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if a heart is always searching (can it ever find a home)

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His future husband is wearing black when Taehyung first meets him.

Taehyung had of course been warned by his mother.

“He’s still in mourning, Taehyung.” She had said the night before they arrived. “It’s just a couple more months.”

It’s unorthodox that they are meeting whilst Prince Yoongi is still mourning at all, but with Prince Yoongi’s country on the brink of war and Taehyung's country agreeing to be an ally only if there is a matrimonial union between them, there’s really no way to wait. Hence the fact that Taehyung is meeting his husband-to-be when said husband-to-be is still mourning the unfortunate death of his last husband.

Taehyung has seen Prince Yoongi only a few times, and only through paintings which aren’t always the most reliable. Any good painter who doesn’t want his head chopped off will make even the ugliest member of royalty look handsome. Prince Yoongi could have been an ogre for all Taehyung knew, but he isn’t. Here he is, stood in front of Taehyung’s procession, his face even more beautiful than it had been in the paintings, his skin so pale in contrast to the black robes that adorn his body.

“Allow me to introduce Prince Taehyung of Seodang.” His advisor announces.

Prince Yoongi steps forward, his movements graceful as a cat.

“Welcome, Prince Taehyung. I am Prince Yoongi of Daegu.” He bows, and Taehyung bows back.

“A pleasure to meet you.”

The words aren’t true. Taehyung would give anything to be anywhere but here right now, but he has to exchange pleasantries. This man is his future husband, after all.

“The pleasure is all mine.”

Prince Yoongi’s smile looks just as forced as his own and it’s almost a relief to see that he isn’t the only one feeling so pressured into this whole thing.

As soon as the official greetings are all over, Prince Yoongi turns on his heel and proceeds back into his castle without even a backwards glance, and Taehyung and his own procession follow him in.

 

The Daegu castle is larger than Taehyung’s back in Seodang, but it’s also colder. It’s all grey bricks and grey floor with no decoration aside from a large family tree tapestry on the wall. Taehyung has brought a small procession, so they gather in the reception room as a castle butler by the name of Sunggyu explains that they have their own quarters and leads them to them. En route, they are shown the dining room and kitchen as well as where the servants quarters are, and Taehyung tries to commit it to memory since this is now his new home.

Even though he doesn’t know how he’ll ever be able to see a place so unwelcoming as his home.

Taehyung had expecting Prince Yoongi to accompany them on their short tour, but he’s already slinked off by the time they leave the reception room. Taehyung never even saw him go.

“You’ll be in this room until the wedding.” Sunggyu tell him as they reach the last door in the wing that they have been given.

Until the wedding. Of course, because in a few wedding, after the wedding, he’ll be expected to share a bed with Prince Yoongi. A man who had barely feigned interest in him and who had run away as quickly as he possibly could. Great.

 

-

 

He’s given a bodyguard the next day, a brooding man called Taekwoon with dark hair and sharp eyes a mouth that he keeps firmly shut, despite Taehyung’s attempts at making small talk. He hadn’t even known that he would need a bodyguard, but Sunggyu explains that these are tense times and they wouldn’t want to run the risk of this union not going ahead because he’s murdered. Taehyung scoffs at that – they aren’t worried about him dying because, you know, they care about him, but because they don’t want to risk the royal union. Typical.

He’s also introduced to his head servant – Bogum – and he does actually respond to Taehyung’s jokes. He immediately knows that he’s met his first friend in this cold, unfeeling place and just that thought makes him feel lighter inside. He misses Jungkook and Jimin, but if he make just a couple of friends here, he may just be able to get through it all. He’s only brought with him an advisor and a few servants to help with the long journey, all of whom will be travelling back to Seodang in the next couple of days and leaving Taehyung here in an unfamiliar place to get married to an unfamiliar man.

Bogum tells Taehyung to get ready, as he will be easting breakfast with Prince Yoongi that morning and Taehyung sighs just at the thought of it. Of course he knows that needs to get to know the man he’s going to be marrying in twenty-six days, but that doesn’t mean that he wants to. Still, he dresses and meets Bogum outside the room and together they walk to the dining room.

“He’s not that bad, you know.” Bogum says as they approach the doorway. “You’re acting like he might eat you or something.”

“Who knows. He might.” Taehyung mutters, but Bogum just shoots him an amused grin and leaves Taheyung in the doorway.

Prince Yoongi is already seated when Taehyung enters the room, and he barely looks up from the documents he’s reading.

“Good morning.” Taehyung says tentatively.

Prince Yoongi just grunts.

He doesn’t bother trying to say anything else, instead just taking in the room. There isn’t much to take in. Just like the rest of the castle – at least the bits that Taehyung has seen – it’s grey walls and grey floor and an old wooden table and chairs adorned with black cushions. He taps his feet until their food arrives – bacon and sausages and mushrooms and grill tomatoes – and then he focuses his attentions on the food.

He’s barely eaten in the last few days actually, too caught up in the nerves of getting here and his upcoming nuptials. He’s absolutely famished that he has to hold himself back and remember the etiquette that his mother always instilled into him. Still, he must still look hungry, because when he finishes the plate and pushes it away he sees Prince Yoongi looking at him with an eyebrow raised.

“Did you enjoy that?” He drawls.

“It was lovely. Compliments to your chef.” Taehyung replies, keeping his words steady.

“I’ll make sure to pass them along.” Prince Yoongi pushes his chair back and stands. “Feel free to explore the grounds in your time here. I’ll see you at dinner this evening.”

He then strides out the room, leaving Taehyung alone.

 

He sighs and leans back in his chair.

Things, at least, can only get better.

 

-

 

Dinner is much of the same, the two of them in the private dining room eating a succulent roast beef dinner. The food is great, however the atmosphere leaves a lot to desire.

Once again, Taehyung greets his future spouse and once again said future spouse doesn’t reply.

Once again, Yoongi leaves the room before Taehyung and once again, Taehyung sits there wondering how such a relationship can even work out.

 

-

 

The wedding plans start a few days later. It’s the same day that the staff that had accompanied Taehyung head back to Seodang, probably to report to his parents that everything is going well.

He’s written to his parents just once since he arrived here. Just a short letter that states that he got here fine, and that he promises to write shortly and looks forward to seeing them again for the wedding. He hasn’t written since, because he doesn’t really have anything to report. His relationship with the Daegu prince has not progressed in the last few days and he’s spent his days exploring the bleak castle and futilely searching for something – anything – that might make him feel more at home. Probably not what his parents want to hear.

He’s been so caught up in exploring the castle that when he’s told after breakfast that he’s to meet the wedding planner in the drawing room it takes him by surprise.

It’s a welcome break though, even though the wedding planner keeps shoving samples of silk which look the exact same color under his nose and asking him to pick. He’s just picking randomly, and so far he seems to be getting away with it.

“So will you and His Royal Highness be using the traditional vows, or will you write your own?” He asks, after they’ve chosen the flowers for the atrium.

Taehyung blinks. He hadn’t even thought about vows.

“The traditional, I guess. We don’t exactly know each other well enough to write personal vows.” He admits, and it’s true. But it also makes him wonder how he’s supposed to swear to love someone till death do them part when they’ve barely said two words to each other. They’re getting married in three weeks. Even if they do start to talk in that time, it’s not exactly a whole lot of time to get to know each other.

He eats dinner with Prince Yoongi that evening, as he has every evening since he arrived here. It’s a rich stew, warm and full of meat and vegetables, but Taehyung doesn’t manage to eat a whole lot of it. He pushes the bowl to the side when he’s only half way through it.

Prince Yoongi stares, a questioning look on his face.

“Are you well? You usually eat much more.” He asks.

“I’m fine.” Taehyung replies. “I think I’m full from the tasters. That’s all.”

“Tasters?”

“I was with the wedding planner today. We were choosing the cake...”

Prince Yoongi frowns. “I wasn’t told…”

“Oh. Well. I hope you like red velvet.” Taehyung says. He feels a bit silly, because he hadn’t really even considered what Yoongi may or may not like. It is his wedding after all.

“I… approve of that choice.” Prince Yoongi replies.

“Oh. Okay. Good.” Taehyung’s mouth feels dry.

“I didn’t even know you were meeting with the wedding planners today.” Prince Yoongi states.

“Oh, well… I’m not sure I was much help. I don’t even know the difference between cream and magnolia, and-”

“Magnolia is a bit warmer.” Prince Yoongi states, then he looks down at the table.

“Oh.” Taehyung blinks. “Maybe you should come tomorrow. It sounds like you’ll be more use than me.”

It’s a joke, which is exactly why Taehyung is surprised by Prince Yoongi’s response.

“Maybe I will.”

 

The rest of the meal is taken in silence, but it’s not the cold unfeeling silence that Taehyung has grown used to since his arrival. This time, he feels a little more comfortable in the quiet, and he doesn’t feel so on edge.

He leaves the table first, but he does so with a small smile on his face that doesn’t leave even as he gets ready for bed and settles down for sleep.

 

-

 

He’s surprised the next morning when Prince Yoongi greets him first at breakfast. Once again, the room is quiet whilst they eat but when Taehyung excuses himself, Prince Yoongi stands too.

“Are you visiting with the wedding planner this morning?” He asks. Taehyung nods. “Oh. May I accompany you?”

Taehyung’s mouth drops open, but he quickly closes it and nods. He probably looks like an idiot, he’s so surprised, but Prince Yoongi doesn’t comment. Instead, he just falls into step beside Taehyung.

“You seem to have familiarised yourself with the castle quite well.” The prince states as they walk.

“I’ve had plenty of time.” Taehyung states.

“I...” Prince Yoongi opens his mouth. “I guess you have.”

The wedding planner is surprised to see Prince Yoongi beside Taehyung as they enter the room, and she drops into a deep bow.

They very quickly get into the wedding planning, and Taehyung was right. Prince Yoongi is much more use than he was yesterday. The wedding planner seems charmed. Every now again, she’ll turn around and ask Taehyung a question and he’ll shrug.

“I’m sure Prince Yoongi knows better than I do.”

Then he just goes back to watching Yoongi make all of the decisions, and he finds himself agreeing with most of them.

 

They leave together a few hours later, and Taehyung is expecting his betrothed to make an excuse and run away, but once again he’s full of surprises.

“Have you seen the gardens yet?” He asks.

Taehyung has been meaning to go, but he hasn’t had the chance to ask anyone to take him and he doesn’t know the way there himself. He says as much, and Prince Yoongi’s lip quirks up.

“Care for a walk?” He asks, holding out an arm. Taehyung takes it.

The gardens are beautiful, all green vines and colourful flowers and the most beautiful aroma Taehyung has ever experience. He’s pretty sure he looks an idiot, spinning amongst the glory of nature but Yoongi doesn’t laugh.

“I can’t believe I haven’t come here yet.” Taehyung says. “It’s beautiful.”

“I thought you might be feeling a bit cooped up in the castle.”

“Honestly, Prince Yoongi, I have been.” Taehyung admits.

“Yoongi.”

“What?”

“Just call me Yoongi. We’re both princes, it seems stupid to just be saying it all of the time.”

Taehyung gulps. Dropping the title is a big thing, but Yoongi is making it out to be something casual and simple.

“But-”

“Plus, we’re going to be married in a few weeks. We might as well drop the titles now, Taehyung.”

He can’t argue with that.

“Okay, Yoongi.”

Yoongi smiles and Taehyung feels a tightness in his chest. It’s the first time he’s seen a real smile on his husband-to-be’s face, and it’s a beautiful thing to see. Even in his black mourning clothes, Yoongi’s smile seems to outshine even the beautiful flowers framing his face.

 

-

 

Things carry on that way for the next two weeks. Taehyung wouldn’t say he’s close to Yoongi, but the ice has been broken. Their relationship seems to be taking tentative steps forward, and Taehyung realises over dinner one morning that they may actually be somewhere close to friends now.

He’s still dreading the upcoming ceremony, especially as it comes to the last week before the wedding. Just because he’s decided that Yoongi isn’t the heinous monster he had suspected doesn’t mean that he wants to marry the man, but he knows neither of them have any choice in the matter. By now, most of the arrangements have been done and their days are filled with rehearsals, cleaning up the decisions about where they will stand and what their vows will be and what music will be played at the banquet.

 

In the last few days before the wedding the guests start to arrive. Taehyung’s parents will be arriving separately on the last day before the wedding, but the rest of the Seodang delegation arrive early. With them are Jungkook and Jimin. Taehyung is embarrassed to say that he almost cries when he sees them.

“I didn’t think you would be coming!” He exclaims.

“Really, you think we would miss out best friend’s wedding?” Jimin states.

“Yeah, just think of all the potential embarrassing moments you might have. We can’t miss those.” Jungkook adds, yelping when Taehyung kicks him in the shin.

"So, how have things been? Tell us everything.”

Taehyung looks around at everyone in the area and bites his lip. “Let’s go for a walk.”

They walk to the gardens - now Taehyung’s favorite place in the entire grounds – and take a seat on the grass.

“Who’s that?” Jimin mutters, gesturing to where Taehyung’s bodyguard lurks.

“Taekwoon. He’s my bodyguard.”

“You need a bodyguard?” Jungkook exclaims. “Are you even safe here?”

“Tensions are high at the border, and this wedding has just heightened them.” Taehyung shrugs. “I don’t get told a lot about it, but I trust Taekwoon to look after me. He doesn’t talk a lot, but he’s… diligent. Yoongi tells me that he’s the best for the job.”

“Yoongi?” Jungkook waggles his eyebrows. “On informal name basis already are we?”

“Oh shut it, Jungkook.” Taehyung rolls his eyes. “Of course we are. We’re getting married in less than a week.”

“My brother and his wife are still on formal terms and they’ve been married for four years.” Jimin states. “And he’s just a duke. Not even a prince.”

“Oh whatever. Maybe they do things differently here in Daegu. It’s not a big deal, really.”

His friends look unconvinced.

“So, tell us about him.” Jimin says after a moment. “What’s he like?”

“Yoongi is… nice.” Taehyung replies. “He’s a bit distant, but he’s nice. We’re friends, I think.” He catches the look between and Jimin and Jungkook. “What?”

“Friends? Taehyung, you’re marrying the guy!”

“It’s an arranged marriage, I’d say friends is a good place to be.” He retorts, and he truly believes it.

“Do you think it could be more though?” Jimin asks. “Like, could you grow to… love him?”

Taehyung mulls the question over in his head, before opening his mouth to answer.

“I don’t know.” He answers honestly. “He’s nice, even if he is a bit distant. He seems to be trying. He’s not bad to look at either. I just… don’t think I’ve known him long enough to really know.” He sees Jungkook looking at him with a dubious look. “What?”

“I mean, it’s just rumours but...”

“Jungkook-” Jimin shoots the younger man a glare.

“Jimin, I need to tell him.” Jungkook cuts in.

“Tell me what?”

“There’s rumours going around in certain circles that his last husband’s death was not… natural.” Jimin sighs.

“What?”

“I don’t know how much weight these rumours have, but please be vigilant. There are people saying that...” Jungkook shoots a glance at Taekwoon, and lowers his voice. “saying that Prince Yoongi killed his last husband.”

Taehyung thinks of Yoongi. He thinks of the way he never mentions the last one, something Taehyung had always thought was out of respect for him. Then he thinks of Yoongi’s bright smile, and the lines that stretch across his face when he doesn’t smile. Half of him is saying that Yoongi wouldn’t do that, but the other half is asking him whether he even knows his betrothed or what he may be capable of.

He shakes his head. “I don’t think-”

“Like I said, it’s just rumours.” Jungkook says quickly. “I’m not saying I believe them, but I just thought you ought to know.”

Taehyung nods, and Jimin quickly changes the topic of conversation to something their friend Sanghyuk had done the previous night, but Taehyung can’t follow the conversation. He’s too distracted by the rumours going around that it’s almost a relief when it’s time for dinner and he bids goodbye to his friends for the time being.

 

Yoongi is seated in the dining room before he gets there, and he smiles as Taehyung enters the room.

“I heard your friends arrived today.” He says as Taehyung sits down. “Did you have a good day?”

“It was good to see them again.” Taehyung replies. “How about your day?”

“Oh, I had a friend arrive today as well. My good friend Hoseok, he’s a lord in Gwangju.” Yoongi smiles. “We spent the day together.”

“That sounds fun.” Taehyung says, he’s not sure what else to say. He’s just wondering about the rumours. He wants to mention them to Yoongi to gage his reaction, but he doesn’t know how to word it. Hey, so did you kill your last husband because people say you did, and also am I next on the list doesn’t quite seem to cut it and that’s all he can come up with on the spot.

So he keeps his mouth shut and concentrates on the dressed chicken that’s just been placed in front of him.

“You seem quiet today.” Yoongi comments over dessert.

“I just… miss home.” Taehyung states, and it’s not untrue. Since seeing Jimin and Jungkook he can’t help but get homesick. “This place is so different to home and I barely know anyone and I’m just homesick, I guess.”

“Tell me about your home.”

“It’s… warmer than here. And I don’t mean temperature. We have tapestries and paintings on the walls and flowers in the corridors, and painted floors to add colour. I know this is your home, and I don’t intend to disrespect it, but it just feels a lot more hollow than home...”

Yoongi nods slowly and for a moment Taehyung is worried that he may have caused offense but then the other prince smiles a little.

“It’s funny.” He mutters. “How much you remind me of someone, yet how unalike you are at the same time.”

“Huh?”

“It… doesn’t matter.” Yoongi finishes, but he’s still watching Taehyung with this searching look that makes Taehyung want to run and hide. “Anyway, I’ve just thought… would you like to invite your friends to dinner tomorrow? I’ll invite Hoseok and we can have a little party?”

Taehyung is always up for a party, and his excitement in the moment almost replaces his confusion and concerns.

Almost, but not quite.

 

-

 

Dinner the next evening is a jolly affair.

Jimin and Jungkook had been jumping with excitement at Yoongi’s invitation. Half because of the word ‘party’ and half because they’re so eager to meet Yoongi. The chefs have cooked up an extra special menu, and Yoongi has given orders for only the best wine to be served and it’s so good that Taehyung could drink it by the bottle. Which, realistically is what he actually does.

When he’d thought of Yoongi’s friend, Hoseok, he had expected someone as reserved as his husband-to be but Hoseok is the opposite of that. The first thing Taehyung notices about him is his smile which literally seems to brighten up the room. His eyes crinkle a little as he smiles, and Taehyung likes him immediately. With Hoseok, Jungkook and Jimin in the room, dinner is loud and Taehyung joins in, because good impressions be damned.

Yoongi is just watching it all happen and for a while Taehyung thinks he isn’t having fun, but then their eyes meet and Yoongi smiles a warm smile and Taehyung tells himself that the flipping in his stomach is everything to do with the wine and nothing to do with the flush on Yoongi’s cheeks bringing out his eyes.

Hoseok, it turns out, cannot hold his liqueur, because barely a few hours later he’s slumped over the table and Yoongi is rolling his eyes so it clearly isn’t the first time.

“Feel free to stay here as late as you like, Wonshik will keep the alcohol coming. I need to get this one to his room.” Yoongi announces, standing up and draping Hoseok’s arm around him.

As much as Taehyung knows that they’ve known each other much longer than Yoongi and Taehyung have known each other, he can’t help the spark of jealousy that shoots across his chest at their closeness. He still gets the feeling that he’s never going to be that close to Yoongi, and it bothers him more than it probably should.

 

-

 

The next few days fly by in a blur of silk and flowers and arrivals and introductions.

Taehyung is disappointed to hear that his parent’s carriage is running late and that he won’t be able to meet with them until after the ceremony, but he doesn’t even really have time to worry about that because the day before the wedding he’s being fitted into ceremonial robes and his hair is being trimmed and the wedding planner is flitting around shouting about some missing chair backs. It’s almost comical, and he’d probably be laughing along with Jimin and Jungkook if it wasn’t for the fact that this is his wedding and he may not be keen on the whole getting married thing, but if he has to do it he wants it to go well.

He’ll admit to the fact that he’s a bunch of nerves the night before the big day and even the pot of camomile tea Bogum brings doesn’t help.

“I think I need something stronger. Like wine.” He jokes, but ten minutes late Bogum reappears with a decanter of wine and two glasses.

“Mind if I have a glass.” The servant asks, and Taehyung nods. He guesses that maybe Bogum can see how much of a bag of nerves he is and wants to keep him company and he appreciates that. He watches as Bogum pours both glasses full and passes one to Taehyung.

“Let’s toast.” Taehyung says. “To my final night of bachelordom.”

“Goodbye to your freedom.” Bogum jokes, and Taehyung laughs. He’s pretty sure that he can see Taekwoon laughing out of the corner of his eye as well.

 

-

 

The wine does little to settle Taehyung’s nerves, but after a couple of glasses he does find himself dozing off.

He wakes up the next morning groggy and he’s forgotten what day it is, until he sees Jungkook at the end of his bed.

“I tried to keep them out.” He hears Bogum say from across the room. “But it’s your wedding day and they said they could wake you up so...”

“Wedding day...” His mouth is dry, and he isn’t sure if it’s the wine from last night or the nerves. He climbs out of bed and gratefully takes the glass of water Bogum is holding out to him.

“Yeah, and you’d better get up and freshen up. The dressmaker is due any minute to dress you.”

 

The morning rushes by and Taehyung lets himself get washed and scrubbed and pinned and dressed. His hair will not behave, so in the end the dresser just ties some cloth over his forehead in a type of bandana to keep it out of his eyes. When he’s finished, he looks at himself in the large mirror.

He’s adorned in black, white and gold robes, with a white cloth holding his hair out of his eyes. He’s not wearing any accessories, which he appreciates. The robe itself is fancy enough, with flower patterns covering every inch and a gold belt cinching it in over his waist. He’s just glad that the slacks they’ve chosen for him are a comfortable and simple white.

He has to admit that he looks good, but just seeing himself like this makes the whole thing more real. He’s getting married today.

He wonders what Yoongi is doing right now. Is he feeling just as nervous about this whole thing or is it less of a big deal for him? After all, this is Yoongi’s second wedding. Maybe the whole thing is just repetitive for him.

He doesn’t have time to dwell on that thought though, because he’s been ushered out of the room and out of the doors and into a carriage. He knows that Yoongi is leaving a little earlier than him. They won’t actually see each other until they get to the church.

It’s as if the whole of Daegu has come out to watch the parade of carriages en route to the church, and they probably have. It’s been proclaimed as a holiday, so nobody is working today unless they want to. A number of restaurants and bars have opened to capitalise on the merry mood of the day, but Taehyung can’t even let himself enjoy it.

His heart is pounding in his chest, and he wishes he’d been allowed to ride in the carriage with Jungkook and Jimin, his best men. They would calm his nerves with their jokes and humour. Instead, he’s stuck with Taekwoon.

At least the bodyguard seems to be enjoying it about as much as he is.

“I can’t do this.” He whispers.

“You can.” A light voice replies, and Taehyung is surprised to see Taekwoon looking over at him. The older man is smiling a little. “Yoongi is complicated, but he’s not a bad person. You can do this.”

Strangely, the fact that these words are coming from the bodyguard Taehyung had previously thought was mute makes them even more comforting, and it gives him the strength the raise his hand and wave to the people of Daegu. His people, he guesses, in a few hours.

 

Yoongi is at the church before him, waiting in the entrance hallway. He’s dressed in black – Taehyung knows that he’s still officially in his mourning period for his deceased husband. He looks up when he sees Taehyung and smiles slightly.

“You ready?” He asks, holding out a hand.

“Ready as I’ll ever be.” Taehyung replies, taking the hand as the heavy wooden doors open in front of him.

They walk slowly down the aisle together. Taehyung knows that Jimin, Jungkook and Hoseok are following behind them. He also knows that there’s some music in the background and that the church is full almost to the rafters. He doesn’t pay attention to these things though. Instead, he’s focused on putting one foot in front of the other and getting to the front of the church. It had seemed like a much shorter walk in the rehearsals. He can feel Yoongi’s hand in his, warm and reassuring and he’s glad he has that one thing grounding him because otherwise Taehyung thinks that he might have turned on his heel and run away by now.

They finally reach the front, and Taehyung goes through the motions. He promises to have and to hold, to cherish and love in sickness and in health. He gets through the vows, and Yoongi does the same.

Taehyung should probably feel something as he says the words, but all he feels is a sense of resolution. He’s here now, he’s saying the words, he’s made it this far. He just needs to get through this whole damned thing and then he’s married. It’s done. The kingdoms are united.

So he does it.

And then it’s over, and Yoongi’s hand - still locked in his own – is tugging him back down the aisle and they’re running through pieces of dyed paper and rice and climbing into the carriage and that’s it. He’s married.

 

Then the carriage is driving back through the streets and the people are cheering and Yoongi is saying something to him.

“What?” He asks, pulled out of the trance he feels like he’s been in for the last hour,

“You need to at least pretend you’re happy.” Yoongi says.

“Sorry I… It’s a lot.” Taehyung replies, trying to pin a smile on his face. “I’m just dazed.”

“Trust me, I know.” Yoongi sighs. “I feel the same. You just need to smile and wave.”

“Smile and wave.” Taehyung mutters. It sounds so easy when Yoongi puts it like that so that’s what he does. He smiles and waves and drinks in the atmosphere and tries not to focus on the fact that the man beside him is his husband.

They get back to castle and file into the great hall which has been decorated for a party. They’re the last ones back, as their carriage had taken a long route to pass as many of their people as possible.

As they walk into the hall, the room erupts in cheers and Taehyung feels his cheeks colour as they are announced into the room as ‘Their Royal Highnesses Princes Yoongi and Taehyung, or the main stars of this evening’. They take the center seat at the center table and Taehyung scans the room until he sees Jimin and Jungkook, they’re sat with Hoseok and the three of them are cheering. Somehow, just seeing this calms Taehyung and he’s brought back to clarity.

Another scan of the room and Taehyung finds his parents. He’d seem them at the ceremony, but he hadn’t been able to greet them. He raises a hand and waves and he sees his mother do the same.

“Let’s go greet them.” He hears Yoongi say, and the older man – his husband – stands. Taehyung stands with him and together they walk to where the Seodang monarchs are seated.

“Taehyung, darling.” His mother says as he approaches. Taehyung stands and kisses his mother’s cheeks.

“Mother, father. Let me introduce you to Yoongi, my… husband.” The word still sounds unfamiliar – almost foreign on his tongue.

Yoongi is the perfect husband though, polite and courteous even as Taehyung’s mother coos over him. Taehyung is proud of him, because he knows how overbearing his mother can sometimes be. His father greets Yoongi courteously, and Taehyung is happy to see Yoongi bow so very deeply to his father-in-law.

“He’s a good one, I think.” His mother whispers, and Taehyung kind of agrees. He could, admittedly, have been betrothed to someone a lot worse that Yoongi.

They make the rounds, greeting all of the table and thanking them for their attendance before making their way to the head table for the feast that’s been planned.

They’ve spared no expense on the food as course after course comes out and of course the wine is flowing freely. Daegu wine has a reputation for being particularly good and in the month Taehyung has been here he can see why. Taehyung is stuffed when the food stops coming and he could probablt have passed out there and then but then the music starts and everyone is cheering for the first dance.

He stands up and offers a hand to Yoongi who doesn’t look impressed but takes it.

A slow song starts, and Taehyung leads Yoongi to the center of the floor. He’s not usually one for dancing, but the wine has made him jolly and it’s his wedding and he knows it’s expected for them to dance so he takes Yoongi in his arms and they rock slowly to the beat.

“I hate this.” He hears Yoongi say, quietly, so Taehyung can barely hear him over the music.

“It’s our wedding. Everyone is expecting this.” Taehyung replies. “And besides, we might as well try to enjoy it.”

He hears Yoongi chuckle lightly. “How could I not when you’re here?”

Taehyung knows the words probably don’t mean anything, but he swallows at them anyway. Why does he suddenly feel like his body isn’t big enough for his heart.

He chokes the feeling down and laughs, but from then on he can’t help but be super aware of the feeling of Yoongi’s body pressed against his. It’s almost a relief when the song ends and something a bit more upbeat begins and he breaks away and dances with Jimin.

The celebration goes on well into the night, but Taehyung is tired only a few hours later.

“I think I’m going to go to bed.” He whispers to Yoongi. “I’m exhausted.”

“I’ll come with you.”

“What do you-” Taehyung stops, remembering that he’s now married to Yoongi and they’re expected to share a bed. “Oh.”

Yoongi chuckles. “Come on.” He says. “Let’s go to bed.”

Taehyung is aware of all of the eyes on them as they leave the hall and he knows what they’re all thinking. He’s thinking the same, and his hands feel clammy just at the thought.

He follows Yoongi to his quarters – now Taehyung’s as well, though that will take some getting used to – with his heart pounding.

 

He knows what is expected of a man on his wedding night, and it’s something he won’t say he hasn’t though about but he’s been trying not to. Now the moment is here and he isn’t ready.

But they’re at the room, and Yoongi is pushing the door open and Taehyung is taken aback when he sees the room.

“I know you said you missed home… so I tried to make our room as welcoming as I could for you.” Yoongi looks away. “I hope it worked.”

“It’s amazing.” Taehyung whispers, because it really is.

Where the rest of this castle is grey, Yoongi’s – their - bedroom is brightened by vases of flowers around the room. The bed posts are a deep mahogany, as is all of the furniture, and royal blue soft furnishings adorn the room. It really is like a home away from home, in fact it looks so similar to his room in Seodang that he suspects that Jimin or Jungkook must have has something to do with this.

“Really?” Yoongi’s eyes widen. “I’m so glad that you like it...”

“I really do.”

“So don’t just stand there.” Yoongi pats the bed beside him. “Come get into bed.”

Taehyung balks.

“I… erm...”

Yoongi stares. “Why are you nervous?”

“I just… I’m not...” He doesn’t want to say it out loud, and frankly he’s a little bothered about the fact that Yoongi is so nonchalant about the consummation. “It’s just… I’m not ready.”

Yoongi’s eyebrows shoot up, and then his cheeks flush.

“Oh… I didn’t expect…. I thought we would just go to sleep.” He stammers.

Honestly, it would be endearing to see the usually so very put-together Yoongi stammer and stumble over his words if the whole situation wasn’t so awkward.

“Oh. I mean. Yeah. That sounds good to me...” Taehyung replies, blinking. “As long as you don’t-”

“No. I mean… not now.” Yoongi replies. “Just sleep.”

“Okay. Just sleep.”

 

He takes off his top robe but leaves on his underclothes and climbs into the massive bed. It’s big enough that when he moves to the edge none of his body is touching Yoongi’s, but that doesn’t stop him being so completely aware of the older man – his husband’s – presence beside him.

It takes him so long to drift to sleep, simply because he’s so conscious of keeping his breathing steady and not letting Yoongi see just how nervous this whole situation is making him. It seems to him that Yoongi is more relaxed in this situation than he is because his husband falls asleep much faster than he does.

He just hopes that things become easier over time.

 

-

 

Taehyung is sad to bid goodbye to his friends and his parents just under a week later, but it’s actually a relief for the castle to be quiet again. For more than a week, there have been courtesans around every corner and it’s been hard for Taehyung to find space to breathe.

Now, things are quiet again, so he goes back to his days of roaming the castle or sitting in the gardens.

Over the next couple of weeks, he notices small changes around the castle. It’s only small, a vase here or a painting there, but he notices them.

“There’s a lot of new furnishings appearing in this place.” He comments over dinner one night to Yoongi.

Yoongi chokes on his pie and takes a long sip of water to recover. “What do you mean?”

“I just mean… it’s a lot brighter these days.” Taehyung explains. “Less… cold.”

“I erm… I hadn’t noticed.”

But Taehyung can see the tinge of red on Yoongi’s cheek, and he doesn’t raise it with his husband but he knows that Yoongi had something to do with it.

 

Some days, Yoongi will join Taehyung or they’ll meet at lunchtime. Most days, Taehyung is alone, or at least alone with Taekwoon or Bogum for companionship. He’s grown much closer to Bogum, maybe even going as far as to call the servant his best friend. He loves the fact that Bogum doesn’t hold back on speaking his own mind. It’s a refreshing break from all of the other people who treat Taehyung like he’ll send them to prison for giving an opinion. He’s even getting closer to Taekwoon. The bodyguard may not speak much but he’s a solid presence, and Taehyung could swear that sometimes he sees the taller man smiling over silly things.

He still takes breakfast and dinner with his husband though, and after dinner they play a game of chess or read and then retire to bed together.

Yoongi still hasn’t made any moves on Taehyung and he isn’t sure if he should feel relieved or insulted about this. Of course he’s glad, because he isn’t ready to go that extra step. He still feels like he’s getting to know Yoongi. They’re definitely somewhere around friends now, but he knows that they should be past that point by now. He knows that as husbands they should be doing more. They haven’t even kissed, aside from a chaste peck at the wedding.

He can’t help but feel guilty, because maybe it isn’t as big a deal as he’s making it out to be.

He still appreciates the fact that Yoongi isn’t pressuring him at all though, he seems perfectly happy to sleep on opposite sides of the bed. Taehyung is grateful for that, at least.

 

-

 

It’s a cool morning a month after the wedding that Taehyung notices something is different.

To start with, he can’t put his finger on it. He eats his breakfast whilst staring at Yoongi with narrowed eyes because something is different, he just can’t put his finger on what it is.

It isn’t until Yoongi is standing up to leave that he figures it out.

“Your robes.” He says. “They’re not black.”

It’s true. Yoongi’s robes are a deep green, but they’re definitely not black.

“I wondered how long it would take you.” Yoongi chuckles. “My official period of mourning is over.” Taehyung mouth opens into an o of surprise. “I didn’t want to bring it up, but I’m glad.”

 

He says the words, but Taehyung can’t help but notice that Yoongi’s face is anything but glad. He’s known Yoongi long enough now to know that his smile is forced – the lines pulling at the corners of his eyes are evidence of that – and it makes Taehyung remember the rumours that Jungkook and Jimin had told him all those years ago. He can’t hold his tongue.

“Yoongi...” He starts. Yoongi looks up. “I heard something a few weeks ago and… I need to tell you.”

“What?”

“There are rumours going around that your last husbands death wasn’t natural. That you had something to do with it.”

Yoongi’s mouth drops open. “Where did you hear that?”

“That doesn’t matter.” Taehyung replies. “I just needed to know… I know it can’t be true but I need to hear it from you.”

“I didn’t… I didn’t murder Seokjin.” Yoongi replies.

“Okay.” Taehyung breathes. “Okay.”

“Taehyung-”

“I’m sorry for bringing it up.” Taehyung states, a final end to the conversation and Yoongi closes his mouth and doesn’t say anything else. Taehyung sees the way he’s pushing his food around his plate though and gets a sinking feeling in his stomach at the thought that he had upset Yoongi.

In fact, Yoongi is off with him for the next few days, and Taehyung can’t seem to get past the idea that maybe he’s being avoided. Yoongi is out of bed in the morning before Taehyung even wakes up and he can’t seem to get away soon enough after meals. Aside from at night time, he barely sees Yoongi.

It’s almost like they’ve regressed to where they were when Taehyung first moved to Daegu.

 

For the first week, Taehyung deals with it. He’s sure that Yoongi will get over this… whatever in his own time. His husband has to see how stupid he’s being by avoiding Taehyung. He’ll come to his senses soon enough. Then it’s the second week and then the third and then a month has passed and Taehyung is losing all hope of ever having a full conversation with the man he’s tied to for life.

Frankly, he’s not impressed with it at all.

He writes home to his parents and tells them how well everything is going and how happy he is and how he hopes the war efforts are going well. In the meantime, he’s all too aware of the threat of war knocking on his own front door. The Gwacheon military is getting closer and closer to the border, and whilst he doesn’t have a lot to do with it he hears whispers and he’s not happy with what he hears at all.

He writes to Jimin and Jungkook, this one a little more honest. He laments his life, and expresses his dissappointment that things seem to have stagnated in his relationship with Yoongi.

 

It’s not that I expect much, just some kind of friendship and companionship but he just doesn’t seem to even want that. He writes.

The response comes two weeks later, two more long weeks of being ignored aside from a courteous greeting at the dinner table and a good night before he blows out his candle and lays poker straight for fear of disturbing Yoongi. Jungkook and Jimin are doing well, and they fill him in completely on their escapades back in Seodang. It gives Taehyung a sharp pang of homesickness again. They have only one thing to say about the Yoongi situation.

 

You must talk to him. They say. Tell him how you feel.

Taehyung swallows. He’s probably known this for quite a while but here it is in writing from someone other than him. He needs to actually say these things out loud, to the only person who matters. Yoongi.

So he does.

 

-

 

He does it over dinner, when Yoongi has pushed his half full plate away and pushes his chair back to leave, and Taehyung pulls up every ounce of courage he possesses.

“Leaving already?” He asks, as nonchalantly as he can through his pounding heart.

Yoongi looks up, surprised at the words. “I have things to do.”

“Do you really, or are you just avoiding me?” Taehyung swallows, trying to wet his dry mouth. “Because you’ve barely spoken to me in six weeks and you can’t seem to get away from me quick enough-”

“I’ve been busy.”

“With what?” Taehyung asks. “You see, I only ask because I feel like I ought to know what’s so important.”

“Why?” Yoongi spits. “Because you’re my husband? Get a grip. We both know that neither of us would choose this situation if we could avoid it.”

“I-”

“So don’t act like a clingy wife asking me where I am every second of every day.”

“That’s not...” Taehyung trails off and shuts his mouth in a tight line. “Fine. Whatever. At least I know where I stand.”

Yoongi stares at him hard for a few more beats before standing up and striding out of the room without another word or glance. Taehyung himself rises not long after and walks wordlessly back to the bedroom which is thankfully empty. There, he drops onto the bed and spends the next hour crying into a pillow. He knows he’s acting like an emotional teenage girl, but he can’t help it. This isn’t just Yoongi’s words, this is him letting everything else.

 

He feels a hand on his back at some point and he flinches and looks up to see Yoongi.

“What. Come for another go?” Taehyung sneers. “Go for it. Tell me I’m a mess.”

“I’m sorry.” Yoongi says. “I was awful.”

“You were only saying how you feel-” Taehyung hiccups.

“No. I was venting out my frustration on stress on the nearest person, you.” Yoongi sighs. “I’ve been thinking about it, and I realise how hard things must be for you here. You have nobody, you’re in an unfamiliar home and all you have are your servants and me. I’ve been stressed but that’s no reason for me to lash out at you.”

Taehyung sits up. “What have you been stressed about?”

“This… war.” Yoongi says slowly. “I can feel it looming, and I can’t help but feel some responsibility for it, so I’ve been spending every waking moment looking over maps with the generals and talking about tactics but honestly, I don’t know if there’s any way we can win this war and all the losses… they will be on me.”

“You can’t take all the blame-”

“I can.” Yoongi sighs. “I think… there’s something I need to admit.”

“What?” Taehyung wipes the last tear off his own cheek and looks up at his husband.

“I… I did kill him.” Yoongi whispers, his voice low.”I did kill Seokjin.”

“What?” Taehyung tried to keep his voice calm as possible, “but you said you didn’t murder-”

“I didn’t murder him, Taehyung.” Yoongi replies. “He asked me to kill him. He begged me to...”

“Why would he-”

“He was in love with someone else.” Yoongi states. “Someone not of noble blood. Someone he could never be with… his name was Namjoon. Namjoon enlisted in the army, to try and make something of himself I think… he was put on the front line and died in an ambush.”

Taehyung’s mouth drops open. “Oh.”

“I broke the news to Seokjin. I’d seen a list of the names of the men lost and I saw Kim Namjoon and I had to tell Seokjin. I think it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.”

“So he… asked you to kill him?”

“Not straight away, but he stopped sleeping. He stopped eating. He was becoming a shell of himself, and I could see that he was heartbroken. You can die of heartbreak, you know. You just… stop trying to keep yourself alive. Then one night, he asked me to end it all. He said he couldn’t live any more. He said that he would never be happy again, and I believed it. His love for Namjoon was so great, he’d never have been able to give me even a little bit of that.”

“So you...”

“He begged me, and I said no. I couldn’t do it. He kept saying he’d do it himself. He’d hurt himself, and one night he did. He took a knife and he… he didn’t managed to kill himself but he really hurt himself. I knew then that I had no option, so I obtained some poison, the least painful that I could.” Yoongi’s eyes are distant, and Taehyung knows that telling him all of this is taking his husband back to painful memories. “I asked him again and again if he was sure, and he said he was. So when our maid brought supper up that evening, I added the poison to his drink. I told him it was in there. I explained that he wouldn’t feel it… his body would just shut down. He drank it with no second thought.”

A tear drops down Yoongi’s face, and Taehyung wants nothing more than to lean forward and wipe it away but he doesn’t want Yoongi to pull away and close up again, so he watches as the water leaves a trail from Yoongi’s eye down to his chin.

“I lay beside his body that night.” Yoongi continues. “And in the morning I raised the alarm. They investigated into the death but… the effects of the poison are just like a heart attack. The body just shuts itself down. They couldn’t find evidence of foul play, though the doctors called in by Seokjin’s family tried. Then the rumours started about me, about me being a murderer. And I am-”

“You’re not.” Taehyung whispers, and Yoongi’s eyes shoot open. It’s like he’d forgotten that Taehyung was ever even there.

“I am. I killed a man.”

“Because otherwise he would have killed himself, and because he would have done it in a lot more of a painful way than you did.” Taehyung states. “You did it because you cared.”

“I loved him, Taehyung.” Yoongi chokes. “Not as a husband, or a lover. I loved him as a companion, as my best friend. I could have grown to love him in those ways, but I know that he couldn’t have...”

“Yoongi.” Taehyung reaches out, hands hovering inches away from Yoongi’s face, but not daring to close the space. “It’s okay, I understand.”

Yoongi nods.

“So… that’s why they’re so eager to take this away from me, from us.” Yoongi finishes. “They blame me for the death of their beloved prince. This whole war is my fault.”

“This war was already happening long before you married Seokjin.” Taehyung states. “This was just the excuse they needed to advance. They would have found a reason either way.”

“Taehyung-”

“But that’s irrelevant. What’s relevant is that we put our forces together and take this thing tactically. I know that I’m not the husband you would choose, but I’m the one you’ve got, and we’re a team now. So we’d better start working like one, for both of our countries.”

Taehyung isn’t sure where this sudden burst of bravado has come from, it isn’t him at all. He believes the words as they come out of his mouth though. Judging by the way the creases in Yoongi’s face look a little more ironed out, he believes the words as well.

“Thank you.” Yoongi chokes, and Taehyung is surprised to find his husband crying. “I’ve never told anyone. You could… you could go and tell someone and I could go down a murderer, prince be damned.”

“I won’t do that.” Taehyung whispers, he takes Yoongi’s hand and is surprised to find that the other man doesn’t pull away. “Your secret is safe with me.”

“I… I guess part of the reason I’ve been avoiding you recently is because I felt ashamed that you might think that of me...” Yoongi admits. “I don’t want you to see me as a killer.”

“I don’t.” Taehyung promises, and it’s true. What he sees in front of him right now is a vulnerable man with his own demons, trying his best to overcome them. He sees a brave man trying to defend his kingdom. He sees someone who’s been thrust into this life just as much as Taehyung has.


What he doesn’t see is a killer.

He whispers this to his husband as they lay in bed that night, and the next morning Taehyung doesn’t wake up on the edge of the bed, he wakes up in the middle, with Yoongi’s arm thrown over his chest and he can’t help but smile.

Things still aren’t where he’d like them to be- there’s still too much distance between them, there’s still a war looming, but he feels like this is a solid step forward and that’s all he can ask at this time.