said.

Bang gave him a look of exasperation. “It’s the second week of September.”

Namjoon crossed his arms. “All I did was write on a wall,” he insisted. “This is really unnecessary. Students vandalize all the time. Have you ever used a bathroom at this school? Have you seen what's written on those walls?” He gestured to the door. “Why aren't you calling every other student with a quill and a bad attitude into your office?"

“Show some respect to your Headmaster!” called one of the Headmaster portraits

Of course, more art was yelling at him today. Namjoon couldn't help but snort.

“Hush,” Bang curtly said to his portraits. Immediately, the eavesdropping portrait pretended to fall back asleep.

Headmaster Bang turned, tight-lipped, to Namjoon. He sighed again.

“Namjoon, you know that you’re no ordinary student with a quill and a bad attitude.”

The Headmaster stood up, and walked back to the Pensieve. Namjoon stayed sat in his chair. Bang stirred the contents of the basin with his wand again.

“Do you remember the first time I invited you to my office?”

Bang did not wait for an answer. He stopped stirring, and conjured up a ghostly figure. Namjoon winced. The figure was all too recognizable.

Wide eyes. A smattering of acne. Chubby cheeks. Chunky glasses. Scrawny.

A thirteen year old illusion of himself.

The ghost of Kim Namjoon's past opened his mouth.

"You're right, sir. I could probably skip a few grades, but honestly, I would prefer not to. I like going to class with my housemates. And I, er, don't have a career plan yet, so I wanna take my time to decide. Um. Yeah.”

Headmaster Bang was showing this to get under his skin. It was to humble him: make him more susceptible to manipulation. Always the same tricks up his sleeve. Namjoon balled up his fists.

“Aren't you bored in your current classes?”  echoed the Pensieve's past version of the Headmaster.

"I like my classes.”

“That's not what I asked. I asked if you found them stimulating on an intellectual level.”

The illusion squirmed in his seat.

I don't want to leave my friends behind.”

“You’ll still share a dorm. You'll make new friends in the older grades.”

“Can't it wait a little longer?”

There was slight tremble evident in his voice. The small Namjoon was getting teary-eyed.

"I don't...I don't know what to do when I grow up. This is all too much! I don't have any aspirations, or goals, or anything! Just....give me more time, sir, please! Please...I need more time! I need to find out who I want to be! I need a dream...something....I don't know...it's all so messed up--I'm sorry..."

“I remember that day."

Namjoon's real voice sounded so low, compared to the past version of himself.

“Get rid of it.”

“I'm sorry,” the Headmaster said, calmly tapping the Pensieve and sending away the memory. “I didn't think it would bother you. You used to love exploring the Pensieve.”

Namjoon ran a hand through his hair. His hair was a bowl-cut in that memory. How humiliating.

“Yeah, well, I've gotten kind of sick of that thing,” Namjoon grumbled.

“Do you know why I showed that to you?” Bang said.

Namjoon did not make eye contact. He simply shrugged.

“Back then, you were passing all your exams with flying colours. Your teachers all agreed that advancement would suit you.” Bang said this brightly. He sounded proud. Proud and condescending.

“But when I summoned you here, you refused. Adamantly.”

Namjoon glanced at him. Headmaster Bang's face was morose. He looked lost in the past.

“I accepted your decision. You stayed in your unengaging classes, full of unfulfilled potential, and now, look where we are.”

He gestured around the room.

“Back at the Headmaster’s Office again, with another misdemeanor to add to the student records.”

The Headmaster tapped his desk, and a huge, thick book popped out from one of the drawers. It engulfed the desk with its size. Plonked on its spine, the book magically flipped through its own pages.

“You've have had quite the reputation over the last two years. The strange thing is, from first to third year, you were a model student.”

Namjoon glared at Bang.

I was also a fool, he thought. A gullible fool who would lap up every word you said like it was religious scripture.

The Headmaster’s eyes widened. Namjoon shoved his thoughts away, and looked back down to the carpet.

“I supposed the end of third year was your breaking point. Starting from your fourth year, you slept through class, defied the dress code, partook in excessive note-passing, spoke out in class, broke curfew, vandalized, and argued with your teachers. Not good, but at the time, it didn't seem too offensive. A few detentions straightened you out, and your marks were spectacular. I didn't think anything of it.”

Namjoon looked up at Bang again.

You still called me into your office to show me those memories from the Pensieve, Namjoon thought. You showed me my parents when they attended this school. You showed me what they were like as teenagers. How studious and hardworking they were. It was so bizarre. I couldn’t sleep for days. Going home for the summer was a nightmare.

Namjoon looked away. He didn’t say anything.

“Last year was not good for you," the Headmaster said grimly. “Excessive skipping of class. Sneaking out of school. Duelling. Destruction of property. Inappropriate clothing. Offensive language used against your teachers. Sneaking in illegal substances--”

Namjoon reflexively blurted out, “I wasn't going to smoke that Devil Lettuce, I swear, it was for--”

“I know,” Bang interrupted. His beady eyes glared at Namjoon. “Why do you think I overturned your suspension, you reckless fool? Do not interrupt me.”

Namjoon paled. He nodded.

“I went out of my way to do that for you. I did your family a personal favour. My mistake.”

Bang rubbed his temples. Tinges of emotion shining through his face were infinitely more terrifying than his usual, carefully compose structure.

“I thought you were striding towards change during your Ordinary Wizarding Level exams. Your examiners were in awe. They said it was like watching child's play."

The book in front of Bang stopped flipping, and sat flat on its spine with an incredibly detailed record of one specific offense.

“You squandered all of my goodwill with your little stunt at the end of the year.”

Bang leaned in, and read from the book aloud.

“ 'During the final Charms O.W.L written examination in the Great Hall, tapestries of nude individuals were magically summoned and plastered onto all of the students' examination papers. Perpetrator: Peeves the Poltergeist. Peeves mentioned an inside collaborator, but when questioned further, proceeded to make noises with his mouth resembling the sounds of flatulence.' ”

Hearing the Headmaster of Hogwarts use the phrase "sounds of flatulence" in a deadly serious voice would be hysterical in any other context.

However, seeing as Bang Shihyuk was this close to expelling him, it was certainly no laughing matter. Namjoon opted to stare back down to the carpet, instead.

“Look at me, Namjoon.”

Did he really just say that? he thought. This man was unbelievable.

He stared into the Headmaster’s cold, black eyes.

You want to look into my eyes, and use your magic to pick apart my thoughts? Fine. I' ve known since I was fifteen, anyway. And you know I know! You won’t even admit that you use legilimency on students because it is a crime without warrant or consent. I’ve read the books!

They stared each other down. Namjoon knew this was a bad idea. He should just take a deep breath, and cleanse his mind: compartmentalize his thoughts and emotions until there was a thick barrier of occlumency magic to defend himself. The Headmaster was getting what he wanted: provoking him until his barrier broke, letting his thoughts and emotions flood through. He didn’t care.

Namjoon didn’t think about the prank. Instead, his brain filled with one overwhelming emotion: hatred.

You scare me so much. Do I scare you? Is that why you single me out like this? You’re a liar, and a criminal, and I can think whatever I want of you, because if you acknowledge it,  you’re fired and carted off to Azkaban. That cursed prison would suit you perfectly.

The Headmaster did not talk for a long time. His face was perfectly smooth. It was devoid of any reaction.

Finally, he spoke.

“I care about your thoughts. I empathized with your fears in third year. I knew how lost and helpless you felt in fourth year. In fifth year you shut me out, but I still saw glimpses of your remorse, your restlessness. I am on your side. That is why I let Peeves take the blame for your insolent prank.”

Namjoon put up the barrier in his brain again. There was no point in baiting him. The Headmaster would never admit he was breaking the law. His eyes returned to the spot on the carpet.

He quietly said, “One stupid prank doesn't make me a dark wizard.”

Bang softly said, “I've seen many dark witches and wizards in my lifetime.”  

Namjoon shuddered.

“They hold themselves higher than others people, believing themselves superior from birth. The Dark Arts attract smart, young mages who feel the world owes them a grave debt. You ache for a purpose in life, Namjoon. You know that. It torments and controls you, but I've always been here, protecting you from that temptation, from that evil.”

Their faces still burned vivid in Namjoon’s mind.

"Do you understand what I'm trying to say?"

Their faces in the Pensieve.

"Namjoon?"

The Dark wizards.

In the last evening of his fifth year in Hogwarts, Namjoon was invited to the Headmaster's Office. There, Headmaster Bang said no gentle, goofy remarks that so often calmed Namjoon during his visits. Bang told him he was disappointed. Bang knew that he was responsible for the end-of-year prank. Underneath the harmless surface of the prank, Namjoon had committed a cardinal sin. Somehow, incomprehensibly, Bang had crawled into his mind.

Bang forced him towards the Pensieve and sent him spinning through the most horrible memories he ever witnessed. It was scenario after scenario of evil witches and wizards committing unforgivable atrocities. Kim Namjoon had never been more terrified in his life. He remembered the way they held themselves. The cleverness they showed off, the insecurity they shrouded. The strangest part was how normal they appeared until they crossed the line.

He bore witness to a murderer talk to himself, avoid eye contact, and slouch his shoulders, like Namjoon did when he was nervous.

A tyrant looked through career brochures in school, with an expression of distaste that mirrored Namjoon’s apprehension of the future.

They were charismatic loners. Shiftless and unhappy. They were storms of warning signs and reckless behaviour bottled into beings both powerful and unhappy.

It was uncanny how much they resembled Namjoon.

The way they looked so lost, until they broke.

They would make a horcrux, or use a forbidden spell, or brew a cursed potion.

It was like watching alternate versions of himself trade away their souls for happiness.

They always looked so indescribably happy.

Will I ever come close to that kind of joy? He had thought in a blood-curdling moment of despair.

Namjoon snapped out of his thoughts. Damn it, he wasn't paying attention. Headmaster Bang was nodding his head sympathetically. Namjoon grimaced. Damn it, damn it, damn it.

Leave me alone, he thought automatically. It was no use. He broke.

Namjoon inhaled deeply. As steadily as he could, he said, “You're just mistaking coincidence with correlation, sir. That’s the slippery slope fallacy. I'm in control of myself.”  

He managed to smirk a little

“It's a phase. A little teenage rebellion, you know? I'm still figuring it out. Just wait a little longer.”

The Headmaster didn't speak. Namjoon knew he was trying to claw into his mind again. Too little, too late. His mind was like a locked bank safe: if he kept everything untouched, he would get rich.

Bang sighed.

“I'm moving you up to seventh year classes.”

Namjoon's heart froze.

The Headmaster crisply closed the enormous book in front of him. With a wave of his wand, he sent it back into the desk drawer, and conjured up a memo pad. Namjoon watched Bang levitate a quill and ink onto the blank page of the first page, sending perfect cursive spirals across the page.

“I should have done so when you were younger, but--better late than never. It’s still early on in the new school year. I'm certain that all your teachers will accommodate the change. I'm sending them memos right now for confirmation. Your parents have already written back, in total agreement. You will start your new classes tomorrow.”

Namjoon didn't bother to shield his thoughts at this point. He looked straight into the Headmaster’s calculating eyes and let him see his overwhelming cascade of panic that had swept his brain.

“Does my opinion not matter anymore?” He said hoarsely.

“This is an executive decision for your own good,” the Headmaster chirped, carefully flicking his wand in different directions, folding up the freshly-written memos into neat paper cranes. They spun and zoomed past Namjoon’s head with dizzying speed.

The Headmaster finished waving his wand, and looked back at Namjoon. He had the nerve to smile.

“I would give you a list of your new curriculum’s syllabus, but you already own all of those books, don't you?”

Of course he did. He finished studying the 'Standard Book of Spells: Grade Seven'  when he was fourteen.

The Headmaster twirled his wand, and produced a chart in neat print writing. It fell into Namjoon's lap, but he stood up from his chair, and threw the paper back on the desk.

“I’m not following this new timetable,” Namjoon said harshly.

Bang placed his wand on the desk, and folded his hands.

“Of course you are.”

He had stopped smiling.

Namjoon stepped back. Cold, it all felt cold. This wasn’t suppose to happen.

“I don't want to graduate early.”

“Either you follow my orders or I’m expelling you.”

Another freeze clenched Namjoon's heart.

The Headmaster’s eyes were deadly serious.

“Why are you doing this?” whispered Namjoon, clenching his fists.

Bang calmly leaned toward him.

“I’m doing this, because I should have done it a long time ago. You need to look deep inside yourself, and ask what that brilliant mind of yours is meant to do. Smuggle in illegal plants for fake Brain Elixirs because you are bored? Plaster the walls with nude models, as some sick joke? Duel your peers, knowing full well that you will destroy them every single time?”

He shook his head in disgust.

“You scrawl your inane words onto the walls on my school, as if it will always be your playground to lay claim to. Perhaps, feeling your future loom closer will cause you to explore your goals and dreams with some heavier weight. I should have expelled you the moment you used the Imperius Curse on Peeves, but I thought the Pensieve had truly affected you, and made you truly remorseful.”

It was bright summer's day, when Namjoon spotted Peeves the Poltergeist in the hallway on his way back from the library. It was the day before his final Charms O.W.L. examination.

Namjoon hated exams. They were boring. He never learned anything. He despised watching his friends tear up and despair over the subjects he found so simple to master.

Peeves the Poltergeist had dumped an inkwell on his head. It was infuriating. Namjoon absentmindedly wondered if a semi-corporal ghost could be cursed. He had been researching Unforgivable Curses in the library. The Imperius Curse controlled its victims. The Cruciatus Curse tortured its victims. Avada Kedavra was the killing curse. All the books stated that only talented of wizards could use such dastardly magic. If ever was there a more golden opportunity for Namjoon to prove himself, it was in that moment.

The next day, he watched as everyone in the Great Hall forgot all about the tense examination, and began to laugh hysterically from the prank. It was rippling ocean of  a delight, as student after student gradually left their paper behind in favour of the ridiculous situation. It the happiest moment of his entire life.

Did that make Namjoon a bad person?

Headmaster Bang certainly thought so.

Namjoon sat down.

“So that's the reason,” he muttered. “Expel me or advance me. Doesn't matter. You just want me to leave your school as soon as possible.”

Maybe expulsion was the better path. He was too stupid to use his smarts for anything useful. He burned through any challenge set for him, attempting to feel anything outside of emptiness and contempt. Stupid, smart, soulless freak. He was a real monster in the making.

“You’re not a monster," Bang said softly. "You’re simply a confused, brilliant child. The world outside of Hogwarts is so endless in opportunity, Namjoon."

“I know,” he bitterly replied. He couldn't take this anymore. A pit of anxiety and remorse was growing in his stomach. Namjoon was barely keeping his mind in check. He needed to be alone in his thoughts. He wanted to leave this office.

“You can leave,” Headmaster Bang said politely. “Just remember to take your new timetable on the way out.”

Screw you, old man.

He stood up and picked up the new timetable in a trance, and was about to head towards the door when Bang called out:

“Ah! I have one more condition!”

Namjoon stopped, and looked at the Headmaster with a blank stare.

He croaked, “Yes, sir?”

The Headmaster stood up and spoke as though the idea had just occurred to him.

“You should to join an extracurricular activity.”

Namjoon blinked.

“Nope,” he said, quickly walking towards the door.

“Kim Namjoon,” Bang cried. “It has been six entire years! You never engage with students outside of your tight-knit circle! That is why you are so troubled!”

“Clubs are boring and useless,” Namjoon whined. “I don’t care about anything!”

“You care about everything,” Bang reprimanded. “So much so, that it tears you apart.”

Namjoon grimaced.

Headmaster Bang counted off clubs with his stubby old fingers.

“Transfiguration Society, Charms Club, Potionmaker’s Society,  Magical Creatures Enthusiasts, Herbology Club, Defense League. You would be an asset for all of those groups.”

He clapped his hands together. The Headmaster was getting a little excited.

“Channel your creative talents into more productive pursuits! Ghost Poet Society, The Spellmaker’s Team, The Librarians’ Book Collective! Use your moral outrage for an advocacy group, like S.P.E.W. or Society for Support of Squibs, instead of lashing out at--”

“Are you going to expel me if I don’t join some stupid society?” Namjoon interrupted. It was irritating to witness the headmasster's dorky public persona when talking about clubs and societies.

“Absolutely.” The Headmaster nodded.

Namjoon. would take the advanced classes. He would even stop with the misdemeanors. That was probably all for the best.

He absolutely, positively refused to waste his precious time on a silly club.

Bang couldn’t take away all his choices.

Namjoon needed to survive.

The Headmaster glanced at his memo pad.

“Ah, you’ll also be serving a detention with Professor Hobeom next Wednesday evening. Flobberworm sorting. 7 P.M. sharp.”

Namjoon's heart finally sank to the very bottom of his body. It was there with his dignity.

“I’ll be sure to write that down on the timetable,” he said dejectedly while walking through the door.

Bang said, “I’ll be checking in on you next week! Remember: extracurricular activities!”

“Goodnight, sir,” he replied.

“I believe in you, Namjoon!”

Namjoon screamed, “GOODNIGHT, SIR!” and slammed the door behind him.

Chapter Text

 

 


 

6:04 A.M.

 

Min Yoongi woke up by crashing into random objects far too often.

It’s not as though he did it purposefully. That was ridiculous.

He was just so stressed while awake, which led to stressful dreams, which led to stressed out sleep-walking.

The stressed out sleep-walking led Min Yoongi out of his dormitory, down a flight of stairs, tumbling over a couch in the Slytherin Common Room.

“Again?” Yoongi mumbled, too tired to even comprehend where he was.

He slid off the couch and curled into the soft carpet below him. His legs throbbed from bumping into the sofa, but Yoongi ignored the pain, snuggling deeper into the soft fabric of the carpet.

Yoongi had to give a hand to Salazar Slytherin. The man was an insane, power-hungry bigot, but at least he had good taste in room decor. This carpet was fluffy as hell.

“A-are you okay?” A cool voice asked from above.

Yoongi twitched, and opened one of his eyes.

An confused boy with a broom looked down at him in dismay.

“D-d-don’t worry ‘bout it,” Yoongi yawned. Jesus, the stench of his own breath was terrible. He fanned it away. “Happens all the time.”

The stranger blinked a few times. “Sleepwalking all the way from your dorm…into the Common Room...happens to you all the time?”

“Yeah,” Yoongi curtly replied. He closed his eyes, and twisted his body away from the boy. He wanted blissful silence.

“Isn’t there a potion that cures sleepwalking?” the boy exclaimed.

Yoongi lazily opened his eyes again. “I tried that. Gave me weird dreams.”

“What kind of dreams?”

“Werewolf sex dreams,” Yoongi said.“I would rip off my clothes and howl at the moon while getting it on with hot witches and wizards. Not. Fun.”

The kid’s eyes widened, and he slowly stepped away.

“T-those are, um, some pretty weird dreams.”

“Sorry,” Yoongi mumbled when he saw the boy’s shocked expression. His sharp eyes looked traumatized. “I’m just messing with you.”

“Oh.”

Truth be told, Min Yoongi wasn’t the type to just take the easy way out with a potion. He had moral principles, and if he was going to stop this bad habit, he was doing it through pure force of will.

Yoongi thought it was for the best that he didn’t divulge any of that baggage--werewolf or otherwise-- onto a random thirteen year old, or whatever.

“Have you tried tying yourself to your bed?” the kid asked, matter-of-factly.

Yoongi couldn’t help but burst out laughing, which made the boy jump in surprise.

“Uh, how old are you?”

The boy defiantly said, “I’m fifteen.”

Okay. Not thirteen. Whatever. Yoongi probably still shouldn’t make any BDSM jokes. The boy looked shaken enough from his werewolf sex dreams.

“Just curious,” Yoongi said innocently. “Do you know what time it is?”

The boy looked at his wristwatch, and said it was 6:00 A.M.

“Praise Jesus and Merlin,” Yoongi mumbled. “I don’t have class until 9:45 A.M. I can sleep for three more hours.”

“Won’t you miss breakfast?” asked the boy.

Yoongi squeezed his eyes shut. “I’d rather sleep.”

The boy shook his head and said, “That’s not healthy. Eating is important.”

“Are you judging my life choices?”

“Yeah, I guess I am."

Yoongi scowled, and snapped his eyes open.

“Hey. I’m just trying to sleep on the comfiest carpet known to man--”

He affectionately patted the light surface he laid on.

“--but you--”

He pointed up accusingly at kid.

“--chose to be out and about at 6 A.M, for some ungodly reason. You’re awake willingly! Who should be judging who, here?”

The boy blinked his big, pure eyes in confusion.

“Are you drunk?” he asked, raising a brow suspiciously.

Yoongi couldn’t help it. He cracked up. Either this kid was a comedic genius, or Yoongi really needed to get more sleep.

“No, I promise I’m not,” he reassured the kid. “I can’t hold my liquor anyway, and besides, I’m a prefect.”

He stood up, stretching, and squinted at the boy in front of him.

Yoongi noticed, with dismay, that the boy was exactly his height, despite the two-year age difference. His fluffy brown hair was long, and swept into his eyes, but you could still see them, sharp and strangely piercing, underneath his bangs. The kid was a little chubby and awkward, but there was something curiously interesting about the way he looked. Maybe it was the fact that he stood up so straight and tense, that he looked like a statue.

The boy nervously said, “Oh. Uh. I know you. You’re Min Yoongi.”

Yoongi tilted his head curiously, and scratched the tip of his nose. “Yeah, it’s me. And you are…?”

He trailed off. The boy’s name was on the tip of his tongue. Yoongi knew most of the people in Slytherin House, but his tired brain was malfunctioning. He looked the kid up and down.

His flying broomstick. It was Firebolt 4 model. Limited edition. It was brand new. Crazy expensive.

All of the puzzle pieces fit together in Yoongi’s sleep-deprived brain.

“Oh!” he exclaimed. “Quidditch! I know you! You’re the kid who took my spot on the team, last year. Park...Chim Chim?”

Yoongi nodded to himself, extremely impressed with his own detective work.

Park Chim Chim’s face turned red. He didn’t look flattered.

“It’s Park Jimin,” he said defensively. “And I didn’t take your spot. You quit the team.”

“Right, right,” Yoongi nodded absentmindedly, still pleased with his sleepy deduction skills.

Jimin muttered, “My teammates talk about you a lot. I think they miss having you around.”

Yoongi forced himself to smile instead of gag.

He quit halfway through sixth year. Becoming a prefect meant more responsibility, and Yoongi wanted to focus more on getting his grades up as graduation loomed closer and closer. His interest in quidditch had also waned over the years, and been replaced with career chasing.

The main reason, though, was because he couldn't stand another moment hanging around those broom-obsessed, loud-mouthed pricks he used to call his teammates. The day of his resignation, Yoongi seriously pitied the poor sap who they were going to replace him with.

And now, here he was, the poor sap they had dragged into their cult of competitiveness. Yoongi wondered if he should shake Jimin’s shoulders and tell him fly as far from quidditch as possible.

He looked at the kid’s at his jealous expression. The tightness of his hands around his broom, already decked out in Quidditch gloves.

Yoongi smiled, and slowly said, “Miss me? That’s nice of you to say, but I wouldn’t know. We don’t talk much.”

Jimin remained unconvinced. Yoongi shrugged nonchalantly.

“I mean, why would they want me back, when they’ve got you? Seriously, you basically saved their team from total embarrassment last year. You played really well in the quidditch final.”

Jimin blinked, and gave Yoongi a tiny smile. It completely changed his face. When sullen, his expression was stoic and moody, but when he smiled, Jimin's whole face glowed with delight. He looked like a soft marshmallow.

“We could’ve won if they didn’t disqualify my last goal!” he said, clenching just fist. “The first Slytherin House Cup in sixteen years! We were so close.”

His cheeks were a rosy pink.

Cute.

“You’re a talented kid,” Yoongi acknowledged.

“I mean, I don’t know if it’s talent, or if I just practice way too much,” he said sheepishly. Jimin held up his broom he was holding. “The reason I’m up so early is because I missed practice last week. I need to go make up for the lost time.”

“At 6 A.M?” replied Yoongi, aghast. “Are you a sadist? Can’t you just do it in the afternoon?”

Jimin’s head drooped.

“I can’t, though, because I have to serve detention this whole week.”

Yoongi shook his head in sympathy. Now he really pitied this guy.

“That sucks. What are you serving detention for? If you want, I can talk to your supervisor.”

Jimin’s eyes widened hopefully. “It’s because I didn’t hand in some assignments.”

“Oh,” Yoongi said. “Why not?”

Jimin deflated slightly. “Um, I was busy.”

Yoongi raised a brow.

“Busy playing quidditch?” he asked with disapproval.

Jimin deflated some more, and mumbled, “Yeah, busy playing quidditch.”

Yoongi sympathetically patted Jimin’s shoulder.

In his best prefect voice, he flatly said, “If you commit the crime, you pay the time.”

Jimin nodded dejectedly.

Yoongi sighed, which quickly turned into a yawn.

“I think I’m going to go back to s-s-sleep,” he announced. “Good luck on that practice. Make sure the snitches don’t have bent wings, and stuff.”

“Yeah, uh, of course,” Jimin said, blinking his eyes rapidly. He clearly didn’t follow the analogy. Frankly, Yoongi didn’t really, either. He just wanted to get the hell out of there. “It was nice meeting you!”

Jimin waved to him as he walked out of the dorm, but Yoongi was already fantasizing about the smooth, silky sheets of his own bed.

The Common Room carpet had its charms, but who was he kidding? Yoongi would marry any good pillow, any day.

 


 

9:29 A.M.

 

Yoongi woke up for the second time that day to the sound of his roommate barging into the room, loudly shouting nonsense.

“Guess who has a present?” Ikje bellowed as he walked into the the room.

Yoongi’s head was halfway through the top of his robes.

“Present?” he said, muffled. “What present?”

Yoongi’s head popped out, and two pastries tucked in a napkin were jammed under his nose.

“These presents.”

Yoongi suspiciously looked at his bright roommate.

“What did you put in this stuff?”

Ikje rolled his eyes, and slapped the pieces into his hands.

“Nothing, because they’re not my presents to give That chaser kid asked me to give this to you.”

“The chaser kid?” Yoongi studied the fresh pastries. They were danishes.

“Yeah, he asked if anyone sitting at the table could bring these to your dorm. Did you threaten to beat him up, or something?” Ikje asked.

Yoongi scowled. “I didn’t do anything.”

Eagerly, Ikje asked, “Are you getting back into quidditch? Is Min Yoongi, star chaser, raising himself from the dead?”

“Nah, I’m in permanent zombie mode,” he replied, before chomping on one of the danishes. It had a tart, tasting lemon filling inside.

“Yeah, that’s probably for the the best. That kid would have clobbered you. He’s way beyond your level.”

Yoongi swallowed, and slowly took another bite.

Thoughtfully chewing, he said, “We had a little chat this morning. I walked into the Common Room while he was heading out to practice. I don’t really remember most of it, but I guess I complained a lot about...breakfast?”

“You? Awake in the morning?” Ikje said. “Were you sleepwalking?”

“Of course not,” Yoongi denied automatically.

Ikje looked at him doubtfully. Yoongi wanted to slap that stupid look of concern off his face. His sleeping habits were his problem.

“Well, whatever.” Ikje shrugged. “So, you complained about breakfast, and he got you some pastries? That’s cute. I guess he’s trying to get on your good side.”

Ikje paused, and snickered, “Or maybe he’s got a crush.”

“I think he just wants me to get him out of detention,” Yoongi was brusquely, although he could feel his face heat up.

Ikje snickered again. “Who knows.”

He slapped Yoongi’s back and said he would see him in Charms class, leaving Yoongi in the room by himself.

He polished off the lemon danish, and started chomping into the second one.

Yoongi smiled and licked his fingers.

Jimin was right. He should try breakfast more often.

 


 

 

9:40 A.M.

 

Yoongi glared at the walls for what felt like the hundredth time since he had woken up.

You need to survive.

It was scribbled in every empty space on the walls available. It surrounded the portraits and squeezing in between the tapestries.

The scrawlings burnt and glowed, and they smelled like sticky chemicals and fire. Yoongi hated each and every one of them, and there must have been one phrase blazing every ten steps he walked.

You need to survive.

You need to survive.

You need to survive.

“I need to die,” he groaned. “You need to kill me, Kim Seokjin.”

Jin and Yoongi both had the same Potions class at 9:45 A.M. They were also Head Boy and prefect, respectively, which meant that on their way to the dungeons, the two of them were assigned to cleanup duty: orders from the Heads of House. They were being forced to read the same words over and over, and then say the same spell over and over in a fruitless attempt to get rid of the words that were written over and over.

“I. Need. To. Die,” Yoongi emphasized.

“Now, Min Yoongi,” Jin responded, in a mockingly mature tone. “What would parents say if they knew you were advocating murder? You need to be a role model to the children. That’s what being prefect means.”

Jin pointed his wand at another scribbling, said, “Finite incantatem,” and watched as it sizzled and vanished.

“I agreed to be a prefect for the benefits, not because I wanted to scrub this graffiti plaguing the school,” Yoongi complained as he pointed his wand at another phrase. “Finite incantatem.

The phrase fizzled away, leaving a clean patch of bricks.

“Why are we doing this?” Yoongi muttered. “The Headmaster should just do it all himself. The spell’s not that hard.”

Jin sighed, and pulled Yoongi aside.

“Haven’t you noticed? The spell’s not actually working. I used it on the Great Hall walls, but during lunch, all of them had multiplied.”

“I kept wondering if that was happening,” Yoongi said, “But that’s so stupid, right? Why would the Headmaster waste our time like this?”

“It’s all for show. The students are really scared and annoyed, but the Headmaster hasn’t found the proper counter-curse yet, so until he does, we’re just here to reassure the other kids that he’s doing something about it.”

“That’s why I want to die,” Yoongi whispered back. “I don’t want to get caught up in some stupid ideological proxy war. Plus, this phrase is so pretentious. I can’t look at it anymore.”

They walked a few more steps, and between the spacing of two fairy tapestries, it was there again.

You need to survive.

“No thanks,” Yoongi muttered. “Finite incantatem.

“I just don’t want to see any more crying first years,” whispered Jin. “It really freaked some of them out. A first year in the Gryffindor dorm burst into tears when she grazed her hand against the wall. We’re just giving them a little peace of mind.”

“But where’s my peace of mind, Kim Seokjin?” Yoongi couldn’t help but whine. “Why can’t the Headmaster just come up with the solution already? Isn’t he a genius? Or even better, why can’t he just force that kid who did it to spit out the counter-curse?”

Finite incantatem,” Jin sighed. “According to the Headmaster, the kid has no counter-curse. No cure. Apparently, he didn’t plan for this plague thing to happen. Namjoon’s probably been expelled by now, anyway.”

“Really?” Yoongi said, surprised. With all the idiots he caught in this school every day, he was under the impression that this school would let anyone get away with anything.

Jin groaned. “I sure hope so. Ever since I became a prefect, he’s been a total pain. This is the last straw. If I ever see that guy again, I’m going to wring his neck.”

Yoongi snorted.

“And you get on my case for advocating murder,” he said cheerfully. “Although, honestly, I would pay to see that.”


 

9:44 A.M.

 

Destiny was a funny thing.

Yoongi had never taken Divination. He had always thought that it was the phoniest branch of magic ever invented.

On a day like today, though, Yoongi considered retroactively enrolling in those classes. At the very least, he should order a crystal ball to warn him if shit like this ever happened again.

There, sitting in the dungeon, in front of Yoongi’s seat, no less, was the asshole who ran away. The asshole who punched him like a muggle, and stunned him like a wizard.

There he was. The person responsible for the writing on the walls. The reason Yoongi spent his walk to Potions class playing the role of a janitor.

He was long and lanky. There was an awkwardness to his posture, as though the chair wasn’t quite big enough for his noodly limbs. He wore thick, chunky glasses. Most notably, the boy had hair the colour of unicorn hair. It was spiky, silvery, and stuck out like a sore thumb. That was probably the point. Delinquents loved attention, even if it meant soaking their hair in potion until it fell off in chunks. The boy calmly flipped through a seventh year potions textbook. He hadn’t noticed the two of them walking in.

Yoongi and Jin stopped, met each other’s gaze for a moment, speechless.

Jerking out of his frozen state, Yoongi fervently dug through his bookbag.

He pulled out three galleons, four sickels, two knuts, and grabbed Jin’s hand. He slapped them into his palm.

“I’m a man of my word,” he said solemnly.

Jin’s face scrunched up in confusion.

“What are you talking about?”

Yoongi grinned maniacally.

“You promised to wring his neck, remember?”

Jin blinked, and realized what Yoongi meant. He scowled, and pushed the money away. Yoongi made a whiny sound, but Jin turned away from him.

He walked up to the asshole.

“Are you lost?” Jin said politely.

Yoongi fought the urge to roll his eyes. Kim Seokjin wasn’t going to win an award for acting threatening any time soon.

The asshole looked up.

“Oh, it’s you two,” he said blankly.

“I asked you a question,” Jin said, less politely now.

“I’m attending class,” the delinquent said snarkily. “Is that a problem?”

Jin grabbed the front of the boy’s robes. Yoongi’s eyes widened. Okay, that was new.

“This is seventh year potions,” Jin said coldly. “ Are you sure you’re not lost?”

“I transferred to all seventh year classes today, so yeah, I’m not lost,” the boy said, seething with irritation. “Can you let go of me now?” The boy paused, and slyly added, “Or, is grabbing people by their robes a Head Boy privilege I wasn’t aware of?”

Ouch.

Jin flushed, and let him go.

Yoongi stepped between them. He pulled his wand out, and pointed it to the boy’s face.

“You should be expelled by now. Who are you trying to fool, kid?”

The boy’s expression turned stormy. He didn’t pick up his wand, choosing instead to raise his hands up in a defensive gesture.

“Don’t call me kid,” he muttered. “My name is Kim Namjoon. I never asked to be here. Seriously. I don’t like this any more than you do, but the Headmaster put me in this class. You can ask Professor Sejin when he walks in.”

Yoongi growled, “Why would an idiot like you belong in sucj an advanced-level class?”

The kid, Kim Namjoon, had the nerve to smirk.

“Funny. I was about to ask you the same thing.”

Yoongi’s mouth began to form the words to a jinx.

“Don’t pick a fight, he’s baiting you!”

Jin pushed Yoongi’s wand away from Namjoon’s face.

Yoongi shoved him away, and demanded, “What’s the counter-curse to that stupid graffiti spell?”

Namjoon shrugged. “No idea. It wasn’t suppose to spread. Why do you ask? It is bothering you guys?”

“I’m going to fucking murder--”

Jin stepped in between the two boys. He gave Yoongi a look of warning.

“Let’s just wait until the professor gets here,” he said, doubtfully side-eyeing Namjoon.

Namjoon replied, with false admiration, “Wow. The Head Boy is more than just a pretty face. Who knew?”

Jin held his head high, and ignored the taunt. Yoongi couldn’t help smirking. As if Kim Seokjin would ever be bothered by someone complimenting his looks, no matter how backhanded.

Yoongi and Jin sat at their desk at the front of the class, and listened to the bell ring, as students clustered into the room. Their teacher arrived late, clutching his briefcase and cauldron.

“Namjoon!” Professor Sejin said pleasantly as soon as he walked up to his desk. “I’m so glad you finally accepted the Headmaster’s recommendation.”

“I didn’t exactly run with open arms, sir,” he said amicably.

“Well, maybe now, class will start to challenge you,” Sejin chortled. “Will you stop snoozing through my class?”

“We’ll see, professor,” Namjoon said, smirking at an infuriated Yoongi. Professor Sejiin noticed his gaze, and looked to Yoongi and Jin.

“Oh, have you two already introduced yourselves to Namjoon?”

“You could say that,” Jin said quietly.

“Well, he’s a brilliant student! Easily surpassed the sixth year curriculum. Everyone!” He turned to the rest of the class. “This is Kim Namjoon. Although he’s a year younger than you all, please treat him as you would treat your regular classmates. He’s going to prove a difficult peer of yours to surpass.”

He nodded towards Yoongi and Jin approvingly, and said to Namjoon:

“I’m glad to see you in such good company. Much better than the usual Ravenclaw troublemakers. Turning over a fresh new leaf?”

Namjoon looked like he was about to piss himself with laughter.

“Oh, of course, sir,” he grinned.

Yoongi sneakily handed Jin his three galleons, four sickels, and two knuts again. Jin looked down, rolled his eyes, and pushed the money away.

 


 

9:45 A.M.

Kim Namjoon was undeniably smart.

Yoongi could swallow his pride long enough to admit that much.

Potions class was egregiously humiliating. The boy knew all the key ingredients to Everlasting Elixir at a superhuman level of speed. He finished his questionnaire fifteen minutes ahead of the rest of the class.

“I’m usually pretty bad at guessing ingredients,” Namjoon said with false modesty, “So the elixir might only last, like, a few hundred years.”

Professor Sejin chuckled, and replied, “Ten points to Ravenclaw.”

Afterwards, during potion making, Jin viciously sliced Ashwinder guts up with a cleaver.

“Screw being a role model,” He muttered.

Yoongi curiously looked up from his potion.

Kim Seokjin was a wizard who valued precision, patience, and hard work. Potions was usually his shining subject, but today he was outshone by the sixteen year old delinquent with an attitude problem.

Jin held up his bloody cleaver.

“You’re going to have to use this to kill me.”

Yoongi burst out laughing. At which point, his potion boiled over, prompting Yoongi to stop laughing and start swearing as he tried to salvage his project. In the end, his Everlasting Elixir lasted about thirty minutes.


 

11:30 A.M.

 

“The black needle beet will choke carnivorous plants the quickest,” Namjoon answered.

“Five points to Ravenclaw,” Professor Woojung said with a pleased smile.

Kim Namjoon sat the front of the greenhouse in Herbology class, a few seats ahead of Yoongi. The professor had practically danced when Namjoon entered the class. She had been calling on him to answer for the past half hour; as if she was showing off how ridiculously qualified he was to stay in this class. Yoongi wished the carnivorous plants would swallow him up already.

In a monotonous voice, the insipid human dictionary said that, “In order to juice the carnivorous plant into a cider, you must slice the bark with a goblin-made knife, and then extracting the sap with a summoning charm.”

Yoongi look at Namjoon’s desk. The kid didn't even have the textbook open in front of him.

“Five points to Ravenclaw,” Their professor said happily. “Now, Namjoon, can you tell us about the practical use of carnivorous, cannibalistic plant extract?”

Soullessly, he said, “It's a bonding agent used in expensive magical paint.”

“Excellent! Five points for Ravenclaw--”

“--Although it's fallen out of favour, with non-cannibalistic, Merpeople-farmed kelp used in more consistently,” he said, with a tinge of eagerness. “In fact, cannibalistic coniferous sap paintings are controversial, and many activist groups protest against the slaughter of these arguably sentient plants. In fact, just the possession of these plants in a school environment could be considered worthy of lawsu--”

Their professor interrupted him, flustered.

“I didn't ask you about the torrid history of cannibalistic coniferous sap paintings!”

She gave Namjoon an intense look of disappointment.

“I only asked you about the common uses. Five points from Ravenclaw.”

Namjoon opened his mouth to argue, but after a millisecond of hesitation, closed it and looked away. He sank into his chair, and didn’t answer for the rest of the class.

The professor continued the lesson, and as she passed out sample squares of bark to each of the desks, Yoongi nodded towards her sympathetically.

“That was really rude of the new student,” he said as he graciously took a slice of bark from her. “Lying about all that controversial stuff.”

“Oh no, what he said was true,” the professor said, shaking her head. “It's just that, the homework today is an essay debating the merits between coniferous, carnivorous plants or the mer-kelp bonding agents in art. Namjoon always reads ahead of the class, and gives away the answers to questions. His classmates loved it, but I don’t think he was ever truly engaged in class.”

She lowered her voice. “He's a spectacular student, but always so restless. He brings up controversial topics to distract himself. Always playing around. Hopefully, being in this new class will tame that poor behaviour he’s cultivated over the years.”

The professor smiled at Yoongi.

“You're a prefect, aren't you? Won't you look out for him? Help him out?”

His mouth twitched upwards into what he hoped resembled a smile.

“Of course I will.”

Yoongi spent the rest if the class violently stabbing his bark while staring at the back of Namjoon’s head.

 


 

2:08 P.M.

 

Kim Namjoon flawlessly performed the Sonorus spell they were assigned in Charms class, making his voice as loud as a foghorn. Yoongi thought the curriculum was mocking him at this point.

“You've got the volume right,” Ikje said to Yoongi as he lazily sat on top of his desk. He had already finished practicing the charm. Most of his classmates had also finished, and were lounging around, chatting casually. Yoongi, however, was encountering some difficulties. “The problem is that the actual sound coming from your mouth is mind-bendingly horrible.”

Jin loudly called out, “IKJE!” from across the room. He was hanging out with his Gryffindor friends. Jin had aced the charm, and his voice was loud, sweet-sounding, and perfect, as usual. It bounced around the room like an annoying choir.

“THAT'S EXACTLY HOW I WOULD DESCRIBE YOONGI'S USUAL SPEAKING VOICE: MINDBENDINGLY HORRIBLE!”

The class laughed. Yoongi tried swearing at Jin, but loud, ungodly noises of static erupted from his vocal chords. Everyone in the class clutched their ears.

“YEP! SAME AS USUAL!”Jin said cheerfully as he covered his ears and curled into the fetal position.

Quietus,” Ikje moaned, pointing his wand at Yoongi’s throat.

Everyone except Namjoon had practiced their charm with a partner. Sometimes, Namjoon would stare longingly at the people giggling amongst themselves. Other times, he would roll his eyes when his classmates messed up their charms. Namjoon muttered corrections under his breath. The kid looked like he wanted to interject his opinion into every conversation. His head would jerk back down to his essay for all of five seconds before drifting back up to the class. He wasn't fooling anyone.

Namjoon was staring. He was pretending to write an essay, but Yoongi could see him staring at the class.

Which meant Yoongi was watching him, watching everyone else. Whatever. Yoongi never said he wasn't a hypocrite.

“Do you think your wand positioning is wrong?” Ikje asked Yoongi.

“I might not be pointing at my Adam’s Apple correctly,” he replied, hesitantly touching his throat. “My vocal chords felt scratched up.”

He saw Namjoon shaking his head with annoyance.

“Or maybe not?” Yoongi said loudly in his direction.

Namjoon froze, and his eyes darted back towards his essay.

Caught red-handed. Idiot.

“Actually, your pronunciation might be the problem,” Ikje said, scratching his chin. “You say it like, Suh-NOR-us. Like,snore-ish. That makes it sound like really loud, jagged snores. It should be SON-nor-us. Like a sunrise.”

That sounds like gibberish,” Yoongi said glumly.

All magic is gibberish,” Ikje shrugged, “but there's a method to the madness.”

Yoongi saw Namjoon nodding in the corner of his eye.

Maddening.

Pointing to his throat, Yoongi sighed, and thought about the rising energy of the sun.

Sonorus,” he recited solemnly.

Ikje cautiously covered his ears. Some other people around the class did, too. Jin didn’t. He confidently gave Yoongi a thumbs up.

Namjoon, with his head down, also didn't cover his ears.

Yoongi raised a brow.

Clearly, in a booming voice, he said, "DO YOU REALLY HAVE SO LITTLE FAITH IN ME, IKJE?”

Ikje whooped, and started clapping. Jin and his friends in the class joined in.

Yoongi grinned, proclaiming, “THANK YOU, THANK YOU,” and bowing to the class.

Kim Namjoon didn't clap, but it’s not as though Yoongi was watching to see if he did.


 

2:26 P.M.

 

Yoongi’s head lay down on the desk next to the window of the class. He closed his eyes, breathing in softly. Sunlight drifted into the classroom. The air was warm. The desk’s flat surface was cool against Yoongi’s temples.

He had spent most of his break between class reassuring fifth year kids that the walls were going to be clear by tomorrow. Yoongi had vanished around thirty of the phrases on the walls to prove it to them. They didn’t seem convinced, but at least they stopped screeching when they accidentally shoved each other into the walls. That was a win, in Yoongi’s opinion.

Class wasn’t going to start for a few minutes. He dozed off, and listened to the quiet footsteps of his classmates entering the room.  In Yoongi’s grade of over 300 students, a total of four students had decided to take Muggle Studies all the way through to senior year. Yoongi smiled contently.

Four kids. one muggleborn Gryffindor girl, two muggleborn Hufflepuff girls, and Yoongi. They had stuck with the subject until the very end, and were now receiving the sweet fruit of their labours: fat, shiny O’s on their final exams, and the best place to nap in the entire school. It was Yoongi’s favourite class.

“Don’t wake him up,” one of the Hufflepuff girls whispered to another student. It was Seulgi. Her voice carried in the class like it had a sonorus charm.

“I just want to ask Yoongi what his independent study topic is,” said the Gryffindor girl, Wendy. “I don’t want to accidentally do the same thing.”

Seulgi said, “He cusses a lot if you interrupt his beauty sleep.”

“True fucking statement,” Yoongi said lazily, waving his arm.

“You’re awake!” Wendy called out, pleased. She walked over to him, and leaned down. “Did you decide your study topic?”

Yoongi stifled a yawn, and nodded. “Yeah. Rap music.”

Wendy groaned. “No, you can’t. I wanted to do muggle music.”

“Then do muggle music. I’ll just talk about the rapping.”

“Professor Heomnim will think we’re plagiarizing each other,” she argued. Wendy ran her hands through her long, red hair. “Did you have a backup?”

Yoongi grumbled, “Why do I have to use my backup? What’s your backup?”

There was no bite in his voice. He was too tired, and he had a soft spot for his Muggle Studies friends. They all stuck with the best class ever for so many years. Yoongi was so nice to them. He even made an effort to swear less when they woke him up.

“My backup was muggle planes, because I ride them a lot when I visit my extended family in Canada, but--”

“That’s cool. Much better than muggle music. Do that,” Yoongi said, before laying his head on the desk again.

Wendy frowned.

“What’s your backup topic?” She repeated.

“Jay-Z,” Yoongi said sleepily.

Seulgi laughed.

“You may have to bargain,” she said conspiratorially to Wendy, who scowled.

“What’s your topic, Seulgi?” Yoongi asked courteously.

She replied that she was doing muggle dancing. Yoongi nodded approvingly.

“Suits you. And Wendy, you’ll ace the final project with whatever topic too. Just relax.”

Wendy scoffed at him, and stuck out her fist.

“Let’s play rock-paper-scissors for the topic,” she insisted.

From behind her, Seulgi teased, “Ooh, watch out, Yoongi. She’s a master.”

Wendy stuck her tongue out at Seulgi.  Yoongi sighed, and obediently held out a fist.

In unison, they cried, “Rock, paper, scissors, shoot--!”

Yoongi held out scissors, while Wendy held out rock.

Seulgi and Wendy cheered loudly as he swore.

“Ah, don’t worry,” Wendy laughed while she wrapped her arms around Seulgi. “You can do your project on planes, if you find them so much cooler!”

“Ugh,” Yoongi moaned. “I brought this on myself. I’ve been unlucky all day.”

“Unlucky?” Seulgi said curiously.

“Are you cursed, or something?” interjected Wendy.

“No no, not like that,” he said reassuringly. “It’s just been that, like, all day I’ve…”

Yoongi trailed off as he looked at the person entering the room.

No.

No, no, no.

There were only four people in his Muggle Studies class. Four people he had decided to take the subject for all four years they had been available. Four people in his favourite, nap-filled class of peace.

This couldn’t be happening.

“You've got to be kidding me,” Yoongi said in a hushed voice.

Namjoon gave him the stink eye, and sat down across the room from him.

Yoongi said, in a slightly louder voice, “What do you mean, you’re in all of my classes today?”

Namjoon ignored him.

Wendy and Seulgi looked back and forth between the two boys.

“Yoongi? What’s wrong?” Seulgi asked.

“Who’s that guy?” whispered Wendy, as she looked over her shoulder at Namjoon.

Yoongi closed his eyes. This couldn’t be happening.

“Nobody takes seventh year Muggle Studies!” he angrily shouted. Namjoon continued to steadfastly ignore him.

Yoongi started softly banging his head against the desk.

“Uh,” Wendy said. “Yoongi--”

“I really am cursed,” he whined into the desk. He lifted his head up a little.

Wendy and Seulgi looked down at him with concern.

Yoongi choked out, “Can you two leave me alone for a minute? I need time to grieve.”

Wendy and Seulgi exchanged quizzical looks with each other.

“Yeah, sure, Yoongi,” Seulgi said, nudging Wendy away. They started whispering to each other.

Yoongi planted his face onto the desk again.

The bastard had taken Muggle Studies. His favourite class.

He faintly heard another person enter the room.

The last student in their class chirped, “Hey guys! I need your opinions on my independent study topics! I can’t decide between theme parks or religious cults, so if you could...”

She stopped talking.

“...why’s Yoongi banging his head against the table? Who the new guy? What’s going on?”

“I honestly have no idea, Amber,” Wendy replied with exasperation.

Another voice answered her first question.

“I’m Namjoon. I just transferred into the class.”

“Go away,” Yoongi moaned in a muffled voice.

Namjoon muttered, “I wish I could.”

Yoongi thumped his forehead onto the desk repeatedly.

“I’m even more confused than before,” Amber said weakly.

“Theme parks,” Seulgi whispered in an effort to help her out.

Amber sheepishly whispered, “Thanks.”

The bell for the start of class rang.

 


 

6:00 P.M.

 

“Not that bad?” Yoongi sputtered.

He pointed at the walls of the Great Hall.

You need to survive.

Echings of graffiti continued to glow and burn. The whole school reeked of paint and smoke.

“The asshole who did all this isn’t that bad?” he said incredulously.

“He wasn’t, when I talked to him,” Wendy said defensively, as she sat down at the Gryffindor table.

“Wendy, did you listen to anything I said that whole class--” Yoongi started.

“--Of course she did. You were very loud,” Seulgi chipped in. “You know, I also thought he was perfectly normal. Just a little shy.”

“He knew a lot about planes,” Wendy added generously.

Yoongi ran his hands through his hair.

“Well, I guess that makes him a saint, doesn’t it?” he said crossly. “And didn’t he say he was pureblood, anyway? Why does he know so much about muggle stuff?”

Wendy said, “He skipped an entire grade, Yoongi, obviously he’s smart.” She crossed her arms. “Why would he lie about his blood status?”

“People do it all the time!” he said, irked. “You said yourself, he knew a lot about muggle stuff for a pureblood. I bet he’s muggleborn, and lied about his blood status to seem cool.”

“I think your Slytherin paranoia is working against you right now,” Wendy responded. “Are you saying muggles are so boring that pureblood wizards can’t learn about them?”

Her eyes were narrowed. Seulgi grabbed her arm.

“He didn’t mean it like that,” she said quietly.

“Yeah, come on Wendy, you know I’m half-blood,” Yoongi said defensively. “I’m just saying that there are some things you only learn from experience. He mentioned specific airlines and airport security. What pureblood would know that kind of mundane information?”

Wendy looked doubtful. “Ravenclaw kids are like that sometimes. Besides, even if he was lying, I don’t think he should be expelled for something that dumb. And the graffiti-- isn’t it harmless?”

Seulgi firmly said, “The Headmaster put him in those classes. He didn’t expel him. I trust the Headmaster’s judgement. You should too, Yoongi.”

Yoongi opened his mouth to argue some more, but Seulgi continued speaking.

“We should go eat, now. At our own separate tables.”

She gave him a pointed look towards the table he was supposed to sit at. Some people around them had started whispering. It was always a strange sight when people from other houses crowded around other tables during meals. That only happened when inter-house clubs had important events to plan, and when lovers had cringeworthy public breakups. Yoongi felt his face flush.

“Right,” he muttered, as he glanced at some younger Gryffindor guys whisper loudly.

“It was fun studying in the library, after class, though!” Seulgi added charitably.

Wendy said, less charitably, “You need to relax, Yoongi. The kid is harmless.”

“Punching and stunning me isn’t exactly harmless,” he muttered again.

“Are you talking about the boy wonder?”

Yoongi turned his head to find Jin sitting down next to Wendy.

“You can’t stand that Namjoon kid either, right Jin?” he appealed.

Jin glanced around the table. Yoongi looked up and found that Kim Namjoon was no where to be seen.

“He’s a smart kid. I can’t fault him for that,” Jin said as he picked up his fork and knife.

Yoongi rolled his eyes, and said to Wendy and Seulgi, “That’s his Head Boy voice. All polite and courteous and shit. He agrees with me.”

Jin pursed his lips. “Don’t put words in my mouth, Min Yoongi.”

He picked up a few chicken wings and happily started to gobble them up.

“So, is this random Slytherin punk--” Jin said, mouth full, jabbing his finger at Yoongi, “--hovering around just to complain to you two? How rude!”

Wendy laughed, and Seulgi said, “The three of us were doing homework in the library before dinner. He was being nice, until we started talking about the new kid in our Muggle Studies class.”

Jin stopped chewing. “He took seventh year Muggle Studies? That’s so weird. Nobody takes seventh year Muggle Studies.”

“That’s what I said!” Yoongi griped.

“If anything, that’s a point in Kim Namjoon’s favour,” Jin snorted. “It’s hard to imagine a real delinquent taking that subject. People who take Muggle Studies are usually mellow.”

He smiled brightly at them all.

“Also, incredibly attractive,” he added, with a wink.

Yoongi fake-vomited, while Wendy and Seulgi groaned and started smacking Jin as he laughed at his own goofy pickup line.

“Is that why you dropped the subject last year?” Yoongi said, calling him out.  “Because you became so ugly?”

“No, I dropped it because it was boring!” Jin said immediately. “I’m the most attractive person at this table. Really, the most attractive person at this school.”

He smiled brightly again, and started posing with his chicken drumsticks. Yoongi gagged loudly.

“I’m leaving,” he said, standing up.

“Wait! I nearly forgot, I have to tell you something,” Jin said, pausing his dramatic posing. “Hoseok’s been trying to find you all day. He tracked me down during lunch, and apparently, he needs to talk to you about quidditch.”

Yoongi’s brow furrowed.

“Why does he need to talk to me about quidditch, of all things?”

Seulgi’s eyes snapped up at the mention of quidditch. She was a chaser on the Hufflepuff team.

“Hoseok’s the new Hufflepuff captain this year. Are you going to start playing again?” Seulgi said excitedly.

Wendy, chewing some mashed potatoes, honestly said, “You shouldn’t. That kid who replaced you is super good.”

“Thanks,” Yoongi said sarcastically.

“He could tae another position!” Seulgi protested. She smiled at him enthusiastically. “It would be nice to play against you again. Those new Slytherin muscle-heads are terrible. Ever since the older players graduated, the team has lost all their technique, and rely way too much on that new seeker.” Seulgi pouted, and grumbled, “Last year, I got so many injuries while playing against the Slytherins. They’re brutal.”

“Yeah, they really are,” Yoongi winced.

Wendy looked up from her food with mild worry. “What do you mean?”

Yoongi shuffled his feet uncomfortably. He looked away from them. “Ah, nothing. Let’s stop talking about my shitty quidditch playing.”

He hurriedly turned back to Jin. “What do you think Hobi wanted?”

“I don’t know, but he looked really excited,” Jin said.

“Yeah, but it’s Hobi. He always looks excited,” replied Yoongi, as though he were stating the obvious.

Jin just shrugged, and went back to eating.

Seulgi and Wendy both looked at him inquisitively, like they wanted to prod him further about his mysterious quidditch past. Yoongi scratched the back of his neck, and quickly said goodbye to them both before walking back to his own table to eat.


 

11:26 P.M.

 

There were many places in Hogwarts that Yoongi considered truly magical. Not magical in the traditional sense, but magical in that they held a special place in Yoongi’s heart. Places worthy of napping.

His four-poster bed.

The Slytherin Common Room carpet.

His desk in Muggle Studies next to the window.

The fat, squishy red armchair in the library.

“Yeah, all those places are really great,” Yoongi drawled. “But you know which place is my favourite?”

The mermaid painting he was talking to sarcastically said, “Gee, I don’t know. The Prefects’ Bathroom?”

Yoongi, rubbing purple, sparkly soap suds into his hair, sighed contently.

“Yeah, the Prefects’ bathroom.”

He loved the bathroom with all his heart. Everything about it was perfect. The toilets with warmed seats. The fluffy towels you couldn’t get anywhere else. The fact that it was reserved only for prefects, carefully secluded from all the other kids in the school. Yoongi even liked the snooty mermaid painting that prevented any ‘funny business’ from occurring (although, some pretty ‘funny’ stories would happen when the mermaid fell asleep).

Most of all, Yoongi loved the bath itself.

It wasn't actually a bath, in the strictest sense of the word. It was, in actuality, a swimming pool lined with golden taps that spat out of the best scents Yoongi had ever smelled in his life. Assorted soaps, bath salts, shampoo, bath bombs, bubble bath, conditioner, healing potions: it was all heaven to Yoongi. He'd even admit that he would once licked a bath bomb that smelled like a delicious, ineffable fruit. It was a mistake, and he'd end up choking while shoulder-deep in a sweet-citrus scent cloud, but Yoongi still loved every second of it.

He would start to feel light-headed and chatty in the bathroom. It was the period of the day when he was most happy and awake.

That was unfortunate for the mermaid he chatted with every time he used the bathroom.

“You hadn't visited in awhile,” the mermaid said glumly. “I had hoped that you had forgotten the password.”

“Nope!” Yoongi said cheerfully. “I've just been pretty busy with schoolwork, and my roommates kept saying I was addicted to the bathroom, so I tried to cut myself off at the beginning of the year.”

The mermaid flipped her blonde hair and crossed her arms. “Your friends are right. Addicts like you come late at night. Every night. They always play in the bubbles until they wrinkle like prunes, and they talk my head off!”

She frustratedly splashed her tail into the blue water in her painting.

“Paintings need to sleep too!” she whined. “If we don't, we get dusty, and our magic leaves us more quickly!”

“Really?” Yoongi said, fascinated. He took his soapy hands out of his hair, and folded them under his chin. “So then, how old are you? Were you around when the founders made the school?”

The mermaid gave him an extremely offended look.

Haughtily, she said, “I am not one of those ugly caveman monstrosities from 900 A.D. I'm a rococo style piece of art!”

Yoongi smiled blandly at her, and swam up to another tap. He twisted the handle, closed his eyes, and inhaled deeply.

Merlin. It was a pear and persimmon perfume, laced with a million other subtle, delicious scents. Yoongi opened his eyes, and watched the sunset coloured liquid create gorgeous rose swirls in the water.

This was what made prefect duties worth the trouble. This was why Yoongi continued to scold his peers over inane things like breaking the dress code, or why he sat through boring prefect meetings led by Head Boy Jin and Head Girl Jieun. This was why Yoongi put himself through erasing that graffiti over and over all day.

Mother. Fucking. Prefects’ bathroom.

“Hey, I have another question!” Yoongi said. He swam closer to the mermaid. “You’ve seen all of the prefects at our school naked, haven’t you?”

The mermaid scoffed. “Yes, although I try not to stare at the children. I have a job to do.”

Yoongi smirked, and rested his elbows at the edge of the pool. “Interesting. Anyone notable? Any bombshells?”

“Don’t give me that perverse look!” she said, flustered. “That’s all confidential information.”

Yoongi grinned and he tilted his head flirtatiously.

“I just wanna know who has the nicest abs in this school,” he said.

The mermaid raised her brows.

“Funny. Most boys your age ask about girls and their chest sizes,” she replied.

Yoongi’s felt the heat rise in his face.

“I mean, that information would also be nice,” he said weakly. “Uh, also, I mean, like, girls can have abs too. Don’t be so close-minded, jeez.”

The mermaid painting sighed, but Yoongi thought he glimpsed her smile for the briefest moment.

“It’s all confidential,” she reminded him. “I won’t tell.”

The door of the Prefects’ bathroom cracked open.

“Anyone else in here?” shouted a peppy voice.

Yoongi yelped, and pushed off the edge of the pool to submerge his naked body back into the bubbly, colourful water.

He glared at the person standing in the doorway.

“Yeah! Me!” Yoongi said furiously.

“Yoongi?” Jung Hoseok called.

He was wearing his bright yellow Quidditch uniform. Hoseok leaned his broom against the wall, and walked over to the pool.There was a bit of dirt on his face. His dark hair looked extremely wind-swept, but his eyes were wide and alert, and his delighted face looked at Yoongi with a great deal of interest. “I’ve been looking for you all day! Man, what are you doing here so late?”

“I’m here late because I didn’t want to swim with anyone else,” Yoongi muttered, sinking deeper into the water. “I hate sharing the pool.”

“Really? I love sharing the pool!” Hoseok said happily. He started stripping off his dirty quidditch uniform. Yoongi rolled his eyes.

“Why, why, why is the bathroom communal?” he cried.

“It fosters good bonding between the prefects of Hogwarts,” said the mermaid painting. She sounded extremely amused.

“He’s not even a real prefect,” Yoongi wailed, “he’s just the captain of his freaking quidditch team!”

Hoseok whooped, and Yoongi heard his feet pitter patter backwards, before taking a running jump into the pool. An enormous SPLASH! sound erupted when he contacted the water, spraying Yoongi with all the soapy bubbles he had lathered on it. He coughed, and uncovered his eyes.

Hoseok’s head popped up from the water, and he spat a stream of water out of his mouth.

“Don’t be so squeamish, Yoongi,” he said, grin outshining the sun. “Bathing with other people is fun.”

Hoseok splashed him playfully. Yoongi lunged to hit him, but he darted away, giggling like mad.

Smirking, Hoseok sang, “Hey now! Don’t invade my personal space! Rule one of bathroom etiquette!”

Yoongi rolled his eyes, and looked up at the mermaid painting.

“Which one of these taps has Decency Mist in it, again?” he asked.

Hoseok groaned. “Aw c’mon Yoongi, you’re no fun. Decency Mist smells disgusting, and it clogs my pores. I’ll get zits.”

The mermaid said, “It’s the silver tap to your left, with the white quartz engraving.”

Yoongi swam up to it, and turned the handle. Thick, white mist poured out, and coated Hoseok and Yoongi’s bodies, leaving their private parts covered.

“Hey, those are the rules,” Yoongi said bluntly, as he observed the mist encircled his chest. “You bathe with other people, you respect their privacy.”

Hoseok sighed, and said, “Whatever makes you comfortable, dude.”

He sucked in his breath, and sank back into the water. Yoongi watched as he quickly swam laps in the pool.

When Hoseok re-emerged at the surface, Yoongi said, “You’re a good swimmer.”

Hoseok shook the water out of his ears, and gave him a thumbs up.

“It’s really fun! There’s a river near my house,” he told him. Hoseok dragged his hand through his dark, wet hair, and recalled, “That’s where my older sister taught me how to swim.”

Yoongi nodded absentmindedly. He was a little distracted by Hoseok’s arms.  They were really muscular. Hoseok could probably snap his scrawny arms like a twig. Merlin, Yoongi was more out of shape than he thought. He needed to start working out. This was sad.

“Enough about swimming though-- I need to ask you something!” Hoseok said excitedly.

Yoongi’s eyes snapped up from Hoseok’s arms, and he mumbled, “Oh yeah. Right. That. What do you want?”

Hoseok’s eyes gleamed. “Yesterday, I had a revelation.”

“A...revelation,” Yoongi said, straight-faced.

“About you,” Hoseok said intensely.

Yoongi’s face was red, he could feel it. He needed to pull himself together. This was precisely the type of situation he wanted to avoid. Talking to naked people was so weird. Talking to a naked Jung Hoseok was even weirder.

“What about me?” Yoongi said, coughing awkwardly and looking away.

Excitedly, Hoseok blurted, “You should be the new Hogwarts quidditch commentator!”

Yoongi blinked, and looked up skeptically. Hoseok’s grin was practically dancing on his face, he looked so giddy.

“...You’re joking, right?” Yoongi responded.

Hoseok grin slid into a pout. “I’m serious! You would be perfect for the job!”

He attempted to swim closer to Yoongi, but was rebuffed by his death glare.

Hoseok sheepishly continued, “Look, I talked to Professor Hunchul last week. The auditions were a bust. He begged me and the other quidditch captains to try and find someone halfway decent.”

“How bad were the auditions?” Yoongi wondered.

Hoseok gloomily replied, “Only three first-years showed up.”

Yoongi was taken aback.

“That’s not exactly… reassuring,” he said.

“I know, right?!?”

Hoseok indignantly threw his hands up, flinging water everywhere.

“You know how rumours spread! People are scared. They think they’ll get blackmailed into sabotaging games.”

“Sabotage?”

“Distracting players, cat-calling, deliberately announcing false moves, all the things the commentator did last year for the quidditch final. That whole disaster.”

Yoongi said, scratching the top of his head. The soap suds had left his black hair soft and silky. It was a comforting feeling.

“Has the inter-house league really gone so far downhill?”

Hoseok huffed. “The Slytherin team is the reason, and you know that better than anyone else. The last match we played against them was brutal.”

“Slytherin hasn’t won the cup in sixteen years,” Yoongi echoed. He thought back to Jimin’s naive, hopeful face in the morning. His mouth twitched. “Don’t you think we deserve it, after all these years?”

“Quidditch is suppose to be fun!” replied Hoseok, outraged. “They all take way too seriously!”

“Says the guy who was just practiced until 11:30,” he said. “The guy who’s going to become a professional quidditch player after he graduates.”

“The inter-house league is suppose to be fun,” Hoseok corrected.

Abruptly, Yoongi asked, “Why ask me? Why should I commentate?”

Hoseok scooped up some bubbles in the pool, and blew them towards Yoongi. It was a cute gesture. Yoongi scrunched his nose as one of the bubbles floated into his face.

“I’m asking you for a lot of reasons,” Hoseok smiled, scooping up more bubbles. “You know a lot about quidditch. You can point out the cool tricks we do. You’re smart, so you’ll remember all of our names.”

Yoongi snorted. “Don’t count on it, Hop-scotch.”

“You’re also a prefect,” Hoseok laughed. “That means, you’re responsible, right?”

“I’m a mess, and you know it.”

He added, “I mean, you always heckle the players during games anyway. Now, you can share your jokes with the whole school. You even have a nice voice. Those are pretty good reasons!”

Hoseok blew some more bubbles at him. The soft, shiny orbs floated up to Yoongi’s face.

He lifted up his hand and carefully popped each of them.

“I feel like you’re asking me out of spite,” Yoongi said stiffly. “Like, I’m the person who would piss Slytherin off the most, if I were to do the job.”

Hoseok frowned. His hands descended back into the pool. “That’s not what I’m doing,” he said gently. “If anything, I’m asking you for your own good.”

Yoongi didn’t answer him. He studied at his hands.

“You want to get back at them for what they put you through, don’t you?” Hoseok said gently.

He had spent too long in the bath. That damned mermaid painting was proving him right.

“Show them how much better you are without them. Get some closure.”

Yoongi’s hands really did look like prunes.

He said, “I’m not going to give them the satisfaction.”

He started thrashing away from Hoseok, and climbed out of the pool.

“Wha--? Hey, Yoongi! Where are you going?” demanded Hoseok.

“I’ve spent way too long in this bath. I’m going to bed,” Yoongi muttered. He walked up to his robes, trying to find his wand.

“Hey!” Hoseok shouted, swimming to the edge of the pool. “I’m sorry I suggested it. You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to but--”

He faltered a little, but continued, “--I think you would have fun! Honestly! You would be really good at it.”

Yoongi grabbed his wand, tight-lipped, and said, “They would be so pissed, Hobi.”

He muttered an incantation, and warm wind started blowing out of his wand. Yoongi pointed it at his body, wishing its effects were instantaneous so he could just get out.

Hoseok opened his mouth again. “Are you okay? I-I’m sorry if I brought back any bad memories.”

“I’m fine,” Yoongi said harshly, spinning around to look back at Hoseok. He was grinding his teeth together.

They were silent for a moment. The mermaid looked back and forth between them nervously.

Hoseok leaned out of the pool with a distressed expression.

“Do you wanna talk about it?”

“No. I just want to go to sleep,” Yoongi lamented. He tugged his robes back over his head. Looking back at Hoseok, he said reassuringly, “It’s really not that big a deal.”

Hoseok raised a brow. “If it’s not that big a deal, you should know that the first match isn’t going to be until November. Lots of time to reconsider.” He gave Yoongi the same intense gaze he had on before. “Will you at least consider the possibility?”

Yoongi’s dark, strained eyes met Hoseok’s bright, hopeful ones.

“I’ll...consider the possibility,” Yoongi shrugged, before exiting the room.

 


 

 

Time Signatures

 

I can’t hear the beat of my life.

How does the future sound?

Will it be an even rhythm

Or just hands pounding on the ground?

 

I can’t escape my past meters

I can’t run away, it’s fast

Beat me until my feet are broken

Will my melody ever last?

 

You cussed me out

For trading away what I earned

That future of doubt was mine

It was my money to burn

 

Rode freely in that blue sky

The breaking cracks in my body

They left me to alone to die

I let my ears listen to honesty

 

And now my beat is in four four time

I cultivate responsibility

I write the right notes all in line

I neglect my true abilities

 

Am I fine?

In four four time

Am I fine?

I’m staying in line

Am I fine?

Will I be fine in time?

 

Yoongi’s eyelids felt heavy. His brightly lit wand was clenched between his teeth as he wrote pages and pages of words underneath the sheets. He didn’t know what time it was, but it must have been well past midnight. He tried rereading what he had just written in his notebook, but his vision was blurring. This was probably the tenth? Eleventh? Poem he had written? He had also scribbled down some new story ideas, and a few potion ideas that would probably be inconceivable by morning, but Yoongi was too tired to care. He didn’t know what compelled him to do this every night. It wasn’t healthy. It was what caused his sleepwalking problem.

Yoongi squinted, and reread the words he had written down. He winced. The rhyming scheme was so basic. The theme was cliche. It was too vague and too personal all at once. Definitely the sort of thing he would thrash alive by morning, if he bothered to reread it.

He flipped the page and dutifully started filling in the blank lines with more words flowing from his quill.

Another sleepless night.

Chapter Text

 


 

“...Frog Choir...Quidditch Commentary...The Hogwarts Herald...”

There was an impressive amount of clever magic used on the bulletin board. Club flyers flitted and fluttered to capture the attention of any student passing through the Gryffindor Common Room. All the different clubs made an effort to make appealing advertisements, resulting in interesting design choices abound.

The Duelling Club had a sleek black poster with gold writing and two glittery wands aimed at each other. Tiny sparkles would occasionally burst from their tips. The club must’ve spent ages foolproofing the poster so it wouldn’t become a fire hazard.

It was cute.

Duelling Club seemed cute.

Namjoon scoffed, and wondered if any student over third year actively participated in it. Duelling was only fun if there was no adult supervision and it ended with someone bursting into tears.

Exploding Snap Enthusiasts and Chess Club were clearly rivals. Their posters occasionally tried blocking each other from sight. The two clubs seemed to have the same basic aesthetic: Exploding Snap had a large card deck on its poster, while chess had a large chessboard. They both looked extremely cheesy, but judging from the amount of moving imagery in both posters, they also had sizeable club budgets. The Chess Club had tiny drawings of the different chess pieces having a party. The joker in the Exploding Snap Enthusiast’s poster kept winking at him.

“You wish,” Namjoon muttered, flicking it away with his fingers.

Quidditch was the worst sport ever conceived in the history of wizardkind: Incomprehensible rules, toxic competitiveness, and excruciatingly dangerous. Commentating the games would be laughably childish. The poster was pretty, nonetheless: it was colourful collage of quidditch photos, with all the players swooping and catching dramatically in their fruitless pursuit of victory. His eyes slid off the paper to search for something, anything, that could fulfill the headmaster’s draconian orders.

Frog Choir had tiny stickers of frogs that, when pressed, emitted high-pitched long notes. Namjoon was not a great singer, nor a particularly good frog charmer, but it was sort of fun to poke the frog stickers until they began to wheeze. That was some good attention to detail.

The Hogwarts Herald was the in-school propaganda: the newspaper documented students achievements and current events while actively ignoring the hard truths that would actually qualify as news. Profiling a Hogwarts alumni who worked as an Auror wasn’t journalism: it was government advertising. The weekly cartoon strip was also abysmal. It centered around the adventures of a pet cat, a rat, and an owl as they learned about friendship and the importance of handing your homework in on time. No thank you.

Ghost Poets Society was full of gloomy, mediocre, wannabe writers. Namjoon went to one meeting, during first year. He ran away before reading his poem aloud, when all those seventh years stared at him with their dark, sullen eyes. Whatever. He liked inventing spells and breaking the rules. Poetry didn’t excite him anymore. It’s not as though Namjoon wanted to share what he wrote, either. That was embarrassing.

Spellmaker’s team. Some of his roommates went to that club. They were idiots. The club was only a check mark on their resumes after graduation. The only thing those club members invented was a false sense of accomplishment. Next.

Society for Elfish Welfare. S.P.E.W made fun of itself. Next.

The Librarian’s Book Collective. Books were dumb. Next.

Transfiguration Society, Charms Club, Potionmaker’s Society,  Magical Creatures Enthusiasts, Herbology Club, Defense League--

“As if I care,” he muttered to himself.

Society for the Support of Squibs. This poster was definitely the worst. There was a drawing of a crying squib hugging a wizard, thanking it for donating ten galleons. Namjoon had never seen anything more condescending in his entire life. His hands balled up into fists. He ripped the poster off the board and tore it to shreds.

The posters noticed what he was doing, and all at once, screeched in unison while flying into his face. He swatted the pieces of paper away from his cheeks, but one of the posters slapped itself onto his mouth. Angrily, he curled his hand onto the paper and crumpled it into his hands.

“Ugh, gah! Stupefy! ’ he shouted, wildly pointing his wand at the posters. They froze in place, no longer jumping out at him. Namjoon had gone overboard; they may never move again. Fantastic.

Namjoon looked at the crumpled paper he held in his fist.

 

Do you want to BE A TUTOR? Do you want to BE TUTORED?

Please take a tab at the bottom of this page to be assigned, if proven to meet the expectations f or tutoring services! Thank you!

 

Namjoon hastily attempted to smooth the paper, but it was already ripped beyond repair. He groaned in frustration, and looked at his watch. It was getting late. He needed to catch his first class soon. If Namjoon left now, he could drop by the Great Hall for a piece of toast before the lesson started.

Tutoring. It couldn’t be that bad. Namjoon helped his friends all the time when they were messing up. He was good at studying. This would be easy. At the very least, it would be less painful than feigning enthusiasm for any other club.

Namjoon charmed the paper back on the board. It stuck to the board like a limp, dead leaf. Typical: he had a knack for messing up incantations in his clumsy clutches when he was distressed.

Paper tabs fluttered at the bottom of the page. Namjoon pulled one of them off with a tug.

The small piece of paper slipped out of Namjoon’s fingertips, spun formed itself into a tiny, folded butterfly.

The butterfly fluttered, and in a small voice, squeaked, “Please! Tap your wand to identify yourself, please!”

Namjoon blinked in surprised.

“Sure thing.”

He tapped his wand, and the butterfly shouted, “Kim Namjoon, sixteen years old! Confirm identity, please!”

“You know, someone could just steal my wand and sign me up for tutoring services against my will,” he thoughtfully said aloud to the butterfly. “Come to think of it, don’t the banks use wand identification too? That’s so stupid. You would think that magical-kind could figure out a better system than--”

“Confirm identity, please!”

Namjoon frowned.

“I was thinking out loud. C’mon, don’t interrupt me.”

The butterfly shouted, “Confirm Identity!”

He sighed, and said, “Unfortunately, I am Kim Namjoon.”

“Would you like to receive or provide tutoring services?”

“You’re awfully cute,” Namjoon mumbled, “but you’re incredibly susceptible to identity theft.”

“Pardon?” the paper butterfly squeaked. It’s intonation was very familiar.

Namjoon snorted. “Oh, someone taught you manners.”

“Pardon?”

Namjoon smirked. This was kinda funny.

He wondered aloud, “Is that your only response?”

“Pardon?”

“Pardon?” he echoed.

“Pardon?”

“Pardon?”

“Pardon?”

This could probably go on forever, but Namjoon felt his stomach growl in annoyance.

“I’d like to provide tutoring services,” he conceded.

“Thank you very much!” the butterfly pipped enthusiastically. “Which subjects are you interested in tutoring?”

“Anything but...Arithmancy, Ancient Runes, and Divination, I guess.”

“Which grade level would you prefer to tutor?”

“Doesn't matter.”

“Please select the houses you would prefer your students to be from: Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart! Hufflepuff, where they are just and loyal! Ravenclaw, where wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure! Slytherin, where those of cunning ambition achieve their ends!”

“I don’t really care,” he said amicably to the charming butterfly. “Every house has dummies.”

“Thank you very much!” the butterfly exclaimed. “I’m processing your student record for assignment. Hmm!"

The butterfly spun around for a moment.

"Kim Namjoon: you have outstanding grades in all of your chosen subjects! You exceed the academic expectations of a tutor!”

“Dope,” Namjoon said with a smirk.

“You have had accumulated 245 detentions within the past six years! You are below the procedural expectations of a tutor!”

He stopped smirking.

“Less dope,” he mumbled.

“You are in a gray area of acceptable applications! You cannot be assigned a student at this time!”

The paper butterfly flapped its wings harder.

“Don’t worry, Kim Namjoon, sixteen years old! Simply request that a teacher vouch for your moral character, and you can become a tutor right away! All you need is the trust and respect of one of your professors!”

Namjoon stuttered, “U-uh, hey, buddy, that's not really--”

The butterfly promptly burst into flames.

“--possible?” he mumbled weakly, watching its ashes fall to the ground.

He should’ve known that he couldn’t have nice things in his garbage life.

Namjoon silently mourned the death of his friendly piece of paper, and wondered why the only extracurricular he had seriously considered was one he couldn’t possible join.

 


 

“Rain or shine, we learn, every time!” Professor Sangyeon bellowed, as the seventh year class stomped through the muddy grounds of Hogwarts. Thunder crackled and boomed overhead, the storm showering the group with a barrage of water almost as great in quantity as the lake they were all walking towards.

Namjoon’s other classmates brought enchanted canopy umbrellas that expanded like roofs to share. It was too bad he didn’t know any of them well enough sneak himself underneath. Namjoon valiantly attempted to keep dry with a shielding spell, but gave up halfway through, and resorted to conjuring a hot air spell every thirty seconds.

I blow my mind, Namjoon thought, as the hot gusts whipped across his face.

Care for Magical Creatures was always an outdoor class, with no exceptions. Extreme weather conditions never seemed to bother Professor Sangyeon. Not during that blizzard in third year, or the heatwave of fourth year, and certainly not during the frog rainstorm in fifth year. Professor Sangyeon simply conjured up buckets for students to catch frogs with.

“We can feed them to the hippogriffs!” He had shouted optimistically. Though his energy was laudable, Namjoon suspected that his sanity was also slipping.

Today, was a scheduled ‘in-school field trip’ to the Great Lake. They were supposed to interview merpeople and research them for their next unit of study, but Namjoon doubted that the drenched class was feeling particularly excited about soaking in more water.

Professor Sangyeon stopped the group at the dock, and placed his hands on his hips.

The tall, skinny man controlled creatures, not with physical strength, but with sheer enthusiasm. He had one of those umbrellas that was charmed to shine sunlight on its user, making him look particularly jovial today.

Sangyeon shouted, “Now, can anyone tell me what a magic user must do when interacting with a merperson for the first time?”

The class shuffled in the rain uncomfortably. Namjoon himself was more concerned with not falling into the lake than coming up with a quick answer.

“Come on, now! You’re all intelligent young witches and wizards! A little rain should not impend your learning!”

“It’s more than a little, sir!” a Gryffindor boy cried out, struggling to keep hold of his umbrella in the wind.

“That’s no excuse, Mark!” Sangyeon said, pointing at the student. “Interspecies interviews are hard to organize! This is very important for your field studies project. Primary information is a vital part of this class!  Now, who will answer my question?”

Over the deafening wind, a girl shouted, “You give the merpeople gifts!”

“Yes! Excellent, Jieun! Five points to Slytherin!” Sangyeon beamed. “Although, the proper phrasing is ‘offers of civility!’ They are very important, as merpeople are extremely sensitive!”

Namjoon, under his breath, muttered, “They’re badass fish warriors. How sensitive could they be?”

Some of his classmates overheard, and turned to stare at him. So much for a low profile. Namjoon just couldn’t keep his stupid mouth shut. He stuck his chin out and dared them to respond. They flinched, and turned away.

Sangyeon continued, “Now, what sort of gifts do we give them? Anyone? Anyone?”

“Magical objects? Like, goblin-made weapons?” a Hufflepuff boy said.

His friend elbowed him. “That’s for giants, you idiot.”

“Fish?” another girl suggested.

Mark moaned, “Why would you give fish to something that lives in a lake?”

“I want to go inside,” the Hufflepuff boy dejectedly sobbed.

“Musical instruments!” Jieun said loudly over the noise.

Sangyeon looked relieved. “Yes, yes! Merpeople are a very proud species, and aren’t interested in conventional wizard objects or resources. They do, however, love the way we play music. That’s why today--”

He untied his waist satchel. From its enchanted depths, he pulled out a handful of blue ocarinas.

“--you’ll be giving these to the Great Lake merpeople!”

The class fell silent, and Namjoon heard them whisper to each other.

“This is a joke, right?”

“Merlin help us.”

“I should’ve taken Divination.”

“You are very lucky young witches and wizards!” Sangyeon yelled, tossing ocarinas for them to catch. “Mer-people are very fickle! They are anti-social, prone to cancelling plans last minute, and form any excuses possible against interaction with humankind!”

Namjoon felt an acute sense of kinship with mer-people in that moment.

“Be respectful and vigilant! Remember to carry your kelp-papyrus and water-proof quills in your pockets during your interviews! Gillyweed is first come, first serve! We have a limited supply, so the rest of you may need to use bubble charms! It is a very rare ingredient, so don’t dawdle when getting into the lake!”

Namjoon’s classmates closed their large umbrellas and started shuffling towards the professor, complaining about the rain. They laughed at each other’s jokes, and helped each other with supplies. An aura of familiarity hovered over them like the sunshine in Professor Sangyeon’s umbrella. It shielded them from the terrible weather and brought them closer together. All of Namjoon’s new classmates were like that, especially the smaller elective courses: seventh-year students were insufferably chummy from all the time spent together. Namjoon continued to blast hot air onto himself, as he watched the Hufflepuff boy goofily shake his head like a dog in the direction of one of the Ravenclaw girls. She shrieked, and playfully smacked his head. He smirked, and lunged in for a kiss. The girl giggled, and the couple toppled into the lake. Professor Sangyeon yelped, but the other students told him they had already ingested their gillyweed and gotten their supplies.

“Puppy love,” Professor Sangyeon huffed. “Although, since this is a care for magical creatures class, I should call it something like unicorn foal love, eh?” The other students laughed at the non-joke. “Well, if you kids are all set, go on, swim after them. Give them a scolding.”

They nodded, and each hopped in, joking with each other as their gills developed and their bubble-encased heads formed, until they completely sank into the lake.

“Professor Sangyeon, can I talk to you about something?”

Namjoon watched as the professor stepped back, with a forced smile.

“Yes, yes, is this about the merpeople?” Sangyeon nodded. “Let me guess. You’re going to tell me you’re fluent in mermish?”

Sangyeon wasn’t exactly Namjoon’s biggest fan. He was one of the professors who would have celebrated his expulsion with chocolate frogs and fireworks. This was likely due to the fact that Namjoon had a habit of stealing magical creatures for experiments and pranks alike. Sangyeon was also easy to rile up if you heckled him in class. Usually, Namjoon would make some outlandish claim about magical creatures, and Sangyeon would throw a neat little tantrum that made him forget to assign homework.

“No sir, I’m not fluent in mermish,” Namjoon said. Instinctively, he added, “Although, magic is becoming so advanced that actually, within my lifetime, I can probably find a universal translator spell to use, so it would be a big waste of time to learn any new languages.”

Sangyeon looked almost comically offended at each word of Namjoon’s statement.

His professor sighed, and said, “Another day, another way in which you demean my chosen field of study. Now, what can I do for you?”

Namjoon took a deep breath. Stay cool. “I signed up for tutoring today, but the butterfly---paper--thing--” he shook his head, “--anyway, it said that I needed authorization from one of my teachers to become a tutor.”

“Really?” Sangyeon pursed his lips.  Well, Namjoon, I don’t think that is such a good idea. I don’t think it would suit you.”

“What the hell do you mean--” Namjoon stopped, and clenched his jaw. “I’m sorry. I meant...pardon?”

Sangyeon gently said, “You’ve never been a patient student, and I don’t think you would be a good influence on any younger students. Especially with your track record.”

“I need to do this, sir, for my--”

“Yes, yes, I realize that the headmaster insisted you get involved with the school,” Sangyeon admitted grudgingly.

“Do you disagree with him?” Namjoon said sharply. He hesitated, and sloppily added, “Sir?”

The rain was loud in seconds of silence that followed.

“What the headmaster decides is his business.”

Sangyeon said those words slowly, clearly trying not to set him off.

Namjoon muttered, “You don’t agree with his decision.”

Sangyeon gave him an annoyed look. “The headmaster is responsible for whatever choices he makes. It’s understandable that he wouldn’t want an underaged student expelled from this school, left to their own devices in the real world. It reflects poorly on his own record as the administrator of this school. That is why he is so… let’s say… forgiving.”

“Professor,” Namjoon said cuttingly. “I get it. You’re just following the headmaster’s orders. Well, so am I. I’ll be a fine tutor. I won’t be a bad influence, I swear.”

Sangyeon was silent for a moment.

He stiffly said, “You once accused me of being part of a ministry-wide conspiracy because of you claimed that thestrals are government war machines.”

Namjoon blinked in surprise. That was not the response he was expecting. He hadn’t thought about that in years.

“What? Oh right….Right! I remember that! Oh wow,” Namjoon laughed a little. “Man, my ex-girlfriend broke up with me that day. I was seriously angry, so I guess I decided to blow off some steam that day. Wow, yeah, that’s uh--”

Professor Sangyeon gave him a pointed look. Namjoon’s face fell.

“Now, tell me how you would be a good influence on other students, exactly?” he replied in a patronizing voice.

Half of Namjoon thought that if he sincerely apologized, he might get his professor’s approval and complete the last step on the Headmaster’s checklist. It could be easy.

Namjoon was never good at making life easy.

He still sort of believed that Professor Sangyeon was part of a government conspiracy. For Merlin’s sake, thestrals were such an absurd species of creature, there was no way those fascists in the Ministry weren’t completely responsible for conjuring the demon war horses.

Neigh, neigh, motherfucker.

In all seriousness, Namjoon did not want to grovel in the rain. He knew Sangyeon didn’t trust Namjoon. Apologizing was pointless. He had his pride. Namjoon liked magical creatures, but he didn’t want to be treated like one.

“Was it wrong to voice my honest opinion, sir?” He stepped back, shrugging his shoulders. “Or...does the Ministry have its leash on more than just magical creatures?”

Professor Sangyeon’s eyes widened.

After composing himself, he briskly replied, “I wish you luck in your search.”

There wasn’t any hatred or venom in his voice. Only disappointment. That was a poison his teachers held in unlimited supply. A familiar burn in Namjoon’s body. Somehow, it stung much worse than if Sangyeon had snapped or deducted points from Gryffindor.

He slowly, meticulously, said, “Pardon me,” and turned away from Professor Sangyeon.

“Namjoon?” Sangyeon said, but Namjoon had already walked away, until he was off the dock, marching through the muddy grass, back to the castle.

“Namjoon, my boy, get back here! You need to complete your assignment!”

His robes were soaked. His glasses were foggy and dotted with raindrops. His hair probably resembled watery fairy vomit by now. Sangyeon called out from behind him, but Namjoon kept on walking until he could only hear drops of rain splash onto his cold, hunched shoulders.

He couldn’t help glancing back to see if Sangyeon was still there, but there wasn’t a trace of him. He must’ve jumped into the lake to take care of the students he actually liked. Namjoon glared at the body of water.

He sighed, and started to trudge up the muddy hill, as thunder clapped overhead.

“Rain or shine, we learn, every time,” he mumbled. He sniffled, and angrily wiped the dripkets off his face. Namjoon really hated rain.


 

Donghyuk’s laughter sounded like the best combination of a dragon’s roar and a giggly baby.

“It’s really not that funny,” Namjoon mumbled, trying to pick look bits of mud off the hems of his robes. The two of them were squished in a mostly deserted hallway, on a large windowsill overlooking the greenhouses of Hogwarts. Their legs rested casually against each other. The windowpane was still getting tapped by the rhythmic sound of pouring rain.

“Ministry--leash--thestrals--oh Merlin, Namjoon, you dumbass,” Donghyuk cackled. It had been a week since Namjoon switched out of his old classes, so his roommate’s laughter sounded like a welcome return home. “I remember that day in Care for Magical Creatures. Man, you really pissed old Sangyeon off. He was about to feed you to the lake’s Giant Squid. And you still didn’t apologize! Are you an idiot, or what?”

“Or what,” Namjoon said, holding out his hand. “Gimme some of your sandwich, I’m starving.”

Donghyuk resisted the urge to chuckle again, and instead handing the ham and cheese sandwich to Namjoon. His fingers fumbled, and the food fell out of his hands and onto the floor.

“Fuck.”

More laughter. Yeah, this really did remind him of home: he enjoyed his presence for about ten minutes before wanting to leave.

“I can eat alone, you know,” Namjoon huffed, as he bent over to pick up the sandwich from the floor.

Donghyuk grinned. His crooked smile and his messy hair made him look effortlessly rebellious in a way that Namjoon could never quite achieve. Donghyuk and Namjoon had been friends ever since first year, from the moment they high-fived at the Gryffindor table.

“Nah, you can’t. Feeling all sad and lonely without the crew? Potions was so boring without you making fun of Sejin.” Donghyuk dramatic threw his hands in the air. “Without you there to distract me, I actually got work done!”

Namjoon grinned, and knocked his knee into his friend.

“Where are the other two shitheads? Did they jump off the Astronomy Tower now that I can’t give them notes anymore?” he said, before biting into his sandwich. There was a slight dustiness to the surface, but it still tasted pretty good, mainly because Namjoon had skipped breakfast.

“Hunchul and Hyosang went to eat in the Great Hall,” Dongyuk shrugged. “But they did tell me to tell you that, and I quote: ‘Namjoon better come back soon, or else that obnoxious broom-head Jung Hoseok is gonna take your spot as smartest kid in Muggle Studies.’ ”

Namjoon snickered. “Impossible. Tell ‘em that Jung Hoseok’s so stupid, he can barely move without having a broomstick shoved up his ass. ”

Donghyuk cackled, and slapped Namjoon’s back.

“Tell them that yourself,” Donghyuk said, “Seriously, we all live in the same dorm. It’s not like you’ve moved across the sea.”

Namjoon bit into his sandwich, and didn’t respond. He suspected Hunchul and Hyosang were avoiding him. They left early for class without waking him up like they used to, and hadn’t really struck up a conversation ever since he moved up a grade. He caught them staring and whispering at him when he went to eat breakfast in the Great Hall the morning of the graffiti incident.

Then again, everyone was whispering about it that day. Namjoon nearly had a panic attack when he saw the walls etched in his words. He freaked out even more when he spotted everyone staring. After Headmaster Bang had questioned him to no avail, Namjoon ran straight to Potions class to calm himself down. He hadn’t walked near the Great Hall since that incident. That was why they were sitting on this random windowsill in the first place. Namjoon didn’t want to get hassled by any students, most certainly not any snotty prefects.

Donghyuk muttered, “They’re just acting dumb. They think you didn’t tell them about the prank because you think you’re above them or something.”

Namjoon looked down at his sandwich. “Is that what you think, too?”

Donghyuk shook his head in disgust. “No, I told them to fuck off and stop treating their friend like a traitor. I mean, you didn’t expect for any of this shit to happen.”

Namjoon sighed, relieved, and said, “Thanks, man. I mean it.”

“You know I’ve got your back. Hunchul and Hyosang do too, they’re just acting weird because they miss you. I mean, we’re all wondering when you’ll come back to your real classes.”

Namjoon chewed his bottom lip. “I don’t know if--”

Donghyuk leaned back, and said, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world, “--if you bomb your assignments, Headmaster Bang will see the error of his ways, and he’ll turn everything normal again.”

“Or I get kicked out,” Namjoon interjected.

“He’s not going to do that,” Donghyuk said dismissively. “Bang is a softie.”

“No he’s not,” Namjoon said, darting his eyes out the window.

“Yeah, he is. If he wasn’t, why would he keep you around?” Donghyuk patted Namjoon’s head. “You’re overthinking this, like always. Don’t sweat it. You don’t belong with those seventh years.”

Namjoon shifted away from his friend. He’s right, Namjoon thought. I mean, I don’t belong there at all.

He thought about Hunchul and Hyosang, still attending those old classes. Their friend group wasn’t so much a cohesive unit as it was two duos. Namjoon sometimes wondered if those two only put up with him because they liked Donghyuk. They broke off to talk amongst themselves whenever Namjoon wasn’t looking. Maybe they only hung out with Namjoon because he let them copy his homework and drink the Firewhiskey he sneaked from home.

I don’t belong in my own grade, either.

Donghyuk shoved him again.

“I’m sure Bang is just doing this to prove a point. Once he’s done dicking around, everything will be back to normal.”

He had never told Donghyuk, Hunchul, or Hyosang that he was responsible for last year’s O.W.L. prank. Nor had he told them about what he had seen in the Pensieve. Hell, he never revealed how smart he actually was, despite living together for five years. That’s why his friends were so baffled when Namjoon told them he was skipping a grade.

He shook his head. This was what Bang wanted. The headmaster did this to make him disloyal, and distrustful. He couldn’t do that. After all, his friend was sitting here, letting him eat his sandwich and complain about his problems. He needed friends now, more than ever.

Namjoon changed the subject.

“Dicking around? Weird phrasing, Donghyuk. Do you think about Bang’s dick a lot?” Namjoon asked jokingly. He tilted his head, and fluttered his lashes. “His, long, flapping--”

Donghyuk made a retching sound, and shoved him away.

Namjoon wiggled his eyebrows. “Seriously, I see the headmaster all of time. I could set the two of you up on a date--”

“Weirdo, that’s not what I fucking meant--”

“--What’s that? You meant fucking--?”

Donghyuk snorted, and said, “Fuck off.”

Namjoon, laughing, said “Oh wow, you are really sending me the vibe that you want Headmaster Bang to bang the fuck out of--”

“--Namjoon?”

Shit. How much did they hear?

A beaming fifth year stood in front of Namjoon. His robes were adorned with dozens of colourful pins and buttons, supporting various organizations like the Society for Elfish Welfare and the Wizard Wildlife Fund. He was grinning so hard that it looked as though his cheeks might hurt.

Namjoon breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh, it’s you, Taehyung. Thank Merlin, I thought you might’ve a prefect or something, they keep following me. Never repeat a word I just said to anyone else. How’s it going--”

Taehyung pounced on Namjoon, wrapping his arms around him in an eager embrace.

“Uh--okay?” He said, in a muffled voice.

Donghyuk said, half-concerned, half-amused, “Hey man, what’s got you so lovey-dovey with my friend here?"

Taehyung broke apart from Namjoon, still grinning like a mad-man, and grabbed Donghyuk’s hand to shake vigorously.

He said, in a surprisingly deep and friendly voice, at a rapid speed, “Hey, yo, hi, what’s up! I'm Kim Taehyung and I’m a fifth year Hufflepuff student and Namjoon and I go way back--! Oh wow, aren’t you the sixth year who once flooded the Great Hall with Howlers that shrieked moaning noises on Valentine’s Day last year? That was so funny!! How much trouble did you get in?”

Donghyuk was speechless, for once in his life. The fact that Taehyung managed to speak at a rate of twenty words per second was a common stunning spell for first encounters.

“He doesn’t use any illegal wizarding substances,” Namjoon clarified to his friend. “He’s just happy to be alive, every second of his life.”

Donghyuk turned back to Taehyung.

“Good to know.” He paused. “I got a week’s worth of detentions, to answer your question.”

Taehyung’s grin widened. “Bad. Ass.”

He let go of Donghyuk’s hand, and clapped Namjoon’s shoulder. “And you! I’ve been looking for you everywhere!”

Namjoon wrinkled his nose. “Why?”

Taehyung tilted his head.

“You’re the one who originally did this, right?”

He pointed to the walls.

You need to survive.

“Uh. I am the originator of--” He hesitated, unsure what to label it. Namjoon vaguely gestured his hand, and sheepishly mumbled, “--the...graffiti plague.”

Donghyuk helpfully added, “I’ve heard the term, 'demon wall bullshit,' used a lot.”

“Thanks,” Namjoon replied. He looked at Taehyung, expecting him to laugh. Instead, he looked extremely offended on Namjoon’s behalf.

“What he wrote wasn’t bullshit! It was art.”

Namjoon’s eyes widened.

“Are you joking?” Donghyuk said snarkily, eying at Taehyung’s buttons and bright yellow hair with newfound disdain.

Taehyung clenched his fist. “No way!”

He began to talk even more rapidly, this time towards Namjoon. “The thing is, everyone in my grade is getting super stressed out and worried because we’re in fifth year, and everyone’s starting to worry about O.W.L.s and stuff.” He shook his head, and in a heartbroken voice, continued: “the teachers are all saying that our grades this year could make or break the rest of our lives. I know my friends in Hufflepuff are getting really, really stressed, because of the mounting pressure.” He perked up. “When the graffiti showed up last week, we were pretty freaked out at first. It was like--” he wiggled his fingers towards the inscriptions “--pretty ominous at first, and housemates kept saying it was a curse.”

Donghyuk snorted, and said, “Of course they did. Hufflepuff kids are scaredy cats.”

Namjoon shushed him.

“After a few days, though, we all realized it wasn’t going to kill us. And on Monday, my Herbology class--” Taehyung pointed out the window towards the greenhouses, “--had this insanely difficult test, my whole class was really jittery and anxious because it just felt like we all totally flunked it, y’know? And how else would you feel if your entire future was decided by some single, defining Herbology test?” Taehyung clapped his hands together. “But, here’s the thing: walking back into the school, I saw the writing on the walls, and started to just, like, point at the stuff and say, ‘Hey, c’mon, guys! You need to survive! That’s all we can hope for! You just gotta survive, man! Survive until the next lesson, and the next week, and the next year, and before we know it, we’ll have all lived until we’re a hundred!’ And my whole class started to laugh, and really, it was just a silly joke at first, but when we all started saying stuff like that to each other, everyone became a lot brighter and hopeful.” Taehyung, slightly softer, said, “I think it really gave us some perspective on this whole thing. Life, I mean. So now, whenever I see one of my classmates looking stressed out, and just tap the wall and tell them, ‘Hey. You need to survive!!!’ and they laugh and look a little happier. My whole grade has been doing it. It’s kind of become our thing.”

Taehyung smiled shyly at Namjoon, waiting for him to respond. He was speechless at the display of such heartfelt emotion.

Donghyuk was looking at Taehyung with his typically skeptical expression.

“Well, at least someone benefited from Namjoon’s fuckup,” he smirked, before ruffling Taehyung’s pretty hair like he was a puppy.

“--But that’s not the best part! I have something for you!” Taehyung shouted, dodging away from Donghyuk’s outstretched hand to fumble through the deep pockets of his ridiculous robes. “I have it here somewhere--”

Donghyuk said, “Hey, don’t you ever get dress-coded, kid? I mean, I swear, once I didn’t comb my hair, and this prefect apparated out of nowhere to give me detention, I can’t imagine what kind of attention you would get with that ridiculous get-up--”

“People can’t apparate within Hogwarts,” Namjoon interrupted, suddenly irritated with his friend’s constant backhanded remarks.

“--A-ha!”

Taehyung triumphantly pulled out some shiny, circular buttons from his pockets, and showed them to Namjoon and Donghyuk.

Donghyuk read aloud, “ You need to survive.

Taehyung closed his fist around the glowing buttons and cried, “Heck yeah! You need to survive! You need to survive! We all need to survive!”

He tossed them one each, and said, “I made these yesterday with some of my friends from Decent Making of Creative Arts!”

“Decent Make the...huh?” Donghyuk said.

Namjoon thought back the bulletin board this morning. The faint memory of an abstract, vaguely pretentious poster with splattered, illegible writing.

He said, “That’s the school art club. Their name this stupid pun on Defence Against the Dark Arts.”

Donghyuk snorted, while a flash of hurt crossed Taehyung’s face.

“I made up that name,” he said, crestfallen.

Namjoon needed to permanently jinx his lips together so that he would never blurt something stupid ever again.

“Oh no. Taehyung, I didn’t mean it like that.”

He laughed a little, and shoved his hands into his pockets.

“Wow, relax, Namjoon,” Taehyung said quickly. “I know it’s dorky.”

He laughed louder, and pressed more buttons into his hands.

“You should give these to your friends!” Taehyung said, changing the subject. “I’m sure the sixth years are even more stressed than my grade.”

Donghyuk coughed. “Your pal Namjoon actually just transferred into seventh year classes, my friend. He’s leaving us in the dust.”

Taehyung’s mouth gaped.

“Whoa, really? That's a thing?"

Donghyuk held out his hands. “Hey, how ‘bout Namjoon gives those buttons to his seventh grade friends, while I give them out to the sixth graders? Once the younger grades see all the older kids wear them, they’ll start asking for buttons too.”

“That’s a great plan!” Taehyung said. “You have some great business sense.”

Donghyuk blinked, and grinned at the flattery. “Yeah, I guess I do. I remember, back in fifth year, Namjoon brewed this fake potion for students during the O.W.L.s, while I sold it all to half of our entire grade--”

Namjoon shushed him, and said, “Shut up. I don’t want people to find out that we sold them ultra-strength calming draught instead of brain elixir during exams.”

Taehyung pondered this information. He said, “I mean, we were taught in class that brain elixir is really toxic after the initial benefits wear off, so they were probably better without it. Plus, they actually give Draught of Peace to anxious students during exams, right? What you did was actually really nice!”

Donghyuk gave him a thumbs up. “When you put it that way, we’re freaking heroes.”

Namjoon added, “Brain elixir sells for ten galleons a bottle in the black market, while Draught of Peace is given out for free in the Hospital Wing. We ripped them off, big time.”

“Serves them right for trying to use illegal substances for exams,” Donghyuk said dismissively, while he held up the buttons to the light.

Taehyung giggled, and said, “I’ll be sure to warn my friends whenever people try to tempt them.”

“The Hogwarts black market really explodes during exam season,” Donghyuk said casually. “Take advantage of the demand, bro. Order Doxy droppings and sell them to your classmates under the label of Ground Dragon’s Claw.”

“Make sure not to get caught, like we did,” Namjoon said glumly. “Or else the headmaster will confiscate all of your profits and spend them on non-cheating quills for your entire grade. Also, you’ll be sorting flobberworms in detention for the rest of the year.”

Taehyung nodded obediently.

“I will not follow in your footsteps and try to be a good student instead,” he said.

He shoved the rest of his buttons back into his pockets.

“I gotta head to Divination,” Taehyung said, pointing to the other side of the school. “Tell me how many buttons you give away next time I see you, okay?”

Namjoon asked, “Why on earth are you taking Divination?”

Taehyung’s face lit up with his charismatic grin.

“I just really like drinking the fancy tea.” He said sneakily. “You can’t get it anywhere else.”

Namjoon would pay galleons to be as effortlessly charming as his childhood friend. It was infuriating.

“See you later, Namjoon. Oh. and--” he paused, and quietly said,”--say hi to your sister for me.”

Namjoon glanced at Donghyuk. He looked distracted by one of the buttons he was holding. It was burning quite realistically in his hand.

Taehyung had the nerve to wink before walking away.

Namjoon called, “Don’t tell anyone! About the brain elixir thing, I mean!”

“I won’t breathe a word!” Taehyung called back. He paused, before yelling: “I also won’t tell anyone that your friend is sleeping with Headmaster Bang!”

“Thanks for the buttons, asshole!” Donghyuk yelled, looking up from his burning button. He nodded towards Namjoon. “Weird kid. How do you guys know each other, again?”

Namjoon shrugged, and said, “He’s pureblood like me, so our parents know each other from the family tree. We’re like, fourth cousins once-removed, or something.”

Donghyuk gagged. “Old Pureblood family trees are so weird. It’s all family in-marrying because of so-called magical purity. I mean, I don’t even know what my parents are at this point. They’re, like, the children of half-bloods who married half-bloods who married muggleborns and half-bloods with distant relations to pureblood families.” Donghyuk grinned, and waved a button at Namjoon. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, being a full-wizard descended from thousands of known ancestors is cool, but I would hate marrying my cousin. That shit’s gross.”

Namjoon smirked, but his mind was somewhere else. He looked down at the greenhouse, where Taehyung said his classmates had been struggling. It was funny how much his graffiti had spread throughout the school. He had been researching counter-curses all week, and every walk back and forth from the library was a permanent reminder of his fuck-up. He also didn’t know if the spell would spread further, engulfing the Hogwarts grounds and reaching beyond the boundaries of the school. That would really suck. He owed it to the school to get rid of his problem himself.

At the same time, there was something gratifying about the fact that his message actually affected someone as good-natured as Taehyung. Namjoon’s heart lifted.

Donghyuk nudged him.

“Hey, Taehyung was right, next period is about to start.” He gestured to the other side of the hall. “If you want, we can skip class, and hang out, or something.”

Namjoon seriously considered the thought. He looked through the window. It was raining hard outside. The weather reminded him of something important.

“I really would, but I need to talk to Professor Sejin about something next class.”

“Really?” Donghyuk said, amused. “You. Striking up a pleasant conversation with Sejin.”

“Yeah.”

“Our Professor Sejin. The potions master who you think is as dull as Quidditch.”

Namjoon shrugged, and got up from the windowsill.

“Yeah, I need to get him to do something for me.”

“Do what?” he asked.

Namjoon looked and Donghyuk, and imagined the roaring laughter he would be on the receiving end of if he told him the pathetic, needy truth.

Instead, Namjoon said, in a deadly serious voice, “I need to ask Professor Sejin if cauldron bottoms turn him on.”

Donghyuk, being the friend he was, laughed that roaring laugh, all the same. How bittersweet a sound.


 

Professor Sejin was the nicest teacher in the whole of Hogwarts, a champion of goodwill and conflict mediation. As the deputy headmaster and Head of Hufflepuff House, he exercised a policy of aggressive friendship and hand-holding diplomacy. All his niceness was appreciated in small amounts, such as holidays, in which he would hand out thimbles of Elixir to Induce Euphoria during the feasts. Like that potion, however, large doses proved to be nauseating. Once, when Donghyuk had dumped a block of cheese into Namjoon’s Shrinking Solution, Sejin gave them both “Outstanding” because of creativity. His softness was sickly sweet, like being drowned in honey.

That’s why the professor’s hesitation was baffling.

After Namjoon bared out his sole request, Sejin looked puzzled. He scratched his chin thoughtfully for a long while, before answering.

“I’m terribly sorry,” he said, in his low, kindly voice. “But I cannot possibly give you permission to tutor another student.”

“What?” Namjoon said. “Sir, how am I not qualified to teach someone else this material?”

Professor Sejin gently shook his head.

“There are plenty of brilliant people who aren’t meant to be teachers, Namjoon,” Sejin said. “It’s one thing to know the material, but teaching is a difficult task in itself.”

“It’s not as though I’ve never helped someone do their homework.”

Sejin chortled, and replied, “Oh, of course. More than help. That’s the problem. It’s the fact that whenever you helped your friends during class, you took over their cauldron and brewed their potion for them.”

Namjoon flushed.

“I understand, you were young, and eager to impress,” Sejin continued, “but they never learned anything, did they?”

Namjoon said, “You knew that I helped my friends cheat for the past five years, and you did nothing to stop me?”

Professor Sejin’s wise expression was replaced with something more resembling amusement. “I mean, either I let you get away with it, or allowed them to get bored and create smoke bombs during class.”

He sputtered, “I mean, well, it is sort of stupid to make potions a required class when plenty of careers don’t even touch the cauldron. My friends all want to be travelling salesmen.”

“Basic potions skills are a necessity to all aspects of wizarding life,” Sejin said, with that small grin on his face, as though he had been waiting six years to blindside Namjoon.

“With retail markets providing mass-produced bottles of most household potions, I don’t really think--”

Professor Sejin politely said, “Namjoon, I don’t have time for your amusing verbal detours today. Take a seat.”

Namjoon set his jaw. “But what about the tutoring--”

“--Wouldn’t you enjoy Potionmaker’s Society instead?” Sejin suggested with what sounded like mocking enthusiasm. “You could stretch your creativity without worrying that I’ll catch you stealing ingredients from my desk.”

Namjoon stared at him for a moment. Sejin’s eyes twinkled with hidden mirth.

“This whole conversation has been illuminating, and, um quite frankly, changed my entire impression of you, sir, so, uh, I’m just gonna go sit down--” he pointed towards his seat in the class “--and shut up for the rest of the class.”

Namjoon sat down at his desk, and buried his head into his textbook, trying not to feel like his entire life up to this point was lie. Feeling that intense wave of poisonous disappointment he had previously encountered outside.

Sejin chortled a little, and waved his wand towards the blackboard.

Today’s Assignment: Wakefulness Water.


 

By the time the second bell rang, Namjoon’s entire class crowded around the blackboard to read the instructions, chattering rapidly about the potion’s ingredients.

Some of his classmates snorted under their breath, mumbling that this had to be a joke.

“Why the hell would a potion like this need almond extract?” murmured one of his classmates.

“It’s a fake potion,” another dismissively replied.

Lee Jieun said, “No, Wakefulness Water is real--people like the Minister of Magic and the Chief Warlock of Wizengamot use it during important legislation.”

“Well, this is a fake recipe for it,” Song Minho, another Slytherin replied. “There are literally 30 different ingredients, and the instructions are so convoluted that the process is divided into three different parts.”

Someone mumbled, “What exactly do you extract from an almond, anyway?”

Kim Seokjin quickly rushed through the entrance, along with Min Yoongi.

“Professor, what’s all this talk of almond extract?” Kim Seokjin said, flashing a pearly white grin. “Are we baking a cake?”

The duo somehow managed to shove their way in front of Namjoon. Yoongi definitely meant to elbow Namjoon in the ribs. Prick.

Professor Sejin smiled.

“Wakefulness Water is the most innovative potioneering discovery of the twenty-first century. When brewed to the apex of its magical power, Wakefulness Water allows its user to stay awake for approximately one month, with no ill-effects of sleep deprivation.”

Namjoon overheard Seokjin in front of him whisper, “Look, Yoongi: another potion that could cure your insomnia.”

Yoongi growled, “I wonder when they’ll make a potion to cure your passive-aggressiveness.”

Professor Sejin continued, “Now, the purpose of this assignment is not to create a perfect potion. Wakefulness Water is nearly impossible to brew to its full strength. The manufacturing costs are extremely high, which is why you usually only hear of government officials, athletes, and celebrities using the potion. With the limited ingredients of our classroom, I would say that even a week of pure wakefulness would be an astonishing feat of potion-making. You won’t be saving the world with that small dosage.”

Professor Sejin smiled sweetly.

“But this class is not about the bottle you drink with! It’s about the cauldron you think with!”

Namjoon must’ve heard that phrase once a week for the past five years of his time at Hogwarts.

“Today, our assignment is all about team-building.”

Now, that phrase was new.

“Being seventh year students, you all need to realize that the most powerful potions begin in the hands of powerful witches and wizards collaborating as more than the sum of their parts. Please, get into groups of three. Since all of you are already standing up, you can group up with the people standing closest to you.”

Namjoon didn’t need to eavesdrop to hear Yoongi swear loudly while Seokjin groaned. As we walked back to his seat, Namjoon felt more knots in his guts than ever before, and it wasn’t simply because he was being forced to work with two people who despised him.

Min Yoongi plonked his textbook onto the desk, and grimaced as he began reading the instructions of Wakefulness potion.

“It’s says that this is a triangular potion.” He squinted at the textbook. “Last time I checked, cauldrons were round.”

Namjoon opened his mouth to correct him, but Seokjin beat him the punch.

“Triangular potion-making requires three wizards of equal ability to perform three separate jobs.” Seokjin held up three fingers. “Preparation of ingredients, combination within the cauldron, and stirring all the components together.”

Namjoon said, “So then, who’s doing what?”

Yoongi and Jin glared at him as though he were an unwanted pest.

“You could sit in the corner and not talk for five minutes,” Yoongi muttered.

Seokjin rolled his eyes, and said, “Down, boy.”

“Yeah, you should listen to your master,” Namjoon said.

“Piss off,” Yoongi said to both of them. He shoved Seokjin’s side. “Alright, I guess if you’re in charge today, we’re using your cauldron.”

Namjoon said, “Why?”

“It’s definitely better than both of ours,” Yoongi said with disdain. Seokjin flushed, colour filling his perfect cheeks as if he was a cherub. Merlin, did Namjoon hate pretty boys.

“Fine. Whatever. You--” Seokjin pointed at Namjoon, “--prep ingredients. Yoongi, double check his work, and then combine them in the caudron. I’ll do the spell-casting and stirring.”

Namjoon gulped. “Hey, why do I have to prep ingredients?”

Seokjin glanced at the textbook, and read off the ingredients Yoongi needed to fetch, steadfastly ignoring him.

Namjoon, shouted, “Hey!”

Seokjin gave him a piercing glare.

“What?” he snapped, as he unloaded ingredients from his potions kit onto the chopping block.

Namjoon flinched at the older boy’s tone, but managed to say, “I want a different job.”

Seokjin sighed, as though the request was the most inconsiderate suggestion in the world, and slowly said, “Since we’re using my cauldron, I’m the one who can adjust its temperature and stir it best. Yoongi’s been helping me in potions since we were in first year, so he’ll be better off as my right hand man. Chopping ingredients is the easiest possible job I could give you, so for Merlin’s sake, don’t make this any harder than it needs to be, okay?”

Namjoon opened his mouth to reply, but seeing Seokjin’s set jaw, and his arrogant, antagonizing eyes, made him grit his teeth and muttered, “Fine.”

“Okay,” Seokjin said, sounding slightly mollified. He pulled the cauldron from his kit, tapping it to expand. It was painted to look ordinary pewter stone, yet Namjoon thought he saw the underlayer sparkle slightly.

Seokjin said, “Yoongi’ll get the specialty ingredients in just a minute, but can you start slicing mandrake bark right now?”

“Fine,” he repeated uncertainly, as he picked up his knife.

Because here was the truth about Namjoon:

He was an expert in the theoretical study of potions. He memorized the recipes easily, and understood which ingredients caused certain effects in combination with certain spells. If potion-making was defined by quill and parchment calculations, Namjoon was so damn qualified that he could make Wakefulness Potion in his sleep.

The knife slid out of his grip, and clattered to the floor.

“Motherfucker--”

But Kim Namjoon couldn’t slice an onion to save his life, much less prepare magical mandrake bark for an advanced level potion.

It was such a blow to his ego when Namjoon entered this very dungeon on first day of school and discovered that no amount of book learning could make up for the fact that his hands simply didn’t know how to function as hands. His klutziness was laughably awful, affecting everything from his legs to his hands to the way his mouth flopped around, spitting words whenever it please, independent of Namjoon’s brain.

Whenever he threw ingredients into his cauldron, they would inexplicably get spat out of the mixture. His stirring was so bad that his potions simply would not stay liquid, and he would spend countless nights scraping solid chunks of failed potion into the fireplace. He never quite understood how “dicing” worked, and every ingredient he sliced inevitably resembled sad baked beans.

Namjoon surely would’ve failed his potions O.W.L if he hadn’t realized that the Draught of Living Death was the only potion you needed to pass the practical exam. Namjoon spent the intervening winter vacation obsessively training himself to correctly brew the potion, and even then, he only managed to scrape an “Acceptable.” Namjoon was lucky that Sejin was nice enough to accept A-level students into advanced classes.

Professor Sejin had pinned him all wrong: his friends helped him cheat just as much as he helped them cheat. Namjoon did all their homework and instructed them during class, and in return, they chopped and stirred his potions whenever Sejin wasn’t looking. It was a good system. Namjoon already knew about the benefits of teamwork, for Merlin’s sake. Teamwork was about trust, loyalty, and mutually assured destruction if anyone fucked up their end of the deal.

Yoongi and Seokjin were not a good team for Namjoon, by a long shot.

Namjoon overheard the scowling prefect mutter, “Ugh, these aren’t working. You didn’t cut them small enough...for God’s sake…”

Min Yoongi placed his poorly-cut Mandrake shards into the cauldron, causing it to slowly foam brown bubbles. Namjoon winced.

The knife slipped out of his hand again, this time slicing through the palm of his hand.

Namjoon swore, as blood gushed out of the cut, blooming like the world’s most painful flower.

Yoongi looked up when he heard his outburst. He scowled, before noticing the gash in his hand.

“Jesus!” he said in alarm. “What did you do?!?”

Namjoon hastily hid his hand behind his back and said, “It’s fine, I’m fine.”

Yoongi looked back and forth between Namjoon and the knife on the floor.

“Hey. Hey, SEOKJIN!” he shouted in a panicky voice. Seokjin poked his head out from the cauldron’s bottom. He had a smudge of ash on his nose.

“What, is it too hot?”

Yoongi said, “The kid’s, uh, bleeding?!?”

Seokjin rushed over. Namjoon warily backed away, feeling the blood on his hand drip into the back of his robes. He could almost taste the snooty eye-roll from here.

“Hey--c’mon, let me see it--” Seokjin said.

Namjoon backed away some more, and said, “No way.”

Seokjin rolled his eyes. Obviously. “I’m not going to jinx you-- just let me see it!”

He didn’t wait for Namjoon’s approval, wrenching his hand away. The guy was strong, yet he held Namjoon’s hand with surprising gentleness.

Seokjin’s brows furrowed in concentration. “This is a seriously deep cut-- was there kneazle blood on the knife?”

“Uh. Yeah?” Namjoon replied uncertainly. Seokjin’s hands were really warm.

“This cut’s going to become infected,” he said firmly. “You gotta get the professor’s help.”

Namjoon instinctively clenched his hand, causing it to sting painfully and gush blood like the a fountain. Yoongi groaned, and said, “Idiot, don’t do that!” in a queasy voice.

“I’m fine,” Namjoon insisted, despite feeling woozier by the second.

Seokjin said, “Kneazle blood is poisonous. I’m telling you, you need medical attention.”

Namjoon’s lip quivered. He muttered, “No way. We’ll fail the assignment.”

“What the--?” Seokjin looked at him, eyes wide, his hands still encircling Namjoon’s. His blood had splattered onto Seokjin’s robes. “Do you not realize that you could die?”

Namjoon laughed and said, “I wish.”

His head felt woozy. Before he could stop himself, he grabbed Seokjin’s shoulder to steady himself. Seokjin stared at him with an extremely confused expression. Slowly, he seemed to realize something. His expression morphed into something resembling...pity?

“I’m gonna throw up,” Yoongi grimaced, covering his mouth with his hand as he stared at Namjoon’s hand. “Is his blood turning green? Jesus and Merlin, get some help--”

Seokjin blinked. As quickly as his flash of realization came, it vanished.

“Get it together, Yoongi. God, I do not need two sickly partners to babysit today.”

Although Namjoon’s brain often planned meticulously and intelligently, his body often betrayed him by acting out of turn. While this principle was true in potion-making, it was also true during this very moment, because though Namjoon’s brain wanted him to calmly walk towards the chopping block to complete his assignment, his legs instead collapsed beneath him, and he blacked-out to the sound of his enemies shouting for help.


 

Professor Hobeom raised a brow.

“You’re all right now, though? In perfect health?” he said, sounding more exhausted than concerned, if Namjoon had to be honest. Given his position as the Head of Gryffindor House, Hobeom spent most of his teaching career keeping Namjoon out of trouble. He probably thought Namjoon had faked his grievous injury, an act he’d committed plenty of times before. The underside of his bed was packed with boxes of puking pastilles, fever fudge, and nosebleed nougats for that very purpose.

Still. He managed to drag himself here, two hours later, after legitimately writhing from kneazle blood poisoning in the Hospital Wing. Namjoon thought he deserved a medal for the initiative.

“Yeah. Sorry for missing your class.”

Hobeom dryly said, “I would expect a savvy wizard like you to be better at taking care of himself.”

“That’s a pretty optimistic opinion, professor.”

“Don’t be smart with me.”

Namjoon grinned. “Can’t help it, sir.”

He glanced at the class in progress, as they huddled together and whispered while watching him. The little kids pointed at the walls emblazoned with his words, and then back to him.

I guess rumours spread faster than enchantments, Namjoon thought.

“I already received a note from Sejin of your ailment,” Hobeom said briskly, as he marked slips of parchment, “but it is a happy surprise that you reached out to me in person.”

“This is my free period,” he said easily, continuing to watch the younger students. They stopped whispering when they noticed his staring, instead squeaking with terror, and returning to their assignment: transfiguring owls into opera glasses. “And I always make time for my favourite teacher.”

Hobeom suspiciously said, “What do you want from me?”

It really was Professor Hobeom’s astute ability of deduction that made him Namjoon’s favourite teacher. He didn’t even need legilimency: Hobeom was genuinely too intelligent to ever need it.

Namjoon guffawed, and pretended to be offended.

“What--sir, how dare you, I came all this way to catch up on the homework, and you accuse me of such-- why, I never--”

Hobeom said, “You couldn’t have gotten one of your dear friends to collect it for you today?”

Well, now that you mention it, I actually couldn’t, because all my friends are in the grade level below me, Namjoon thought. But you don’t need to know that particularly pathetic fact about my new life.

Hobeom crisply said, “Your assignment to research case studies of wizard-to-magical creature transfiguration attempts.”

“Damnit, that actually sounds cool,” Namjoon mumbled.

Hobeom said, “In theory, I suppose, but being a dragon is a rather unpleasant experience.”

Namjoon’s jaw dropped, and he excitedly asked, “You’ve been--?”

“No. That was a joke.” Hobeom said, with no humour in his voice. He looked over Namjoon’s shoulder.

He barked, “Do not release place your assignment outside! One point from Ravenclaw!”

One of the students gasped, and darted away from the window, clutching his strange owl-opera glasses hybrid tight against his chest.

Namjoon muffled his laughter. He said, with a hint of nostalgia, “Animal to inanimate object transfigurations were the best first-year assignments. No question.”

“Third-year assignments,” Hobeom corrected without looking up from the new assignment he was marking.

Namjoon scratched the back of his neck. “Yeah, that’s what I meant.”

“Your homework is due next Monday. A very generous amount of time. Now, what did you really want to ask me?”

The small boy whom Professor Hobeom yelled at was still attempting to free his creation. Namjoon watched him with a great deal of interest.  He wondered if the boy realized that it would likely perish in the harsh outside world. It wasn’t in a great deal of pain, and it would fare better in the capable hands of Hobeom to transfigure back into an owl.

The boy checked to see if the coast was clear, before opening the window a smidge, and shooing the owl outside. The strange object flew away, flapping its tiny wings off into the sky, before plummeting dramatically. The boy beamed.

Namjoon said to Hobeom, “I’m guessing the Headmaster told you about my conditional offer to stay here at Hogwarts.”

“Of course,” Hobeom sighed. “The usual negotiations: no illegal or questionable activities. Participate in advanced-level coursework. Demonstrate school spirit. Become the model student you were destined to be.”

“I’m more likely to transfigure into a dragon.”

“Self-deprecation insults those who admire and appreciate you,” Hobeom responded lightly. Namjoon waited for him to elaborate, but Hobeom continued to mark homework assignments.

“I want to be a tutor,” Namjoon confessed.

Hobeom looked up, his brow quirked up yet again.

“Are you interested in a teaching career?”

Namjoon snorted at the thought.

“No headmaster would never hire me. I just need an extracurricular activity so Bang will leave me alone, but it’s basically impossible for me to get approved with my terrible student record.”

Hobeom didn’t reply. He crisply stacked his marked sheets of parchment in a pile. He tapped it with his wand, sending assignments flying throughout the class.

“Your essays from last week on reptilian transfiguration have been marked,” he announced, standing up to address the class. “Do not throw them away, as that information is key to understanding fowl transfiguration. Correcting your errors would be prudent.” He gave a pointed look towards some students, who shrank in their seats in fear. Namjoon smiled again. It was funny to see students who were actually afraid of Hobeom. The man kept an entire zoo hidden in his office furniture. He was harmless.

“Continuing practicing on your owls, as you will need to hand them in tomorrow. And if your owl or opera glasses appear to be suffering through a great deal of existential confusion, do not be afraid to ask for assistance from other students-- for both you and your bird’s sake.”

Namjoon laughed, while the rest of the class remained deathly silent. They shuffled dejectedly out of their seats, catching their owls in the air and shoving them into their bookbags. Some students reached to grab their opera glasses, only to yelp as they squawked at the touch. Namjoon laughed even harder.

Hobeom murmured, “It would be wise not to laugh at your student while teaching.”

Namjoon jolted.

“Are you approving me for tutoring?” he said, as the bell rang.

Hobeom looked at him thoughtfully. “I don’t see why not.”

Namjoon’s heart swell with gratitude. Suddenly, his muddy shoes and bandaged hand faded into the distance, with the overwhelming thought of success scrubbing the whole day clean.

“I mean, I have some caveats,” Hobeom bluntly stated, crashing into Namjoon’s clean mind. “I would never leave just any ordinary student under your instruction. I’m not completely irresponsible, no matter how biased I am in your favour.”

“What?” Namjoon said, but Hobeom was already calling out one of the students from the existing cluster of his peers. He was tall and gangly for a thirteen year old, with a smattering of acne and an extremely shy disposition. The boy’s eyes were round and terrified, as he stumbled towards Hobeom’s desk. Namjoon recognized him as the one who foolishly released his assignment out the window.

Hobeom crossed his arms, and sternly said, “I explicitly warned you not to free your assignment, Jungkook.”

The boy mumbled something indecipherably.

“Speak up,” Hobeom said, in the disciplinary tone Namjoon had heard countless times.

“Sorry,” the boy said, staring down at the floor.

“Sorry you did it, or sorry you got caught?”

Ouch. That was definitely a verbal punch in the gut. It was heavy with disappointment.

Hobeom sighed, and wrote something down on his memo pad.  “Frankly, I’m tired of giving you detention. No more of that.”

The boy’s wide eyes lifted.

“However, there’s an addendum.” He pointed to Namjoon. “I’m giving you a tutor.”

The boy glanced at the walls plastered in You Need To Survive, and then, back to Namjoon. Specifically, Namjoon’s hair.

Note to self: redye hair unless you want to be known across school as the ‘Silver-haired Graffitti Bullshit Artist,’ he thought.

Hobeom gestured his quill between the two boys.

“Kim Namjoon, meet Jeon Jungkook. He’s a third year Ravenclaw student in desperate need of assistance. Jeon Jungkook, meet Kim Namjoon. He’s a seventh year Gryffindor student who desperately needs to assist.”

He folded up his memo pad into a small ball, and threw it at Namjoon, cheerfully shouting, “Catch!”

Namjoon caught the paper. The paper glowed at his touch, and promptly twirled into a familiar-looking butterfly.

“Please, tap your wand to identify yourself!” it squeaked.

Namjoon grinned. “Pardon?”

Hobeom said, “Oh, you’ve met.”

Namjoon tapped his wand on the paper. He gestured for the kid, Jeon Jungkook, to do the same. His eyes flickered between Namjoon and Hobeom suspiciously.

“Don’t I get any say in this?” he mumbled. “Why him?”

Hobeom curtly said, “Either it’s this, or more detention. You do have a choice in the matter.”

Jungkook gulped. He hesitantly took out his wand from his back pocket, and tapped the butterfly.

“Congratulations! Kim Namjoon, you are now the official tutor of Jeon Jungkook! What subjects will be tutoring your student in?”

Before Namjoon could speak, Hobeom said, “Oh my, let’s see, Transfiguration, Charms, Defence, Herbology, History of Magic, hm--”

“--Er--” Namjoon said in alarm.

“--you’re right, Potions is not exactly your strongest subject, judging by last period’s incident.” Hobeom gave Namjoon a genial smile. “Just the basics. That will be all.”

The butterfly shouted, “Confirmed! Will the tutoring be commenced in five, thirty-minute sessions per subject per week?”

Namjoon said, “Hey, hey, wait, that’s two and a half entire hours of teaching per week, are you serious?”

The butterfly exclaimed, “Pardon?”

Jungkook started to look panicky too. “Yeah, isn’t that a bit too--”

“Bump that up to one hour sessions,” Hobeom said offhandedly. “Ongoing until, let’s say, Jungkook’s marks reach A-levels. No, make that E-levels. I have complete faith his potential.”

“Confirmed!” the butterfly shouted while Namjoon and Jungkook sputtered in alarm.

The butterfly fluttered higher in the classroom. “Please ask your prefects or teachers for further information, and remember that neglecting your tutoring sessions will result in reassignment, detention, house point deduction, whipping, and/or execution!”

“WHAT?” Jungkook said.

“It’s an outdated spell,” Hobeom handwaved, “Ignore that last part.”

Namjoon grit his teeth, as the butterfly burst into flames, showering them in ashes.

Jeon Jungkook gasped, and ran halfway across the classroom to avoid the grey speckles of burnt paper falling through the air like petals. Namjoon rolled his eyes. No Gryffindor spirit whatsoever. This was going to be a lot more work than he had hoped.


 

For the third time since he had sat down in his rickety, uncomfortable desk chair, Namjoon breathed in slowly through his nose, desperately resisting the urge to punch a child in the face.

“What the hell do you mean, you’re unavailable every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon?” he said, annoyed. “You’re thirteen. I’ve never met a thirteen year old with any sort of packed schedule in my life.”

Jungkook crossed his arms and pouted moodily. It was a vast difference between the soft, timid expression he held under Professor Hobeom’s watchful gaze. The boy looked positively petulant.

“I have Frog Choir, Magbob Support Group, Exploding Snap Club, Art Club, and Photography Society.” He emphasized each extracurricular like they all secretly meant, ‘Saving Drowning Puppies Practice.’  

Namjoon sighed, as he looked at the mess of papers spread out on the desk. Past report cards, unfinished homework assignments, doodle-filled textbooks. This kid was as studious the same way Namjoon was a role model.

“Tell your club members you’re flunking most of your subjects,” he said bluntly. “I’m sure they wouldn’t be happy if they knew it was interfering with your school work.”

Jungkook shrugged. “Whatever.” He didn’t budge.

Fourth time.

Namjoon muttered, “Alright, I get it.” He scribbled onto his sheet. “Do you wanna spread the sessions out, or just have them all on one day?”

Jungkook whispered something.

“What?” Namjoon leaned in.

“I said, all of them in one day,” Jungkook said in a voice barely above a whisper.

Namjoon nodded. “Fine. Monday alright?”

Jungkook shrugged.

“Well? Is that a yes or no?”

He shrugged again. It was like talking to a brick wall. Not like the enchanted brick wall that mumbled cryptic dating device to Namjoon when he snuck out after curfew that one time, oh no. This kid was an actual, honest-to-god muggle wall in some village in the middle of nowhere.

“I’m just gonna put down Monday,” Namjoon said. “Alright, you now have to spend five hours with me after school in this spot of the library.”

Jungkook jolted. “What? That long?”

Namjoon looked at him blankly. “Yeah. You wanted all of them in one day, right?”

“I just--” he looked at all the papers spread across the desk. “--didn’t realize it would be so long.”

“I’ll teach you some basic mathematics principles too, I guess,” Namjoon said under his breath, as he snapped his book shut. He wished he could sit in his favourite armchair in the library, reading up on counter-curse healing practices, instead of stuck in an inhumanely uncomfortable spindly stick chair with an extremely unpleasant jock.

Jungkook mumbled something again, but Namjoon could only catch “math” and “elementary school.” Whatever.

“Alright, show me your best owl to opera glass transfiguration.”

Jungkook looked up. His eyes were so round and shiny that they resembled the eyes of the owl he released out the window. “Um, I can’t.”

“Right, you released yours,” Namjoon huffed. He stood up. “Okay, I’ll get it back.”

“What?” Jungkook said, but Namjoon was already walking towards the far side of the library lined with windows. It was cloudy weather outside, but Namjoon knew he was adept enough at the spell that intervening rain wouldn’t hinder him. He struggled with the latch of the window, once again cursing his lack of muscles. Some people sitting at the other tables were whispering. One person sitting in his favourite armchair actually got up and ran away. Always the paranoia. The wall plague thankfully hadn’t spread into the library, but the image itself burned bright in the other students’ memories.

Jungkook hadn’t spoken a word about it since they arrived, but the way he kept avoiding Namjoon's gaze indicated that he surely thought he did it for nefarious purposes. Namjoon needed to get rid of it as soon as possible. It was becoming such a pain. It was fitting that his most famous prank would be the one that he never meant to happen.

Could be worse, Namjoon thought, you could be known as the guy who used an Unforgivable Curse on a ghost in order to plaster naked people all over the walls. Imagine those rumours.

“Are you trying to throw yourself out the window?” Jungkook said curiously when he found Namjoon. He shuffled beside him and opened the window latch easily.

“Wow,” Jungkook said, actually smiling. His moody teen persona slid away to reveal the goofy kid underneath. Bunny teeth. What a baby. “Uh. Kinda weak.”

Fifth time. Namjoon breathed in.

Jungkook said, “So, do you have bird seed, or something?”

Namjoon ignored this statement, and instead asked, “When you last transfigured your object, was it more owl or opera glasses, in your opinion?”

Jungkook paled. “Er...opera glasses?” he said uncertainly.

“It better be,” Namjoon sighed. “This charm doesn’t work on living beings.”

“What?”

Accio assignment!”

A moment passed, and the exact object Jungkook had freed zoomed straight into Namjoon’s face. He yelped, and stumbled backwards, nearly tripping over his feet.

Jungkook burst out laughing.

“Oh my god, are you okay?” he cackled, in a way that did not really give Namjoon reassurance of Jungkook’s support. He plucked the assignment from Namjoon’s face, and cradled it in his hands. “Wow! How did you--?”

Namjoon rubbed his sore cheek, feeling a strange sense of deja vu, and said, “Summoning charm, kid. If you paid attention in class, you would’ve probably learnt it, like, last week.” He pointed his wand at the owl and muttered the counter-curse. It transfigured back into an adorable little animal. Namjoon wondered how it could still be alive despite being more opera glasses than owl for a few hours. Namjoon supposed magic was full of loopholes.

Jungkook cooed at his small owl. He looked up, eyes alight with interest. “Hey, can you teach me that summoning spell instead?”

“What?”

Jungkook looked down at his owl. “I’d rather learn a useful spell than the one from today. I hate transfiguring animals. It’s messed up and dumb.”

“No it’s not,” Namjoon dismissed, swiping Jungkook’s owl away from him. “Look, the animals are raised in captivity for student use, and they're treated way better than animals in the wild. Hobeom keeps them safe in little enchanted china sets with unlimited food and water. Releasing your owl transfiguration into the wild was a death sentence.”

Jungkook’s jaw flexed. “Well, nobody told me that. For all I know, you could be lying.”

“I’m not.”

“Yeah, you could. You could just be a teacher’s pet.”

Namjoon snorted at the accusation. He wondered what Sangyeon, Sejin, and Hobeom would think of that statement if they ever heard of it.

“You think I’m a teacher’s pet?” Namjoon let the owl fly a little out of his grasp, before snatching it back with a fist. “Really. Me.”

“Why else would Hobeom force me to be tutored by you?” Jungkook said in a small voice.

Namjoon glared at the kid for a moment.

He made me tutor you because you were designed to drive me crazy, Namjoon thought.

He let the owl go. The kid immediately took it back, and held it to his chest. Namjoon sighed, leaning against the wall beside the window.

“You have to learn how to transfigure basic stuff before advancing to the useful stuff,” he explained. “I mean, who the hell needs opera glasses, anyway? But it’s about understanding the thought processes and syntax behind animate to inanimate transfiguration. That’s how you learn. It’s a step-by-step process.”

Jungkook used his index and middle finger to stroke the owl’s head. “Is there any way to skip all of that and get to the important stuff?”

Namjoon thought about himself in third year, blazing through all his textbooks at twice the speed of his peers.

“Be smart, I guess,” he quipped.

Jungkook looked down. He mumbled something unintelligible.

“What?”

“I said, thanks a lot,” Jungkook muttered, trembling slightly.

“Hey, hey, hey,” Namjoon said hastily. The owl flew up and perched itself on Jungkook’s shoulder. It nuzzled against his downtrodden face. “I didn’t mean to call you stupid, or anything. I was talking about myself--wait, no, that’s even more asshole-ish--” Namjoon sighed, and ran a hand through his hair. “--Look, I’m really sorry. Hey, okay, I’ll teach you the summoning charm, alright? Screw animal transfiguration.” He waved at the owl. “You can just keep the owl an owl. Give it a name, I don’t care.”

Jungkook looked up. To Namjoon’s surprise, he hadn’t burst into tears. His eyes were a little shiny, but otherwise, Jungkook looked fine. “Really?”

Namjoon sighed, and patted the boy's shoulder that wasn’t holding an owl. “Sure. Summoning really is more useful, anyway.”

He turned Jungkook to the open window.

“Okay, now summoning is all about conviction. You gotta have a clear picture of what you want in mind, and you need to really want it.” Namjoon wondered if he should grab his textbook, but shrugged it off. The spell was fairly simple. “Alright, now, what do you want right now?”

“My broom,” Jungkook said immediately.

Sixth.

“What do you want that’s way smaller and easier to summon than that,” Namjoon corrected. “Non-magical would be easier, too.”

Jungkook frowned. “A sandwich?”

“Even more basic,” Namjoon said, imagining each individual ingredient of a sandwich flying through the library window into his face. “Like. Tiny.”

“A lollipop,” he said, exasperated.

“A lollipop!” Namjoon said enthusiastically. “Yes. Good.”

Jungkook smiled his little bunny tooth grin again. “Like taking candy from a baby,” he joked.

“Wha--” He stopped himself when he saw Jungkook glare at him. Right. His constant ‘what?’-ing was probably getting on his nerves the same way Jungkook’s soft-spokenness got on his nerves. Namjoon would be the bigger person here.

“Alright, now, if you could think of a really specific type of lollipop. Acid pop, mice pop, hocus pocus pop, blood-flavoured--”

Jungkook laughed. “Are you making some of those up?”

Namjoon stared at him in confusion. “No?”

Jungkook looked away from him. “Right. Uh, I dunno. I like blueberry?”

“Blueberry,” Namjoon nodded. Strange. Most kids his age preferred specialty candy loaded with insane potions and charms. He couldn’t remember the last time he ate basic candy. “Alright. Just keep that image clear in your mind. Get really invested in this blueberry lollipop. It’s amazing. It’s the most desirable thing on the planet. You want it like you want to play quidditch. You want it the way teachers want on-time assignments. You want this lollipop like house elves want their master’s approval.”

“That’s kind of a weird metaphor,” Jungkook mumbled. Namjoon caught it this time.

“It’s a simile,” he said briskly. “Also, house elves and wizards have a collaborative relationship. It’s mutually beneficial. Anyway, back to your awesome, cool, sexy lollipop.”

Jungkook snorted. Namjoon felt pleased, and positioned Jungkook’s arm to point out the window. “Now, if you’re lucky, you’ll manage to summon a lollipop. It might not be blueberry, but it’ll probably be blue, so that’s close enough.” He demonstrated the motion of the spell, and pronounced, “accio,” again for Jungkook to imitate.

“Great!” Namjoon clapped his hands together and said, “You’re all ready to go!”

Jungkook anxiously looked back at Namjoon. He gave a thumbs up. Jungkook took a deep breath, and shouted, “ Accio lollipop!”

They waited.

Nothing happened.

Namjoon shrugged, and patted Jungkook’s shoulder again. “Well, you can’t ace anything just from the first try--”

Accio lollipop! ” Jungkook shouted again, face screwed up in concentration.

“Hey kid, you don’t really need to--”

Accio lollipop!” he shouted louder. Some people in the library giggled under their breath. Namjoon wanted to curse them all.

And then, out of the stormy grey sky, was a piece of candy flung into the air, darting towards the window. Namjoon’s jaw dropped.

“You did it!” he said excitedly. “Holy crap, third try? That’s even faster than me when I learned the spell!”

“Hey,” Jungkook said slowly, arm pointedly aloft. “What’s that thing behind the lollipop?”

Namjoon squinted. “What?” He winced internally, remembering the look on Jungkook’s face whenever he said that.

Except Jungkook didn’t care about that, because in that very moment, a very large, unidentified flying object burst into the library following the lollipop and wreaked havoc. Namjoon and Jungkook fell to the floor.

It was white and feathery and extremely energetic, flapping viciously throughout the library, squawking very loudly.

Namjoon yelped, “Is that a--”

“--Seagull?!?” Jungkook said. He pointed his wand at the bird. “Accio seagull!

Namjoon groaned. “Idiot, you can’t summon living things, remember?”

A stranger shouted, “Is that a bird?!?”

“What the hell?”

Someone screeched, in a tone comparable to the seagull’s, “AUGH, I THINK IT JUST POOPED IN MY HAIR!”

Namjoon stood up and hastily grabbed the lollipop from the floor. It’s wrapper was half-chewed. The seagull must’ve been eating it near the lake, only for it to mysteriously fly out of its mouth into the castle.

Jungkook grabbed Namjoon and shouted, “What do we do?!?”

Namjoon ripped off the wrapper and held it high in the air.

“Hey, you!” he shouted. “Sorry we took your snack!”

The seagull spotted Namjoon and the blue candy. It swooped down to snatch it back into its beak, before gliding gracefully out of the window towards the outside. Jungkook’s owl happily hooted it goodbye.

Jungkook looked at Namjoon.

“Is that supposed to happen when you use a summoning charm?” he said curiously

He couldn’t help it. Namjoon laughed so hard he fell on the ground. Gradually, Jungkook joined in, and they were both howling with laughter until they noticed a figure towering over them. The librarian’s hair was strewn with a white goo that suspiciously resembled seagull excrement.

In a quiet, absolutely furious voice, she said, “What on earth were you two doing?”

Nobody spoke.

Sheepishly, Jungkook said, “Uh….tutoring?”


 

Namjoon fumed, pacing outside the library, while Jungkook sat down on the floor, concentrated on practicing his new spell.

“Banned for life,” he spat, stomping back and forth. “Not even for something cool! For something justifiably terrible! For a seagull!” He threw his hands up in the air. “My kingdom for a seagull!”

“Is that Shakespeare?” Jungkook said casually, as he tugged another sheet of paper through the crack under the door of the library. He looked it over, and grinned again. “Man, I’m so good at this spell.” He pointed at the crack in the door again. “Accio transfiguration homework.

“Good job,” Namjoon sighed. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad you actually learned something, but Merlin, that was not worth it! Banned for life! Where the hell am I supposed to tutor you now?” He grimaced, and banged his fist against the door with every word he spoke. “How! Can! I! Be! A! Good! Student! With! A! Life! Time! Library! Ban!”

Jungkook smiled as he grabbed another assignment from under the door. “Got it!” He waved the parchment around triumphantly. “Don’t worry, Namjoon. You can just teach me, like, in the Great Hall, or in an old classroom. We’ll figure it out.”

Namjoon banged on the door, extra-hard, and winced. He drew back his unbandaged, newly-bruised hand. He groaned. “You don’t understand. It’s not just about the tutoring. The library is one of the only good places left for me in this entire school.” He listed off the places. “My four-poster bed. The Gryffindor Common Room's fireplace. That great big window overlooking the Greenhouses. The prefects’ bathroom. ” Namjoon hung his head. "This sucks."

“What’s the prefects’ bathroom?” Jungkook said, astonished.

“It’s this gorgeous room with a fancy bath and heated toilets made for professional hall monitors and quidditch boneheads as reward for their illustrious services to the school,” Namjoon muttered with distaste. He shrugged. “The passwords are really easy to guess. They don’t change as frequently as the house ones do. This month’s password is Jasmine.”

Jungkook blinked. “Good to know.”

Namjoon grumbled, “My point is, getting banned from the library is kind of a downer for me. I’m in the process of grieving.”

Jungkook said, “I’m really sorry?” He pointed his wand back to the bottom of the door, but before he could repeat his new favourite charm, the door burst open.

A handsome gentleman with lustrous blonde hair and a stern expression stood at the door.

“Seokjin,” Namjoon said coldly.

“Namjoon,” Seokjin nodded. He looked at his bandaged hand, and opened his mouth to say something, but Namjoon cut him off with a, “What do you want?”

Seokjin shut his mouth, and glared at Namjoon. He gestured to Jungkook. “He’s unbanned as long as he confirms that this whole seagull fiasco was all your fault.”

Jungkook frowned. “What does the librarian have against Namjoon?”

The corners of Seokjin’s mouth twitched upwards. “Oh, he’s got multiple strikes against his character. Loudly talking during quiet study, eating in the library, serial book thievery.”

Oh, now he’d done it.

Namjoon angrily spat, “It’s not my fault the loaning periods for the Forbidden Section books are way too short, you absolute dickhead--”

Seokjin didn’t even blink. “Don’t curse in front of the underclassmen.”

Jungkook hesitated. “I won’t be in trouble?”

Seokjin smiled, and kindly handed Jungkook the rest of his papers.

“Of course not.”

“But...it really wasn’t Namjoon’s fault,” he mumbled, shuffling his papers softly. “He was just tutoring me on summoning charms.”

Seokjin coughed, looked at Namjoon, and said, “You’re his tutor?”

“Give me a break, Mr. Head Boy. You don’t need to act so surprised.”

“No, no,” Seokjin said, with a stoic expression. “You look like an excellent tutor.”

“Does he?” Jungkook said, looking back and forth between them in confusion.

Seokjiin smiled.

“The librarian also said that she would let you off with a warning if you found a counter-curse for the graffiti. She’s worried that if it spreads all the way to the library, it’ll start to possess the books.”

Namjoon growled, “I’m working on it.”

Seokjin reached out to pet the owl on Jungkook’s shoulder. “Feel free to come back to the library and apologize anytime--what’s your name?”

“Oh, um the owl doesn’t one.”

“I meant your name,” Seokjin laughed, pointing at the young boy's face.

Jungkook stuttered, “Oh! U-uh, Jeon Jungkook?”

“Nice. That really rolls off the tongue. Remember to study well, Jungkook.” Seokjin gave him a bright smile. “No matter who teaches you.”

He slammed the door in their faces.

Namjoon clenched his fist, and punched the door again.

“He’s the Head Boy!” Jungkook said, his eyes a little starry-eyed, as he shoved his homework messily into his bag. Namjoon needed to teach him some basic organizational skills. “I never talk to seventh years at all, much less the Head Boy himself!” He shyly mumbled, “So handsome...”

“You’ve been talking to me all night, haven’t you?” Namjoon muttered. “I’m a sixth year turned seventh year. That should be way more impressive than some asshole who drowns himself in hair potions.”

Jungkook shrugged, and buttoned up his bag.

“He was a little mean to you. What’s up with that?”

A treasure trove of humiliating memories involving Kim Seokjin ran through Kim Namjoon’s mind.

“Uh, he’s the Head Boy and I’m the guy responsible for cursing the school to say “You need to survive" ad infinitum," Namjoon explained. “So. Yeah. I guess we’re destined to be enemies.”

Jungkook took a sharp intake of breath. “So it was you!”

Namjoon sighed, and leaned against the wall. He slid down to sit on the ground. “Yeah, that’s me. Silver-haired public menace.”

Jungkook sat down beside him, and eagerly said, “So what does it mean?”

“Pardon?” he said snarkily.

You need to survive,” Jungkook parroted. “Like, is it some scary curse? A message of hope? Were you really going to be expelled, but then you bargained with the headmaster by saying you would brew him brain elixir?”

“Pardon?” Namjoon repeated, this time with genuine confusion.

Jungkook said, “I just--my some of my friends kept calling it dumb and ugly, but this one guy in frog choir--”

“Taehyung?”

Jungkook flushed.

“That’s his name?” he whispered. “I didn’t know. Anyway, yeah. He was really, really certain that it was a message of hope.”

Namjoon leaned back. “Do you agree with him?”

“...No.” Jungkook said in his quiet little voice. “When I first saw it, I felt all jumpy. I thought it was a warning. A bad omen for things to come.” Jungkook took the owl off his shoulder and hugged it to his chest protectively. “You need to survive. Maybe that’s the scariest thing about it. How it reveals more about yourself than it does to its creator.”

Namjoon wondered, “How can you say philosophical stuff like that and still have such Dreadful marks in your classes?”

Jungkook sputtered, “I--hey--look, I only care about the subjects I care about, okay?”

"Look, kid, the graffiti’s meaningless. You can tell your friends that. It was the first thing I thought of when I decided to try out my new graffiti spell.”

“It’s meaningless?” Jungkook said. “No it’s not--you just said, it was the first thing you thought of!” He sat up. “It was a message to the message itself.”

“Well now I don’t want the message to survive,” Namjoon snorted, pitying the way Jungkook’s face blazed with understanding. “It’s meaningless. I wish I knew how to get rid of it. It’s like a disease.”

“It’s not,” Jungkook said. He sat up straight, big eyes staring Namjoon down. “My dad always says opinions are not facts, and you have to rely on the truth to reach conclusion. You can have your opinion against your own graffiti, but the fact is, my opinion is just as true and as false as yours.”

“Is your dad a philosopher?” Namjoon laughed. “Because that’s a pretty heavy topic. Like, death of the author, existentialism stuff.”

Jungkook tilted his head. “Huh? No. My dad’s a pediatrician.” He paused. “Um, it’s like a muggle healer,” Jungkook clarified, as though he had explained this information countless times to other wizards. Namjoon nodded.

“No, I know. It has to do with medicine and science," he stated, thinking back to the ignorance of traditional wizard sweets, the un-wizardly jokes, the Shakespeare reference. "ah, you're muggleborn."

“Oh, how did you know?” Jungkook said. “Mhm. My mom’s a chiropractor. Are your parents also muggles?”

Namjoon heart thudded faster. “No way. I’m about as pure-blooded as they come. I have a family crest and motto, for God’s sake.”

Now it was Jungkook’s turn to be curious.

“What’s the motto?”

“Nothing, what’s the motto with you?” Namjoon quipped. Jungkook gave him an unamused stare. Namjoon laughed. “Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Look, I guess I know about muggle stuff because I take muggle studies.”

Jungkook muttered, “Muggle studies is a school subject, though."

“So?”

“Taking a subject in school doesn’t make you an expert in the subject at all,” he said suspiciously.

Namjoon couldn’t stop himself from grinning. The kid was beginning to grow on him. He was smart when he wanted to be. It was such a shame that he preferred Exploding Snap to academics.

Namjoon looked at the walls. Curiously, the graffiti hadn’t quite reached this corridor. It was probably because the library was  so far from the original inscription.

He murmured. “Non est umbra ad flamma.

“What does that mean?” Jungkook asked eagerly.

“Nothing. It’s the nonsense latin phrase that my ancestors used to seem powerful in their family crest,” Namjoon said.

“So you wrote the graffiti to intimidate and appear superior, like your ancestors did with their crest?” Jungkook said, as though he had cracked the code.

“What?” Namjoon sat up. He felt heat crawl up his face. “No, that’s not what I meant. It was just proof that I’m not lying about my blood status. The graffiti’s still meaningless.”

Jungkook snorted and crossed his arms behind his head. He looked smug. “Sure.”

Namjoon sighed. “I really, really need to get rid of that fucking graffiti.”

“I wish my dad was here. He could definitely help.”

“What? How? He’s a muggle.”

Jungkook’s nose scrunched up. He looked hurt. Namjoon internally cursed himself. “I don’t mean because he’s dumb or anything, I just mean, well--he’s not a wizard. He wouldn’t understand.”

“He would understand! Just--differently. Muggles aren’t dumb, they’re cool and smart!” Jungkook said impishly. The owl on his shoulder hooted in apparent agreement. Their big eyes were round and shiny in the exact same way. “He could solve your problem in his own way.”

The wall in front of them glowed, and burst into flame. Jungkook and Namjoon jumped. Namjoon pushed Jungkook behind him and pulled out his wand defensively from his pocket, but scowled when the sight of his own hand writing on the wall.

Finite incantatem,” Namjoon said, blasting the wall with that temporary counter-curse he had first suggested to Headmaster Bang as a quick fix to the situation. The phrase vanished for a brief moment, before reappearing shortly after, blazing brighter than before. “...Shit.”

“T-that’s not good, is it?” Jungkook said. He tilted his head a little, and murmured, “Weird.”

“This is bad.”

“Your crest is wrong,” Jungkook mumbled. Namjoon grit his teeth. This kid sure loved correcting him. How familiar. He quietly said, so quiet that Namjoon barely heard it, “ I know a little latin. Fire definitely has shadows. It’s impossible to have darkness without light.”

Namjoon muttered, “Merlin, you really are just like her.”

Jungkook looked up. “Who?”

"My sister."

Namjoon watched the flames of his words cast newly formed shadows on the wall.

“Oh? What’s she like?”

Namjoon fell out of his daze. He snapped up.

“Uh...she’s like this really little kid. Always asking questions.”

Jungkook nodded. He turned to look at the graffiti. “My older brother’s a muggle. He’s in university studying graphic design.” Jungkook giggled. “You know? I think he would also be a good person to ask about the countercurse to this. He loves pretentious art.”

“Cool,” Namjoon said absentmindedly, as he adjusted his bag and put away his wand. “Listen, it’s getting kind of late. Do you think we can meet up, same time next week, in the Great Hall?”

“Wait, but, aren’t the sessions supposed to be five hours?”

Namjoon breathed out hard through his nose. “Let’s call this a trial period, okay? I mean, do you wanna spend the rest of the evening studying the intricacies of hippogriff breeding?”

Jungkook’s face crinkled in horror. “Oh. Ew. No thanks.”

“Great.” Namjoon patted Jungkook on the back. “Good work today, kiddo. Seriously. That summoning charm is no joke, and you nailed it on your first try.”

Jungkook’s face lit up. All pure smiles and a fluffy expression. “Thanks!”

Namjoon began to walk away.

“Wait!”

Namjoon groaned internally, and turned back his head. “Yeah?”

Jungkook planted his feet firmly on the ground, and puffed out his chest.

“What should I name my owl?”

Even though the kid was nightmarishly nosy and impulsive, that one sentence pulled Namjoon irresistibly into his favour.

“Seagull would be a pretty hilarious name for an owl.”

“Seagull it is!” Jungkook cheered, causing his owl to fly away from his shoulder. He jumped up to catch her, and gave his pet a tiny peck on the top of her feathery little head. Namjoon smiled, and made a mental note to himself to visit his own owl soon. Come to think of it, as long as this graffiti wasn't going away, and he would continue to get unwanted attention, he might as well start showing up at breakfast again. No point avoiding the inevitable. Besides, he needed to get his mail.

Namjoon thought about Jungkook's gushing about his family, and the way he nosed into Namjoon's life, and sighed.

The kid was growing on him, and that wasn't good at all.


 

Dear Namjoon,

 

I hope you appreciate all the suffering I have to go through to write this. Seriously. The school library is terrible when it comes to computer time--two hours for leisure, and then you have to authorize that it’s school work with the librarians or else you’ll get kicked out.  Printing costs ten pence per sheet, and you can’t even get the papers printed double-sided. I’m considering organizing an uprising for student rights.

It’s not all bad here. The food’s nice, at least. Better than the last school. Have you ever eaten fusion cuisine? It’s when you combine ethnic foods together to create this like, weird combination. Eating a sushi burrito is an illuminating experience, big brother.

My roommate is nice. Once, I accidentally left my photo album on my desk, and she spotted it and asked how I got such a cool tablet computer. Tablet computers are like the regular boxy ones you would think of, but compact into this thin rock slate. I just laughed and said my parents got it for me on holiday.

It kind of freaked me out when she plastered posters of these blank-eyed pretty boys all over her side of the wall, but when she asked why I looked so weirded out, it’s not like I could tell her the truth, so I only said I didn’t like that band. Which wasn’t true--their music is pretty decent, from what I’ve heard whenever she sings their songs in the shower. I can’t tell their faces apart, though. I don’t know if that’s because their frozen-ness makes them hard to differentiate, or if they really do all look the same. I wish I could ask someone about it, but whenever I try to talk to my roommates’ friends, they blab about muggle things and I feel like a complete idiot.

I don’t know. They’re all nice. My teachers are nice. My classmates are nice. I’m doing okay in classes, all things considered. The summer tutoring program helped after all. Who knew, right?

My worst subject is english, because the books are really difficult to understand. Not just for me, but for everyone else, too. I’m just thankful I read Richard the Third during the summer. It’s going to be my next book report subject for the next four years. It’s funny to read the fantasy books. I spend most of my time in the library, just giggling my head off. The vampire ones alone are so, so, so good. I bought one from the local bookstore last weekend, and I’m mailing it to you.

Math and science are really strange, because unlike regular people, muggles have to use calculators for everything. Muggles have a convoluted explanation for everything under the sun. The reason they explain so much is that’s how they survive without magic. The downside is that makes school that much harder. Chemistry is really fun, though. It’s like potions without the magic. I’m also mailing you a chemistry textbook, the biggest one I could find. The periodic table of elements is so pretty. I have no idea what it means, but it looks great!

Computer science is a lifesaver. I know you told me not to take that and just do art or music, but I’m sorry, it’s the most useful class I have. I don’t know how I’m so good at it, because it’s the most muggle thing in the world, but something about it just makes sense to me. Coding is just like magic: it’s spells and commands and planning and actions and reactions. I don’t know how to explain it.

The internet. My god, the internet. It’s everything you never knew you needed to know. I can’t get over it. It’s really fun. They had computers at the tutoring camp, but not with this much free access. Even the measly two hours I get every day in this library are almost worth coming to this school. Also, typing. I love typing. The way the keys click on the keyboard instead of scrawling ugly handwriting on a page. It’s so convenient. It’s so much prettier than quill and parchment. I’m printing a bunch of articles about current muggle events off the internet to attach to you.

Um, what else can I say? History class is weird because I find the class so much more interesting than everyone else. There are so many wars, Namjoon. Not just a few, but like, cross-cultural, epic catastrophic Earth-shattering wars. And this is without magic!

Also, so many sports, and I’m just going to say it: all of them make way more sense than quidditch. They’re tiring and definitely no fun, but at least they have reasonable point systems. Muggles-1. Wizards-0.

I think that’s the one thing I’ve seen the most when coming to this new school in the city. It’s the sheer abundance of stuff. Muggles are so free to live loudly and freely without fear of recognition. They create and destroy so much.

Every weekend, I take the subway into the city and just stand at the edge of the crosswalk to look at all the skyscrapers. They make Hogsmeade look like doll houses. The craziest part is that even though there’s already so many enormous buildings, I still see muggles in construction cranes, building them higher and stronger and bigger into the sky like they could go on forever. Then I watched people walk through the crosswalk. They all walk quickly, with places to go and lives to live. So many people blissfully unaware that across the street, in a tavern they’ve been charmed not to see, is a whole other world.

After that I usually press the pedestrian crosswalk button that changes the lights, because it makes a funny sound and it’s cute. I’ve attached a picture of the crosswalk I took with my new phone with all the books and articles. Also a bunch of other photos.

I don’t know. I like it here. It’s different. It’s not like how I expected it to be. I don’t know if I would live here forever, but I think it’s better than travelling around the world like crazy last year, with mom dragging me to every healer under the sun. I don’t know. Better just wake the sleeping dragon and try muggle school for a little while.

Tell me what you think in your next letter. And what other funny souvenirs I should send you. I know you’re probably having your typical magical hijinks at school, but give your dear baby sister a letter soon, alright? And stop sugarcoating what you write because you think mom will read your letters, because I’m sending this through the postal service instead of using the family owl. When you send your reply, tell your owl Randa to put it in a mailbox. I have no idea what my roommate would think if some great big owl flew into our tiny dorm room. I know, I know: the muggle post? But hear me out. They’ve got inside wizards to handle it. My tutor at summer camp worked there for a few years. It’s quite an impressive operation.

Also: try a little harder not to get expelled. I think our parents deserve at least one wizarding heir to the family. They didn’t really explain what happened all that well in their letter to me, but apparently you cursed the school to say “You need to survive,” and now you’re bumped up a year? You can probably explain it better, but if it’s true, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. An idiot like you should go back to first year, obviously.

Okay, the librarian is tapping his watch at me. He’s glowering. I better go.

 

Sincerely,

Kyungmin.

 

P.S. Ha! You thought it was over just because I was going away for school? Oh please! I’m going to be annoying you with stupid muggle words forever, even if it’s not on a daily basis. Your muggle slang word of the month is “Bae.” Definition? “ An informal term for person's significant other. ” So if you ever get around to finding a lover, be sure to use that as a term of endearment. It definitely won’t get you punched in the face. Definitely.

 

P.P.S. I also got bought you the five teddy bear plushies you begged for. Happy late birthday.

 

P.P.S. I get the feeling that you won’t be using the word “bae” any time soon. See above statement for reasons why.