Jimin isn’t sad. He’s not scared either. He’s not angry. Jimin is- well, he’s just waiting for it.
The moment he woke up, stirring in his futon and drowsily opening his eyes, looking around in the room. All the other boys were still sleeping that morning, the sun had just dawned and Jimin, in his heart, already knew.
So, when master Choi sank his hand into the hole of the large wooden box, moving it around, Jimin already knows what flower is gonna be picked.
Master Choi finally retrieves his hand, small pink petals can be seen between his fingers, the boys and girls are all holding their breaths. Jimin, who like all the others are sitting on his knees on the wooden floor, looks at his right. He sees Hyo Jong biting his bottom lip, hands fisted around the fabric of his pants, Jimin would want nothing more than telling him not to worry. It’s not gonna be him this year.
Master Choi turns to them, the old man’s eyes so thin they look shut close, his face cracking with deep wrinkles, white long hair kept in a braid.
“The Hortensia.” he says, opening his hand and showing the flower he picked.
Jimin swallows, he hears all the other boys and girls sighing in reliefs, others gasping. He starts getting up and he sends one last look at Hyo Jong, his only friend, his brother. Hyo Jong stares at him with wide eyes, already welling up with tears. Jimin smiles and then turns to master Choi, bowing to him. Wordlessly, the old man starts walking to the door that will lead him to the preparation room and Jimin follows him.
Honestly, he’s really not sad. Nor angry. Nor scared. He just felt it that, this year, he would have been the sacrifice to the dragon.
They bathe his body in water that smells of flowers and milk, they dress him in the most expensive silks they own, the sleeves have golden embroidery at the end, intricate designs of a dragon. They comb his blonde hair and braid it in a long tress, between his locks they put golden ornaments, jewels, even petals of hortensias. Once the maids motion him to stand up, they straighten the robes he’s wearing and then they bow to him.
Jimin knows what comes next, he’s seen so many other sacrifices before, so he walks out of the room and ends up in the garden of the mansion, where there are servants and Master Choi already waiting for him.
Jimin spots the sedan, made of a dark wood and with a red pillow on it. Jimin walks to it and gets on, sitting on the pillow and letting his eyes cast down as the four servants grab the handles and raise the sedan chair and Jimin up. They start walking to the exit, master Choi in front of them.
Jimin knows they have to do this whole parade in front of the whole village, showing them the new sacrifice, let them weep for the loss of yet another young life as they throw petals and flowers at him but- Jimin doesn’t really care. He’s still trying to figure out what use covering him with expensive fabrics and panting his face with golden powder had. The dragon won’t care about his clothes, about the smell of his skin once he eats him. It’s not like the creature will first strip him and fold his robes neatly.
Jimin just sighs and keeps looking down. Being born as one of the Flower Maidens, Jimin knew that it was gonna happen sooner or later, he’s not worried about that, at least he will be able to ensure the safety of the village for one more year. But he will miss Hyo Jong, he will miss the safety of the mansion where he’s always lived, he will miss the walks he and Hyo Jong took around the pond, throwing bread crumbles at the fishes, killing time. He had been living there for nineteen years and now… now that was gone. His house.
Maybe that made him sad.
It took them more than three hours to finally reach the end of the woods, where the trees started dissipating, more sunlight coming from the open land. The servants put the sedan down and Jimin steps off of it, smoothening down the creases in the silk of his robes. Master Choi looks at him for a long time before he speaks.
“You’ve been blessed by the Gods, to have been chosen.”
“I know.” Jimin replies, as it is what he must say.
“You’ll have a place in the heavens.”
“You’ll walk to the lake and wait for it, the Dragon will come to you.” master Choi smiles at him and holds his hand, squeezing it between his “You make us proud, Hortensia.”
I have a name, Jimin thinks. But he keeps quiet, he forces a small smile, bows at the master and then starts walking away from the men. He steps out of the woods and he’s temporarily blinded by the strong sunlight, the air crisp and clean, in front of him, Jimin can see nothing but the greenest grass and the Lake.
It is huge as they have always told him, water expanding for what feels like miles, the mountains closing around it, nothing but dark shapes in the distance. Jimin starts making his way to the lake, his heartbeat slowly but surely getting faster and harder. The grass feels soft and humid under his bare feet, but warm as well after bathing under the sunlight. It puts him at ease.
Jimin reaches the lake’s shore, water still and unmoving, so clear and pristine, reflecting the bright azure of the sky. Jimin sits on his knees, folding his legs neatly and waits. Honestly, he wishes this could be fast. He has no intention of waiting long for death, he’d rather just have it now, make it quick and painless.
But then, Jimin sees the water moving, small waves hitting the shore. He holds his breath, closes his eyes and waits just a few more seconds. When Jimin opens them again, the dragon is there.
Jimin’s eyes widen at the sight of the creature. It’s not as huge as he thought it would be, but still tall and large and- even now, Jimin can’t deny that it is beautiful and majestic as he’s been told. The dragon towers over him, half of his body hidden under the water, his body slender, almost similar to one of a snake if it weren’t for the blue and silver scales, glistening under the sun, water dripping down from him. Its face is long, two tall horns on either side of its head, dark eyes thin and long.
Jimin swallows, his heart hammering. So, okay, maybe now he is scared.
“I-” Jimin clears his throat “I’m one of the Flower Maidens, I am here to satisfy you and for you to keep my village safe.”
Jimin stands up and, as he’s been instructed, walks into the water to the dragon. As he does so, the creature lowers its face so that it can level Jimin’s. His steps falter for a moment, but Jimin keeps walking until the water reaches his waist.
“If I may-” Jimin sighs “Make it quick?”
At that, the dragon tilts his face to the side and huffs a breath out of his nostrils, Jimin’s robes waving with it. Just its head is as big as Jimin’s whole body.
Jimin closes his eyes and waits. He’s about to be eaten. That can’t be pleasant, he supposes, or maybe he won’t feel anything, maybe the dragon will just bite the head off his shoulders and that will be it.
He feels the dragon’s face moving closer, Jimin presses his lips together and-and then, the dragon bumps his muzzle against his stomach. Jimin opens his eyes and finds the dragon staring at him.
“What- what’s wrong?” Jimin asks, the dragon huffs out another breath and bumps into him again, then again until Jimin understands that the creature is nudging him outside of the lake. He doesn’t want him in the water? Whatever the reason is, Jimin walks back to shore, turning back around to the dragon, who is now staring at the woods.
Suddenly, the dragon growls and Jimin flinches, the sound loud and deafening. Jimin covers his ears and shuts his eyes closed, waiting for it to end. Once it does, after several seconds, Jimin opens his eyes. The dragon is looking at him and Jimin is about to ask what has just happened when-
Jimin yelps and startles, clutching at his chest. He looks to his right and finds a man there, looking at him with a huge smile on his face, the shape almost resembling a heart. He has dark red hair, messy and unkept and Jimin can see two small horns peaking out of the strands, so-
“A dokkaebi.” Jimin whispers, in awe.
He can’t believe his eyes. An actual dokkaebi stands in front of him, he never thought he would see one. He almost rushes down on his knees to bow to him, but the dokkaebi quickly grabs his arm to stop him from doing so.
“No, please, don’t. It’s fine.” the dokkaebi… well, he winks at JImin, then turns to the dragon “This is the one for this year?”
The dragon grumbles and nods slowly.
“You are so young.” the dokkaebi murmurs “What is your name?”
Jimin blinks “I- my name is Jimin.”
“I’m Hoseok! Let’s go, shall we?” Hoseok grabs Jimin’s wrist and starts dragging him away “See you later!” he then shouts at the dragon.
The creature casts one last glance at Jimin before he starts sinking back inside the water.
Jimin blinks and tries to keep up with Hoseok’s fast steps, the dokkaebi almost hopping on the grass, whistling happily, the robe he’s wearing completely open, exposing his chest and stomach, the pants he’s wearing look expensive but also worn out by time.
“Call me Hoseok!” he exclaims.
“Okay… Hoseok. Where are you taking me? Is the dragon going to eat me later or-”
“Oh, heavens, he-” Hoseok stops walking and turns to him “He’s not going to eat you! He would never and- you know what, let’s first sit down somewhere and I will explain everything, you must be confused.”
Yes, confused is a good word to use right now, but also isn’t quite enough to explain what Jimin is feeling right now. Jimin is absolutely, utterly astounded. He had finally come to terms with his fate, he had accepted his oncoming death and now it turns out that the dragon won’t eat him? Yes, Jimin is having problems right now.
Still, he follows Hoseok, who drags him back to the woods, just another section, and they venture between the trees.
Jimin has a hard time keeping up as his feet are bare and the twigs and rocks are hurting his sensitive skin, but he keeps quiet, trying to muffle the pained moans that sometimes slip past his lips.
“Oh, you must be hurting.” Hoseok says “Don’t worry, we’re almost there. Can you resist?”
“Yes, it’s all right.” Jimin replies.
Hoseok wasn’t lying when he said they weren’t far. After a few minutes, Jimin sees a small wooden hut in a clear spot of the woods.
“Here we are! It’s not much, but it is comfortable, and it has a bedroom and bathroom.” Hoseok says as they stop in front of it “You will be fine and safe here. Let’s go in so that you can sit down and we’ll talk.”
Hoseok pushes the door open and Jimin walks inside slowly, his eyes taking in the small house. Jimin sees a fire in a corner, with a large pot hovering above it, kept up by an iron handle that is nailed on the wooden floor, a low table with cushions around it, on the other side there are drawers and baskets of rice, Jimin can smell herbs and spices, probably kept in the drawer. There’s also another small door and stairs that lead to a second floor, probably where he will be able to sleep.
“Would you like some tea, Jimin?”
Jimin shakes his head “No, thank you. I just want to sit down.”
Hoseok nods and goes to the cushions, sitting down on one with his legs crossed and looking at Jimin with a smile. Jimin goes to sit down as well, folding his calves under his thighs and he clears his voice.
“So, this place-”
“Ah, yes. Let me explain.” Hoseok starts patting his robe and then takes from an inside pocket a long pipe, he clicks his fingers and a small flame appears on top of his index. Jimin feels like he could faint. Hoseok lights up the pipe, shaking then his fingers until the flame disappears, and he starts taking quick drags “So. The dragon.”
“His name is Yoongi and he won’t eat you.” Hoseok exhales a large cloud of smoke “He’s never eaten one single sacrifice that the village has sent him.”
Jimin blinks “What?”
Hoseok hums “There was a time, hundreds of years ago, when the older dragon did eat and require sacrifices. But then he died and Yoongi took his place, he found out about this sacrifice thing and even though he tried to let the village know he did not want any they kept sending them to him. So Yoongi just offers them a place to stay for a while, until they decide what to do. They usually run away in fear after a night. But they never go back to the village.”
Jimin nods “They can’t come back.”
“What do you mean?”
“They’d be hated. The villagers would think that they failed at satisfying the dragon and they would still send the sacrifice away. A Flower Maiden is useful just as long as there’s a use for them.”
Hoseok tilts his chin up, tapping his thumb against the pipe “That sounds quite sad.”
Jimin doesn’t answer him, he looks down at his lap “So, what should I do? Should I leave soon?”
“You can stay.” Hoseok shrugs “For as much as you like, just imagine this is your house. In a way, it is, it belongs to you.”
“But why would the dragon help me, I’m a stranger.”
“Yoongi? Oh, he’s a caring soul. Don’t worry about him. I shall leave you now.” Hoseok says as he stands up on his feet, Jimin hurries to do the same “The bathroom is there, behind that door, there’s a tub so that you can wash that stuff from your face. and there’s a really soft futon upstairs. As for the food, there’s rice, dry meat and vegetables.” Hoseok grins at him “I hope you’ll do alright, Jimin.”
Jimin wakes up the next morning feeling completely lost. He’s alone in the room, none of the other boys sleeping around him in a large room, instead he finds himself completely alone. It takes him a moment to realize that it was not a dream, he was indeed picked as this year’s sacrifice. But the dragon, instead of eating him, gave him a house.
That is… quite insane.
Jimin then hears noises from downstairs, his blood freezing in his veins for a moment before he recognizes the sound of Hoseok’s voice. He slips out of the blanket and slowly walks downstairs, crossing his arms to protect his hands from the cold. He guesses that in the woods the air must be truly cool in the early hours, the thin blouse he’s wearing doesn’t do much.
He reaches the floor and frowns at the sight he’s presented with. He sees Hoseok sitting on a pillow, his back against a wall and his pipe between his teeth, lips wrapping around the bit, exhaling smoke out of his nostrils. But there are other people, people Jimin has never seen before, moving in the kitchen.
There’s a man, tall and his shoulders broad, face gentle and beautiful, with hair of the same color of the grass that covers the ground around the lake, kneeling in front of the fire and bowl, something simmering in it. He also sees two other men but they’re giving him his back, although he’s pretty sure-
“Jimin!” Hoseok exclaims, standing up from the pillow “You’re up!”
Jimin nods “I- who are these people?”
“I’ll introduce you.” Hoseok gestures at him to come closer, Jimin doing so, the two other people are now looking at him and- yes, those are actual gills on the neck of one of them “Those are Taehyung and Jungkook, come say hi guys.”
The one with gills runs to him, grabbing Jimin’s hands and shaking both of them wildly “I’m Taehyung!” he exclaims, smiling wide “I’m one of the lake fairys!”
Jimin nods, looking at his gills and then at his bright blue hair, Taehyung’s entire skin has hues of silver, almost like water in the night where the moon reflects on it “Jimin, it’s a pleasure.”
“That’s Jungkook!” Taehyung grabs Jungkook’s arm and yanks him forward “He’s a little shy.”
Jungkook looks quite young although his features are handsome, his eyes though are huge and innocent. He hides a little behind Taehyung, nodding at Jimin “Hi.”
“He’s a red fox.”
Jimin notices the red fluffy ears, poking out of Jungkook’s dark hair “It’s good to meet you, too.” Jimin says, offering the boy a smile.
“I see no one is bothering to introduce me.”
Jimin turns to his left and sees the other man walking to them, Hoseok scoffs “Didn’t want to ruin your special moment of fame.”
“Disrespectful.” the man turns to Jimin and smiles at him “I’m Seokjin, the spirit of these woods.”
Jimin gapes, his eyes going wide. This is the actual spirit of their woods, the one who keeps it lush and alive, if it weren’t for him his village would have already starved to death as they wouldn’t have found animals to feed on.
“It’s an honor.” Jimin whispers, bowing at him.
“Oh, no, don’t bow. Why do they always bow?” Seokjin pats his shoulder “Come on, let us eat our breakfast.”
They sit at the table, eating rice and dry meat and grilled vegetables, Jimin can hardly believe this is his life. Up until yesterday, he thought he was about to be eaten by a dragon, and now- now he’s having breakfast with a dokkaebi, a spirit, a fox and a fairy. Life wasn’t giving him a breather.
Seokjin puts down his chopsticks and gives Jimin a long look “You look so young, how old are you?”
“Nineteen.” Jimin replies, swallowing down his rice quickly.
“Not the youngest we’ve had.” Hoseok adds, still digging in his bowl, picking at single beads of rice.
“Let me explain better what is going on, I bet Hoseok did a poor job.”
“You know he’s right.” Jungkook mutters, munching on a piece of dry meat.
“I want this to be clear, you can leave as soon as you want to.” Jin says “If you want to go to a nearby town we can walk you there, we’ll give you some supplies, too. Anything you need, Jimin.”
Jimin nods, worrying his bottom lip and staring at his breakfast “What if I- what if I don’t leave?”
There’s silence for a few seconds, Jimin can feel everyone’s eyes on him and he briefly wonders if maybe that was the wrong thing to say, after all these are spirits, he’s probably a nuisance to them, so-
“If you want to stay, that would make us really happy.” Jin finally says, smiling at him warmly “I mean it.”
“Yeah!” Taehyung nods “You should stay! It’s nice here, we’ll bring you food and keep you company!”
“You should talk to Yoongi, though.” Hoseok says, Jimin’s eyes widening “Don’t make that face, he’s not going to eat you. Actually-” Hoseok grins, “I think that would make him happy. No one ever stayed before.”
It’s afternoon when Jimin walks back to the lake, wearing the robes Hoseok gave him. Jimin’s clothes are too thin and precious to wear, so the dokkaebi gifted him with robes he doesn’t wear anymore, thicker and warm, better for the kind of wind and weather of the woods. Taehyung also gave him some shoes and, weirdly, they fit his feet just fine.
Jimin reaches the shore of the lake and clears his voice “Ehm- mister dragon?”
He did not actually call him mister dragon, Jimin is about to drown himself in that lake. Still, the water starts moving and Yoongi’s head emerges from the water.
Jimin swallows and takes a deep breath, the creature still has him frightened “I hope I’m not disturbing.”
Yoongi shakes his head, huffing out a breath.
“I wanted to thank you for not eating me.” Jimin says, Yoongi nods this time “And for giving me a house, it was very- very kind of you.”
Yoongi keeps looking at him without moving.
“Well, I- Seokjin and Hoseok told me that I can leave if I want to, but that I can also stay. I mean, I’m not very- I wouldn’t know what to do by myself, so. If it’s possible then I would like to stay.”
After that, a long silence follows. Yoongi keeps still in the water, looking at him with those dark eyes, the wind blowing gently, stems of grass bending slightly. Then, suddenly, Yoongi sinks down in the water, disappearing from Jimin’s eyes.
Jimin frowns. Maybe… maybe this wasn’t a good idea. Hoseok told him Yoongi would have been happy, but he didn’t seem happy. Jimin notices the water waving slightly so he gets on his knees and leans on the mirror of water. It is quite deep even starting from the shore, Jimin can’t even see the bottom of it even though the water is so clear. But then Jimin can make out a shape, slowly but surely swimming up. Maybe a fish, Jimin guesses, although- those look like hands.
Then, suddenly, a human emerges fast from the water and Jimin yelps, falling backward and clutching at his chest.
“Will you really?!” the man says, his voice deep but almost cracking at the end from how loud he’s speaking “Will you stay?!”
Jimin blinks “What?”
“You said you will stay.”
Jimin is about to ask this man who he is and what was he doing in the lake when he notices something. He has eyes so dark they almost don’t look human. And those are actual scales on his neck and shoulders, scattered around, of an azure color. This man’s hair, too, is of a light blue, so-
“Yoongi?” Jimin whispers.
“Yeah?” the man frowns “What is it?”
“You’re… you’re Yoongi. The dragon.”
“That is me, yes.”
This is the weirdest day of his life. Yoongi, an actual dragon, is in a human form now, in front of him.
“I will.” Jimin finally says “I will stay if it isn’t a problem.”
Yoongi stares at him for a few moments before he beams at him, eyes almost closing, teeth and gums showing, looking younger than Jimin expected and- is he really a dragon? ‘Cause he doesn’t look like one. At all.
“You can stay.” Yoongi says “It is not a problem. Stay.”
Jimin manages a smile “I will, then.” his eyes travel from Yoongi’s face to his chest and, immediately, Jimin looks away, his cheeks heating “Yoongi?”
Yoongi pauses then curses something and disappears in the water again, leaving Jimin alone and not surfacing back.
This has been… a weird day.
The following days are even weirder.
It’s not that Jimin isn’t getting comfortable with the new environment, on the contrary actually. He likes the woods, the quiet and the smell of wood inside his small house. He likes waking up and starting the fire, waiting for the other spirits to arrive and have breakfast with him. He’s growing fond of all of them, he finds in both Jin and Hoseok two older brothers, they take care of him in a way so new to Jimin, who always only knew the care of servants and master Choi. Jin teaches him to cook, Hoseok instructs him on what berries are poisonous and on those that are edible. And in Taehyung and Jungkook, Jimin finds two friends. Taehyung likes to take really long walks in the woods, dragging Jimin and Jungkook with him, talking their ears off. But neither him nor Jungkook can complain, Taehyung is funny and he can speak of anything for hours without making it sound boring.
But what is weird is that Yoongi comes out of the lake to have lunch with them.
The first time it happened, Seokjin almost dropped his bowl of rice as Yoongi stepped inside the house, covered in a long blue robe and bare feet. Yoongi had sat in front of Jimin grabbed a clean bowl and handed it to Hoseok, who was staring at him as if he’d seen a ghost.
“Hungry.” Yoongi had grumbled, Hoseok hurried to scoop rice from the pot.
Jimin had frowned, not understanding what was so weird and kept on eating.
Now no one is shocked anymore when Yoongi arrives, with his azure hair still damp with lake water and demands food. He now stays for dinner, too, going back to his lake only when the evening comes.
Yoongi, Jimin finds out, doesn’t talk much and when he does is usually to either joke at something Hoseok said or to tell him to eat more.
It’s after a whole month that Jimin meets Namjoon for the first time.
They’re all having dinner, as usual, when the door slams open and a man walks in, blinking slowly. No one speaks nor spare him a glance as the man walks near the fire and simply lays down on the floor, grabbing a pillow and putting it under his head. He then sighs heavily and, almost immediately, falls asleep.
“Ehm.” Jimin frowns “Who is that?”
“Namjoon.” Jin replies around a mouthful of rice “A bulgasari.”
Jimin gasps. He didn’t even think those were real.
“He lives in the woods, rarely comes out, when he does he just eats my food.” Jin mutters, looking slightly offended.
“He’s just a bear.” Yoongi says with a shrug “Don’t let him near the porcelain and you’ll be fine.”
Taehyung snorts at this, Jungkook laughing along at his side, leaning a bit on the fairy.
Namjoon comes and goes as he pleases. He mostly keeps quiet but when he does speak… well, he doesn’t stop.
“It is insane that they would actually send young kids like you to be eaten by a dragon.” Namjoon says one night, his food completely forgotten “I mean, what kind of twisted idea is this? Just because sacrifices keep the village happy? How can they sleep at night knowing that their utopia is built on the lives of young innocents? They basically breed you just to send you to death!”
“Hoseok, can you pass me the pike?” Yoongi asks, Hoseok hands a plate to him with the grilled fish.
“I don’t care if they don’t know that Yoongi doesn’t actually eat you, but the older dragon did! And they were completely fine with it! Aren’t humans supposed to be kind, to have more mercy than animals? Animals don’t send other animals to die just to keep others safe. What is it that scarred humanity so deep that they find in sacrifices something worthy, where do they draw the line?”
Yoongi cuts a piece of fish and picks it with the chopsticks, dropping it in Jimin’s bowl “Eat more.”
Yoongi narrows his eyes “Did I stutter?”
Jimin quickly starts eating the pike.
“Not to mention-”
“Oh, dear Heavens.” Jin sighs “Namjoon, shut up and eat.”
Yoongi takes a scoop of rice from the bowl and, once again, puts in Jimin’s bowl “Eat some more.”
“But-” Jimin tries “I’m really full.”
Taehyung, behind his glass of soju, snickers and bumps into Jungkook’s shoulder, the younger smiling to himself.
“You should eat, though.” Yoongi mutters, staring at his own plate “Have some vegetables as well.”
“Yoongi.” Namjoon calls, grinning from ear to ear “He said he’s full, you’ve been piling up food on his plate since we started eating. I didn’t even get to try that fish.”
Yoongi scoffs “Who cares if you haven’t, you eat salmon every day from the mountains.”
Namjoon rolls his eyes “You aren’t being exactly subtle about your c-”
“One more word and I will choke you with my chopsticks.”
Jimin frowns but he still swallows down the fish that he didn’t really want in the first place.
It’s later in the evening when Yoongi walks back to his lake, leaving them alone. Namjoon and Hoseok sit by the fire, smoking their pipes, Taehyung and Jungkook playing with some cards.
“Don’t you think Yoongi is acting weirdly?” Jin asks after blowing on his warm tea “Weirder than usual?”
“I do.” Hoseok blows out a smoke of cloud and scratches at one of his horns “He’s weird around Jimin. He never offered me food.”
“He’s courting Jimin.” Namjoon says, shrugging, he gets back to smoking.
Silence falls in the house and Jimin swears he can almost hear the blood rushing to his face “He’s- he’s doing what?”
Namjoon frowns at him “Courting you. Didn’t you notice?”
Jimin shakes his head and Namjoon snorts “Seriously? Did any of you notice?”
“No?” Jin says “I’ve never seen Yoongi court anyone!”
“Well, he is. Come on, people, he’s leaving the lake. Yoongi is actually leaving the lake. And eating with us. And filling Jimin’s plate.” Namjoon arches an eyebrow “Seriously? No one noticed?”
“We did.” Jungkook says, raising a hand, his left ear twitching “We knew something was up.”
Namjoon nods, seemingly impressed “Good job guys.”
“I-” Jimin looks at his hands, he still can’t seem to force the blush away “I don’t think he’s courting me, why should he? I mean, he’s a dragon, I’m nothing much.”
At this, Jin scoffs and grabs his hand, holding it tight “Nonsense. I can see why Yoongi would be courting you. Don’t ever say something like this about yourself.”
But the thing is, he truly is nothing much. And Yoongi is a dragon. An actual dragon. Jimin has never had a relationship before, nor has he been courted by anyone, but it doesn’t take a marriage experience to guess that being with a dragon can’t be easy. Besides, is Yoongi really courting him? For all Jimin knows, Yoongi might just be someone who truly enjoys feeding humans.
Sleeping alone is still something that doesn’t come naturally to him. Jimin was used to being lulled to sleep by slow breathings mingling together, by the sound of people rolling around in their sleep, by light snores and the sound of blankets rustling. But now that he’s in the woods, Jimin is surrounded by nothing but quiet, sometimes the silence becomes too much, sometimes it scares him. So Jimin sighs to himself as he lays awake yet one more night, the blankets up to his chin, his eyes casted on the small window of the upper floor, all he can see a night sky freckles with stars. Finally, Jimin decides to go downstairs and maybe make himself a cup of tea, maybe that will relax him. He wraps the blanket around his shoulders and walks downstairs, yawning wide.
He puts boils some water and drops leaves of tea in it, letting it simmer, then he puts the tea in one of the clean bowls and decides to go outside and maybe drink it sitting on the grass. He found he likes staying outside his house during the night, the sound of the woods are louder there, he can hear howls and crickets and he can watch the stars.
But as he opens the door, there’s a whiff of wind that carries smoke with it, the smell so familiar to Jimin.
“What are you doing up, flower?”
Jimin blinks at Yoongi, who is sitting next to the door on the grass, a pipe kept firmly between his lips, pursed and almost resembling a pout.
“I couldn’t sleep.” Jimin replies “You?”
Yoongi shrugs “Wanted to take a walk. Lakes can get boring.” Yoongi scoots away from the door “Sit, flower.”
Jimin does so, sitting on the grass and keeping his cup of tea close to his chest “Flower?”
Yoongi nods “Smell like one, thought I could call you that. I’m not good with nicknames.”
Jimin giggles at that, a small smile painting itself on Yoongi’s face as well “I like it.”
“I shall call you that, then.” Yoongi inhales, the tobacco a burning red in the shank, then he exhales slowly blue smoke “Why can’t you sleep, though?”
Jimin holds the mug tighter, trying to warm up his hands “I’m not used to the quiet. I used to share a room with a lot of other boys. But here I’m alone and it’s quiet, I’m not comfortable enough yet.”
Yoongi hums “I’m sorry, flower.”
Jimin shakes his head “It isn’t your fault.”
“Tell me more of the other boys. What do they call you in your village? You have a name, right?”
“Flower Maidens.” Jimin replies “There are boys and girls.”
“How does it work?” Yoongi taps on the pipe, turning it around, ash falling on the grass.
“You are born as one.” Jimin answers “Our hair has a peculiar color, so at our birth, they already know if you’re a Flower Maiden. They said we are the sons and daughters of flowers.”
Yoongi looks at him for a few seconds “They think it’s the spirit of the flowers who decide that? Who give you this appearance?”
Jimin shrugs “I guess so, they say we are blessed by the flowers, I’ve never really cared much. We are raised as the sons of flowers and that’s all. We are taught how to play instruments, to sing, to dance. We have to be impeccable.”
“So that they can feed you to a dragon?” Yoongi asks dryly, Jimin smiles at him.
“We are to entertain the village during the year, before we are picked.”
“And how do they pick you?”
“They blindly choose a flower from a box, the one who’s been blessed by that flower is the new sacrifice.”
Yoongi scoffs, shaking his head “What kind of- they teach you all of those things, keep you sheltered all your life and then they send you to die. It’s insane.”
Jimin takes a sip of his tea, looking up at the stars “It is how it is. It’s all I’ve ever known, but I’m glad now. I’m glad that the people I grew up with aren’t dead and that the people who will come next won’t die either.” Jimin turns to look at Yoongi “How come you didn’t know about us? You had other sacrifices before me.”
Yoongi grimaces “They all ran away in fear as soon as Hoseok told them they could, you’re the first one who hasn’t.”
“Where would I even go?” Jimin asks “I don’t know anything. I can barely cook, I wouldn’t last by myself in another city.”
“Nonsense!” Yoongi exclaims, eyes wide “You said it yourself, you can sing and dance and play instruments! Any theater would want you! Those villagers are fools for sending away all those talented people, they will probably regret it in the future.”
Jimin can’t keep the smile off his face as Yoongi rambles, the dragon pouting and gesturing wildly, his pipe leaving a trail of smoke as he moves his hand.
“You must have met a lot of us.”
“I’ve been the dragon of this lake for almost twenty-five years.” Yoongi replies, then he frowns “But I have to say, you smell way better than the others.”
Jimin’s brain takes a few seconds to truly understand what Yoongi just said, but when he does he swears his skin must have caught fire, because he’s burning everywhere, up to his neck.
“Why are you so red?” Yoongi asks, leaning in a bit, Jimin immediately leaning back and patting at his face.
“I’m not!” he shrieks “I’m not red, it’s just- well, you just said I smell good!”
“You do smell good.”
“We all smell good! It isn’t just me, we smell like our flower!”
Yoongi blinks “Well, your flower must be the one that has the best scent then.”
Jimin promptly turns away as he feels more heat rushing to his face, his hands itching.
“What flower is it?” Yoongi asks “Yours, I mean.”
“You can smell it but you can’t name it?”
“I don’t know a lot of flowers.” Yoongi takes a drag from his pipe “I’m usually underwater.”
Jimin heaves a sigh, his face still a hard red “Well, why don’t you try and guess?”
“Find out which flower I am blessed with and I’ll do anything you ask me of.”
At that, Yoongi’s eyes light up with mirth “Is it a game?”
“In a way.”
“I like this game.” Yoongi grins “But you should go to sleep now, it is late. And it will get colder in a few hours, so go rest.”
Jimin nods and stands up, still cradling the half-empty cup of tea to his chest, his blanket still wrapped around him “Thank you for keeping me company, Yoongi.”
The dragon smiles at him, features turning immediately softer “You’re welcome, flower.”
They’re all sitting at the table except for Yoongi. And they’re all staring at what is on the table.
It’s a pebble. A pebble that shines of a blue hue, edges smooth to the touch.
Jin takes a long breath “There is a note with it.”
Jimin nods and, stiffly, he takes the piece of paper from beneath the pebble. It reads For the flower.
“Oh.” Jimin gasps “It’s for me.”
Jin nods “So. That is Yoongi’s writing, is it not?”
Hoseok takes a long drag from his pipe “I believe it is.”
“Well.” Namjoon crosses his arms and grins “I told you all.”
“Yoongi is courting someone!” Taehyung shouts “Yoongi is in love!”
“He’s not in love!” Jimin retorts, ignoring the flush that takes over his skin.
“He’s so in love!” Jungkook echoes “Yoongi is in love with a flower!”
“I told you all he was courting Jimin!” Namjoon says again, nodding with a satisfied and smug smile “I told you all.”
It doesn’t stop there.
Every morning, Jimin walks downstairs to find beautiful stones that must come from the depths of Yoongi’s lake, gems that Yoongi must have hoarded, even jewels. Jimin keeps them all in a small box in his room, going through them before going to bed, smiling to himself. It’s easy to ignore the never-ending teasing from Taehyung and Jungkook when he gets gifts this precious.
No one says anything when Yoongi comes to eat, but he keeps pushing food in Jimin’s plate when he thinks no one sees.
One day, Jimin finds what must have been a shard of glass that fell in the lake and has been levigated by the water, of a beautiful bright red. Yoongi must have carved a hole in the middle and put a thin chain of silver in it to be worn as a necklace. Jimin wears it but hides it under his blouse, so that no one sees it.
He’d like to tell Yoongi that, truly, he doesn’t have to try so hard, that the gifts can stop. He already has Jimin’s heart, it didn’t take much. But Yoongi doesn’t mention the gifts when they’re alone nor does he says anything about his courtship so Jimin keeps quiet as well.
“Isn’t it romantic, though?” Taehyung tells him one day, as they walk in the woods “A dragon and a flower fell in love. It’s romantic.”
Then, one morning, Jimin walks downstairs, his heart beating hard in his chest in expectation but when he sees what the gift is he stops dead in his tracks.
On the table, there is a glass plate with water in it. Floating in the middle of the plate there is a Hortensia, its petals a pale yellow.
Jimin slowly walks to the table and finds the usual note. But this time, it reads I found it.
Jimin rushes out of the house, forgetting to put shoes on, and he runs to the lake.
Yoongi is there in his dragon form, eyes closed as he takes in the sunlight, a bird landing on his head. Yoongi huffs out a breath and the bird flies away.
The dragon turns around abruptly, causing the water to ripple in waves.
“You found me!” Jimin says loudly, smiling so wide his cheeks hurt “You found my flower!”
Yoongi sinks under water and Jimin goes to the shore, getting on his knees and waiting for Yoongi to come out. He does a few moments later, slowly emerging from it, his blue hair flat on his forehead.
“I did.” he says, standing still in the water, his face so close to Jimin’s “It took me a while, but I found it. You smell better, though.”
Jimin rolls his eyes and leans down, quickly leaving a small kiss on the corner of Yoongi’s mouth, immediately drawing back. Yoongi stares at him with round eyes, his mouth agape.
“I-” Jimin coughs “I kind of missed… the spot.”
“It’s fine!” Yoongi exclaims, lifting himself up a bit “You can try again.”
And Jimin does. He tries again. And again, and again and again until he can’t tell where he ends and Yoongi begins.
Until there’s a flower kissing a dragon.