(Where Jimin instantly regrets his lack of hesitation.)
The dawning sun falls upon the palace of Amores like a blanket, casting each rooftop and cobbled street in a dazzling glow and calling upon all of it's habitants to greet it with lethargic delight.
Summer mornings have always brought Jimin comfort, the heat of the sun baking his bare skin and the sight of the tree line beyond the old stained glass of his window filling him with a sense of contentment that couldn't quite be achieved on the cold, dark winter mornings.
Most summer mornings he woke slowly, allowing himself just a few extra minutes to bask in the affection of the sun before pulling himself from slumber.
But not today, unfortunately.
Instead, he wakes to the pressure of someone sitting ontop of him, and the ear splitting sound of his best friends over excited squeal echoing off of the walls of his tiny box room.
"Jiminie! Wake up, we've got alot to do today and-"
"Tae." Jimin grunts, eyes snapping open to muster a glare. He winces immediately, both at the sun assaulting his poor eyes, and at how close his friends face is to his. Christ.
"Why on earth are you down here? How many times have I told you not to come down to the servants quarters-"
"Jimin, I'm the prince, I can go anywhere in this palace." He huffs, like it's a matter of fact.
Jimin only sighs. Taehyung is still sitting on top of him, and though he's used to his friends over the top bouts of affection by now, he's still rather caught off guard at waking to the prince of Amores in his lap.
"Honestly, you're complaining alot for such a beautiful morning. Come on, get up. We've got to prepare for-"
"For the Pugnatores, I know." Jimin huffs, attempting to squirm around under the body ontop of him. Taehyung doesn't seem to take the hint that he wants him to get off though. He never does. "You haven't kept quiet about it for a week."
"Well of course not!" Taehyung grins. "They're only the best fighters in this realm, well, aside from the royal guard of Amores of course."
"Is it not a bit early to prepare for them? Did your father not say they wouldn't arrive til' this afternoon? I still have to head down to the stables and-"
"Don't worry Jimin, I won't keep you from your work. Though I do need you to come with me to the market this afternoon, I'd like to select some personal gifts for the pugnatores, they are helping me after all-"
"It's their job though." Jimin frowns. Really, he's far too kind. "What kind of gifts would you give to fighters?"
Finally, finally Taehyung moves, pushes himself off of Jimins lap and onto the bed next to him with a loud exhale. "They're not just any fighters silly. I want to honour them for being brave enough to help me when I've already lost seven guards to whoever it is trying to rid the palace of a future king." The sadness in his voice is evident as he finishes his sentence, and Jimin feels his heart kick a little.
Taehyung had always been a kind hearted, sensitive boy, and knowing that people had died for him really took a toll on the prince. Jimin frowns at the painfully recent memories of wiping countless tears from his friends face each night for the past few weeks and pushes himself to sit up properly.
"Ok then, we'll head to the marketplace this afternoon." He manages to pull himself forward to sit next to his friend, already feeling lighter at the smile that immediately lights Taehyungs face. "I'm sure they'd be greatful with whatever gift you chose."
"I hope so. Maybe I can get some bracelets, like the pretty matching ones-or perhaps hats, it's been quite hard to shade from the sun lately-"
"Lets not get ahead of ourselves." Jimin interrupts, pushing himself off of the bed and turning to look at the other."Remember that they're three of the most grueling fighters in the region. I doubt they'd want matching bracelets made of brightly coloured ribbon."
"No, Taehyung, you're not gifting them any livestock. How many times do I have to warn you about that?"
Taehyung pouts, but says nothing else on the subject as he stands. His purple silken robes flutter out behind him, and Jimin concludes that his sevant must have dressed him today, for Taehyung rarely wears such finery when he can help it.It must be because of the Pugnatores.
"I'll be off then, I have some matters to attend to with father before I come to retrieve you later."
Jimin nods, "Don't be late again, ok? Last time I waited for forty minutes and-"
"Yes, yes, of course." Taehyung quips, the smirk on his face contagious. "I'll call on you, don't worry your pretty face about it Jiminie." He almost breaks the rickety old door off of it's hinges as he swings it open, the knob hitting the wall from the force and making Jimin cringe. Always so heavy handed.
When Taehyung trips on his own feet and ends up pulling one of the candle holders from the wall, snorting Jimin a hasty goodbye as he waves the candle in the air, Jimin thinks that really, he should take it as a sign of how today is going to go.
By the time Jimin makes it down to the kitchens, the palace is already bustling with life. Seokjin, the kitchens favourite cook, grimaces at him as he enters, door swinging on it's hinges behind him.
"Park Jimin, why are you so happy in the mornings? And why is your hair still wet? Don't lean over the counter, you'll get water on the pastries-"
Jimin only rolls his eyes, skirting past the affronted looking chef and grabbing one of the freshly baked bread rolls from the other counter. Seokjin briefly looks like he wants to murder him, before he simply sighs and reaches for the butter, practically throwing it Jimins way. The kitchen smells amazing as usual, the scent of fresh baking and hordes of different dishes already assaulting his nostrils.
"Thanks." Jimin murmurs, trying not to wince at how hot the roll is. He hastily butters it, leaning back against the only free counter as the other cooks push past him, each and every one just as flustered as Seokjin.
"Good morning to you too." He nods, grin widening with Seokjin throws him a withering look.
"Is it? Is it really?"
"It can't be so awful, it's only just begun." He retorts, biting into the roll. As usual, he marvels at Seokjins skill. "These taste great, by the way."
"Well as you know, we have visitors today. The king wants me to lay some kind of array of dishes for the new guests, but two of my best staff have come down ill with some sort of virus. Typical, honestly, and thanks-"
"I'm sure you'll be fine, Jinnie." Jimin hops off of the counter, eyeing the elder."If you need extra help don't hesitate to call on me though."
Seokjin narrows his eyes."Didn't you once set fire to your own sleeve whilst trying to toast bread?"
"Would you like Namjoons help instead?"
"Goodness no, last time he tried to help he tried to boil a cucumber. He might be a good healer, but he's hopeless anywhere else."
"You still wouldn't say no though, would you?" Jimin smirks, peering at his friend. Seokjin immediately stutters, almost dropping his wooden spoon. Behind him, one of the kitchen maids, Cassiah, giggles.
"Where is Namjoon anyway?" Jimin tries, "Doesn't he usually visit you around this time?"
"Well I don't know, do I?" His friend snaps, cheeks pink. Jimin can't help but giggle, rubbing the powder from the roll off on his trousers and presenting Seokjin with his favourite, greasy smile.
"Don't be sad my friend, I'm sure he'll be by any mome-ah!' He yelps as Seokjin throws the spoon down and swats at him with a drying towel, face blistering red.
"Park Jimin, go to work!"
Jimins laughter rings out loud through the kitchen as he dodges the next swat, all but running for the back door that leads to the gardens. "See you later, Jinnie!" He yells one last time, the door swinging shut behind him and Seokjins angry,flustered muttering continuing to ring out from behind it.
Jimin grins, skipping down the wooden porch and onto the grassy verge. The sun immediately kisses his skin, though the breeze that shifts his dark hair into his eyes is enough to keep him pleasantly cool as he makes his way to the stables. The gardeners are at work today, backs hunched over flowerbeds as they try to make the already pristine sight even more breaktaking.
As he heads past he notices a familiar figure stumbling their way down the stonework path towards the kitchens. He grins, scrambling to the side to yank a single white rose from one of the bushes a gardener is working on and prompting said gardener to protest, before he's skirting away and making his way over to the man.
Said man looks up, glasses tipping a little down his nose as he cradles some files in his hands. The court physician can always be seen either researching, or getting into some sort of accident prone trouble, though is known in multiple regions for his talent in the field of healing and knowledge.
"Jimin-ah!" The physician calls, grinning when Jimin leans over to push his glasses up the bridge of the elders nose for him. Jimin's been friends with Namjoon ever since he was just nine , having helped the elder boy up one time he tripped over his own (undone) laces infront of a group of readily mocking children. He'd helped brush Namjoon off, and the elder had beamed at him, immediately sticking out his hand in greeting.
Namjoon had been the one to patch Jimin up whenever he got hurt, (which was often) he owed the elder alot honestly.
Which is why he practically thrusts the rose in Namjoons face as soon as he gets the chance."From Seokjinnie." He murmurs, lips pulled up.
Namjoon's eyes widen and the boy seems to suck in a breath too fast as he chokes on his spit. Jimin can't help but laugh as the elder drops several of his books, scrambling to grab the rose from Jimin. He's a little heavy handed, but Jimin isn't exactly surprised.
He leaves Namjoon just like that, surrounded by his books with pink cheeks and a shy smile as he studies the delicate flower between his fingertips.
The stables are much like Jimins second home. The aroma of horses, sweat, manure and hay oddly calming to him, unlike everyone else. Ever since he'd started working for the palace at the delicate age of ten, he'd learnt how to tend to the horses and prepare them to be ridden. He'd started as an apprentice to a rather old man named Josiah, a man with creamy pale skin and piercing blue eyes but a friendly smile and a cheerful outlook on life. Eventually he'd retired, leaving Jimin to take over as stableboy at the age of sixteen. He's good at it though, knows he is. He has years of lean, built up muscle and the best kind of caring attitude that he looks after the horses with, he's good at taming, and he's an excellent rider.
It still doesn't stop the snooty, disgusted looks of the kings courtsmen though.
After all, Jimin's still only a servant, a poor stable boy despite everyone knowing of his close status with the kings son. He'd met Taehyung when they were both just eight years old, and when Jimin had become orphaned just at the age of ten, the other boy had jumped at the chance to bring Jimin into the family, something in which his kindhearted parents had been happy to accept.
Jimin had alot of people to be greatful to, but certainly not the kings courtsmen.
He ignores their constant jibes and leering looks as he finishes brushing down their horses. They'd barged into the barn five minutes ago, yelling at Jimin with high pitched voices to prepare their horses to ride as they leant against the wall and watched him. Honestly, Jimin was just thankful that they were departing the palace for a few days, seemingly on royal business if the conversation he'd eavesdropped on was the truth.
He moves faster than usual, hating the heated stares on his back as he works. Even now, he isnt used to their constant sneers and the hunger behind their eyes when they watch him. He shudders, finishing up on the last horse as he hooks the saddle on and steps back.
The men only ignore him when they seat themselves, and Jimin only just has half a mind to step back just in time when they kick off, dust and strewn bits of hay flying into the air behind them.
Jimin sighs, leaning back against one of the wooden beams and watching them leave. He turns to his own horse, a gift from Taehyung when he was thirteen.
"Good riddance, huh?"
He spends the next few hours cleaning the stables and pausing between work to sit and look out the huge barn doors down the fields towards the forest of Amores, content with the way the sunlight filters through the trees and the song of the nightingales thrums in his ears.
"Wow, this is beautiful, huh!" Taehyung exclaims as his fingers stroke along the silken fabric of the robe infront of him. He turns to glance at Jimin, smile wide as he thrusts the fabric at him. "I've never felt something so soft..."
"My prince, you're already wearing silk.." Jimin answers, running his fingers over the robe. He's right though, it is soft. Jimin wonders how it would feel to be rich enough to wear such a comfortable piece daily. His usual attire of a loose, wide necked cotton shirt and slightly itchy rolled at the ankle trousers cannot compare to such finery.
Taehyung is currently dressed in his usual attire, a form fitting silk blouse and tight to skin trousers. He dresses down for when he visits the marketplace, unless he's with his father, something in which Jimin is thankful for.
"It's all about fitting in, Jiminie." He'd crooned when Jimin had asked him why he always dressed so simply when they left the palace together. Jimin's heart had warmed at the words, for he knew just how much Taehyung really tried to show that he paid no attention to class rules like other royalty. Taehyungs modesty is one of the reasons Jimin had let himself become so incased in a fierce friendship with the prince of Amores.
Of course the palaces villagers still pay attention to him, unable to look away from the prince due to his overly friendly personality and his impossibly good looks. Whenever they left the confines of the palace together they had to put up with the habitants whispers and shy clusters of laughter. There'd been many a time where they even followed them. Thankfully Taehyung took two members of the royal guard out with him whenever he left, just for safety purposes. (It'd been the Kings idea, not Taehyungs, and long gone were the days where the prince would force Jimin into attempts at escaping the royal guard just for the sake of some privacy.)
"They're looking at both of us, Jiminie!" Taehyung had smirked when Jimin had brought the villagers wide eyed looks up to him, "You look every bit a prince as I."
Jimin had shoved him in the shoulder for that, cheeks pink and his answering denial one of disbelief, but Taehyung hadn't let up for weeks, constantly teasing Jimin for stealing servants, both young and olds hearts all across Amores.
Now though, as he watches Taehyung compare the silk of the robe with the silk of his shirt, he can't help but think just how wrong Taehyung was. People were never looking at Jimin,not when someone that shone as much as the prince was standing right next to him.
"That I am, but I've never felt something quite like this." The other boy muses as he drops the fabric, prompting Jimin to smile.
"Honestly, it's so busy here today. Everyone must have heard about your visit." He remarks, wincing as he's shouldered by a burly looking woman with a lit pipe hanging out of her mouth, smoke curling up into her way too high bun.
Taehyung nods, wrapping an arm around Jimins shoulders and pulling him closer. Jimin pinches his friends waist appreciatively, glad that he remembered his fear of crowds.
"I was thinking, as a gift for helping me pick out some presents for the Pugnatores, would you like a new ribbon for your neck?" Taehyung asks then, eyes already set on the ribbon stall.
Jimin glances at the other."A ribbon? You don't have to Tae, I'd help you without-"
"I know silly, but I like buying you ribbons." The other interrupts. Jimin doesn't even have the chance to properly protest before hes being dragged off down the crowded, cobbled streets towards one of the stores at the far end of the marketplace.
The smell of street food clings to the air, the sound of folk music rattles off in the distance, and streams of ribbon and fabric are strewn above their heads, linking from one side of the street to the other in a zig zag fashion. They're in the colours of Amores, a muted purple and a dark yellow like that of the Amores flag.
"I was thinking one made of suede this time." Taehyung babbles, arm still hooked around his neck."I saw you looking at quite a pretty purple one last time, but then you bought that floral teapot for Seokjin instead."
Jimin flushes at that. He hadn't meant to be caught looking at the necktie, he'd just been rather fascinated at the material. As he watches Taehyung fuss over the countless strands of ribbon of all different shades , he feels fondness rush through him.
Taehyung is always looking out for him.
The other boy is one of the only people in the kingdom that knows how important the neckties are to Jimin, knows what they hide. He'd often told Jimin that he didn't need to wear such things, didn't need to cover himself up, but he also knew of Jimins past, knew why he covered what lay beneath the strip of fabric. Taehyung was one of the only people that Jimin just knew would understand, especially when he woke at night and padded to his friends room, hands shaking as the other manhandled him gently into his own bed and pressed soft kisses to his forehead until Jimins nightmares would subside.
Jimin watches the prince pick up a couple suede red ribbons, holding them up infront of his face and frowning between them even though they look exactly the same, and for the millionth time, thanks the world for alligning his soul with Taehyungs.
Yet now Taehyung is the one in trouble, the one that comes to Jimins bed for comfort and forehead kisses. Now it's his job to protect Taehyung, something he knows he wouldn't hesitate to do.
He's in fact so immersed in his thoughts and his friend, that he doesn't quite notice the minor disturbance going on behind them, the clop of horses hooves, nor the footsteps of booted feet and the murmurings of the parting crowd. It's only when he catches a pale, long fingered hand reach over his shoulder to clamp down on Taehyungs, that he moves at all.
He's quick to leap into action, not even thinking about the consequences as he grabs the wrist of the offending hand and whips round, anger and the urge to protect swelling in his chest as he throws his whole body into the suspected attacker, launching both of them onto the hard, grimey floor.
Immediate chaos ensues, the crowd gasping, people skirting out of the way and shouts of confusion erupting through the marketplace. Jimin lands ontop of the assailant with a grunt, the air knocked out of him, and yelps as he's shoved off backwards. The man stands, a curse dying on his lips.
Taehyung tries to reach for Jimin, though his shout of his name dies in his throat as Jimin dives back at the possible assassin without thinking twice. He only just catches a brief glance as the black haired, wide eyed mans jaw drops in confusion, before Jimin's aiming a kick at his stomach and watching as he grunts in pain, folding in on himself. He's about to take a step closer, perhaps to wrangle the offender into submission, when the man suddenly growls and unfolds, ripping what appears to be a rather large, sharp, sword from his belt.
The thing is, Jimin has training. Not alot of training, but a fair enough amount to make him useful with a sword. As a young man he'd grown up in the palace confines, the royal guard letting him sometimes train with them, so he'd picked some techniques up along the way.
But right now he has no weapon, and the man infront of him looks positively deadly.
Jimin glances behind him panickedly, shoving past a scandalized older woman to grab a shoddy, splintered beam of wood from a broken down cart. He immediately brandishes it to the man, gaze now flickering to his face properly for the first time.
Jimin almost drops the plank of wood.
The man is perhaps his height, stark black hair like his own and broad shoulders incased in some kind of uniform. His lips are soft looking, nose straight and he boasts a round, smooth face. His skin is paler than Jimins ever seen, and his eyes are feline like, framed with lashes and full of a terror inducing fire that makes Jimin swallow, hard.
(Well, he puts his sudden disorientation down to the fear anyway.)
An unexpected heat floods through his limbs, warming his cheeks, and his heart kicks. For a moment the man stares back at him, something flickering behind his eyes,and Jimin feels something stir in his gut-
Then the man advances on him, lip curling into a snarl, and Jimin yelps.
He dives out of the way, backing up through the dispersing crowd of market goers as the man follows him. The first swing of his sword misses, and the second would've been right on the mark had Jimin not raised the plank at the last moment. A ray of hope means the sword becomes stuck in the wood of the plank when it makes contact, the vibrations of the force ricocheting down Jimins arms. He grunts, using the opponants momentary annoyance at his stuck sword to raise his leg and kick the man in the shin.
"What th-" The man yelps in pain, almost losing balance before righting himself and yanking his sword from the plank. He advances a little faster this time and Jimin curses under his breath, turning his back on the other just long enough to leap onto the fence of the pig enclosure, prompting some gasps from the farmers standing nearby.
Ok, perhaps I shouldnt have taken him on without a sword.
He vaguely hears Taehyung calling his name in the background, and honestly, Jimin wonders where the hell the guards are as the man jumps up onto the fence with him, the stone beneath their feet a little wobbly from how long it's been there. Jimin raises the plank of wood, deciding to just go with defense until he can disarm the other man.
"You little bast-" The man begins, only to be cut off as Jimin blocks off his next blow with the wood. It splinters again, and Jimin wonders if he'll even last until he's disarmed him.
Please don't let me die now , that'd be so embarrassing.
I haven't even gotten Namjoon and Seokjin together yet.
He steps backwards on the fence, internally greatful for his good balance, and feels blood roar in his ears as the man follows without much trouble, raising his sword to strike again.His sword hits its mark, and this time it does cut straight through Jimins plank, severing the thing in half.
The mans expression morphs into something else then, lips curving into a triumphant smirk and something wicked dancing behind his eyes. Jimin feels dread sink its teeth into his skin.
"Now I've got you." The man preens, shunting his sword to the left and swiping with such force that Jimin staggers. Nearly losing his balance isn't his only problem though, no. He looks down in horror to find that his opponants sword had only just missed his hand, and his own makeshift sword is completely gone.
For one startling moment Jimin stares up at the other man, eyes wide and jaw slack. "Um.."
"Surrender." The man growls, voice going right through Jimin. He feels something angry and offended curl around his heart and he frowns, eyes flashing as he throws the tiny piece of wood away with a crash and straightens up.
The other man can only watch in shock as Jimin leaps from the fence and into the scandalized crowd, dodging through several men and women until he reaches one of the stalls. Honestly, he's no idea what he's doing even as he reaches over the stall and grabs one of the waxy green apples. This'll do.
The woman manning the cart's jaw snaps open."Wait, what-"
Jimin doesn't even think, just grabs the apple, and throws it.
His opponant is still standing on the fence, eyes wide in confusion and fist clenched around the handle of his sword, though his eyes widen considerably more when he catches sight of the apple hurtling towards him.
"What the fu-"
It hits him in the chest and he stumbles, almost falls. The crowds "Ooohs" fill the market, and a broad cackle of laughter can be heard in the distance.
Jimin panics, grabs another apple and positively lobs the thing across the marketplace at the assailant, who this time yelps, rather shrilly and loses his balance, crashing into the pig pen behind him with an alarmingly loud grunt.
Jimin's frozen for a second, jaw agape, then the apparent assassin curses rather loudly from the pen. He uses the lull in activity from the crowd to rush over, using the fence as leverage to pull himself up and into the enclosure all in one swift movement. He almost gasps at the sight, his opponant lying on the floor, face contorted into both shock and rage as he attempts to sit up.
Oh no you don't.
Jimin scrambles for the mans sword and flicks his wrist, brandishing the weapon infront of him and pointing it down at the others chest.
"How about you surrender?" He manages to muster, in his best fighting voice.
The deafening silence that follows then is almost comical. The crowd continues to watch in both barely concealed shock and confusion, and suddenly Jimin can't help but have the feeling that he's done something incredibly wrong.
The man stares up at him, chest rising and falling and eyes full of barely concealed animosity, and Jimin feels his brovado shake a little. He's never seen such a look, particularly not directed at himself.
Suddenly there's a hand clamping down on his shoulder, and he jolts, a squeal ripped from his throat.He almost drops the sword, and mentally curses himself.
Thankfully it's only Taehyung, and unlike the greatful, or atleast concerned expression that he expects to see on his friends face, he only sees unconcealed amusement. Behind him stand two men, both wearing matching grins on their faces, and Jimin starts to feel his stomach swirl in discomfort.Who-
"Jiminie, you can drop the sword." The other murmurs, hand still on his shoulder. Jimin frowns, confused.
"I said you can drop the sword. He's not dangerous..." Taehyung manages to get out, despite trying not to laugh. Now Jimin's really confused.The crowd is only just starting to disperse, the constant chatter of conversation starting back up again as the royal guard finally emerge and tell everyone to get on with their day.
Jimin gulps."Not dangerous? But he-he grabbed yo-"
"Jimin,um." Taehyung begins, jabbing a thumb behind him at the two men watching."This is Jung Hoseok, and Jung Jungkook. Two of the members of the Justitia Pugnatores...and that-" The prince points to the man still on the floor in the pigs pen, his ever present fury only rising, "-That is Min Yoongi, their leader...."
Panic swells Jimins chest and up his throat, and he feels terror curl around him as he drags his gaze from Taehyungs, back to the man beneath him. He looks up at Jimin like he's far too eager to reverse their positions, and Jimin swallows past the lump in his throat, removing the sword from infront of his chest.
"Don't say a fucking word." The man growls, pushing himself up and ripping his sword from Jimins grasp. When he turns round there's pigs manure stuck to his uniform. One of the men behind Taehyung, the one Jimin assumes is Hoseok, huffs out a laugh, and Yoongi shoots him a look deadlier than Jimins ever seen.
Jimin flushes, sure his cheeks are beaten red as he steps back and hops over the fence to join the others.(Honestly, he can't move fast enough) The man, Yoongi, simply follows him, fists clenched and lips curled into a disgusted frown. Jimin tenses.
Im such a fool.
The other two pugnatores are laughing and the youngest, Jungkook, elbows Hoseok as Yoongi hops over the fence. Jimin probably shouldn't have, but he opens his mouth and steps forward, mortified.
"I'm so sorry, I can't beli-"
He sucks in a breath as the air shifts and the man whirls round, fearfully fast. Before he knows it Jimin has the tip of a sword pointed at his chest. Oh god.
The man's hawk like stare bores into him, unwavering.
"Don't speak, bastard. If you ever come near me again, I'll run you through. Understand?"
Jimin swallows, heart hammering."Y-yes."
The man lowers his sword slowly, before finally dragging his gaze away. The other two pugnatores follow him, not before shooting Jimin a smirk as they leave though. Jimin turns to look at Taehyung, who's barely even bothering to conceal his amused delight anymore.
"Did you just throw an apple at the leader of-"
Jimin cringes, and Taehyungs laughter rings in his ears the whole way back to the palace.