— Hoseok —
Hoseok laid on his back staring up at the book floating above his head. Though he was reading the words, his mind wasn't really processing them. He has to reread the same sentence five times before he actually knows what it's saying. His aunt had always given homework like this to do since he was little. However, this was a little bit different from his usual homework. Though he wouldn’t consider his normal homework as particularly fun, this was a punishment.
Hoseok turns the page in the book and tries to read the next chapter. If he could read two more chapters he could put the book down and go have dinner. He could always lie to his aunt and say he read them, but she would figure him out. Hoseok had always been a shitty liar. Plus Hoseok has too much respect for his aunt to do that anyways.
She only wanted to protect Hoseok. It's more than my real mother ever did, Hoseok thought to himself. Though Hoseok was bitter, he understood why his mother abandoned him; fear. Ever since Hoseok was very young, he could make strange things happen. He could make objects float to him when wanted them to. He could turn lights on and off simply by thinking about it. He could even understand what small animals were saying and sometimes even talk back to them.
When Hoseok was just a baby, he made a stuffed animal float over to him in front of his mother. His mother instantly recognized this as magic and was terrified. Magic is outlawed in the kingdom. She contacted her sister and begged her to take her son. Her sister, being a witch herself accepted. Unable to live with the guilt of giving away her only son, Hoseok's mother moved far far away and Hoseok has never met her.
Hoseok now lived with his aunt and uncle. Though with his uncle being busy in the shop most days, it was mostly Hoseok’s aunt who looked after him. Even though she was very nice and Hoseok was grateful to have her, Hoseok couldn't help but wonder what his real mother was like.
Hoseok sighed in resignation when he realized for the fourth time he had no idea what he just read. He thought back to the accident that got him into his current situation. He hadn't had an accidental outburst in about three years now. Despite what his aunt may think, this outburst was not an accident.
"It's too dangerous," Hoseok's aunt had insisted when Hoseok asked yet again why he couldn’t enroll in a normal school. He normally doesn’t get upset over much, but he felt very on edge today. Today was the start of a new school year decided to try and convince his aunt to enroll him. He would be older than anyone in the class and he might already know all the material, but it would be worth it if he could make a few friends. Hoseok wondered what it was like to be a normal kid and have friends. He told himself that he was always better without friends anyways. That reduced his risk of being caught and executed for being a witch. He mostly had his magic under control these days so he didn’t understand why he still wasn’t allowed to go normal school.
"Why can't we move then? Other kingdoms have different rules about magic! We could live somewhere where we’d be accepted," Hoseok shouted. He rarely raised his voice, but he was tired of having the same argument with his aunt. He wasn’t mad but he wanted her to know just how serious he was. He was tired of feeling trapped.
"Keep your voice down!" his aunt replied with a cautionary tone. She added with a sigh, "You know it's not that easy, Hoseok."
Hoseok knew she was right. Villagers who try to leave the kingdom were almost always investigated to make sure they didn't have any kind of witchcraft spell books, potions, or otherwise with them. If they did, they could be detained and put up for trial under the speculation of being a witch. Hoseok knew the only way to get past guards like those would be to bribe them. Unfortunately, Hoseok's family was not very fortunate as to have that kind of money. They would hardly be able to afford moving out of the kingdom, let alone a bribe to get out alive.
Hoseok was angry and frustrated, but not to the point where he was about to have a break down because of it. He wanted to show just how angry he was, so he focused all of his energy on an old vase he had always hated. It was a stupid vase - all garishly purple and red. It didn't match the living room and it never had anything in it. What was the point of having an empty vase?
It shattered into pieces under Hoseok’s stare and his aunt shouted at him to go to his room.
About an hour later Hoseok came back from his room and apologized. The vase had been repaired already, but his aunt felt the need to punish him by making him reread old magic textbooks. "I need you to fully understand what it means to be a witch, Hoseok. I know you didn't choose to be like this, but we still need to be on the same page. I know it's hard for you to not have many friends, but until you can control this, it's safer for you here."
"I haven't had an accident in three years," Hoseok retorted quietly.
"Then what do you call that that just happened?" his aunt asked referring to the broken vase.
"That was on purpose," Hoseok mumbled. In all honestly, it was on purpose, but he'd never be able to convince his aunt of this now.
"Sure it was," she answered. "Read the first section of this book and when you've finished you can have dinner and we can talk some more."
Hoseok sighed and nodded. He didn't think about the consequences before he decided to break the vase. Now his aunt would probably be even more strict and keep him inside for awhile until this blew over.
After years of practicing Hoseok actually did in fact know how to control his emotions. He used to get upset about things all the time. Questions about his real mom and dad filled his mind. Most of which left him angry. Other small things would occasionally set him off as well. However after years and years of breaking things unintentionally, Hoseok had learned how to control his emotions. Even when he appeared outwardly angry, he was still calm inside. The only foolproof method he found for controlling magical outbursts was to also have his emotions in control.
The textbook fell heavily on his face when the sound of laughter outside broke his concentration. Sitting up, he sees his neighbor’s daughter running around outside. It seemed as though she had a friend over. Hoseok watches as they run around the front yard playing some game of tag.
One of his favorite activities was people watching. He often went to the market just for this purpose. He loved getting to see how normal people interacted and went about their daily lives. At the market he would see people loudly bargaining with each other; becoming passionate over simple things like how much an apple should cost. He would see couples holding hands and walking as if there weren’t others trying to get around them. He never understood couples. His attention would then be pulled to see children complaining to their parents when they wouldn't buy them sweets. The actions of children were simple and they made sense. Love on the other hand, made far less sense.
Romance was such a foreign concept to him. Even his aunt talks about how lucky she was to have found his uncle. Being a witch in a kingdom where magic is forbidden has always been a challenge for Hoseok's aunt. However the difference between him and her is that she chose to be a witch. Hoseok did not.
Hoseok had heard the story countless times about how his aunt met his uncle. It sounded like something out of a story book and he has a hard time believing there will ever be anything like that out there for him. Hoseok sighs looking out his bedroom window to see his uncle coming home from a long day at the shop. He hears him greet his wife in the house. They exchange sappy words about missing each other that make Hoseok roll his eyes.
He truly loves them, but he knows this is the only love he will ever experience. He supposes this is okay.
— Yoongi —
"Taeeeee," the prince whines throwing himself back on his bed.
"Yoongi, bro, I know," Taehyung answers the prince.
"Why is life so hard?" Yoongi asks sitting up and facing his best friend.
"I can only imagine how hard life is for you, your highness," Taehyung replies, sarcasm lacing his words.
"Shut up, Tae, you don't have to deal with my father like I do."
"Mmmm, I still kind of do," Taehyung answers. Taehyung and Yoongi were like brothers. Well, Taehyung was Yoongi's cousin to be exact. The king had a brother four years younger than himself. He also had a sister but she was married off to some prince many years ago for the sake of a peace treaty and hasn’t returned to visit since.
Years ago, the king and queen decided they should have children to ensure they would have an heir. After a couple miscarriages, they started to lose hope. The king’s brother always lived inside the kingdom, knowing that if his brother were to die before having children, he would assume the throne. However, the queen eventually gave birth to Yoongi but died in doing so. Taehyung came into the world a few years after the death of the queen, but Taehyung’s mother and father died in a fire related accident a few years after that. Taehyung was taken into the castle and raised as Yoongi's own brother. The two of them would go everywhere and do everything together and some might assume they were brothers.
The gossip in the kingdom says that the king dishonored his soulmate and had a son with some peasant after Yoongi’s mother passed, but the official record holds that Taehyung and Yoongi are just cousins. In all truthfulness, Taehyung was the only person Yoongi honestly considered his friend.
"Well yeah, but he doesn't keep you under a magnifying glass like he does with me," Yoongi replies. "Everyday at dinner, he's asking me how my trips to town are and if I've found them yet."
"Found who?" Taehyung asks.
"My soulmate! You know, I've caught the maids in here quite a few times before I was awake checking my wrists to see if there’s a name yet. I bet you anything my father sent them to check," Yoongi replies.
Taehyung nods, "Right, right, I got pretty lucky to be honest. I don't know how my soulmate ended up being the most gorgeous boy in the entire kingdom." He pauses and admires the letters on his wrist that spell out "Park Jimin."
Yoongi rolls his eyes and sighs. "It's just so hard to meet people, you know? There's already a big enough problem with all the fabics out there, but add onto that the fact that I'm the prince. Everybody wants to try and get to know me to see if they're my soulmate. There aren't that many people my age living within the castle walls to begin with and I'm pretty sure I've already met all of them. Now that I have to go out into town, it's even worse than before. I'm pretty sure my father wants me to marry some kind of noble, but I just want to marry my soulmate, to be honest. I don't know. What if I don't even have a soulmate? I mean I've met all of the eligible people living within the castle, and I highly doubt my soulmate is some kind of peasant. If they are, then it's going to take me forever to meet them. There's about a hundred villages and probably thousands of people living in each of those in this kingdom alone. I'm probably going to have to meet all of them before I find my soulmate. God must hate me."
"I stopped listening about twenty minutes ago. Chill out, Yoongi. You'll find them. I think what they say is true: You find your soulmate when you're not looking for them. I mean, you know how Jimin and I met," Taehyung reasons.
"I think they just say that to dissuade kids from becoming fabics," Yoongi says.
"Maybe... maybe not. I believe in you, bro," Taehyung replies.
Just then there’s a knock at the door that interrupts their conversation. A maid pokes her head into the room and says, "Sir, the king has requested you to come down for dinner right away." With a quick bow, she leaves the room and shuts the door behind her.
"That's odd," Yoongi says, "Usually dinner isn't for another hour or so."
"Maybe he wants something from you," Taehyung says.
"Oh God, I hope not," Yoongi sighs. He gets up from his bed and says goodbye to Taehyung. Though Taehyung was allowed to eat with the king and Yoongi, he was rarely required to. For this reason, Taehyung rarely chose to eat dinner with them. He always got the feeling that the king did not have a very nice opinion about him. Yoongi had tried time and time again to convince Taehyung that his father didn’t dislike him but maybe it would help if he wasn’t so reckless around the castle. Taehyung will always dismiss the idea and change the topic and Yoongi will roll his eyes.
Yoongi leaves his chambers and makes his way through the castle to the dining room where he finds his father waiting for him. There are servants and guards around the room and Yoongi knows most of their names, but it always feels oddly empty in the dining room with just his father at the table.
"Yoongi, take a seat," his father invites, gesturing to the seat across from him.
Unsure of his father's intentions. Yoongi takes a seat across from his father. "How's your evening been?" Yoongi asks attempting to start pleasant conversation.
"Quite busy actually, there's lots going on in the kingdom at the moment. Some citizens in outer villages have been organizing fights where others place bets on who the winner will be. I'm thinking nothing good can come from this, so I'm in the process of making a law against it. The decree should be ready and sent out by the weekend. Anyway, how about you?" the king asks, seemingly changing the subject to Yoongi as quick as he could.
"What about me?" Yoongi asks in a bored voice.
"What'd you do today?" the King inquires. Yoongi feels like rolling his eyes. His father knows very well what he did today and Yoongi knows exactly what he’s trying to get out of him.
"Not much. I went to classes today and afterwards Taehyung and I went into town for a bit to get some of that cinnamon bread. We came right back after that and we've just been hanging out in my chambers since then," Yoongi answers boredly to try and fend off further questions.
"Cinnamon bread again? You seem to be visiting the same bakery a lot recently," his father questions.
"Yeah, they make really good bread there. I'm not sure how, but it's better than the kind we have at the castle. But Taehyung likes it more than me," Yoongi answers.
"Hmm. You wouldn't happen to be visiting the bakery to see someone would you?" his father asks with a hint of mischief to his voice.
Yoongi sighs, there it is. "No Father, I just like the bread. I haven't met my soulmate or anything. Trust me, I'll be sure to tell you when I do."
The king clears his throat and Yoongi looks up from his plate to listen to what he has to say. "I actually have been thinking about that, Yoongi. Your twenty-third birthday is approaching soon and you've yet to find your soulmate. I got married at your age and I had met your mother six years before that. For your sake and the sake of this kingdom’s future I was thinking something needs to be done. I know that it's important for you to meet your soulmate, but it seems to me you aren't trying to do this anymore," he pauses for a second and Yoongi decides he should say something.
"It's not that I'm not looking, it's just that I've met most of the people inside the castle already. You got lucky with meeting mother, you know. She didn’t even live here! She was a foreigner, as you’ve told me,” Yoongi replied.
“I know that, but I’ve also introduced you to all of the princesses from our neighboring lands over the past ten years, your soulmate must be somewhere inside our own kingdom! The universe wouldn’t make it that difficult to find her,” the king reasons.
Yoongi pauses for a second as a thought enters his brain. Sure he’s met all the princesses, but he doesn’t recall ever meeting any princes, what if h-
“This is why,” the king interrupts that train of thought, “I’ve decided to host an event. I’m going to invite all of the eligible young women to a party for the prince. We’ll have you in a disguise so no one will recognize you. I expect you to make your way around the room and talk to as many of them as you can. Hopefully by the next morning, you will have found your soulmate. Simple enough, right?”
Yoongi pales at the notion of socializing all night, but realizes something. “Are you only inviting the girls?” he asks, timidly.
“Yes, that way you will have to talk to them.”
“Well won’t it seem odd if I am the only boy in the room and also wearing a disguise?”
His father ponders this for a second. “I suppose you are right I will have to invite men as well.” The topic changes after this and Yoongi is glad for that. He doesn’t hear about this again until a week later when he wakes up to a pounding on his door.
“Yoongi! Wake up!” Taehyung shouts through the door.
Yoongi groans and rubs his eyes. Sometimes he wishes his door was soundproof. He gets out of bed to see what Taehyung wants. When he opens the door he’s prepared to spit a menacing “What the fuck do you want?” at Taehyung but doesn’t get the chance as he’s already being bombarded with questions.
“Can you slow down?” Yoongi asks.
“Tell me you know about this,” Taehyung says holding up a letter announcing “A Celebration of Love.”
He takes the letter and reads thoroughly. He laughs to himself. “Yeah, Father mentioned it to me about a week ago at dinner. He didn’t tell me when it would be though.” According to the letter Yoongi now knows it will be held in three nights time. “Wait, how did you get ahold of this letter?”
Within the letter it explains how they are inviting all young people within the kingdom that have not met their match to this party and that they will be checking wrists at the door. The letter explains that it is because of the prince’s birthday and that he wants others to find their soulmate, just as he has found his already. Yoongi squints at the words and wonders if that was too obvious of a lie. People would be able to see right through this. Obviously Taehyung knew Yoongi had not met his soulmate. Being best friends, Taehyung expected he would be one the first to know when Yoongi should meet them. Still the question stood, if Taehyung already had his soulmate, why did he receive this letter?
“Oh, this letter was given to my friend Seokjin, actually. You know him, he lives in the town. He’s quite attractive too, which is probably why he hasn’t met his soulmate. Anyways I ran into him and he asked me when you met your soulmate and why he hadn’t heard about it. I asked what he was talking about and he showed me the letter. I made something up about being forbidden to tell anyone until the official announcement was made, but ‘oh I guess the secret is out now.’ I think he bought it,” Taehyung explains.
“Oh,” Yoongi says digesting all that information. “I guess this means you won’t be coming to the party then?”
Taehyung grins, “I’ll find a way in, don’t worry.”
Three nights later, Yoongi finds himself in a dark, crowded room wearing a ridiculous disguise. He scans the room looking for Taehyung, but sees him nowhere. When he asked earlier about Taehyung’s plan to get in, he wouldn’t give any details.
A girl comes up to him out of nowhere and introduces herself. He doesn’t hear what she says her name is but he tells her it’s a pretty name anyways. Yoongi really wants to be anywhere except for here but he doesn’t want to disappoint his father. The girl leaves after some time, politely excusing herself to “go to the bathroom,” but he figures she just finds him too boring and wants to find her real soulmate tonight. He doesn’t blame her.
The night turns into a blur of the same conversation over and over. Too many people come up to him trying to find that connection that only soulmates have. In between conversations, he looks around for Taehyung. He supposes it’s possible he made it in but is lost in the crowd somewhere.
He only tried approaching one person the entire night. It’s a boy as well. He’s really starting to wonder if he hadn’t met his soulmate because he thought all this time they had to be a girl. However the boy kindly shut down the conversation and told Yoongi he’d love to be friends but wanted to focus on finding his soulmate and that wasn’t going to happen if Yoongi was gonna keep him from talking to girls. Yoongi doesn’t try to talk to anyone else that night and just lets people come up to him. Nearly all of them are girls.
One girl introduces herself to Yoongi and he introduces himself as “Taehyung.” His father had suggested him using a fake name so that people didn’t find out he was there. Taehyung had agreed - or rather insisted - for Yoongi to use his name.
The girl looks at him weird and he questions her.
“Huh, that’s odd,” says the girl. “You know you look exactly like Prince Yoongi?”
Yoongi laughs and gives the signal to one of the undercover palace guards that's around. All he had to do was hold two fingers behind his back and one of the young guards would swoop in and take over the conversation. This had been a pre-arranged idea per Yoongi’s request when he insisted they must have some measures ready to take place when someone was bound to recognize him.
This is the fourth person who’s recognized him tonight. It’s nearly midnight when he finally spots Taehyung.
“Taehyung!” he calls out, approaching his friend. Taehyung turns around and sees Yoongi. He excitedly waves him over.
“Taehyung?” the girl he’s been talking to asks. “I thought your name was Seokjin!”
The girl leaves and Taehyung pauses and looks like he’s about to apologize to the girl, but she’s already gone. The apologetic look is quickly replaced as he seems happy to have finally found Yoongi.
“What was that?” Yoongi asks. “Are you leading people on?”
“What! No! I’m just talking to people, socializing. I told a few people at the start that I already have a soulmate but that makes them ask too many questions that I can’t answer without giving you away,” Taehyung explains. Yoongi rolls his eyes. He had forgotten some people, like Taehyung, actually enjoyed socializing just for the hell of it.
“Sure, just don’t cause any trouble, okay?” Yoongi lowers his voice, “Hey, I’m going to need your help.”
Taehyung’s eyes lit up, “What is it? Is there someone you want to talk to? Who is it? Why can’t you talk to them?”
“No, no, nothing like that,” Yoongi says. “I wanna leave. If I have to talk to another person about my life’s goals and aspirations I might kill myself. How did you sneak in here? Can you get me out?”
Taehyung shows Yoongi the way he got in and Yoongi is able to slip out easily unnoticed. Sometimes he envies Taehyung’s knowledge of the castle. While Yoongi had been required to take classes and learn about how to be a prince as a child, Taehyung would slip off and wander the halls of the castle alone. He basically knows of all the shortcuts and secret passageways within the castle and Yoongi wishes he could’ve gone on these adventures with Taehyung when he was younger.
Taehyung helps him get outside and then leaves him. “I’ll be waiting for you to come back,” Taehyung says. Yoongi nods, he doesn’t need to ask where Taehyung will be. They’ve done this too many times before now so they have a system.
Yoongi finds himself in some kind of small courtyard. He knows he’s still within the castle’s walls, but can’t seem to recall which part of the castle this is. He feels as though he’s being watched so he has to get out. He finds a tree with low enough branches that allow him to climb up it. Taking off his jacket, he makes it to the top of the wall and sits on the edge. He’s never had to jump down from the wall from this high up before, but he does so anyways. It turned out the ground was closer on the other side than he had thought. He hits the ground with a roll and stands up slowly making sure nothing is hurt.
He loosens his tie and takes a deep breath. The cool air is refreshing and Yoongi is glad to be out of that stuffy room.
He looks around and sees nothing but trees. The wind ruffles his hair and whistles in his ears. The wind always seemed to carry secrets from tree to tree until the whole forest knew every bit of gossip. Yoongi hated wind - unless it was a warm day and it carried the scent of something sweet on it.
Yoongi figures the town must be on the other side of the castle or somewhere he can’t see. He wanted to visit the markets and look around. He didn’t have any money on him, but there was almost always something exciting happening at night in the town. A few times a week he knows of a fire dancer who performs for a large crowd of people every week. He’s been to these shows a couple of times. Of course Taehyung was the one who took him, but that didn’t change the fact that every time Yoongi found himself amazed at the talent the boy seemed to have.
He sets off into the forest in the direction he thinks the main town is in. He passes a river where he attempts to wash some of the disguise that is still caked to his face. He watches as the river is stained with the shade of his foundation, illuminated by the moonlight.
After about thirty minutes, Yoongi knows he’s lost. He thinks he’s passed that same tree three times, and still he hasn’t seen any sign of the town he was searching for. He looks up behind him for the tall pillars of the castle, but he can’t seem to see them through the tall, thick trees of this forest.
A mild panic sets in, but he forces himself to stay calm. This was such a bad idea. He should’ve stayed in that courtyard and just returned to the party after people started to leave.
The sudden burst of wind ruffles his hair and he shivers. He wasn’t so aware of the cold until now. This is just great, Yoongi thinks. He’s alone and lost in the cold, dark woods. He dreads what to think if he isn’t able to find his way back home by tonight. His father would be sure to scold him for leaving the party early. That is if his father ever finds him at all. He was sure he’d never be allowed outside again.
Yoongi goes to turn around again when out of the corner of his eye he catches a glimpse of light. He heads towards the light, finally hopeful in returning home. Maybe whoever is there can point him back towards the castle. They must think of him as an idiot to lose such a big building as the castle, but he doesn’t care at this point.
His pace picks up. Too focused on the light to watch his step, Yoongi trips over a root and lands with a loud thud and a groan.
“Who’s there? Ma is that you?” A shrill voice sounds from nearby.
Yoongi smiles at the sound of the voice. Yes, someone who can help. He gets up and dusts himself off.
Yoongi walks around a large tree and sees a boy standing with a small cottage house several meters behind him. He smiles and tries his best not to look threatening. “No I’m uh…. I’m lost,” Yoongi says.
The boy looks him up and down. He must notice his suit and he probably has dirt on it from falling. He probably looks like a wreck. “Who are you?” The boy asks quietly, gently.
“I’m Yoon...sung,” Yoongi almost tells the boy his real name, but stops himself at the last second.
“That’s not your real name is it?” The boy asks. Yoongi shakes his head, but doesn’t offer his real name still. “Fine, then I’m Hojun.”
“Is that your real name?” Yoongi asks with a hint of a smile.
“No, it’s not.” Yoongi smiles at this boy. He knows stranger danger is real, but part of him feels safe here, he almost forgets that he needs to return home. He finds comfort in the mutual anonymity between him and this boy. Another chilling wind rips through his skin. Yoongi shivers and the boy seems to notice this.
The boy walks around a tree without a word. Yoongi pauses before following him. He swears he sees a sort of greenish glow come from where the boy disappeared to. When he fully makes his way around the tree he sees the boy sitting next to a fire. Yoongi wonders when that got there and how the boy was able to start a fire on such a windy night.
“Hey, Yoonsung, the fire’s warm, if you want to take a seat and then tell me why you’re here and why there’s dirt on your face.”
“How did you make this fire so quickly?” Yoongi asked taking a seat next to the boy, rubbing at his face. He instantly feels warmer.
“It was already here,” he replies. “If you won’t tell me your name, tell me: where are you from?”
Yoongi sighs, “I would rather not say… I’m from nearby. At least I think.”
“Why so secretive? Are you running from someone?”
“I’ve had a long night. I think that if I tell you, you’ll think of me differently,” Yoongi explains. Part of Yoongi had always longed for more friends. However he found it increasingly difficult to make friends with people who bowed upon hearing his name. He knew he would never see this stranger again, but it was nice, just for a second, to pretend as if he had never been a prince at all.
“Can you tell me what you’re doing here?”
“I ran away.”
“So I was right. What are you running from?”
“It’s a long story…” Yoongi trails off.
“We’ve got time,” the boy says giving Yoongi a weird look. “At least I think we do. No one’s following you or anything, right?”
“No, no, nothing like that. I uh… well you know the whole soulmate bullshit? The uh… my father met his soulmate when he was pretty young. I think he was like sixteen or seventeen. He completely lucked out with the whole thing as well. He says she was beautiful and kind and he felt himself fall in love right away. And well I’m about to turn twenty-three and I still have no one. I’m okay having no one as well, but my father isn’t. I’m his only son the only thing he wants in the world is to keep our family name from dying. He wants me to marry someone so bad that I don’t think he cares if they’re my soulmate or not. He used to be supportive, but over the past couple of years that’s changed. I think he thinks that if I can just fall in love then that person can become my soulmate anyways. I’ve read about people who do that though and it never ends up well for them. He sent me to this uh… thing where a bunch of other people without soulmates went to also. It was meant as like a social thing to get people to find ‘the one’ or whatever. I got annoyed from all the talking so I left. And now… I’m here,” Yoongi did his best to explain without giving out too much detail. He felt winded from talking so long, but he was mostly just impressed the boy seemed to still be listening.
“I’ve never really looked for my soulmate. I feel like the whole idea is kind of wrong. Plus if I ever did meet them I’d be scared,” the boy says. Yoongi isn’t sure what the scary part about finding your soulmate would be is, but he doesn’t question it.
“I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking by this point I just don’t have one,” Yoongi says. “This whole thing is dumb.”
“It is kind of dumb.”
“Right… and you never know who’s a fabic…” Yoongi says.
“... a fay-what?” the boy asks.
“Fabic. It’s what we call people who will fake sincerity just to see if they’re your soulmate,” Yoongi explains.
“Oh… what’s wrong with that?” the boy asks and Yoongi wonders just how far he is from the nearest town. This boy seems pretty isolated all the way out here.
“I mean nothing I guess really, it just has a negative connotation since usually the other person is left feeling betrayed. You would understand if you poured your heart out someone only to never hear from them ever again,” Yoongi says.
“Has that ever happened to you…?”
Yoongi sighs, “Yeah. Unfortunately it just makes people more guarded about who they open up to and then less people find their actual soulmate since they’re all afraid.”
“Hmm… I always kind of thought your soulmate was just supposed to be something that happened. I didn’t know people could actively look for them.”
“Well yeah, that’s the thing. Supposedly we’re told our chances for finding our soulmates are best when we’re not looking for them. Which is ironic about the party my father had me attend tonight. If all the possible people without soulmates were in one room, you might think your chances for finding them are higher. But at the same time, you’ll be looking so you’re chances are lower,” Yoongi says, thinking out loud.
“I think you’re over thinking it,” the other boy says with a light laugh.
“I think you’re right,” Yoongi say, grinning back.
They sit in silence for some time and then suddenly Yoongi remembers his home. “I uh… I think I need to get going,” Yoongi says. His father might notice his absence soon and that would not be a good thing.
“Do you… want me to walk with you? I know these woods pretty well and you mentioned being lost earlier.”
“Oh no, that’s okay… I just uh… this might sound kind of dumb but do you know which direction the castle is in?” Yoongi asks.
“Yeah…” the boy gives him that weird look again. “Just go that way for a bit. You should run into a stream. If you follow it to the west you’ll see the castle.”
“Thanks,” Yoongi says. He hesitates before leaving. “I feel like I don’t know how to properly thank you for tonight. I’m really glad I ran into you or I might still be wandering in the forest somewhere.”
“No problem… I hope your journey to wherever is safe!”
Yoongi smiled at the fake name the boy used. It was nice to meet someone who didn’t know him as Prince Yoongi. Everyone always seemed to tiptoe around him and Yoongi found it hard to make actual friends who liked him for him.
Yoongi follows the directions he was given and soon finds himself within view of the castle. He makes his way around to the east side. He had gone this route and scaled this wall countless times. He stops in front of the wall and then sighs. Swallowing all self-dignity he inhales and lets out two long owl hoots.
After a second he hears a reply that signals he was heard. A few seconds later, a familiar rope ladder is being tossed over the wall. Yoongi catches on to it and uses it to climb up and over the wall. One the other side he’s met with a grinning Taehyung busy collecting the ladder to stash back in the hiding place.
Yoongi rolls his eyes. He never understood why Taehyung insisted using these signals, he always got so much joy from it for some reason. “Can we please change the signals,” Yoongi asks.
“Where have you been? I almost fell asleep waiting for you! You know your father saw me leaving the party. He asked me what I was doing and I told him I was looking for you. I think he bought it,” Taehyung explains.
“What time is it?” Yoongi asks as they start off back towards the castle.
“About 3AM… the party ended two hours ago,” Taehyung says.
“Oh,” Yoongi whispers, "Let's get inside, I'll tell you then." After that neither of them say a word as they sneak around the castle halls and staircases. Neither daring to breathe until they make it safely to Yoongi’s chambers and shut and lock the door behind them.
“So what happened? Why did you leave the party?” Taehyung presses.
Yoongi sighs. “It’s not a big deal it was just… talking to all those people just to hope that one of them might be my soulmate… it felt wrong. You were there, couldn’t you sense the air of desperation in that room? A few people seemed nice enough, but for the most part everyone was just annoying me. Then I finally found you and it was perfect timing because I was about to go hang myself.”
“Right I kind of assumed that much but where did you go for three hours? I sort of assumed you would walk around the night markets but we both know there’s not that much to do for that long,” Taehyung says.
“I uh… got lost. That courtyard you left me in, I’ve never been to it before. I thought maybe it was just because it was dark I didn’t recognize it but then once I scaled the wall I was surrounded by forests. Then I got lost trying to find the town. I was going to turn back and make my way over to our meeting place but the trees were so tall and close together I couldn’t actually see the castle. I eventually ran into this boy and he had a fire so I sat down for a bit and warmed up and after I was warm I asked him which direction the castle was in and he told me-”
“Yoongi! What if this man was a murderer!? What were you thinking!?” Taehyung interrupts.
“He didn’t look like a murderer…” Yoongi mumbles.
“Well whatever at least you weren’t murdered,” Taehyung says.
“So I was really gone for three hours? It felt like thirty minutes.”
“What’d you do with all that time?”
“Well I hung out at your party for a bit, but I left just before it ended. I went over to our spot and just kind of watched people. Oh and Jimin came by for a bit and we made out for awhile,” Taehyung explains.
“God, Tae I don’t need to know that,” Yoongi rolls his eyes.
Taehyung grins, “Yeah well I was getting bored waiting on you.”
“Right… Sorry,” Yoongi apologizes.
“Yeah. It doesn’t matter though! At least you’re back, and hey maybe tomorrow there will be a name on your wrist,” Taehyung said with a cheesy grin and finger guns pointed at Yoongi.
Yoongi scoffed, “Yeah, as if. Goodnight Tae.”
— Seokjin —
Seokjin wanders the rows of library in search of a particular book. He was sure it was nearing dinnertime, but he wanted to finish taking inventory before he took a break. His fingers brush over dozens of old dusty book spines. When he’s unable to find the book he returns to the log to check who had checked it out. It was someone by the name of Joon.
It was irritating that whoever this was didn’t feel the need to put their full name. Seokjin wasn’t sure how he would be able to track him down if the books continued to be missing. Every now and again he loses a book from the library and it’s never a very pleasant experience.
Under normal circumstances Seokjin would send out the page runners from the library in search of the boy who had checked out a book three weeks ago and failed to return it. However, Seokjin was pretty sure tonight was the night of Yoongi’s party which meant this boy was likely either at the celebration or attending one of the many festivals happening concurrently in town.
He couldn’t know for sure because Taehyung had taken his invitation and failed to return it. It wasn’t like he was considering going anyways. He seemed to have the worst luck when it came to love, so for the time being he was sworn off searching for his soulmate. Seokjin had done his fair share of reading on the topic of soulmates. He was constantly having an internal debate on whether soulmates were a legitimate thing where each person had one person predetermined by the universe to be their own soulmate or if no one had a soulmate predetermined and any single person who you felt connected with could become your soulmate.
He felt like each option was just as likely as the next. Whatever the truth was, it didn’t change the fact he just didn’t care to search for his soulmate anymore.
When Seokjin was young he used to care a whole lot. His parents at the time travelled to a bunch of places, so Seokjin went along. Everywhere he went, Seokjin tried and failed and tried and failed to find his soulmate. He thought he had found them a few times, only to find he was wrong and have his heart shattered.
Seokjin’s past was a mystery to most people. His closest friends knew that he had done a lot of traveling as a child with his parents. However no one knew the story of how he ended up here.
It was quite simple to say the least. Well if one would consider losing one’s parents and wandering the wilderness alone for six months simple. Seokjin himself wasn’t quite sure where his parents went. He didn’t even know if they were still alive. He tries not to think about them too much.
All he can know for sure is that by the age of sixteen, he found himself where he was now. He remembers how he stumbled across this giant castle. He never meant to go inside the castle, and instead he was looking for a town where maybe he could get a job to make money and buy some food. However, while circumventing the castle he stumbled over the ground. When he looked at what made him trip, he found a trap door covered in leaves and debris.
Seokjin had opened the door to be greeted by darkness. He was scared of going down there, but the smell of freshly baked bread wafted from the cavern below. He hadn’t tasted bread since he had lost his parents. Unable to deny his stomach, he wandered inside.
This quickly turned out to be a mistake. Seokjin found himself in an endless maze of tunnels going in every direction. The scent of bread faded away and he had decided to turn back and leave however he couldn’t find the direction he came from. After turning around a few more times, he ran into a person. As in, he literally bumped into someone who was running in the tunnels. The boy apologized a hundred times and eventually introduced himself as Taehyung.
“That’s alright, but do you know how to get out of here?” Seokjin had asked.
“Um… well that depends on where you want to go. Wait. Who are you? And how’d you get in here?” Taehyung had finally come to his senses and seem to have realized it wasn’t a normal occurrence for him to meet strangers in the underground tunnels.
“Seokjin… I uh… I’m lost? There was a door in the ground, and I didn’t mean to come in here I swear, but I smelt bread and…” his stomach had growled with perfect timing.
“You’re hungry!” Taehyung exclaimed. “Oh my god, follow me I’ll get you something to eat.”
The rest was history. Taehyung lead Seokjin into the palace kitchens and insisted he eat his fill. They became instant friends just during the short journey through the tunnels to the kitchen. Seokjin didn’t share many details about his life, but he let on enough for Taehyung to know he was homeless and jobless. For reasons unknown to Seokjin, Taehyung insisted he work for him, at least until he found something else to do.
Taehyung asked what he liked to which Seokjin had hesitantly replied, “Well I like to read.” Taehyung got him a job in the palace library and that’s where he’s worked ever since. Seokjin had thought Taehyung was trying to be his soulmate or something at first and was hesitant to accept, but soon found out Taehyung already had his soulmate. This put him at ease. Unlikely as it seemed, Seokjin supposed that maybe some people can just be nice for the sake of being nice.
With his new job he was able to live comfortably just outside the castle walls in a small home he bought himself. Or rather Taehyung bought for him and Seokjin swore to pay him back. It wasn’t until later on that Seokjin found out just how connected Taehyung was.
He never believed in luck, but running into Taehyung was perhaps the luckiest thing that’s ever happened to him.
He liked living in the town. He had friendly neighbors and all the shops were nice and family owned. He liked working in the library and keeping things organized. On days where no one checked out books, he would pick a random book himself and read it at his desk. He loved to read and had learned a number of things he never would have simply by traveling around.
He enjoys his job. He’s reading a book about the origins of latin languages when suddenly someone comes up to his desk and and coughs a bit. He closes the book and looks up with a smile.
“Can I help you with something?” Seokjin asks.
The tall man in front of him smiles sheepishly, “Yeah uh… I was looking for a book, but I don’t know the name of it.”
Seokjin squints at him, “Do you know the author?”
The man shakes his head.
“Well I don’t know how to help you if you can’t give me any information about the book,” Seokjin answers.
“Wait… I didn’t mean I was looking for a certain book, I just… I need to research on a certain topic,” he explains.
“Oh, well in that case, what are you researching?” Seokjin asks.
“A language. Though… I’m not sure what the language is. I might know it if I see it.”
Seokjin tilts his head. Of course he was very familiar with the language section of the library. He had picked up on a fair few different languages as a child when he travelled around. In fact, he was known as the castle’s resident polyglot. “Well the language section is over here, follow me,” Seokjin says, getting up.
After they arrive, he watches as the boy skims the spines of each book, whispering under his breath as he does so. Seokjin feels like he should leave the man to search on his own, but at the same time it felt like leading a stranger into his home and leaving them there. He should at least make sure he picks out a good book.
“Do you know the origins of the language at least?” Seokjin asks watching the man struggle.
“Um… not really. That’s kinda why I’m researching.”
“Oh, what you researching,” Seokjin finds himself asking out loud. He never intended to invade this person’s privacy, but his curiosity always got the best of him.
The other boy seems to freeze up at this, “Umm I just… I’m writing a book I guess.”
“Oh really? What’s it about?”
“Umm… I can’t… I don’t-”
“Oh, I’m sorry, you don’t have to tell me,” Seokjin says realizing how red the other boy had gone in the face.
He swallows, “It’s uh, okay.”
“Could I maybe read it when you’re done?” Seokjin asks. He wants to hit himself. It was like he no longer had a filter between his brain and his mouth. He should’ve shut up when he was ahead.
The boy pauses for a long moment, “Perhaps. Depends.”
Seokjin blinks. Those two words echo in his mind and he wonders what that could mean. However he felt he had finally reached his limit for asking embarrassing personal questions for the time being.
“You’re still not seeing anything that could help, are you?” Seokjin asks.
He shakes his head.
“Well maybe if you could describe a bit what you’re looking for. I’m quite well-versed in a few different languages,” Seokjin says.
“It’s like a curly kind of script and I think it reads right to left,” he explains, drawing a few shapes in the air.
Seokjin thinks for a moment before something comes to mind. He turns around and skims the shelves before pulling out a book, “Is it like this by any chance?”
The man’s eyes widen in surprise, “Yes! That’s it exactly.” Seokjin hands him the book and goes back to his desk to read.
The man ends up checking out nearly all of the books they had written about this particular language. Which isn’t many seeing as it is an old, completely archaic language. He knows very little about this particular language as well. He remembers once when he started to read into it, it was very boring to him. He decides he’ll read up about it whenever the books are returned to his library.
Seokjin finds himself thinking a lot about the boy after he had left his library. He wonders what that boy could need so many books on that old language for. But even more so, he keeps reading the name that had been written in the log. How curious, he thinks to himself. It was the same boy he had been meaning to track down earlier for that overdue book.