The Great Hall buzzes with energy as the eleven year old first years are led into the Hall to begin the Sorting Ceremony. The members of the four houses whistle and yell, greeting the new kids enthusiastically and sending light glares to the other tables. The small eleven year olds gape at the massive Hall, decked out in red, green, blue, and yellow, candles floating a few yards above the tables and the magical ceiling reflecting the cloudy sky outside. The headmaster rises from her seat, and the Hall falls into silence.
On the other side of the castle, a black haired boy sits alone in the library, the distant yells and cheers disturbing the peaceful and quiet atmosphere around him. A book is spread on the table before him, and he absently plays with the hawthorn wand between his fingers, sparing it glances when blue sparks jump from the end of it every so often. Other than that, he remains stoic, reading the pages before him. Behind the library desk sits one of the librarians, keeping an eye on him even though they both know it’s unnecessary.
The librarian knows that the eighteen year old Ravenclaw student is trustworthy; he’s been staying summers and breaks every year since he was fifteen. Now, he’s about to go into the college program at Hogwarts, a first year once more, and she’s sure he’ll rarely be out of the library and his bedroom, practicing spells and working, as he’s declared himself a double major — which is rare for a first year college student, and extremely difficult, but not impossible. Especially not for the intelligent boy at the table.
A cat jumps up from the floor onto the table, winding its tail around the boy’s wrist, and the boy pauses his reading to pet the small cat with a smile. The librarian can’t help but smile as well — only that Ravenclaw could earn the trust of Filch’s elderly cat, Mrs. Norris. The Ravenclaw talks softly, words inaudible to the librarian, and she turns back to the book before her with a small smile, turning a blind eye as the boy pulls a small bag of treats from the bag on the floor besides him. She can make an exception for the lonely Ravenclaw.
The yelling and cheering, broken up by occasional silences as a new name is called to be Sorted, subsides after a long hour, fading into excited chatter and clinking of plates and glasses. The Ravenclaw eyes the door of the library, a debate raging in his mind, but eventually he settles down and allows Mrs. Norris to curl up on his lap as he softly reads aloud and flicks his wand to test new spells every so often. At one point, a silvery wolf bursts from the end of the wand, followed by the Ravenclaw’s distant smile as he watches the shimmering patronus prance around the table and nuzzle his leg before dissipating into the air.
Slowly, the noise of the Great Hall dies down, and the Ravenclaw packs up his things and walks to the librarian’s desk. She offers him a smile, which he returns shyly before placing a book before her.
“Ah, going back over old Defense Against the Dark Arts material, Jeongguk?” She asks kindly, noting down his full name and the book’s title. “Wise choice.”
“Thank you,” Jeongguk replies softly, taking the book and handling it with care as he slips it into his bag. The librarian smiles at his careful actions and waves as he walks off, heading through the corridors back to his dorm room.
Some of the paintings greet Jeongguk as he passes, and he smiles warmly and replies to all of them, his kind and soft nature showing once more. The paintings are pleased to be talked to, and chatter with him excitedly before he moves on towards the dorms.
The Ravenclaw dorms are set in the wing of the palace where Ravenclaw tower is located, two floors of dozens upon dozens of rooms. Each room houses two people; Jeongguk’s room is also occupied by a boy by the name of Mingyu Kim, who apparently ends up spending a majority of his nights with his boyfriend, Wonwoo, leaving the room empty for Jeongguk.
Tonight proves to be no different, as the room is empty when Jeongguk enters. He places his bag down on the couch, collapsing down next to it and rubbing his eyes, staring up at the ceiling. Classes start on Monday; it’s currently Saturday night. Jeongguk already has an idea of what his schedule will be like, which is completely packed due to his decision to double major in Defense Against the Dark Arts and Charms. He doesn’t really mind — he doesn’t really have any friends that he’d have to miss out on hanging out with. He’s been a loner since his first year at Hogwarts as an eleven year old kid.
After a long moment, Jeongguk stands and walks to the connected room where two twin beds are set up, one untouched and the other with crumpled sheets and a pillow thrown on the floor next to it. Jeongguk grabs the pillow and plops down, eyeing Mingyu’s unused bed. He knows that his roommate is here — college going wizards had arrived Friday night, and Mingyu’s suitcase lies besides his untouched bed, thrown open and with clothes spilling out of it.
Jeongguk falls back on his bed and sighs, falling into a dreamless sleep.
He practices simple charms and spells before moving up through the ranks of difficulty, going through everything in the textbooks from a basic levitation spell to the patronus charm and beyond. He cleans his half of the room in seconds, freezes over the window and defrosts it again, traces words of flames in the air before blowing them out. He creates water and evaporates it, transfigures one of the cups in the mini kitchen into a frog statue and back again, anything he can possibly think of.
Eventually, he wears himself out, collapsing back on his bed with a sigh and a weary glance towards the unoccupied bed on the other end of the bedroom. Jeongguk doubts he’ll see much of Mingyu; he remembers the boisterous boy from their days in the Ravenclaw tower, and he also remembers how in love he is with Wonwoo. Jeongguk would, quite honestly, find it worrying if Mingyu spent more than one night in their dorm.
Jeongguk gets out of bed eventually, if nothing else then to get food from the house elves in the kitchen. He’d long ago found a variety of ways in, and the elves all knew and liked him well. So food was never really a problem for him while he was at Hogwarts.
He dodges around students cluttering the halls, most of them first years decked out in robes and their house ties and scarves, eyes wide as they pace the corridors in awe. They’re a completely different world than Jeongguk, in his royal blue hoodie and grey sweatpants, wand stuffed in his front pocket and hair a wreck from all of the magic he’d been working with. At least he doesn’t have to worry about running into someone he knows looking like this, seeing as he doesn’t really know anyone.
The kitchens are easy to get to, and Jeongguk smiles when he enters, greeting the house elves and thanking them as they offer him sweets and snacks. He sits off to the side and converses with one of the many elves, taking genuine interest in their preparations for breakfast tomorrow and their plans for the Halloween feast. The passageway Jeongguk came from swings open again, and Jeongguk flinches heavily. The elf he speaks with notices and looks towards the door before sighing and rubbing his forehead a bit.
Two boys had come through the door, twin smiles bright on their faces despite their differing scarf colors — one silver and green, the other yellow and black. A Slytherin and a Hufflepuff. As Jeongguk observes them, he thinks he might recognize them — the Slytherin has bright, bubblegum pink hair, and the Hufflepuff has vibrant orange hair. Jeongguk eyes the Slytherin, a strange sense of knowing eating at him, but he draws a blank when he tries to figure out who the boy is or recall his name.
Most of the elves seem happy to see the two, but others look a little off-put; as if they knew the two were troublemakers and would rather not have them hovering around.
Jeongguk nibbles on the cookie in his hand, smiling at the taste. He’d taught the elves recipes for various muggle sweets when he was sixteen and bored over the summer, as he missed a small taste of the muggle world in Hogwarts. They’d taken to favoring chocolate chip cookies, which are Jeongguk’s favorite, so he doesn’t complain in the slightest.
The Hufflepuff turns around and does a double take when he sees Jeongguk. The Ravenclaw shrinks into his hoodie, eyes darting away from the two boys, hoping that they’ll ignore him. But he has no such luck.
“Hi!” The Hufflepuff says brightly, bounding up to Jeongguk. “I’m Taehyung! What’s your name? How’d you get in here? Are you a Ravenclaw?”
Jeongguk wants nothing more than to jump from his seat and run, but he knows ignoring the boy would be rude, so he nods curtly. “Ravenclaw, yes. I came in the same way you did.”
He returns to nibbling on the sweets he’d been given, before Taehyung’s steady, curious stare makes him steadily more uncomfortable, so he stands and ducks away, brushing past the weirdly familiar pink haired Slytherin and throwing a rushed goodbye and thank you to the elves over his shoulder as he makes a hasty retreat, hurrying through the corridors back to his dorm room, flustered and confused.
His schedule is sitting on his desk when he returns, delivered to the dorm via magic, and he smiles slightly, unrolling it and skimming through. Monday through Friday, he has classes; Saturday and Sunday are for homework and recuperating for Monday. As a double major, the only free time he has is breakfast and lunch, and then after dinner around seven.
Satisfied with the schedule, Jeongguk places it on his desk and falls back on his bed, pulling out a cell phone he’d saved up muggle money for by going back and forth from a muggle job over the last two summers, making money but sleeping and eating at the castle. He’d also talked the headmaster into installing WiFi, a feat he still isn’t sure how he completed, but he has access to a private WiFi and also convinced her to get a secondary, public one for all the other muggles in the school.
Jeongguk switches between apps, playing games and scrolling through various social medias. He doesn’t post anything anywhere, but he follows celebrities and music almost religiously. Music has always been something that he loved, taking side courses in muggle music and wizarding music during his days in the initial seven years at Hogwarts. Eventually, his eyelids droop, and he falls asleep with his phone still displaying piano tiles on the screen, his last thoughts returning to the pink haired Slytherin, wondering how on earth he knows the man.
Swearing rapidly under his breath, the Ravenclaw frantically puts the books he needs into his book bag and throws it over his shoulder, throwing a scalding look at his traitor of a dead phone before taking off, racing through the halls to get to his first class, moments before the professor closes the door to begin the lecture. He raises an eyebrow at Jeongguk’s very out of place hoodie and sweatpants, but allows him to take a seat near the back edge of the class, Jeongguk’s face burning with humiliation as the stares of the other students follow him.
The lecture begins, and Jeongguk begins writing notes, eyeing his neighbor’s quill and parchment as they blink, wide-eyed, at his pen and notebook. He feels way too much like a muggle college student who wandered into the wrong class somehow. The professor prattles on about recent advancements in charms, and Jeongguk smiles slightly as he explains a few of the newest discoveries, spinning off different incantations and wizards who discovered them.
Eventually, the professor begins to teach them one of the recently discovered charms, a spell that conjures the favorite flower of one’s potential significant other or most recent significant other. Everyone in the classroom is sent whispering as the professor straightens up and casts the spell, elegant tulip petals cascading from his wand into the air above him.
One by one, the students are called up and told to cast the spell, a few failing as they have not met their possible significant other or had one before. The floor is soon a mess of petals, sunflowers and lilies and peonies and so many more variations that Jeongguk would need to read a book on botany to know them all. When it’s finally his turn, he approaches the front of the room and smiles uneasily at the professor, who gives him a small nod of encouragement as he raises his wand.
Jeongguk casts the spell, not expecting anything, but blue petals burst from the tip of the hawthorn wand, filling the air around him. The professor raises an eyebrow, impressed, and Jeongguk lowers his wand, his jaw slack with surprise.
As stunning blue hyacinth petals dance through the air around him, a couple landing lightly in Jeongguk’s hair and shoulders, he slowly begins to smile and fiddles with a few of the silky petals that he caught, wondering who he’d met that has a possibility of being someone special to him.
This year is going to be a good one. He can feel it.
It isn’t too long before Jeongguk is already falling back into the swing of things, loving his lectures and doing his homework and classwork diligently. His professors smile as they hand him papers back with perfect scores at the top; he’s already a prized student in his hands-on Defense Against the Dark Arts class, due to his extensive knowledge in the subject despite only being a first year college student.
They start easy in most classes — reviewing old material, taking out basic monsters like pixies and boggarts. Reading up on recent discoveries and discussing past battles and history that they can learn from. Jeongguk enjoys every class he’s in; and then comes the discovery of a new curse that they are taught in their DADA hands-on class in the form of a workshop assisted by three upperclassmen who stand awkwardly at the front of the room as the professor teaches the first years the curse.
“The curse has been called the Nightmare Curse,” the professor says, gesturing towards the blackboard as enchanted chalk writes out every word he says. “It causes the victim to fall into a nightmare that can be broken out of with a relatively simple counter curse. To cast the curse the incantation is Somnum Timor; to break the curse, the incantation is Dies Tranquillam. Repeat after me: Somnum Timor.”
“Somnum Timor,” the class repeats, Jeongguk murmuring the incantation under his breath, fingers fiddling with the pen in his hands as he eyes the professor and upperclassmen uneasily. He doesn’t like the sound of the curse; it sounds, to him, like a form of torture, forcing one to live through a nightmare.
“Good!” The professor announces. “Now, we shall use it in action; we have three upperclassmen here today to assist you. Left to right we have Yoongi Min, Alexandria Haynes, and Mei-Li Zhou.”
The three upperclassmen wave, albeit a bit awkwardly, and the first years stare at them with rising anxiety. The professor waves his wand, and the desks and chairs vanish, causing the unprepared students to topple to the ground with surprised shouts and laughter. In the center of a room, a raised platform appears — the dueling platform. Jeongguk inhales sharply, picking himself up off the floor.
“First, we will practice casting the curse. Then we shall test you on how well you can use the counter curse,” the professor announces, and Jeongguk blinks as his classmates chatter around him. As expected, Jeongguk is called up first to cast the curse on one of the female upperclassmen. The black haired girl — Mei-Li, if he remembers properly — steps up to face him, her eyes twinkling with mirth as she tosses aside her black robe, leaving her in the school’s regulation white button down and black pants, and adjusts the red and gold tie around her neck.
Jeongguk bows, and she does the same before stepping back and allowing Jeongguk to cast the curse.
Jeongguk raises his hawthorn wand, a little bit shaky, uneasy about casting such a powerful curse on someone he barely knows. “Somnum Timor.”
Mei-Li’s footing wavers and her eyes are forced shut as the bolt of black magic hits her square in the chest, but her mouth moves quickly and her eyes blink open again and she smiles at Jeongguk, nodding, seemingly impressed. Jeongguk steps down from the platform as quickly as he can, and someone else takes his place, a Hufflepuff who looks a little wary about casting such a spell.
Soon, everyone has used the curse, and it’s time to start on the counter curse. Instead of dueling the upperclassmen — as they had a better handle on the curse and could have the potential to actually severely harm the first years — they’d be dueling each other, as their spells would be significantly weaker. Jeongguk and another male are called up to the platform first.
Jeongguk nervously steps up, climbing atop the dueling platform and pulling out his wand, the hawthorn wood twitching in his hand as the wand senses his irritation and skittish nature. The Gryffindor boy across from Jeongguk — what was his name again? — stands at the ready, bowing shallowly to Jeongguk. Jeongguk does the same, before taking a step back and raising his wand, biting his bottom lip nervously as he prepares to shout the incantation.
Jeongguk feels the spell before he hears the boy say the incantation, his body tipping backwards and landing hard against the ground, thrown back by the sheer power of the black bolt of magic. Darkness swallows him immediately, and he tries to prepare himself to activate the counter curse, but before he can, the nightmare materializes around him, and he’s standing atop the stairs at this parents’ house.
His wand is held loosely in his hand, and a heavy bag is on his back, filled with all of the possessions he could carry. He stuffs his wand into the inside pocket of the jacket that appeared on him, not wanting to break it in what he knows comes next, but as soon as the hawthorn wand vanishes into the pocket, the dream shifts slightly around him.
Jeongguk descends the stairs warily, hesitating at the bottom before turning towards the living room, which he’d have to pass through to get to the front door.
“I’m leaving!” He shouts as he darts into the room, heading for the door, but a hand grabs his forearm before he’s even halfway across the room. The grip is tight enough to bruise, and Jeongguk knows this for sure — it took the bruise days upon weeks to finally fade away. Jeongguk whimpers involuntarily, eyes screwing shut.
“Where do you think you’re going, freak boy?” A deep voice growls, and Jeongguk swallows heavily, opening his eyes and pinning them onto the couch across the room from him.
“To somewhere,” he responds weakly, his words jumbling strangely, as if the memory was distorted in some way. But he ignores it, hating how weak his voice sounds. “I have to catch the train to school.”
“Like hell you are,” the man scoffs, the grip on Jeongguk’s arm tightening, getting close to cutting off the blood circulation to his wrist and hand. Jeongguk falls still, and his awareness fades away, immersing him into the memory. The nightmare sharpens until it is a perfect mirror of reality, and Jeongguk forgets about the wand in his jacket pocket. His mind locked on nothing except his rising terror and desire to flee. Jeongguk shrieks as a harsh slap lands on his jaw, skin stinging, and he knows that it’s going to bruise.
The man releases his arm, and Jeongguk stumbles trying to stand on his own. Another harsh slap to the face sends him flying, his right shoulder ramming into the edge of the coffee table behind him. Jeongguk bites his lip to muffle his cry of pain, breaking skin with the effort to keep quiet, and his left arm darts up to clutch the source of the stinging pain.
A woman appears in the archway between the kitchen and the living room, regarding the scene with a cold stare. For half a second, Jeongguk considers calling out for her, and then the glass in her hand shatters against his upper left arm and he can’t stop his cry this time. Blood seeps through his jacket, and shards of glass bury themselves into the fabric.
The man still looms over him, and Jeongguk shuts his eyes as a series of kicks rains down on his torso. Once the blows slow to a stop, Jeongguk jumps shakily to his feet, almost pitching forwards, and runs. He reaches the door and struggles to unlock it, crying out again as a book slams against his back then lands heavily on the floor — fuck, was that a phone book?
The door finally slams open, and Jeongguk leaps down there front steps and takes off running, ribs screaming in protest, ignoring everything and everyone around him as tears stream down his face and his legs burn with the effort of running, panting for breath as he sprints down the sidewalks, on his way to catch the train.
And then he’s jerking awake, a scream leaving his lips as his hand jolts up to grab a wound that has long since healed and scarred over. His body aches, and everything stings, and after a moment he registers the tears on his face and the silent audience around him. Jeongguk curls in on himself, sobs ripping from his throat, trying to banish the memories that he’d long ago pushed away from his mind.
They are fresh again — too fresh — and Jeongguk whimpers, blinking away tears, taking deep breaths and slowly uncurling from himself, meeting the eyes of the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, who hovers before him uncertainly. Once he sees that Jeongguk is relatively calm, he extends a hand to help him up. Jeongguk shakes his head rapidly, gasping and curling in on himself again, raising his hands to protect his face, a strong fear spiking through him at the sight of an older man towering above him, even though he knows the professor won’t hurt him.
“Yoongi, take Jeongguk to the medical wing,” the professor says, taking several steps back, and Jeongguk zones out, forcing himself to try and forget the nightmare he’d been put through. He vaguely feels someone wind an arm around his waist and pull him to his feet, not allowing him to curl in on himself again and fall back to the floor. The person is shorter than him, but strong, a steady presence that Jeongguk slowly sinks into as he’s led through the hallways to the medical wing.
Jeongguk stares at his feet, numb to everything around him, unseeing and unfeeling. He’s aware, vaguely, that the boy besides him — Yoongi, the professor called him — is talking, but he can’t focus on the words, falling into the steady rasp of the strange voice. His eyes flutter, and Yoongi’s voice mumbles a long string of curses before a door is opening and Jeongguk is ripped away from Yoongi and shoved into one of the medical beds.
Long moments pass before Jeongguk slowly comes down to earth, being fussed over by a nurse, blinking furiously and piecing together, in small bits, what just happened. Once the full force of his memories hits him, he groans — he fucked up in one of his major classes within the first few months of the year. Nobody else would have been this shaken up from the Nightmare Spell; the counter curse is a simple one, according to the professor. Furious at himself, Jeongguk sits up and pulls lightly at his bangs, a cross expression on his face.
“Hey, don’t do that, kid,” a strange voice scolds, and then Jeongguk’s hands are gently pulled away from his bangs. Looking up, Jeongguk meets the eyes of the black haired boy from the DADA classroom — Yoongi, if he remembers correctly.
“Yoongi-ssi, I’m sorry,” Jeongguk bursts out once he’s regained his senses, and the elder boy quirks an eyebrow. “I collapsed and you had to bring me here and I’m being such a burden and I— I’m sorry.”
Yoongi blinks a few times, processing the stream of words that was flung at him. But after a little bit of time passes, his lips pull upwards slightly.
“Kid, you ain’t being a burden,” Yoongi reassures him, lightly patting Jeongguk’s leg through the thin blanket thrown atop him by the nurse who hovers a few paces away. “Sure, you collapsed, but that spell is very strong, I expected someone to collapse under it. I collapsed the first time I was hit too; I can guarantee that this room won’t be quite so empty in a little while.”
Yoongi’s nose scrunches up a moment later. “And call me hyung. I don’t care much for the whole ‘ssi’ thing.”
“Okay, hyung,” Jeongguk says softly, and Yoongi nods in approval.
“Anyways, kid, get some rest. You need it, that spell is something else. Dunno why they have first years casting it, it’s so unreliable,” Yoongi shakes his head with a frown before the frown melts away into something softer. “Saw you fight it at first. You did good, kid, I can see why you’re called the prodigy of DADA.”
Jeongguk flushes ducking his head down. “Thank you, hyung. I… I’ll get some rest.”
“Good.” Yoongi stands from his chair, stretching his arms and wincing when his back cracks. “I’m off, I’ve got a lecture after lunch. Expect me to check in on you, alright, kid?”
“Okay,” Jeongguk blinks a few times in surprise at the upperclassman’s strange behavior, and Yoongi catches his startled expression and smirks.
“See you soon, kid.”
And then Yoongi’s leaving, robes fluttering behind him as he strides out the door of the medical bay, hands in his pockets. Jeongguk gapes after him for a moment, and after a few minutes he buries his face in his hands and suppresses a scream of embarrassment and confusion.
Every single time, Yoongi spots him and greets him with a small smile and nod or a wave. Jeongguk barely manages to do the same before dashing away, still shy around the elder man. The strange coincidences happen consistently, and then the nightmares start, and Jeongguk’s entire schedule is thrown.
It’s barely three in the morning the first time it happens, and Jeongguk groans, unable to sleep after awaking in a cold sweat, so he plays around with his magic, casting small spells that cause balls of light to drift around the room, comforting him as he plays with the glowing spheres and pushes the vivid nightmare as far from his mind as possible.
The next time it happens, it’s during a nap he’d decided to take between lunch and his next class, thankfully in his room. That time, Jeongguk awakens with red eyes and a numb feeling in his chest and old, long healed scars aching.
The third time is, by far, the worst. Jeongguk can’t wake up for at least ten minutes, and he’s aware that he’s trying to scream and twitching, his body unresponsive, but he can’t force his eyes open. When he finally does, his body is trembling and he’s sobbing, and he skips his first class, sick to his stomach and shaken from the first episode of sleep paralysis that he’d experienced in years.
He barely makes it to his second lecture, dragging himself through the halls, fighting away the exhaustion seeping through his bones. He collapses into a desk in the back, barely conscious throughout the lecture, and for the first time he regrets being a double major, as he’d have little to no rest until after dinner. The lecture lets out after the longest hour and a half of Jeongguk’s life, and he’s the last one out the door.
Walking through the halls to his next lecture, just thinking of all the classes he has to get through makes him even more exhausted than he already is… the world tilts on an axis, and Jeongguk hears himself slam against the floor before he feels the pain.
Gasps fill the hallway, and then someone wraps an arm around Jeongguk’s shoulders and heaves him to his feet. Jeongguk leans heavily against them, and the person starts walking, taking Jeongguk with him.
“The hell did you do to pass out in the hallway?” a strange voice asks, and Jeongguk looks over and sees the pink haired Slytherin from the kitchens out of the corner of his eye.
“Nothing,” he manages to whisper, and the Slytherin shakes his head.
“Yeah, right. I’ll get it out of you,” the Slytherin mutters under his breath, sending glares to anyone who gives them funny looks as they walk through the halls — well, the Slytherin walks, and Jeongguk uses the shorter male to support a majority of his body weight. They must be quite a scene, the so-called prodigy Ravenclaw being led through the halls by a Slytherin who is significantly shorter than him.
They arrive at the medical bay after a long walk, and Jeongguk falls back onto one of the beds that the Slytherin leads him to. His eyes flutter shut as the Slytherin fetches one of the nurses, but before he can catch himself, he’s sinking into his dreams again.
This time, he finds himself cowering inside the closet of his bedroom, a hand clamped over his mouth to muffle any noises he might make. His body trembles, and adrenaline paired with fear rushes through Jeongguk’s veins. Loud footsteps sound on the steps, and Jeongguk stiffens, eyes wide and scared, hoping that the footsteps would pass him by.
He has no such luck. The footsteps come to a stop before his bedroom door, and then the door is slammed open. Jeongguk jumps, surpassing a shriek of shock with his hand, biting down on his bottom lip hard enough to draw blood. The doorknob of the closet jumps as someone tries to force it open, and Jeongguk watches the metal twist this way and that in silent terror.
Jeongguk’s body is shaking more than before, worse than how he remembers this incident, and then the closet door flies open and —
Jeongguk bolts straight upright, breathing ragged and eyes scanning the room in a frenzy, shaking as he wraps his arms around himself. The strange, pink haired Slytherin is standing before him, a hand clasped on his shoulder, a worried and slightly scared look on his face.
“Hey, Jeongguk, come back to me,” the Slytherin says, grabbing Jeongguk’s chin lightly and forcing the younger boy to look him in the eyes. Jeongguk feels a strange calm settle over him, and he relaxes as best he can. “Four beats in, then hold, then exhale, okay? Follow what hyung does.”
Jeongguk’s breathing begins to even out as the Slytherin leads him through breathing exercises, their eyes never wavering away from each other. Once Jeongguk is calm, a small sob leaves him, and immediately, he’s pulled into the strange Slytherin’s chest. He’s still for a moment, shocked, but then he sinks into the embrace, closing his eyes and fighting away tears as the Slytherin winds an arm around his shoulders, the other loosely wrapped around his waist. The position feels familiar, safe, and Jeongguk can feel himself sinking into the comfort the other boy offers.
“You’re okay, Gguk, you’re safe,” the Slytherin murmurs, and Jeongguk takes a shaky breath, falling into the soft tones of the Slytherin’s voice, forgetting to wonder how the Slytherin knew his name and that nickname. He’s too drained to ask any questions. “You’re okay, Gguk. It’s okay.”
They talk about how Jeongguk’s favorite Avenger is Iron Man but Jimin firmly believes that the Hulk is better, how they both have a passion for dancing and find themselves recommending songs to dance along with to each other. From short conversations in the hall to occasional, usually accidental, meet-ups in the library, Jeongguk and Jimin progress in their friendship.
In addition, Jeongguk continues seeing Yoongi around, the elder finding time to talk to Jeongguk as well. The fourth year is a DADA major, like Jeongguk, and shares his passion for music. Yoongi steadily works his way into Jeongguk’s life as well, and Jeongguk couldn’t find it inside him to mind.
It feels nice, having friends, Jeongguk thinks. People to talk to, complain about bad professors to, people that he can actually be a bit more himself with. People to look up to as older brothers, something that he’d never had.
The only issue Jeongguk still struggles with is the nightmares. They’re less common than when he had them as a third year, when he had them nightly, but they happen often enough to throw Jeongguk’s sleep schedule and begin to affect his schoolwork and magical capabilities. His grades drop — not noticeably yet, but enough for professors to look at him worriedly and ask if he’s doing okay. Jeongguk always says yes, that he’ll work harder, and he’ll do better. But he isn’t sure how much more he’ll be able to take before he snaps and collapses again. He’d really like to avoid a third visit to the medical bay.
Jimin, unsurprisingly, catches onto his slowly diminishing mood and dropping grades. That’s the first day that he takes the younger boy by the wrist and drags him to the Great Hall for lunch, insisting that Jeongguk has to meet his friends, as one of them is extremely smart and talented and could give Jeongguk a better hand than he could.
Jeongguk allows himself to be dragged along, uncertain, but he trusts Jimin. It’s hard not to, if the elder man has comforted him after one of his nightmares and seen him at his most vulnerable points. But when he realizes which group of people he’s being pulled to, he starts to hesitate and pull away. Jimin stops, quirking an eyebrow.
“What’s wrong?” He asks, and Jeongguk’s mouth opens and closes a few times before he sighs.
“You’re friends with Namjoon Kim-sunbae?” Jeongguk asks in a small voice, and Jimin nods, tilting his head a bit in confusion. “He’s like a complete legend in Ravenclaw! He’s one of the most intelligent people in the house! Everybody looks up to him, hyung, me included!”
Jimin laughs lightly at Jeongguk’s scandalized and nervous expression, reaching over and ruffling his hair lightly.
“Relax, Gguk. He’s a bit of an idiot, really, you’ll see. The others are really nice too, they’ll like you. If they don’t, then well, I don’t really care; I’ll have you all to myself, their loss.” Jimin shrugs nonchalantly before continuing to pull Jeongguk to the table, the younger boy successfully shut up from both Jimin’s reassurance and the sudden display of protective affection.
“Jiminie!” One of the men shrieks as they approach, the man wearing a Hufflepuff tie and with bright red hair, a wide grin on his face as he waves to Jimin. The Hufflepuff jumps to his feet and tackles Jimin in a hug; the elder grins and hugs the Hufflepuff in return. After a few seconds, the Hufflepuff lets go and spots Jeongguk.
“Hey, who’s this?”
Jeongguk shrinks back behind Jimin, eyeing the Hufflepuff warily, then turning his gaze towards the rest of the people at the small table. A Gryffindor, another Hufflepuff, and Namjoon — the most famed in the Ravenclaw house. And — Yoongi?
“Yoongi-hyung?” Jeongguk says in surprise, and the black haired Slytherin smiles and raises a hand.
“Hey, kid. I see you’ve met Jimin,” he says with a small smile, and Jeongguk nods before his attention returns to the other people.
A few seconds pass, and then Jeongguk realizes that he recognizes the other Hufflepuff. The same red haired man he recognized in the kitchens is seated before him, a shocked look on his face, yet he composes himself and slaps on a smile.
“Hey, you’re the cute Ravenclaw from the kitchens!” The Hufflepuff exclaims, and Jeongguk jolts and moves more behind Jimin, the elder rolling his eyes at the Hufflepuff.
“Taehyung, don’t you have a filter?” Jimin hisses, walking around the table and slapping his friend on the arm before returning to Jeongguk’s side. “You can’t just yell that someone’s cute the first time you officially meet them!”
The Hufflepuff pouts, before turning to look at Jeongguk again. But before he can even open his mouth, Yoongi is cutting him off.
“Guys, that is Jeongguk Jeon. He’s a good friend of mine, so be nice.” The last bit is punctuated with a pointed glare at Taehyung, who blinks innocently at the older Slytherin. Yoongi continues to glare before Jimin coughs, and the tension is broken.
“Oh, you’re in Ravenclaw,” Namjoon speaks up, and Jeongguk’s eyes snap to him. “I’ve heard of you. The prodigy double major, right?”
Jeongguk nods wordlessly, a little bit star struck, which Jimin can tell as he glances back at the younger male with a small smile.
“How’d someone as amazing as you find themselves with someone as uninteresting as Yoongi-hyung?”
Yoongi shouts in indignation, saying something about making him look bad in front of his favorite dongsaeng, but Jeongguk is numb to it, staring with wide eyes at Namjoon. Had one of the people he’d admired just called him amazing?
“Gguk-ah, snap out of it,” Jimin nudges his side, and Jeongguk blinks, smiling sheepishly.
“He’s cute!” The Gryffindor exclaims, and Jeongguk’s smile dies away immediately, his head whipping over to face the older man, cheeks heating up. “I say we keep him.”
“Seokjin-hyung,” Jimin says with a soft sigh, rubbing his eyes. “Gguk-ah isn’t a pet. He’s a person. You can’t just say that we’re going to keep him.”
“But he is cute!” Taehyung bursts out, and Jimin lets out a long suffering sigh before pulling Jeongguk to sit down between him and Taehyung. Jeongguk instinctively moves a little closer to Jimin, intimidated by the four strangers, and mostly the fact that he’s sitting next to a legend in the Ravenclaw house.
“Oh, he doesn’t even know our names!” The Gryffindor says suddenly, and Yoongi sighs under his breath, grumbling something about this entire interaction being a mistake and how Jimin should have held off on introducing Jeongguk.
“I’m Seokjin Kim,” the Gryffindor introduces, holding a hand out that Jeongguk reluctantly takes, letting go quickly. “Fourth year, just like Yoongi, though I’m older. I’m majoring in astronomy.”
“Hoseok Jung!” The first Hufflepuff says brightly, smiling brightly at Jeongguk. Jeongguk hesitantly returns the smile with a shy one of his own. “Third year, majoring in herbology.”
“Namjoon Kim,” Namjoon says with a smile and a wink. “Though you probably knew that. Third year, arithmancy major.”
“Taehyung Kim, second year,” the orange haired Hufflepuff says with a small smile, and Jeongguk blinks and shrinks closer into Yoongi’s side. “I’m a Care of Magical Creatures major. I think we met before in the kitchens, but I didn’t get your name.”
“Sorry,” Jeongguk mumbles, diverting his eyes away from the stare of the Hufflepuff. Taehyung frowns, looking to Yoongi, who does nothing but raise an eyebrow at him, as if daring him to say something.
“Jeongguk-ah, eat. You have class in half an hour,” Yoongi instructs, gesturing to the plates laid out on the table. Jeongguk frowns, but takes a bit of food, eating slowly.
“I don’t want to go,” Jeongguk mumbles after a few moments, quiet enough that only Jimin could hear, and Jimin looks at him worriedly. When Jeongguk doesn’t elaborate, he scans over the younger’s profile, searching for any sign of what was wrong.
“So, what are you majoring in, Jeongguk?” Taehyung asks, and Jeongguk perks up a bit at that, a smile appearing on his face.
“Defense Against the Dark Arts and Charms!” He replies, lighting up at the mention of his studies, his exhaustion seeping away in favor of excitement. “It’s a lot of fun! I’ve been learning a lot that I didn’t know, I’d like to be an Auror when I’m out of college.”
“Oh, really?” Seokjin looks interested, leaning forwards a little bit. “How long have you been pursuing it? There’s a program to study more into it in the lower grades.”
“Ever since I was a kid,” Jeongguk responds excitedly, his eyes sparking with excitement. “I’ve always wanted to help kids who are in dangerous situations, I took some classes focusing on dealing with kids and whatnot. In summers I did online psychology courses too, a lot of muggle knowledge can be applied to what I want to do.”
“Oh, you do muggle college as well?” Namjoon asks in surprise, and Jeongguk shakes his head.
“No, it was just a summer program, but it was pretty extensive. I also did some work in social justice studies, just to keep up with everything a little better, since I mostly stay here over summers, unless I have work or something,” Jeongguk explains, waving his hands before him in an effort to make them all understand. “I also read a lot of stories and first hands accounts from abused children and children in war zones to understand a little better. It’s a long process, but I’m getting there.”
“Wait, you stay at Hogwarts over summer?” Hoseok pipes in, latching onto that one bit of information, raising an eyebrow in surprise. “Why? Doesn’t your family miss you? Are you muggleborn?”
Jeongguk stiffens, before he forces himself to relax. “Yeah, I’m muggleborn. I just don’t like going home.”
“Why?” Hoseok asks curiously, and Jeongguk’s shoulders tense up. He breaks eye contact and starts fidgeting, his excitement dying down as the all of fresh memories from his night terror creep back. He knows that acting like this looks suspicious, has learned how to identify people in bad situations and bad homes through behavioral cues, but he can’t help his reaction. Anything reminding him of the house he grew up in or of his parents puts him on edge; he can’t do anything about it.
So Jeongguk bolts up from his seat, stuttering out about something about being late for his class, and hurries away from the table, not caring about anything but avoiding the questions and the prying eyes of the people he doesn’t know fixed on his back.
The one thing Jeongguk doesn’t mention to any of them is that he’s only awake that early most days because of the nightmares. The nightmares that have been getting worse and worse, digging up memories that he’d completely suppressed to torment him during the nights and during the day. One memory in particular that came back he’d pushed so far away that he’d almost completely forgotten, but living through it all again brought back the fear with a new vengeance.
The day after that particular nightmare, Jeongguk doesn’t leave his room.
He bundles himself up in as many blankets as he can conjure, sinking into the warmth and pushing his earbuds into his ears, cranking up the volume in hopes of using the music as a way to drive away the memories. He doesn’t eat, not having the strength to get up for breakfast and staying in his room past lunch, too scared to leave his fort of safety made of blankets and calming music. A majority of his day is spent pushing down panic attack after panic attack and trying to distract himself by playing on his phone or peeking out from his fort to use a bit of magic.
At one point, he casts the patronus charm and has the familiar wolf sit besides him, leaning against the fort, the embodiment of Jeongguk’s happy memories and a reminder that he’s okay. The wolf seems to understand, remaining in solid form for a record amount of time, a beacon of hope and reassurance for the youth buried under his blankets, sniffles coming from beneath the fort time and time again.
When Jeongguk’s tears finally fall, the wolf nuzzles his cheek and dissipates, unable to remain solid form with Jeongguk’s emotions so negative. The tears don’t stop for a long time, well towards dinner, and when Jeongguk looks at the screen of his barely alive phone and sees that its almost seven, he groans, wiping his eyes with a sigh. The others will be concerned if he doesn’t show up for dinner, but he feels sick to his stomach at the mere thought of food.
Deciding that he can just simply not eat, but still sit there for a little while, Jeongguk gets up slowly, digging himself out of the midst of his blankets. He pulls on the Ravenclaw sweatshirt discarded on his desk chair, stuffing his feet into a pair of sneakers and messing with his hair in an attempt to look presentable. He sighs when he sees the redness of his eyes, knowing that he can’t hide it, but he accepts his fate and leaves his room reluctantly, making his way through the halls down to the Great Hall.
He spots his friends the moment he enters the door, on the other end of the massive hall, laughing and joking around. Yoongi sits as stoic as ever, but even from the distance, Jeongguk can tell he’s just trying not to smile. Taking a few deep breaths, Jeongguk walks to them, and Yoongi notices him and smiles in greeting, and Jeongguk returns the smile tiredly. Jimin looks over and notices Jeongguk, and he brightens immediately, waving the younger man closer.
“Where were you at lunch? We missed you,” Taehyung whines when he sees Jeongguk, and Jeongguk laughs it off and sits down besides Jimin.
“Studying. I’ve got a test coming up in one of my classes soon, so I’m reviewing,” he lies, nobody batting an eye because they’re all older and aren’t in any of his classes. “Sorry I missed it, I grabbed some food from the kitchens before my next class though.”
“You should eat now too, kid,” Yoongi reminds Jeongguk, and his false smile wavers for a brief moment.
“Ah, I’m not that hungry, hyung,” Jeongguk responds with a laugh he hopes doesn’t sound as fake as it felt. “I’ll grab something on my way back to my room, just in case.”
Yoongi’s eyes narrow in suspicion, but he says nothing more. Jimin eyes Jeongguk worriedly, and so does Taehyung, but neither say anything. But a few moments later, Jeongguk’s lies come crashing down.
“Jeongguk-ah, your eyes are pretty red,” Seokjin voices worriedly, and Jeongguk’s spine stiffens. “Have you been crying? Are you alright?”
Jimin’s head whips to Jeongguk again, and Jeongguk winces, caught. He scrambles for something to say, his mouth opening and closing, unprepared and intimidated. The others take on looks of concern, and something dark stirs inside of Jeongguk’s mind. The looks mirror the one he saw in his nightmare — the ones he was given when he accidentally wore short sleeves after the summer. The look his brother gave him moments before — Jeongguk doesn’t want to think about it anymore.
“I — I’m okay,” Jeongguk manages to force out, though nobody seems to believe him.
“Solution!” Taehyung suddenly shouts, banging his hand against the table. Jeongguk flinches heavily, backing away from the sound, though it goes unnoticed by all but Jimin, who shoots him a worried look as everyone’s attention is brought to the young Hufflepuff.
“Sleepover in Hoseok-hyung and I’s dorm room!” Taehyung cheers, clapping his hands together. “A break from studying and an opportunity for us all to get a lot closer to Jeonggukie! What do you say?”
The others look doubtful for a moment, aside from Hoseok, who’s nodding along enthusiastically. With a long sigh, Seokjin agrees.
“Fine. But keep the alcohol to a minimum, okay? Jeongguk isn’t legal drinking age, and come to think of it, neither are you,” Seokjin’s eyes narrow, but Taehyung just laughs happily.
Soon after that, the others give their consent, and Jeongguk reluctantly says yes. He wouldn’t have in the first place if Yoongi wasn’t sitting besides him, a small reminder that it’ll be okay and he just has to not fall asleep and avoid any contact with alcohol. No problem. None at all.
Jeongguk is so fucked.
Jeongguk keeps up the mantra as he paces down the Hufflepuff hallway, a small overnight bag on his back, stuffed with clothes and books for tomorrow, along with his wand, phone, and charger. He can only hope that Taehyung and Hoseok’s room has a power outlet.
He finds the correct door and hesitates, staring blankly at the bright yellow door and wavering between knocking and turning on his heel and leaving. But then the door opens, and he’s face to face with Jimin. They both stare at each other for a moment, and then Jimin smiles and ushers Jeongguk inside. Jeongguk goes in reluctantly, finding Yoongi and hurrying to sit on the couch besides him. The others greet him with wide smiles, and Jeongguk greets them shyly in return.
“Alright, so!” Taehyung emerges from the bedroom, a couple bottles and small glasses in hand. “We’re gonna go with Never Have I Ever, a classic and successful muggle party game according to the internet and previous sleepovers we’ve had, because Jeongguk is relatively new and we need to learn stuff about him!”
Jeongguk shrinks into the couch a little, watching as the others murmur their agreement. Taehyung sets down seven small glasses — shot glasses, Jeongguk realizes with a jolt — on the small table before the couch. He then plops down on the floor, opens one of the bottles, and sets it in the middle of the glasses.
“Can I not drink?” Jeongguk asks meekly, eyeing the alcohol as if it was his worst enemy. Jimin looks at him with a strangely knowing expression, and Jeongguk looks away from him, unsure of what to think. Jimin has been giving him a lot of knowing looks these days. Taehyung shrugs.
“Yeah, sure. You’ll just do something else if you lose. You only drink if you lose all five fingers, and a shot gets you back in,” Taehyung glances around at the others, who accept the rules and get ready to play, each person holding up five fingers.
As the rounds progress, Jeongguk watches with growing horror as the boys fling accusations at each other, varying from as innocent as “never have I ever had a crush on a professor” to as dirty as “never have I ever had sex on my roommate’s bed”, and he wonders why they bothered with this game, since he hasn’t really done much of anything, so he still has all five fingers.
“Never have I ever been attracted to a girl,” Hoseok exclaims, drawing Jungkook’s attention back to the game. Jungkook wrinkles his nose, trying to think — he’s never really been all that attracted to anyone, asides from the typical “their outfit is cute” or “they’re pretty smart”. So he doesn’t put down a finger, and Hoseok smirks as Seokjin, Yoongi, Jimin, and Taehyung all put down a finger.
“Oh, Jeongguk, you’re gay too?” Namjoon asks in surprise, and Jeongguk shakes his head.
“No, I’m just not really attracted to anyone,” he explains, and Namjoon quirks an eyebrow, thinking for a moment.
“So, you’re what? Asexual? Aromantic?” He asks, and Jeongguk tilts his head, considering the terms. He’d seen them around on the internet, but never really bothered with figuring out his own sexuality.
“Probably asexual,” Jeongguk responds after a few minutes of deliberation. He wouldn’t mind a romantic relationship, but sex… well, he’s never liked it much. Namjoon nods, and then the game continues. It only takes a half hour or so for Jeongguk to be on edge around everyone, as that was when the others really began drinking. He’s always had a bad relationship with alcohol; he’s been wary around the substance, and it never fails to put him on edge when people are drinking it or have it around.
He ends up scooting farther and farther away from the others, pressed up against the arm of the small couch, arms wrapped around himself and knees pulled to his chest. The first thing he’s noticed is that most of the boys are rowdy when they’re a little tipsy — Jeongguk had long ago cast the silencing spell on the doorway and walls, in order to prevent noise complaints from Taehyung and Hoseok’s neighbors.
He isn’t a huge fan of how loud they’re being, borderline yelling a majority of what they say. Even Yoongi seems tipsy, louder than usual and joking around more than Jeongguk has ever seen. All of them seem drunk, except Jimin — he’s been sitting idly, watching the others with a slightly unimpressed look, spinning one of the shot glasses on his thigh.
In fact, Jeongguk and Jimin are probably the only two sober people in the dorm room. Somehow, that makes it a little better for Jeongguk, knowing that someone else has their wits about them in case something happens. And something is bound to happen.
Jeongguk absently rubs the inside of his left wrist, running his thumb over a long healed scar hidden by his sweatshirt. It’s a habit of his, to calm his irritation and remind him that he’s okay, that he’s been through shit and he can get through anything. He just has to keep breathing.
Eventually, the noise starts to die down. A majority of the alcohol’s effects appear to have faded, leaving the others collapsed around the room, smiles on their faces as they stare at the ceiling and listen to Namjoon ramble about something or other — perhaps about why they’re all insignificant in the scheme of the universe and life’s purpose before death. It’s something of that nature, and Jimin looks extremely nonplussed, his lips tugged downwards as he stares, exasperated, at the rambling Ravenclaw.
“You’re right,” Jeongguk mumbles after a long silence of listening to Namjoon talk. Jimin turns to him, raising an eyebrow. “He is a bit of an idiot.”
Jimin laughs, long and loud and melodic, and Jeongguk feels accomplished, a broad smile spanning on his face as he laughs with Jimin, falling slightly into the elder’s side but not bothering to move away for the rest of the night.
Arms bound with a length of rope, a piece of cloth stuffed in his mouth to muffle any noises he might make, any spells he could cast rendered useless.
Footsteps are approaching, heavy against the stairs, and Jeongguk’s heartbeat picks up until it’s rattling his ribs, his heart trying to jump from his chest and save itself from the horror that’s about to come.
Jeongguk pulls against the rope, desperate, tears falling from his eyes as he struggles, screaming behind the cloth and jerking his limbs trying to get free, his entire body failing him as the door flies open, light floods his vision, and his name is yelled.
The voice isn’t quite right, Jeongguk realizes as the footsteps approach, horror growing with each noise. It’s too panicked, too smooth.
And then he’s jolting awake, a scream ripping from his lips, shaking and trying to control the tears falling from his eyes. He curls in on himself instinctively, flinching when a hand touches his arms.
“No,” he manages to sob out, and the hand leaves his arm immediately. Silence fills the room, Jeongguk’s harsh breathing the only audible sound. As Jeongguk begins to force himself to calm down, he realizes that the walls of the room he’s in aren’t the pale blue of his dorm - instead, they’re a light yellow. He isn’t in his dorm room.
The panic swells again, and his eyes clamp shut, a small whimper leaving him as he curls up even more, trying to block out everything around him, and then a voice cuts through the buzz.
“Hey, Gguk, can you hear me?”
Jeongguk nods frantically, and he can hear an audible sigh of relief.
“Okay. Okay, good. Can I touch you?” Jimin asks, his voice soft and calming, with a touch of concern, and Jeongguk nods again, uncurling slightly and flinging himself towards Jimin, burying his face in his chest. Jimin almost falls back, but holds his balance, winding his arms around Jeongguk. He cradles the younger male close, and Jeongguk presses his ear against Jimin’s chest, seeking the reassuring, steady rhythm of Jimin’s heartbeat. Jeongguk’s fear and panic fades away into exhaustion and relief, and he sobs quietly, curling into the chest of a man he’s known barely three months but has given him more comfort than he’s ever had in his life.
“I, I’m sorry,” Jeongguk stutters out, muffled against Jimin’s shirt, but the elder hears it anyways, and apparently, so do the other five men in the room, as it isn’t Jimin who replies, but rather Yoongi.
“Don’t apologize. What happened, Jeongguk?”
Yoongi sounds genuinely worried, but Jeongguk can’t bring himself to respond, shaking his head frantically and trying to hide further against Jimin, the elder’s arms tightening around his waist and shoulders. He can tell that the others are exchanging worried looks over his head, unsure of what to do. And he wouldn’t know what to do either — god, could he even accomplish what he wants to do?
Jeongguk pushes away from Jimin, eyes flickering around the room. Making sure he’s safe. That nobody lurks in the corners, nobody is hiding, waiting for him to be alone.
“Nightmares,” Jimin says out of the blue, causing everyone — including Jeongguk — to turn to him in surprise. Jimin’s face is sympathetic and understanding, but it morphs into a blank look quickly. “I mean, it makes sense. Am I right?”
Jeongguk nods weakly, eyeing Jimin with a bit of suspicion, and Jimin sighs and tightens his grip on Jeongguk a little bit.
“They started when you got hit by that Nightmare Spell, right?”
“How’d you know that?” Jeongguk asks in shock, and Jimin averts his eyes.
“Just a guess,” he mumbles, shrugging one shoulder. “I’d been keeping an eye on you since I saw you in the kitchens, and you seemed fine until the day of the Nightmare Spell workshop. Yoongi mentioned some kids collapsing, and you’re in the correct major and year for it, so. Yeah.”
Everyone stares at Jimin in surprise, and he coughs, changing the subject.
“How bad are they?” Jimin asks, scanning over Jeongguk’s face, searching for… something. “I’m a Divination major, you know, maybe I can help a little bit? If you can give me some context or something of the sort. I’m specialized in dream interpretation.”
Jeongguk retracts at the idea of sharing his dreams in front of all these people — he’s never shared his dreams with anyone before. He never had anyone to share them with, to be fair, but still. He doesn’t want everyone to find out what happened to him — what could still happen to him if he dares go home — so he presses his lips together.
“I don’t like talking about it,” Jeongguk explains, looking down at his hands, which have thankfully stopped shaking. “It’s a sensitive topic for me. I’ve never told anyone before.”
Jimin blinks and raises an eyebrow. “Nobody? Not once in your entire life?”
His voice has a strange undercurrent to it, one Jeongguk can’t decipher no matter how hard he tries, and Yoongi shoots Jimin a strange look.
“Not that I can remember,” Jeongguk replies. “I never had anyone to tell about them anyways.”
A flash of a dark emotion flits over Jimin’s face, but he fights it away and focuses on Jeongguk again.
“Okay. If you ever want to tell me and get some advice, my dorm is on the Slytherin hall, our doors are labeled with names. My roommate, Jeonghan, is usually out, as his boyfriend is a Gryffindor,” Jimin explains tentatively, and Jeongguk nods slightly, filing away the information for later.
Jimin still has a strange expression on his face, and again, Jeongguk is struck with a strange sense of recognition. His mind is screaming that he should know Jimin, and not just from this year, but he can’t figure it out. Nothing he can think of seems even the slightest bit plausible, and every time he tries to remember the man from before their meeting earlier that year, he draws a blank.
Something isn’t right, but Jeongguk doesn’t know what.
The day starts out okay — Jeongguk has missed Hogsmede during the time he was in the castle, missed all the sweets and the fascinating wizard inventions and all these strange things he still can’t get himself used to. So he mills around, with Taehyung and Jimin besides him, chattering away happily, though Jimin keeps a close eye on Jeongguk for some reason. He doesn’t mind; it’s just a little strange coming from Jimin rather than Seokjin or Yoongi.
The three decide to head to Three Broomsticks, a popular restaurant in the village, and on the way, someone roughly bumps into Jeongguk.
“Hey, watch it!” Taehyung complains for him, as he knows Jeongguk hates confrontation of any kind and willingly fights battles for him, even when its unnecessary.
The man turns around, throwing a harsh glare Jeongguk’s way, and the eighteen year old jolts and shrinks back, eyes widening. The man locks in on him and raises an eyebrow, unimpressed, obviously thinking he’d yelled but once a fight came, he cowered away. Jeongguk doesn’t mind the stereotype, but — the man could stop glaring at him.
And then Jimin is stepping before Jeongguk, in a way that’s too smooth to be something he hasn’t done before, and something clicks. Jeongguk stares blankly at the pink haired man’s back as a rush of memories returns to him, all at once, and he can’t handle it, doesn’t understand, why didn’t Jimin say something, why —
Darkness rises all too quickly, and Jeongguk’s knees buckle. Jimin whips around and grabs him around his middle, an almost practiced movement, forcing Jeongguk to lean his weight against him. Taehyung scoffs at the man and leads the two away, towards the pub, but Jimin hesitates and shakes his head.
“Tae, he’s emitting a weird energy, we have to get him to the medical bay.”
“Weird energy?” Taehyung echoes, and Jeongguk’s consciousness begins to slip more.
“Yes, you idiot, like the same energy I felt before — oh shit, he’s passing out, Tae, we have to—”
The noise of the world fades away, and Jeongguk falls into a long spiral of memories, bits and pieces flashing before his eyes as he falls. The earliest come from when he’s barely ten, hiding behind a random shop, knees tucked against his chest. Jeongguk watches as his past self trembles in fear, eyes shut tightly. The back door swings open, and Jeongguk flinches, but a boy, around his past self’s age, perhaps older, steps out and crouches before him.
“Are you okay?”
Jeongguk nods weakly, then hesitates and shakes his head. The boy frowns and offers him a hand; reluctantly, Jeongguk takes it.
“I’m Jimin Park. C’mon, my mom can help you.”
The two walk through the doorway, and the scene changes. Jeongguk is eleven, sitting before Jimin, a letter in his hands. Jimin is bouncing excitedly, chattering on about Hogwarts and magic, but he slows when he notices Jeongguk’s far away expression.
“Are you okay?”
Jeongguk sighs, not answering, and Jimin shifts closer and wraps an arm around him.
“It’ll be okay, Gguk.”
Jeongguk smiles weakly. “It won’t, but thank you.”
The memory ages again, and Jeongguk sees himself, at twelve, covered in blood and bruises, sitting listlessly on the counter of Jimin’s parents’ kitchen. Jimin is wrapping gauze around his wounds hurriedly, wiping away the blood and tending to the bruises with care. He pauses to check on Jeongguk, asking questions that fall on deaf ears, and he sees himself lean forwards, falling into Jimin’s arms with a broken cry.
The older man pauses, but pulls him closer, and Jeongguk sees his past self’s shoulders shaking as he begins to cry, and Jimin stands there, holding him, doing his best to comfort him.
The memory fades into when Jeongguk is thirteen, and he and Jimin are laying down on the roof of Jimin’s house, watching the stars and pointing out constellations. Jimin rambles on and on about Divination, a class Jeongguk had decided to drop as soon as he could, as he didn’t understand it in the slightest. But when Jimin speaks, he tries, he tries so hard to see how he can read the stars and understand the future from them.
“Will I be happy in the future?” Jeongguk hears himself ask, and Jimin pauses in his ramblings, wrapping an arm around Jeongguk’s shoulders and pulling him close, and Jeongguk’s head finds its place on Jimin’s chest.
“You’ll be the happiest man in the world, Gguk. You and me both.”
Jeongguk smiles, staring at the reflection of the stars in Jimin’s eyes, and then it all shifts again.
He’s fifteen now, running through the streets, every part of his body aching, his feet finding the path to Jimin’s house naturally. He rings the doorbell, and when the door opens, he falls right into Jimin’s arms without a word. The older boy asks no questions, doesn’t scold him for getting blood on Jimin’s shirt; just brings him inside and leads him upstairs. A long moment passes, and then Jeongguk speaks, almost inaudible and voice cracking.
Jimin smiles softly, and Jeongguk blinks at him in surprise, not expecting that reaction.
“It’s okay, Gguk. I promise you, it’s okay.”
And Jeongguk smiles.
In that moment, Jeongguk watches his first kiss happen all over again, a memory he doesn’t understand how or why he’s forgotten. He looks so, so happy, Jimin is holding him so gently, he’s safe and warm and away from his father’s house, sinking into happiness, his pain finally easing away. He can feel his chest warming with love and fondness, and he stumbles back, away from his and Jimin’s past selves, a hand gripping at his shirt, crashing through the bedroom door, and the memory changes again.
He’s sixteen now, wrists rubbed raw and bloody, eyes haunted, staring into nothing. Jimin flutters around him anxiously, bandaging his wounds with care and wiping away any tears that fall from his blank eyes, dropping soft, gentle kisses on his forehead and the crown of his head, but Jeongguk doesn’t respond to anything.
Jimin crouches before him, an anguished look in his eyes as he begs for Jeongguk to tell him what happened, what’s wrong. And Jeongguk does.
Years and years of suffering, all of it leading up to one night of unspeakable horrors and unfathomable pain, falls into the space between them, Jimin’s expression saddening with every word. Jeongguk tells him what really happened the night they met, about the lashes that didn’t fade long into his first year at Hogwarts. He tells Jimin about why he asked questions about his future, why he seemed so sad, about how his mind was fighting against him and he was losing.
He tells Jimin how he came out to his father, how his father called him inhuman, a freak, a fuck up he never wanted to have. He told Jimin how terrified he was to come out that night, how scared he was to close the gap and let himself be happy, to be selfish, just for a moment. He tells Jimin about years and years of abuse, about how he never did anything right, about how badly his mind reacted.
He tells Jimin about how he spilled it all to his older brother, begging for help, how he was knocked out and woke up with his wrists tied. He tells Jimin about how he cried and screamed and begged and fought, until his throat was raw and everything hurt. He tells Jimin about how scared he was, the terror that never faded, even when the door closed and Jeongguk was left alone, shaking and crying, bloody and bruised. He explains how he cut the rope with his teeth, a tedious and painful process, how he jumped from the window and ran to Jimin. He tells Jimin everything, and Jimin listens, holding his hand and trying to calm him when panic swells up.
“Jeongguk… you know I love you, right?” Jimin whispers, and Jeongguk nods, locking his eyes with Jimin’s. “Then, please understand… and don’t hate me.”
Jeongguk opens his mouth, confused, and Jimin’s hand raises, with it his wand, and the room flashes brightly with silver light. Jeongguk blinks to clear his vision, and then he sees his own broken body slumped over, and Jimin is sobbing, a hand clasped over his mouth as he stares at what he’s done to Jeongguk’s past self.
“I’m sorry, but this is the only way I know to protect you,” Jimin whispers, reaching over delicately and brushing Jeongguk’s bangs away from his eyes, tears falling endlessly. “Removing those memories to save your mind, to ease everything, but I had to delete myself from your memory as well because I could trigger those memories again… Merlin, I have to avoid you now, no matter how much it hurts. I’m so, so sorry, Gguk. I love you.”
The memory fades away again, and Jeongguk is left with darkness, confused and afraid, questions spinning through his mind as years of memories force themselves back into his mind, the spell Jimin had cast all those years ago rendered useless.
He wakes slowly, to the sound of worried chatter.
“He’ll wake soon, right?”
“Jimin, what happened out there? He just, like, collapsed!”
“Yeah, Jimin, what’s wrong? Tae said you sensed a weird energy?”
“What was it all about?”
Silence falls, and Jeongguk hears Jimin take a breath.
“It’s a long story.”
“We have time.” Namjoon’s voice is no-nonsense, a tone that someone would be an idiot to ignore, and Jeongguk knows it, even when barely conscious.
The room is quiet for a few minutes, and then Jimin is speaking again.
“Jeongguk and I — we are childhood friends and technically exes, though we never really broke up.”
“What the fuck?”
“Taehyung, language!” Seokjin scolds, and a sound of a slap alerts Jeongguk to the fact that Seokjin just likely hit Taehyung’s arm.
“It was bad, okay? Not our relationship — I swear, I’m not being egotistical when I say that’s probably the best thing in Jeongguk’s childhood life — but Jeongguk’s family life. I had to wipe out so many memories in one night, and I was forced to wipe his memories of me too, just in case I could trigger their return.”
“Memories of what?” Yoongi demands, and Jimin hesitates.
“Memories… memories of his father and mother abusing him, memories of one night when he was sixteen and his father… his father…”
Jimin sobs, and Jeongguk forces his eyes open, looking over towards him.
“’Min, don’t cry,” he rasps, and Jimin inhales sharply and rushes to Jeongguk’s side, and the others mumble behind him. “I understand.”
Jimin collapses to his knees at the side of the bed, one of his hands grabbing Jeongguk’s. “I thought you’d hate me. You should hate me, fuck. I ruined everything.”
“No, you did the right thing,” Jeongguk responds, squeezing Jimin’s hand weakly. “You were tryin’a save me. You did.”
Jimin shakes his head. “Merlin, you’re as much of an idiot as you were then.”
Smiling weakly, Jeongguk laughs. “You love me though.”
“And I regret it sometimes,” Jimin jokes, laughing and Jeongguk glares at him. In hopes of redeeming himself, Jimin leans over and kisses Jeongguk lightly, and Jeongguk smiles.
“Love you too.”
“So, let me get this straight,” Namjoon begins, and Seokjin interrupts him.
“Honey, nothing about any of this is straight.”
Namjoon groans as Seokjin bursts into laugher, the others following.
“Anyways,” Namjoon cuts in, rolling his eyes as the laughter dies down. “Jimin, you were dating someone for over a year, knew him since you were a second year, and never told us anything?”
“Of course not,” Jimin responds from his spot, which is tangled around Jeongguk on the couch across from Namjoon and Seokjin. “You crazy people would have scared him off. Do you know how nerve wracking it was to introduce you? Like, ‘hey, meet my boyfriend who doesn’t know he’s my boyfriend because of something I did and this is fucked up but please be nice?’ Thank Merlin for Yoongi-hyung.”
“Wow, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard that,” Yoongi drawls, and Jimin scowls in his direction.
“How did you even meet?” Taehyung asks curiously, and Jeongguk frowns.
“By accident,” Jimin responds easily, and Jeongguk relaxes a little bit. “And then I just stuck around.”
“Cute,” Hoseok comments, and Jeongguk sighs.
“How you feeling?” Jimin asks quietly, and Jeongguk shrugs.
“I’m fine, mostly because most of your spell remained intact,” he responds with a small shrug. “Plus, you sleep in my dorm every night now. I’m doing good.”
Jimin grins, and the two turn back to the conversation, which is now loud and chaotic, shouting and spells bouncing around the room. Jeongguk laughs, and Jimin smiles brightly at the sound.
Everything is going to be okay.