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The White Wolf's Shadow

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—Prologue— 

 

“Jeongguk say hello,” his older brother, Seokjin, encouraged, pulling the boy’s small fists from his pants and moving Jeongguk from his hiding spot in the elder’s shadow. Jeongguk could feel the burning disapproval from his mother, who often told him to be bolder—he was an Alpha after all. 

His father laughed stiffly, “He’s only five, he’s still learning.” The adults all chuckled, but his parent’s eyes felt like hot coals. In fear of getting a beating, he stepped into the light and bowed slightly for the young prince.

“Jeongguk,” his mother said, “meet Omega Prince Park Jimin.” Jeongguk finally looked up at the other boy. He was taller and older than Jeongguk, his face was round and his faint scent was soft and light—like cherry blossoms. His long hair was in a simple, but pretty, bun with a few silver flower pins holding it together. Prince Jimin stood very tall and proper, the way Seokjin did, so Jeongguk wasn’t sure he was an Omega at all. All the Omegas he’d met had held their heads low and spoke softly, but when the Prince greeted him he spoke confidently. 

“It’s an honor to meet you, Prince Jeon,” Prince Jimin said with a nice accent and a bow. When he stood straight he had a smile on his face and Jeongguk relaxed a little at the sight, Prince Jimin’s eyes turning into little crescent moons. 

Their smiles faded when they properly met eyes. Jeongguk reached out a hand, finding his brother's pants and holding on tightly. He felt dizzy and had to blink a few times, so did Prince Jimin. Jeongguk didn’t like the strange sensation that washed over him, the roof of his mouth tingling and his heart racing. His eyes were glued to the foreign Prince, but the boy’s image began to blur as tears welled up. He wasn’t sure why, but he couldn’t stop big fat tears from spilling over. 

His father huffed, apologizing to the Royals, but making no move to comfort his son. Jeongguk tried to hide his tears, burying his face in Seokjin’s silk shirt. Jeongguk didn’t think to worry about the glare his mother sent Seokjin, how the bastard son would suffer for comforting him. Seokjin patted his shoulder anyway, cooing at his brother while the royals exchanged a look which they covered with smiles. While Jeongguk hid he missed how Jimin quickly wiped his eyes as well, a confused frown pulling on his small features. 

 

~*~

 

Jeongguk hated when guests came over. He had to sit through boring talks and listen to his father and the royal assistant teach him about their foreign relations. He was also expected to pay attention to the guests’ kids, which he supposed was worth it since his father would reward him afterward by telling him a bedtime story. But—! He had already sat next to Prince Jimin a few times at lunch! And , played hide and seek with him and Taehyung! Wasn’t that enough?

Yet, his mother kept telling him to be nice to the older boy, that being nice to foreign royalty is how you keep your own kingdom safe. However, Jeongguk still found Prince Jimin annoying. The boy constantly tried to see what he was doing, leaning over his shoulder to look at a drawing, or tried to talk when Jeongguk just wanted to take a nap. Occasionally, when he was with Prince Jimin, Jeongguk would feel himself getting that strange feeling again and run away, always getting a scolding afterward. 

If he wasn’t next to his father during meetings he was forced to keep Prince Jimin company. He hated both. 

He must have been scowling because Prince Jimin had leaned over to look at his downturned face curiously. Jeongguk was surprised by their sudden proximity and leaned too far back, having to throw out a hand to keep from falling from his crouching position. 

“You look upset,” the Prince observed.

“Sorry…” Jeongguk whispered, rubbing his eyes and trying to focus on whatever the Prince had him doing today. 

Prince Jimin turned back to the pond, peering over the edge of the stone path to watch for koi. The foreign Prince loved the fish, and the fish seemed to love him as well. They kept coming up in droves asking for food, which the prince happily gave. Jeongguk thought they must have been sitting there for hours! He shot a look at his guard, who was watching over them, trying to beg with his eyes. The man just blinked, probably even more bored than Jeongguk.

“Look!” Prince Jimin exclaimed, grabbing Jeongguk's arm and pointing at the water. The biggest golden koi in the pond had surfaced, and he was almost as long as Jeongguk himself. 

“That's Goldy,” Jeongguk told him. He didn't actually know the fish's name, so he gave it his own, which was obviously better than whatever the original was. 

“Woah,” the Prince breathed, eyes wide as he watched the giant koi. “Oh look! A baby!” He squealed. 

Jeongguk finally leaned over to properly look, if only to stop the older boy from grabbing his arm. However the instant his shadow fell over the koi they were gone in a second. Jeongguk could only catch a flash of scales before they disappeared completely. 

“Why do they hate me?” he whined. He had never been able to feed them, they always ran away when they saw him. Jeongguk stared at the water, a crease forming between his eyebrows. 

Prince Jimin chuckled, and Jeongguk shot him a glare. “Maybe because you're too scary,” he said seriously, looking the younger over.

“That's not very nice…” Jeongguk whispered. 

The Prince suddenly straightened up, his hands working on the tight bun he wore every day. He gently pulled one of the silver flower pins from his hair, a strand came loose over his face, but he just blew it away. “Here,” he gently held onto Jeongguk’s face so he could place the pin in his hair. 

Jeongguk blinked, trying to look up at it. He went to grab it, but Prince Jimin protested, the older boy guiding him to the water’s edge instead. The Prince peeked over first and threw a piece of rice into the water from the sack he had to feed them. They appeared soon after and Jeongguk watched curiously as they, instead of running away again, swam right up to the edge and opened their mouths. 

“See?” Prince Jimin said, glancing at him and quickly looking away once he saw Jeongguk’s large smile, the younger boy's eyes glued to the fish. They sat like that, feeding the fish until a maid called them for dinner. As they stepped onto the veranda the Prince stopped them and reached up, taking the pin and bringing up Jeongguk’s hand. “Your mom might get mad if she sees you wearing it,” he explained, putting it in Jeongguk’s small palm before he left in the other direction to get ready for their last dinner there—Prince Jimin would be leaving for home in the night.

Jeongguk looked down at it, the silver petals each expertly crafted to imitate a cherry blossom. A tiny sparkly stone sat as the center of the shiny pin, twinkling at him happily. Jeongguk closed his chubby fingers around it and looked after the Prince, only catching a glimpse of his robes before he disappeared. 

 


 

-o~0 Fourteen Years later 0~o-

 

The sun reflected off the pond, sending shards of light dancing around the quiet courtyard. The shimmer of koi could be seen from time to time in the murky depths before they disappeared beneath lily pads when Jeongguk’s shadow cast harshly over the surface like a lurking predator. From the koi’s perspective, his figure appeared especially looming today, shoulders hunched and face pulled in a scowl, eyes unfocused. 

The Prince kept looking up, thinking the footsteps of a guard were...someone else’s. He kept expecting his father to come striding down the path toward him. The weathered King’s steps heavy and authoritative, demanding attention and admiration. Just to clap his hand on his son's shoulder and say something like, “It’s a good day to teach you to hunt pigs, eh?” His wrinkled face would be pulled in a light smile but his eyes would forever carry the weight of the kingdom, always dark and contemplative. His grey hair pulled up tightly without a strand out of place. 

His features were clear, but wouldn’t come together in Jeongguk’s mind anymore, they floated on a face that he couldn’t quite remember. The harder he tried to see his face the more he understood it was gone... and he was alone.

Jeongguk looked back at the calm greenish water, his own rippled reflection seeming like a window into the past. For the first time since his father had been killed his hair was up, wrapped in a tight top knot, his golden crown slipped over it with a beaded binyeo holding it in place. He looked like the Prince he was supposed to be. He wondered how much heavier the king's crown would feel.

He wasn’t ready, not at all. 

“Jeongguk, they have arrived.” 

At the sound of his brother’s voice, he stood up abruptly, groaning as his joints popped. Seokjin padded toward him. The Beta’s hair had no crown to accompany it, only a silk headband that matched his simple orange hanbok. Jeongguk felt severely overdressed compared to Seokjin. His deep purple robes hugged his waist and billowed around his legs with its many layers, rich silk and gold embroidery shining brilliantly. 

He was the Crown Prince though, and Seokjin was a bastard. 

Even though Seokjin came from a different social class, he would make a better leader than Jeongguk, and he knew that. Instead of making him mad, the fact just saddened him. 

“You look particularly solemn today Ggukie,” Seokjin said, smiling as brightly as the rare fall sun beating down on them. 

“I’m not really in the mood to welcome guests,” he admitted, walking past Seokjin to start toward the front of the palace. 

His half-brother followed. “I don’t think anyone is, Gguk, but they’re the last allies we have that connect us to the East Sea. We have to make sure our bond is strong and that they will come to our aid. You know very well the danger posed by our Western neighbor, and their quickly growing territory to the North. We are strong, but we lack funds to support a full army. Aleumdaun has those funds.”

Jeongguk exhaled loudly, “I know, Jin, everyone in this palace keeps reminding me.” His personal guard, Hoseok, followed them as they stepped out of the courtyard, his Alpha scent significantly subtler than Jeongguk’s agitated one at the moment. 

Seokjin huffed right back, “well maybe people would stop reminding you if you started at least acting like you cared.” Jeongguk stopped walking, looking at Seokjin and Hoseok. His guard looked away, not wanting to get involved. 

“Do people think I don't care?” His voice came out more hurt than he expected. His whole life had been dedicated to learning how to rule his kingdom and people thought he didn’t care?

“Gguk, that's not what I meant. You’ve just been...out of it,” Seokjin said vaguely. Jeongguk blinked, reigning himself in when he realized Seokjin was trying to fight back his instincts to submit. Jeongguk hadn’t gotten used to his Alpha status hitting full force yet—he had only presented a few months ago. People told him his wolf must be strong, as he could easily bring a whole room to their knees with just a spike in his scent. Jeongguk always thanked them for their kind words, but deep down he felt cornered… out of control. 

“I-I think everyone's been out of it though,” Jeongguk said, eyes downturned as he kept walking, embarrassed.  

“Yes, of course the whole Kingdom mourns our father's tragic death… but we have to get back on track, life has to move on. Plus Omega Prince Jimin —”

Jeongguk cut him off, “ I know , mother keeps reminding me he’s coming. I don’t know why it matters so much.” 

Seokjin pursed his lips, “Well, apologies . I’m just worried.”

“I can handle guests Seokjin, I’m not a kid anymore.”

“You’ll always be my baby brother,” Seokjin mocked, trying to get him in a better mood. 

Jeongguk tried to resist the smile that pulled at his lips, “I know.”

After crossing nearly half the palace grounds at a brisk pace suffocated by a thoughtful silence, they finally arrived at the main stone plaza at the entrance to the Palace, the huge main gates thrown open across from them. The wooden walls of the palace stretched before them and surrounded the large space, their red pillars supporting roofs of heavy clay and bronze tiles that shaded lengthy breezeways. The dragon statues mounted on each peak of the sharp hip-and-gable roofs looked down into the open space like watchful sentinels. 

His mother, her Royal Majesty, clicked her tongue as Jeongguk scaled the flight of huge stairs that ran the front length of the massive throne room, meeting her at the plateau in front of the closed doors where two chairs had been erected along with other ceremonial items; leaving Seokjin to stand with the royal advisor, Namjoon, at the base of the stairs. 

“Where were you? You can’t be late to these things!” his mother scolded as they both sat down in the regal chairs. She was tall for an omega, the top of her head coming to Jeongguk’s ear, only adding to the aura of absolute authority that seemed to cling to her like a strong perfume. Her hair, which had acquired a few greying streaks as of late, was always up in a perfect bun, her many royal binyeo’s seeming heavy to anyone who hadn’t worn them their whole life the way she had. Queen from a young age, she was confident and steadfast—often frustratingly so.

“My apologies, your Majesty,” he bit out, not wanting to face her wrath this early. The title seemed to calm his mother, letting her know she was still in power. She gave him a harsh side glare but moved on. 

“Remember to be respectful,” his mother said as music announced the arrival of their guests, a few Aleumdaun guards stepped into the plaza, their robes under their armor a pretty blue, a stark contrast to the red of the palace. “Also,” she added quietly, “don’t stare too much.” He glanced at his mother, confused, but he no longer needed an explanation when he laid eyes on the foreign royalty.

It was only the Aleumdaun Queen and one of her sons who had come for the diplomatic meeting. He only hazily remembered the boy from their meeting years ago, barely able to picture him in his mind. It took them some time to cross the plaza, but as they got closer Jeongguk understood clearly why his mother had warned him. 

They were beautiful.

Queen Park was petite, and her blue hanbok was fashioned in an unfamiliar way, with fewer layers and a tighter fit. Her face was soft and inviting, gold pins holding up half of her oddly lighter brown hair, the bottom falling down her back freely. Her tanned neck and wrists were covered in gold and silver, jewels sparkling.

The same jewelry adorned her son, Prince Jimin. He was wearing a darker blue than his mother, the strange hanbok flattering to his figure. The man resembled her in many ways, his face also soft and pretty, but his jawline sharper and eyes sultry. His hair was a shade lighter than what Jeongguk remembered, still held up in a bun, but now accommodated a small silver and gold crown that clung around his head like a band. 

When they stopped at the base of the stairs and bowed, he remembered his mother's words and forced himself to look away, clearing his throat. Jeongguk and the Queen got to their feet, his mother dipped her head slightly, “Welcome to Ganghan.” 

The foreigners bowed again, Queen Park giving a short, “We are very happy to be here.”

Jeongguk smiled, using the rehearsed line he gave every guest: “We hope your journey from Aleumdaun was peaceful and safe.” They descended the steps as a show of hospitality to their guests and stood at eye level, still a respectful distance apart.

Jeongguk was pleased to see that he was now taller than the Omega Prince. He couldn’t linger on that detail for long though, because even at their distance, the Prince’s scent was far more powerful than any other Omega he had met and it seemed to wash over him like the sea. It instantly brought him back to their first and last meeting, his scent still sweet and light, but more full and alluring from when they were kids. Prince Jimin had matured into a stunning Omega…

Jeongguk felt a shiver traveling up his spine, his eyes on the Omega’s gold-adorned neck. He wanted to press his nose into the man's neck until he was all he could smell, until their scents mixed. 

Forcing this thought down, he plastered a formal smile on his lips. He had been having more intimate thoughts recently. According to his physician it was normal and healthy—especially with a wolf as strong as his. Yet, he hadn’t really felt the urge to scent someone yet, not like this. Maybe this reaction was normal…? He tried not to blush, determined to stay focused even as the man’s scent swirled around them. 

Jeongguk wasn’t required to bow as the Alpha, so he simply stood as Prince Jimin finally looked at him. The Crown Prince tried to ignore the way the Omega gave him a once over. Their eyes met for a split second before Prince Jimin trained his eyes on the stones. As a passing thought he wondered where the Omega’s past confidence had gone—the shy Omega demeanor didn’t fit him.

Queen Park smiled broadly at him, “Prince Jeongguk, you’ve grown!” He tore his eyes away from her son and greeted her. She was much bubblier than when they were kids, something about it unsettling. He wondered if she was okay. Jeongguk smiled and shifted his weight a little, trying to be modest as the Queen continued, “You're so tall! And strong. I guess that's what Alpha blood does.” She laughed and Prince Jimin averted his eyes, likely embarrassed. Jeongguk’s mother smiled, pleased with the praise, while Jeongguk himself just nodded awkwardly. 

“Thank you,” he said stiffly.

Queen Park’s smile faded, “We heard about the late King, I’m so sorry. We, and the people of Aleumdaun, offer our deepest condolences.” 

Jeongguk’s face fell. Every Kingdom in the area knew, of course, heard about Ganghan’s latest rulers demise—as the biggest kingdom in the area, their news seemed to travel the quickest. Aleumdaun had already sent a messenger with their condolences and wishes for Prince Jeongguk to have a prosperous reign. It still felt unreal to him, and to hear people talk about it was more upsetting than comforting.

“Thank you,” he said again, quieter. His father’s death was sudden and unexpected, cut down by a stray blade. Because of his sudden and untimely death, Jeongguk hadn’t been properly prepared to take the crown and so his kingdom was currently without a king. It was tradition that the King needed a mate before he could ascend to the throne, but Jeongguk refused to seriously entertain any suitors—much to his mother's disapproval.

Namjoon interrupted his thoughts. “Shall we?” he offered, gesturing at the towering entrance to the main palace. 

 

~*~

 

While their rooms were being set up, the Queens excused themselves, insisting on talking alone with the advisors. Jeongguk had protested lightly, he was the Crown Prince he should be part of any talks afterall, but his mother brushed him aside.

So instead, Jeongguk begrudgingly offered to eat with Prince Jimin in one of the gardens. The Prince hadn’t spoken at all up to that moment. He seemed almost quieter than Jeongguk. “That sounds nice,” the Prince said when Jeongguk suggested the meal. His voice was pitched higher than Jeongguk expected, but it was pleasant. 

As they were walking Seokjin tried to excuse himself, but Prince Jimin stopped him, reaching out. “Wait.” He seemed surprised by his own action and retracted his hand. “Uh, please join us.”

Seokjin looked at him curiously then glanced at Jeongguk, who nodded eagerly. He didn’t want to be alone with the Prince, he was terrible at talking. He supposed the foreign prince was feeling a similar unease at being left alone with him.

They ended up eating in the pavilion over the large pond at the back of the palace property. An arched bridge connected the grounds to the small island that the pavilion was built on in the middle of the pond. It was one of the nicer locations in the palace and Jeongguk liked to come here to practice painting. 

Once they settled down and food was brought to them Prince Jimin turned to look out at the pond with his hands folded formally in his lap, smiling faintly. The artfully loose hair on either side of his face danced in the slight breeze. The Prince’s eyes followed a stork as it flew from the trees over the palace walls to settle on the far bank. 

In the silence, Jeongguk became aware he was staring when his personal servant, Taehyung, set a pot of tea on the table with a loud clunk. He adjusted his posture, licking his lips and watching Taehyung’s hands as he poured them each a cup of tea. Jeongguk tried to catch his gaze, staring at the older boy, but his servant professionally ignored him. 

Jeongguk sighed, turning to Seokjin instead. Seokjin only ate with Jeongguk at the same table if they were alone, since his mother forbade him to eat with them normally. Though it wasn’t Seokjin’s fault that he was the product of their father falling in love with another omega, the Queen often called him a bastard to his face and disregarded his existence completely. The only reason Seokjin had grown up with Jeongguk was because of his father’s sympathy and regret. Even when the Queen abstained from laying with the king for years because of it (among other things), the King refused to let Seokjin go. Now Jeongguk himself was the only barrier keeping Seokjin from his mother’s wrath. 

It brought Jeongguk great joy to eat with his brother so he did so as much as possible. When the Lord's Heirs were there they all ate together, but those were special occasions. Seokjin was always happy to join them though, and he looked pleased sitting next to Jeongguk now and sipping his tea. 

Jeongguk was less happy. He was trying not to look at the Omega, at the soft skin of his neck or hands—at the sliver of his tanned chest exposed by the gap at the neck of his hanbok. When he wasn’t looking, he could still smell the man, and he vaguely wondered if the Prince would be going into heat soon, his scent overwhelming. Images floated into his mind of sweating bodies and breathy moans. 

Jeongguk was losing his mind.

“Aleumdaun is a coastal kingdom, the palace is near the sea, if I’m not mistaken. Do you go sailing often?” Seokjin asked the Prince, breaking the tense silence. 

“Yes.” A proper smile finally bloomed on the man's lips. “Our palace is in a port town,” he explained. “It’s sunny most days so fishing’s common.” That would explain why his hair had turned a dark brown instead of stark black like Jeongguk's, the man’s skin also a few shades tanner from years of being in the sun. 

“Does your Grace fish?” Seokjin asked, bowing to a few servants who placed more food on the table despite the rest of it going untouched. 

Prince Jimin nodded. “I’m very good at it actually,” he said, eyes bright. “Even Jihyun—my brother—isn’t as good.” His accent was pretty, just a small lilt that made his voice that much more enticing. 

Seokjin laughed, “the Crown Prince can’t fish?”

Prince Jimin shook his head, his smile fading into a small grin, “he’s never caught anything bigger than a minnow.” 

Jeongguk had never met Prince Jihyun, but he heard that even though the boy was younger than Prince Jimin, only fourteen, he would be inheriting the throne because of his Alpha status. Jeongguk vaguely remembered their family drama. The people had worried Queen Park would bear another Omega child because of her heritage, and if that had been the case Prince Jimin would have been deemed Crown Prince only after fighting all his cousins for the title… There had been very few Omega rulers in the past because of that. The only way an Omega could safely rule was at an Alpha’s side.

“You must be the opposite of us,” Seokjin said, slinging an arm around Jeongguk's shoulder and waking him from his daze, “Ggukie’s always been better than me at everything.”

“That’s not true…” He lifted his brother’s arm off him. He was flustered by the sudden compliment. Seokjin mostly scolded him or playfully picked on him so the sudden praise was unexpected.  

“Name one thing I do better than you,” Seokjin challenged, giving him a look that made him laugh, his eyes huge and brows raised high.

“You’re more handsome?” Jeongguk tried, his lips pressed together to try to keep from laughing and maintain some form of composure, but it must have made him look stupid because Prince Jimin snorted. The Prince covered his mouth to hide his smile, but his eyes began turning to crescents. Jeongguk didn’t notice the pull on his lips at the sight until the Prince met his eyes. He was surprised by himself when he didn’t divert his eyes right away, letting them linger for a second before looking down at his tea. 

Seokjin nodded in solemn agreement. “You got me there. I’m just too handsome,” he said it as if it was a curse, shaking his head slightly. Even though it was an embarrassing exchange, it lightened up the atmosphere just enough for Jeongguk to relax slightly. They chuckled before once again falling into silence, only interrupted by Taehyung pouring more tea. 

“Ggukie,” Seokjin suddenly said, “Do you remember first meeting Prince Jimin?” Jeongguk looked up from his food, noticing the foreign Prince was watching Jeongguk casually. He continued chewing and shook his head.

“Barely.” 

“You don’t? Well, I remember,” Seokjin announced, “You cried when you first met,” Seokjin said, already chuckling. 

Jeongguk’s brows came together as he thought. Maybe he did remember… 

Prince Jimin suddenly made a small amused noise. “I remember a little. I was taller than you as well, you were this big,” he held out his hand parallel to the ground to demonstrate. “You scowled a lot for a five-year-old.”

Jeongguk felt his ears growing warm, “I was an angry five-year-old.”

“You're an angry nineteen-year-old as well,” Seokjin muttered playfully. Jeongguk clicked his tongue in annoyance and sent him a small glare, trying to be modest with a guest around. “What's the look for? Don’t forget, I’m your hyung.”

Prince Jimin laughed again, his whole body shaking. 

“Well, I’m the King,” Jeongguk responded mockingly.

“Not yet,” Seokjin deadpanned, suddenly serious. Just like that, the fun was over. 

Jeongguk swallowed, looking away. He wasn’t in the mood for his food suddenly and set his chopsticks down. He looked at Taehyung instead, who was standing just outside the pavilion.

Seokjin had become more and more serious with him about the fact Jeongguk had to take the throne soon. The kingdom didn’t trust his mother to rule and they needed unity under the rightful King. All he needed was a mate, Seokjin often reminded him. He had noble suitors out the door, he could even mate one of his friends if he wanted to, but Jeongguk refused every offer Seokjin and his mother threw at him. He just wasn’t ready… 

He didn’t want anyone else.

Taehyung shifted from his spot under Jeongguk’s hot gaze, the action reminding the Alpha to look away. His scent must have grown tense because Prince Jimin—the lowest sub-gender status in the direct vicinity—was keeping his eyes firmly glued to the floor, shoulders tight. Something in his chest felt heavy at the sight. He cleared his throat and took a deep breath, trying to calm down. 

Jeongguk had been kept away from most omegas because he’d been rather… intense since he presented. Most alphas were more “aggressive” when trying to adjust, and he was no different. So he’d rarely experienced the effect he had on omegas, but by the way Prince Jimin couldn’t look at him for a good few minutes he had to assume it was a strong effect. 

The tension seemed to clear when Prince Jimin finally spoke. “Your wolf must be strong,” he said with a small chuckle, eyes hesitant to meet Jeongguk’s. 

Jeongguk grunted in response, turning to look out over at the water. 

“So was our father’s,” Seokjin supplied. “Jeongguk got the larger part of it it seems. He’s still learning to control it, so be understanding.” Jeongguk bit back a snapping retort not to apologize for him, choosing instead to focus on the way the water rippled when a fish surfaced. His ears were burning again.

“I’m sure your family line is strong as well?” Seokjin asked—a fair assumption since most royalty had been established centuries ago by the strongest wolves carving out land and claiming territories. To keep power one needed to keep the bloodline strong. Selective breeding had brought about strong blood.

Prince Jimin nodded slowly and said, “In a different way, yes...” Jeongguk glanced at him. The Prince seemed to contemplate his next words while sucking on his bottom lip. Jeongguk’s undisciplined eyes followed the action. “Omegas are strongest in our family—at least on my mother’s side,” he finally said. Prince Jimin looked up at that moment and their eyes accidentally met. Jeongguk wanted to look away, embarrassed at being caught looking at the Prince’s lips, but his wolf seemed set on staring at the older boy. 

Seokjin hummed, “Hm. How so? I’ve never heard such a thing.” 

Prince Jimin’s eyes flickered to Seokjin’s for a second. “I can demonstrate.” 

Jeongguk felt Seokjin’s eyes on him, noticing the way he was so intently watching Prince Jimin. “...Sure.”

Prince Jimin smiled, mischief leaking into the otherwise innocent expression. Jeongguk’s wolf awoke as Prince Jimin’s eyes slid back to his, a vibrant yellow now painting the Prince’s irises. Jeongguk bumped the table as he stood up, the guards on the bridge grabbing the hilts of their swords, startled. His vision went slightly pink as his eyes shifted toward red, his head feeling clear and dangerously focused. They held solid eye contact as Jeongguk took only a few strides around to the Omega’s side of the table. 

The Omega was smiling broadly as the Alpha came down to one knee, reaching out a hand that Jeongguk couldn’t help but run over the Omega’s neck. It was soft, so smooth it was like silk. The Omega’s wicked grin disappeared when the Alpha growled, bending the man’s neck so he could press his nose into his scent glands. The Omega resisted at first, but quickly submitted and allowed Jeongguk’s nose to ghost over his flesh, up and down his neck.

His eyes fluttered shut, the sweet scent of the Omega like a drug. He felt as if his body was light and free of the weight of thinking as he turned the man’s head to the other side. His wolf was beyond satisfied, smiling into the stranger’s neck. It was about to get what it had wanted the instant it laid eyes on the man. All he had to do was scent him, then he would carry around Jeongguk scent for days...

As he was about to do just that, hands shoved at his chest, pushing him far enough back to pull him from his daze. The Omega—no, Prince Park Jimin—was leaned back, a hand thrown out behind him and eyes wide. He had one hand on Jeongguk’s chest, holding the man away, his face red and his breath short.

The Prince laughed nervously, eyes revealing the fear that he was trying to hide. “I guess I didn’t take into account your own wolf’s powers.” He quickly licked his lips, smile fading the longer Jeongguk held still, leaning over his lap. Jeongguks wolf raked against his mind, telling him to finish what he started, but the Omega’s nervous eyes stopped him.

Jeongguk blinked rapidly until his vision returned to normal, pulling back. He tripped and landed on his ass. He felt like a scolded child, his shame hot and unrelenting. “Um.” He swiftly stood up, dusting himself off. “Yes…” The guards relaxed, returning to their posts, but the few servants, including Taehyung, exchanged looks. His hand found the back of his neck, picking at the small hairs at the base of his head.  He was looking anywhere but at the Prince, who was unmoving. “I’m sorry, that was…” Jeongguk struggled for the words, wanting to bow his head apologetically to the Omega, but knowing he shouldn’t as an Alpha.

“It was my fault,” Prince Jimin said quickly, sitting up properly. “I had only been expecting you to get close, not…” he trailed off, licking his lips. “Instincts, I guess.” He laughed again, picking at his sleeves.

“I guess,” Jeongguk said. 

He sat back down next to Seokjin, who was looking between them with wide eyes. Jeongguk ignored him, distracted with how easily he had been brought to his knees. The scary thing was that he hadn’t felt like he had been forced into it, it was more that his wolf had simply been set loose. He—or his wolf at least—had wanted to press the Omega to the floor and take him, now he was just restraining himself.

Jeongguk had never really felt that way about anyone else. He had wanted to do stuff with others, but never scent them. Scenting was a very protective and emotional thing, it was different than sex. Was Jimin right? Could it just be instinct? It felt different...

“So…” Seokjin said. “You can, for lack of better words, seduce others?” The Beta still looked shaken by what had happened, while the two involved were quiet. 

“Well, sort of,” Prince Jimin said, “Just like a strong Alpha can make someone submit with scent alone. I can sort of do the same with a mix of all senses. It’s not submission though, it's just making my will their own.” He was blushing furiously, looking at his hands as the implication of his words registered with the Crown Prince. If it was Jimin’s will imposed on him, then didn’t that mean he had been thinking the same dirty things? Jeongguk blushed as well. “This time I wasn't focused enough, our wills became tangled—our wolves took control.” Jeongguk felt his face heating up even more, the Prince across from him fiddling with his clothes.

“It happens,” Seokjin said lightly, trying to diffuse the weird atmosphere. 

The Prince seemed to consider his next words, before finally admitting, “I can shift as well.” It was more of something to keep out the tense quiet, but the two other men’s eyes snapped to him.

“Fully?” Seokjin asked. Prince Jimin nodded, not seeming as confident with this topic of conversation suddenly. Jeongguk knew he was staring, but he had never met another person who could shift fully—except for his father of course. It wasn’t uncommon in royals, but it usually only appeared in those of the strongest bloodlines. 

“I’m assuming your highness can as well?” 

It took Jeongguk a second to realize he was being addressed by Prince Jimin. He glanced at Seokjin, who made no move to stop him before he looked at the Prince and nodded. It wasn’t exactly something he wanted to make known, as he had only shifted a few times so far and had next to no control over it. It was currently his biggest weakness as an Alpha. “It would be interesting to see sometime,” the Prince said. 

Seokjin snorted sarcastically, “It sure is something…”

Jeongguk didn’t think it was as funny but smiled weakly. It was rather embarrassing and intense, and the last thing he wanted to show the foreign Prince. 

“Should we take a tour of the palace?” Seokjin suddenly suggested, “It’s been a while since you last visited.” 

 

~*~

 

Seokjin hung back while Jeongguk escorted their guest around the palace. Hoseok followed, accompanied by an Aleumdaun guard—Prince Jimin's personal escort. Jeongguk kept on glancing at them, amused by the Aleumdaun guard’s short height but frightened by his constant scowl. The guard, who introduced himself as Min Yoongi, had been perpetually pissed since Jeongguk had tried to scent Prince Jimin. Understandable of course, but the Alpha’s eyes seemed to burn into the back of his skull, making Jeongguk's hackles rise. Luckily they were a good distance behind and Jeongguk could barely make out what Seokjin was animatedly discussing with Hoseok. 

He coughed and looked back at Prince Jimin. They were walking through one of the large gardens, the Prince looking around and stopping every now and then to appreciate a pretty flower. The garden was full of all the native flowers of Ganghan, meticulously trimmed and cared for like everything in the palace. Jeongguk hazily remembered the way the Prince had always been interested in everything around him. The memory of the koi pond popped out at him and he couldn't help smiling fondly. He watched as the Omega pressed his finger to a leaf, standing up a second later with a fluffy caterpillar crawling along his hand, saying, “We don’t have these back in Aleumdaun.” 

“They’re everywhere here,” Jeongguk said, focused on what the Omega was doing. The Prince put down the insect as if it was a fragile treasure and turned to him.

“You know, you're strange for an Alpha, Your Highness,” Prince Jimin said as soon as he was facing the man. 

Jeongguk blinked, surprised. If he wasn’t a royal of equal class Jeongguk might have gotten offended, but the Prince just seemed curious. “R-really?”

“Yes, most Alphas love to hear themselves talk,” he said as he continued walking, Jeongguk taking a few extra steps to catch up. “You’ve barely said anything and I’m not sure if it’s because you’re shy or you’re captivated,” he shot Jeongguk a huge grin. 

Despite himself, he blushed. “Well…” he trailed off. Both, he thought, but he kept that to himself.

“In the latter case you’re just like any other Alpha,” he said this with a calm smile, eyes looking over the hundreds of flowers in the large garden. Before Jeongguk could give a retort the omega cut him off. “Tell me about yourself.”

Jeongguk was taken aback once again. “Why?”

Prince Jimin shrugged, not bothering to look at him. “We’re going to be spending some time together, so I want to find something we can at least talk about….” He got quiet toward the end and Jeongguk sensed a tone of seriousness to his voice. 

“Well… I like to paint.” 

“What do you paint?”

Jeongguk looked around. “Things,” he gestured vaguely. 

Prince Jimin nodded, lips pulling up in an amused smile. “ Interesting .”

“You asked,” Jeongguk responded, flustered.

“Be more specific.”

“I…” what did he paint? “I...paint beautiful things,” he settled on, eyes caught on the way the Omega’s clothes seemed to flow in the wind as if he was floating.

The Prince digested this for a second. “I bet you paint yourself all the time then.” Jeongguk glanced at the Prince, unsure if it was a compliment or an insult to the stereotypical Alpha pride. Maybe both. The Prince was still avoiding looking at him. He decided to ignore it. 

“I paint people mostly,” he admitted finally. He had somehow ended up a step behind the Prince once again. The Omega turned to look at him, the sun catching on his crown. His hair looked like gold in the light, floating around him almost like a halo.

“You should paint me some time.” 

“Uh, s-sure,” he said, caught off guard. He scratched his jaw as he cautiously looked over the man, nervous suddenly. Prince Jimin chuckled again, his eyes wrinkling. “What?” Jeongguk asked, worried he was missing something.

“Nothing, you’re just strange.” His eyes were kind, flicking over Jeongguk quickly before he looked ahead again. 

The younger laughed. “I’m the strange one?” Jeongguk said, catching up once again. He thought the Prince was quiet, but now that he seemed more comfortable he was the one leading conversation. He didn’t realize he was smiling till the Prince looked at his lips for a split second. 

The Omega’s smile left when he seemed to realize he had been caught, and he scowled slightly. 

“What?” Jeongguk asked gently. 

“Your scent is very strong,” the Prince admitted.

Oh . Was the Prince distracted by him? A thrilled shiver ran down his spine at the thought. He tried to suppress the feeling. “So is yours…” Jeongguk said defensively. 

The Prince stopped. “Really?” he asked seriously. 

Jeongguk nodded. “It’s the only thing I can smell,” he admitted. He rubbed the back of his neck again, realizing how strange it was to say. “Is your scent not supposed to be that strong?”

“Not all the time… no.” The Prince sighed and kept going, a contemplative look on his face. “Your wolf must like me. It would explain earlier as well.” 

Jeongguk’s eyes widened. How could he just keep saying that type of thing so shamelessly? His face felt hot. Jeongguk didn’t know how to respond, so he just followed. 

Glancing back at Seokjin and the guards, he saw that the trio were watching them silently. Hoseok gave him a thumbs up and Jeongguk frowned in confusion. The Aleumdaun guard shot a heavy gaze at Hoseok, disapproving.

The Prince had stopped to wait for him, eyes caught on the guards as well, amusement dancing across his face. “Your guard is cute,” the Prince suddenly said, smiling and waving at Hoseok. 

Jeongguk couldn’t help himself from bristling as Hoseok bowed in return. “I guess.” Why say something like that?

Prince Jimin’s smile only widened and it dawned on Jeongguk that maybe the Prince was trying to get a rise out of him. “When are you gonna start the tour?” the Prince asked bluntly, turning back to the Alpha.

“When you stop stopping,” he said, eyes fixed stubbornly ahead as he placed a hand on the Prince's lower back to keep him moving. The Omega squeaked unintentionally, glancing at his hand, but Jeongguk ignored him. His fingers tingling at the memory of the Omega’s skin under his hand as his fingers pressed into the fabric that annoyingly separated his hand from the Omega. 

“Fine,” the Prince said, not making a move to remove the Alpha’s hand.

He soon dropped his hand though, when Taehyung and a few other servants walked by.

The rest of the time was spent with Jeongguk naming each courtyard and garden, recounting some of the palace’s history as well. The Prince listened attentively, asking questions from time to time. When they stopped at the koi pond the Prince explained how he still remembered Goldy, who was even bigger and older now. The fish all greeted him like an old friend before they moved on. 

At some point, they made their way to the back of the palace, where the ancient wisteria tree was kept. The guards and Seokjin hung back at the entrance to the rather large yet sheltered courtyard. 

The courtyard floor, beyond the veranda that stretched around it, was layered in a thick blanket of glistening green moss, seemingly untouched by human hands. A natural pool, fed by a sparklingly clear stream coming from beyond the wall, swirled in a rocky bowl at their feet. Hanging over the water was a large stone, smooth and flat on its top and anchored to the ground by the creeping wisteria roots that wrapped around its edges. The tree itself was likely the oldest in the area, towering over them with branches that drooped heavily around its base and the stone, almost creating its own private room. 

Jeongguk had long known how it was always in bloom, purple flowers hanging from it like ripe grapes. It was declared a sacred site due to this strange trait and the beautiful alignment of the tree, stone, and pool. The arrangement reflected the three elements that made up the world around them: the tree trunk representing man ; the flat stone earth ; and the round pool heaven . All three coming together here, in this courtyard.

He told all of this to the Prince, who seemed mesmerized by the courtyard. The older man stepped around the pool, looking up at the flowers with wonder. A gentle breeze blew through, pulling the small petals from the flowers and showering them over the courtyard and Jimin. Momentarily he looked like a statue who had been frozen in time, a permanent feature of the courtyard. 

Jeongguk hesitated before speaking up, “This is where all the past Kings of Ganghan have mated…” 

The Prince’s scent took a slightly sharp anxious tone, but on the outside, all he did was stop and nod. The Omega looked over the large boulder, it’s surface worn smooth. Jeongguk knew why being in this spot with the Omega made his face heat up, but he pushed the thoughts down. He needed to get his hormones under control, he wasn’t some stupid kid. The Prince was just a guest anyway. 

Throughout the tour after the wisteria tree, the Prince would randomly become solemn. His scent gave away the emotions he was trying to hide—and was doing a good job of hiding. However, Jeongguk’s strong wolf gave him the rare ability of extremely acute scent; he could tell anyone's most subtle emotion by just their scent. The Prince was likely unaware of this, keeping a careful smile on his face the whole time. Jeongguk decided to not mention his strange sadness, but he watched the Prince carefully before they ended the tour in the main courtyard.

The Prince’s scent was back to normal, and he bowed, thanking Jeongguk for the food and tour. He turned to Seokjin. “Thank you, as well, Prince Seokjin for accompanying us.”

His brother smiled. “It was a pleasure. And please, call me Hyung.” 

The Prince raised his brows. “Are you sure?”

“You’re too nice to be calling me Prince.” Jeongguk watched Prince Jimin, the older boy sprouting a large smile. His scent seemed to radiate happiness, settling into something content.

“Okay, Hyung ,” he said happily. 

Seokjin smiled, overly pleased. “Ah, I’m so lucky to have such a cute person call me Hyung.”

The Prince beamed wider, bowing in embarrassment. Jeongguk looked away, rubbing the fabric of his clothes between his fingers. He wasn’t sure what it was he felt, but his wolf stirred a little. Seokjin had most people call him informally because he never felt comfortable with the title, but Jeongguk had never cared. He wasn’t sure where his own sudden want to drop formality came from, but he decided to ignore it. The Prince would be leaving as soon as their alliance was recemented anyway. 

“Jeongguk?” Seokjin said, trying to get his attention for Prince Jimin. He had spaced out again, missing what the Prince had tried to say.

“Huh?”

“Never mind.” The foreing prince laughed, covering his mouth with his hand shyly. “Your majesty can be cute,” he said with a cheeky smile. Jeongguk blushed once again, feeling both embarrassed, but oddly satisfied. He could feel the Omega watching him and he looked up to meet the man's gentle eyes for a split second. 

Seokjin clapped Jeongguk on the shoulder. “You were always cuter than you were intimidating.” Jeongguk gently removed his brother’s hand, trying to push down his discomfort with the comment. It was different when the Prince said it... 

Soon the Aleumdaun royal advisor, Taemin, approached them. He informed them all that Queen Park wished to see her son and then whispered something to the man in question. The Prince’s scent took an instant downturn, becoming sharp with anxiety. There was a beat before the Omega glanced at him, gaze heavy with something he didn’t have time to identify before the man bowed. “I have to go. Thank you again,” he said swiftly before leaving at a brisk pace, guard and advisor in tow. 

 

~*~

 

Jeongguk had wandered aimlessly for a while before a servant found him and he politely rejected dinner with his mother. He eventually found himself in his room, frustrated. He felt tense and confused. The Omega’s scent following him around, his skin, his voice. Jeongguk began to think his Alpha hormones were getting to him again. Jeongguk wasn’t sure if he could sit alone like this much longer.

 His room was large and lonely. His bed sat on a dais, surrounded by a thin curtain to feign privacy. There wasn’t much else besides a small dresser and a few plants and vases. Most of his things were brought to him so there was no point in having things lie around. He wasn’t even sure where they were all kept—his clothes and crowns… He was going to be the most powerful man in the kingdom, but he didn’t even know where his gowns were kept.

Jeongguk knew he was distracting himself, but he really didn’t want to smell cherry blossoms anymore. His wolf was craving touch and contact at the memory of almost scenting the Omega. His own hand ran up his chest, skin prickling. He was so starved for intimacy… His wolf was clawing for an outlet, pushing him to the brink of breaking a sweat. 

He quickly got up and went to his doors, cracking one open. The hallway had its normal population of a guard at each end and a servant sitting next to his door, working on sewing something absently. She looked up when he opened the door and only needed to smell the air before she was alert. He flushed, realizing how pungent his not-so-subtle arousal must be. 

“Please, uh, get Taehyung,” he whispered. He asked for his friend all the time, but it was still awkward, especially in this context. When she nodded and got up he was quick to close the door. 

He paced while he waited, anxious. His wolf seemed to grab him for a few seconds and he growled under his breath. Where was Tae? Jeongguk took a deep breath and instead sat in front of his mirror, taking apart his crown and letting his hair fall loose. He wrapped it in a quick ponytail, a few hairs falling loose in his face. He slipped his arms out of his hanbok, letting it hang at his waist, trying to cool down. His fingers began to tap on his leg. 

The door opened and closed quietly.

Jeongguk closed his eyes and let Taehyung’s familiar and calming scent wash over him. The older boy padded over to him and placed cold hands on his warm shoulders, crouching down. “How are you Jeongguk?” he whispered, pressing a kiss to his cheek. 

Jeongguk responded by twisting and capturing the Beta’s lips with his own, his fingers digging into the back of the man’s head. The Alpha stood up, lips still locked wih Taehyung’s as he brought the man with him. His hands ran down the Beta’s side and found his hips, pulling him closer, their teeth clacking as Jeongguk kissed him roughly. Large calloused hands came to press against his bare chest, feeling up and down the dip and rise of his muscles. He flicked over Jeongguk’s nipples and the Alpha broke the kiss to gasp. Taehyung smiled toothily, canines flashing mischievously.

The look had the Alpha backing him up till they slammed into the wall. Jeongguk didn’t register that he was being rough, too busy kissing down the Beta’s face and neck, hands pulling down the servant’s robes. Taehyung was panting, the noise sending a shiver down the Alpha’s spine that pooled warmly in his stomach

Pressing Tae to the wall, touching him, being touched, it was so familiar it was like a dance. Jeongguk wanted nothing more than to get lost in his tangy Beta scent, to forget. However, when he took a deep breath of the man, his senses flooded with cherry blossoms.

His eyes snapped open, his vision obscured by red. It wasn't just cherry blossoms though, it was also laced with obscenely pleasant pheromones that had the Alpha's heart racing. Jeongguk felt himself heating at just the smell alone, his arousal spiking as the scent went right to his dick. Someone gasped, “S-shit, you smell so good….” It wasn’t Taehyung’s deep voice any longer, though, it was the Prince’s. His skin went from the dry roughness of a servant’s to the softness of a royal. His voice suddenly smooth and accented as he moaned again, Jeongguk grinding their hips together. 

Jeongguk purred as his eyes fluttered shut. He ran his hands along the man’s side till they rested on his waist, easing off a little. He didn’t want to hurt the Omega, only wanted to hear him scream in pleasure. His dick twitched at the thought. The Alpha ran his hands down the man’s thighs and gripped them tightly. They didn't feel exactly right, but he didn’t really notice. He hoisted the man up, allowing him to wrap his legs around Jeongguk’s middle. The Alpha kissed down his shoulders and chest, before going back to the soft skin of his neck. He kissed one spot and his wolf stirred strangely, excited to scent, but something tugged at his mind—he ignored it. When he tested the waters, nipping carefully at his scent glands to begin scent marking, he expected the Omega to groan in pleasure or whimper happily, but not to scream and shove.

Jeongguk felt as if he had just been slapped, yanked from a deep sleep by the violent reaction. There were no more cherry blossoms like a moment ago, the skin under his hands wasn’t as soft, the voice was so much deeper. He let go, his red vision fiery and betrayed. 

It was Taehyung who half fell to the ground, holding his neck—not the Omega, not the Prince his wolf had so happily created the illusion of to please him. His arousal disappeared and his vision cleared with it. “Shit,” Jeongguk swore, clutching his head and crouching down, heart racing. 

“What is your problem!” Taehyung hissed. “Did-did you try to scent me like an Omega?” 

Jeongguk couldn’t look at him, shaking his head. What was wrong with him? Did his wolf really like the Prince that much? He liked Taehyung though… Why was his wolf doing this to him? He’d always wanted to mate Taehyung—not the Prince! 

“Were you thinking about that Prince, ” he said it like a swear, “who seduced you earlier?” Jeongguk didn’t respond, terrified by the rage in his partner's voice. Why was this happening to him? He didn’t do it on purpose… “Jeongguk!”

He tasted something bitter in his mouth—blood.

He slapped the Beta’s hand away and stood up, panicked. Even though he wasn't angry at anyone but himself, it was a big enough flood of emotions to trigger his worst nightmare.

“Jeong—your highness!” Taehyung called after him as the door banged open and the prince stepped into the breezeway, his voice strained in worry. “Wait!” 

Jeongguk was already shifting. He untied his belt and his robes fell to his feet as he stumbled toward the courtyard, collapsing every time his bones popped and groaned. The guards jumped to the side, their fear thick in the air like smoke. His blood ran hot like a blazing fire, burning up his insides and forcing fur through taut skin. His mouth filled with sharp teeth and claws scraped along stone. 

He knew Taehyung was behind him, screaming something. He couldn’t hear it, his pointed ears ringing from his shift. 

As soon as the last bone snapped into place he was running. Man and beast became one under the form of a huge black wolf. His mind was covered in a blanket, all thought filtered through static until it came out the other side complete chaos. The gates were quickly thrown open before he pounded into the dark woods, a howl booming around the valley of his kingdom. 

 

~*~

 

Jimin inspected the detail in his hanbok, the turquoise embroidered fish seeming to swim on the dark blue fabric. His mother sipped her tea, the space between them laden with a heavy silence. He didn’t mind sitting there as his mother ate. They were both delaying the talk they knew was coming. 

Their silence allowed Jimin to hear all that went on in the palace. The shuffling of servants past their door, their gossip-laced whispers barely audible. The clinking of guard’s swords as they took shifts, falling back into complete silence that took years to perfect. He also heard the slight sigh of a floorboard from behind the wall as Ganghan listened through the ears of light-footed servant boys, set loose like cats to catch rats and drop them at their masters' feet. The walls felt like an illusion to hide the fact he was in a crowd. 

He had yet to feel solitude in the Ganghan Palace, as it seemed to pulse with a natural energy. Everyone had a purpose like blood did in a human body. Anything desired was brought and anything hated was removed. The walls seemed to expand with bated breath in the royals’ presence then sigh with relief when they left. The energy flowed where the people wearing the biggest crowns went, everyone beneath them simply maneuvering the ripples and splashes.

As he heard a lady chuckle down the hall he wondered if even the nobles were attached to the invisible strings he had been noticing. All the servants seemed to know where theirs led and they walked on it like one would cross a tightrope. Jimin wasn’t entirely sure who held the strings, who was in control. He didn’t believe it was the Crown Prince, but maybe his mother? Queen Jeon was quite something, as he had gathered from the skewed looks she had given her son. The Alpha might look the most in control—and smell as such—but she seemed to be the hand on his shoulder. 

His mother sighed, bringing him back to the present. The two Omegas grew tense. She was smiling—or trying to. It might have been convincing to an outsider, but Jimin could see the serious undertones. 

“You are well into marriageable age, Jimin,” she started, getting right to the point. “Queen Jeon,” she swallowed, “has suggested a union between you and Prince Jeon—before I could’ve suggested the exact same,” she chuckled lightly. Jimin only stared at her, their eyes meeting with a calm understanding. “You understand the benefits of such a union?” Others might think what runs through his mind is how the nation is bigger, how they have a vast army, maybe even the powerful bloodline that would appear between the union of two very strong wolves. Yet, all of those were secondary thoughts, background noise to what was really important. 

A pair of large, scared eyes flashed in his mind. 

He nodded. 

His mother’s smile faltered. She got up, sitting right in front of him. Her hand came to his cheek and she sighed again. “I accepted,” she told him. He closed his eyes, nodding again. He had known this was the goal from the start, but his heart still felt heavy. “He is young and handsome. He should treat you well…” her words were emotionless. She was simply saying them to say them, so the servants in the room and the guards in the hall and the ears pressed against the wall would hear them. 

“I know…” he whispered, rubbing his cheek against her hand. 

“You were with him earlier,” she said, “what’s your impression?”

Jimin smiled a little, “our wolves like each other. He almost scented me earlier… It was my fault, but still...” admitting it only reminded Jimin of the man’s earthy scent that seemed to linger still. He flushed, trying not to think about it too much, to get rid of the image of the Alpha’s red eyes and the hand on his neck. 

His mother nodded. “I suspected as much. Even when you two were little it was easy to tell. Some people are like that. It’s a good thing,” she smiled mischievously, adding, “you’ll have great sex.”

“Mom!” he hissed, but he was smiling. It was nice to be able to forget his sadness for a second and joke. He would also be lying if he said he hadn’t already thought of that.

“It’s natural,” she said matter-of-factly, her hand moving to his shoulder as she smiled at him. “Anything else?”

He mulled over the events from earlier. “He’s nice,” Jimin started, grin falling as he went on, “he’s still young and naive, but smart. He’s just a shy teen...” Jimin’s words turned into a whisper and he looked down at his hands. 

Arms were suddenly around him, holding him close to his mother. He could feel her heartbeat against his chest. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered into his ear, her words covered by a sigh. He sat there motionless, breathing in the scent of home. A small whimper left his lips. I’m not ready.