Fall, 2017. Hogwarts, Headmistress’s Tower.
It starts, as they always do, with the annual speculation about who the next Head Boy and Head Girl would be.
This year, it was rumoured to be him, Kim Namjoon, and Jacqueline Smith, an esteemed Pureblood girl from Ravenclaw.
The rumours are never wrong. Namjoon had also (somewhat) expected it to be him, and as he stands in front of the large stone gargoyle that guards the long winding stairway that leads up to the Headmistress’ office, he is only slightly nervous.
The gargoyle is staring him down. It’s definitely able to speak, but the silence right now as its eyes follow Namjoon’s every movement unnerves Namjoon. He had been told by Professor Potts to wait for the other person before saying the password and entering the office.
The gargoyle’s really ugly, Namjoon thinks, and he has a vague inkling that the gargoyle can read his mind, so he derails that train of thought right there.
He had been pacing up and down the corridor a little, waiting for Jacqueline to turn up, and when someone rounds the corner a little too fast and slams into his body, he had expected the impact to be a little less powerful. He falls backwards, and he puts out a hand to break his fall and possibly save his ass from a painful bruise, but a hand manages to reach out fast enough and pull him back.
The immense strength with which he was pulled back to his feet makes Namjoon snap his head up. “Oh, shit, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay.” Namjoon pats himself down, smoothing his robes out. The boy in front of him is sweaty, dressed in Quidditch gear, his black hair in a mess, but his face is glowing radiantly, cheeks flushed pink. He has his broomstick in one hand, and his shoulder bag in the other. He’s panting a little, like he ran across the school from the Quidditch field to the Headmaster’s Tower.
“Still. I shouldn’t have been running, but,” the other boy takes a deep breath, “I’m late to see Professor McGonagall. And you know how she is.”
This revelation makes Namjoon raise an eyebrow. Could he be the other person Namjoon had been told to wait for? He had been expecting a girl, his future Head Girl. He had certainly not been expecting Kim Seokjin, the captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, to be meeting the Headmistress with him.
Namjoon nods curtly. “I do.” He glances at his watch. “And we are 3 minutes late, now, since I was instructed to wait for you before entering.” Namjoon walks to the gargoyle, muttering the password to it, leaving Seokjin at the corner where they had collided.
“Hey, I said I was sorry,” Seokjin says as he catches up with Namjoon, sprinting up the winding stairs after him. “You can blame it on me, if you like.”
Namjoon doesn’t say anything as they finish climbing the stairs.
They are greeted by a large round room filled from floor to ceiling and wall to wall with books, trinkets, and large windows that allow the evening sun to shine through. The portraits that line the walls behind the desk are illuminated, and Namjoon can feel all of their eyes focus on him and Seokjin as they walk in.
Namjoon bows to the Headmistress when he walks in. “I’m sorry we are late, Professor.”
“Professor,” Seokjin cuts in, even though Namjoon never asked for or agreed to what Seokjin offered to do, “Quidditch practice ran a little late, so it was my fault. Namjoon was actually very punctual.”
McGonagall only gives them both an unimpressed stare, and Seokjin shuts up immediately.
“I think it would do you two well to be more punctual in the future,” she replies. “What one of you do will affect the other greatly from now on.”
Namjoon nods solemnly. He’s not in the mood to get in McGonagall’s bad books. Seokjin, on the other hand, is looking around confusedly. “Uh, I don’t really get what I’m doing here. And why whatever I do from now on will greatly affect Namjoon in the future.”
One of the headmasters in the portraits behind McGonagall chuckles. “Oh dear child,” he mutters to himself. It does nothing but make Seokjin even more confused than he already is.
McGonagall purses her lips. “Mr. Kim. I called you here to my office today to inform both you and Mr. Kim,” she nods in the direction of Namjoon, “that you two have been appointed the Head Boys for this coming year.”
“You and Mr. Kim are going to be the Head Boys of Hogwarts for this coming year.”
Seokjin is now looking down at his hands in confusion. “But I thought only prefects could be Head Boys. And isn’t it supposed to be one girl and one boy? And, and, I’m barely capable of being both Head Boy and Quidditch team captain at the same time.”
“Oh,” McGonagall says. “We’ve been observing the both of you for a long time. You have managed to keep your grades exemplary even with so many things on your plate. The professors and I all agree that you are perfectly capable of handling these responsibilities. Besides, you will have Mr. Kim here to help you out.”
“No ‘but’s, Mr. Kim. Our decision is final,” McGonagall’s usually steely gaze softens when Seokjin looks up from his hands and at her. “Have a little more faith in yourself because we all already do.”
Seokjin swallows, and nods, a little timidly. “The ceremony will be held in the Great Hall during dinner tomorrow. Be ready in your best robes.”
When they are dismissed, they walk silently a little down the corridor, before Namjoon taps Seokjin on the shoulder. “Hey, you okay?”
Seokjin starts, answering when his eyes focus on Namjoon’s. “I’m fine, I’m fine. I just never thought I would become Head Boy, you know?”
“Me either. I really thought my partner would be someone else.” Seokjin’s face falls a little, and Namjoon hurries to correct his statement. “But like, it’s not a bad thing that it’s you. You are well-liked, you’re popular, it will definitely help you in being Head Boy. And like McGonagall said, I’ll be here to help you out too. So, don’t worry.”
Seokjin breathes a small sigh of relief. “Thanks, Namjoon.” He smiles. “I always pegged you as someone cold and aloof, but you don’t really seem to be that way now. I always wanted to get to know you too, but never found the courage to do so.”
“Um,” Namjoon says. “Thanks? I think that’s a compliment?”
Seokjin chuckles. “Yes, it is. I’ve got to go back to the dorms to put down all my things before dinner. Where are you headed?” They turn the corner, and there are two different pathways leading in opposite directions.
“I’m headed to the Great Hall. I’ve got to meet my friends for dinner.” Namjoon juts his thumb in the direction of the right corridor, and Seokjin shrugs, turning towards the left.
“Okay, see you tomorrow then.”
“See you too.”
Some of the portraits congratulate him on his way to the Great Hall – things spread through the portrait-vine very quickly, it seems – and he politely thanks them. Namjoon is excited, but he can’t help but worry a bit about how everyone will react tomorrow.
The ceremony, however, goes just about as well as Namjoon expects, if not better. The announcement is made after the first years are sorted. Despite the initial surprise that it’s going to be 2 Head Boys this year instead of 1 girl and 1 boy, the decision to make Seokjin and Namjoon Head Boys is pretty well-received amongst most of the students. Namjoon thinks a major factor to this is Seokjin’s immense good looks, because a lot of the girls (and even some of the boys) are swooning when they step up to the podium where the Professors’ table is.
Some Slytherins kick up a fuss – of course they do, especially when it’s 2 Gryffindors at once – but a sixth-year, Min Yoongi, if Namjoon didn’t remember his name wrongly, shuts them all up with a wave of his wand. It gets them 20 house points deducted, but Yoongi only shrugs nonchalantly.
They are given the Head Boy badges to be pinned on their robes, and Seokjin is told that he has authorisation to use the Prefects’ bathroom from now on. When they return to their respective seats, their friends clap them on the back and cheer loudly. Other Gryffindors smile proudly at them.
The food appears through the long wooden tables, and Namjoon digs into the pudding right in front of him. Two tables down, he sees Seokjin tearing into a piece of steak.
Seokjin gives him a smile while he chews, the Head Boy badge on the collar of his robe glinting under the lights from the chandeliers hanging above their heads. Namjoon smiles back.
Their first project together comes in the form of planning the Yule Ball, which had been changed to an annual event years ago. This year, it’s even more prestigious than ever, because students from other schools will be visiting for the Biannual Inter-School Quidditch Tournament, and will be staying until Christmas. It would also be their responsibility to ensure that their guests are well-cared for.
When they are informed about this, a dark look of dread washes over Seokjin’s face, but he grits his teeth and nods nonetheless. Namjoon notices it, of course, and he understands, almost immediately, why.
It will be a busy season, what with Seokjin’s almost-daily Quidditch practices, and his preparations for their N.E.W.T.s at the end of the next semester. Namjoon’s going to be busy as well, but his schedules are nowhere as intense as Seokjin’s would be.
After a first meeting discussing the accommodation arrangements for the guests, Seokjin leans back in his chair, and stretches his body. Namjoon can hear his joints popping, with a particular loud one when Seokjin stretches his hip that makes Namjoon wince. Being an athlete takes such a toll on one’s body.
“You can go if you want, I think I’m just going to stay here for a bit longer to at least finish up some Transfiguration homework before Quidditch practice.”
“You guys have practice today?” Namjoon raises his eyebrows. “Didn’t you just use the pitch yesterday?”
“Yeah,” Seokjin says, as he prepares his quill and ink. “But the Hufflepuffs decided to do some physical training near the Black Lake today instead, and they offered the pitch to us for today if we wanted. We need all the practice we can get, especially with all these tournaments coming up.”
“Ah, I need to finish up some homework too, mind if I stay?”
“Of course not.” Seokjin gestures at the empty seat beside him.
Namjoon takes the seat, and pulls out his Potions homework. He attempts to start finishing it, he really does.
He doesn’t, because he learns that Seokjin is that person who you can’t study with, that one person who always starts talking every five minutes and causes you to give up on studying halfway.
But Seokjin compensates in the form of random muggle facts that Namjoon likes, so Namjoon can’t bring himself to fault him for that.
The one thing that Seokjin leaves behind the deepest impression of on Namjoon is how different they are. From the get-go, it’s clear that both him and Seokjin have very different ideas regarding how to be Head Boy, how to be in a position of authority.
Namjoon thinks Seokjin cares too much about others’ feelings, and he doesn’t really understand why. He respects Seokjin a lot, he just doesn’t really understand him as well as he would like to.
One day after a particularly heated meeting about the need for disciplinary action due to the recent collaboration between Peeves the Poltergeist and a second year Ravenclaw named Jeon Jungkook for a great prank war, Namjoon blurts out the question that’s been lingering on his mind for ages.
“Why do you care about others so much?”
Seokjin only continues eating his Chocolate Cauldron. “What do you mean?”
“Like, feelings. You feel so strongly for some things. Sometimes certain things call for impartialness.”
“Who says you can’t be impartial and have emotions? Just because I don’t have a heart of steel doesn’t mean I cannot make the right decisions.”
Namjoon starts to speak, but he stops himself halfway. Seokjin, however, continues. “I care about others so much for a pretty selfish reason. When others are happy, I’m happy.”
“I don’t think that’s selfish.”
“Hm,” Seokjin hums, with an amused smile.
“You give enough of yourself to others for you to feel that way. That’s pretty selfless to me.”
“In any case, I wasn’t insulting you or anything,” Namjoon adds. “I was just curious.”
Seokjin pats him on the arm. “Don’t worry about it.”
Namjoon still doesn’t really understand, but he’s starting to learn. It’s not much, but it’s something.
From Seokjin, Namjoon learns more things. Not just about muggles, but also other things like how to be a better person.
Seokjin thinks that thinking positively makes something, that could potentially be bad, good. Negatives become positive when you think positive, he says with a bright genuine grin on his face that captivates Namjoon just like his words did.
Namjoon never thought this way before, and he doesn’t think he ever will. Often, he also finds himself and his expectations proven wrong time and again by Seokjin. But he understands Seokjin, life, and himself just a little more each time he and Seokjin converse.
In short, Namjoon is fascinated by Seokjin. When Seokjin speaks, Namjoon can’t keep his eyes off of him, can’t make his ears tune out, can’t make his brain stop archiving everything that Seokjin has ever said into neatly labelled folders organised by date. It feels strange to Namjoon, but he doesn’t complain, nor does he stop himself from giving Seokjin all the attention he can afford to give.
Fall-Winter 2017. Hogwarts, The Forbidden Forest.
It’s 10pm on a Tuesday night, and Namjoon finds himself in a thick sweater standing at the edges of the Forbidden Forest, his wand clutched tightly in his hand, its tip illuminated by the Lumos spell.
He’s waiting for Seokjin to arrive, so they can begin their patrol around the school grounds together. He’s already sent the other pairs of prefects to their allocated locations, but Seokjin is late.
“Sorry!” Seokjin says as he comes running towards Namjoon, panting. “Sorry, I’m late!”
“It’s okay,” Namjoon replies, a cloud of white escaping as he speaks. “I haven’t been here for long.”
He has. He’s actually been here for the past 20 minutes, freezing his ass off because he didn’t have the mind to wear an additional layer, but Seokjin’s busy enough, and he doesn’t want him to feel guilty about anything when it’s something Namjoon can easily handle by himself.
“I’ve already sent the others on their patrols. Let’s go,” Namjoon says. He turns to head into the Forbidden Forest, when he feels a heavy weight fall on to his shoulders.
“Here you go,” Seokjin says, wrapping the scarf tighter around Namjoon’s neck. “I didn’t wear much either, but it should help with the cold.”
Namjoon frantically tries to unravel the thick scarf from around his neck, but is stopped by Seokjin pressing down on his shoulders to stop him from doing so. “But then you will be cold!”
Seokjin waves him away dismissively. “I’ll be fine. You forget, I play Quidditch in the rain and snow.”
Seokjin sticks his hands in his pockets, and walks alongside Namjoon. “How are the Yule Ball preparations coming along? I’m sorry I had to miss today’s meeting. Today’s the last day the pitch is available before they start setting up the pitch for the Tournament.”
“Stop apologising,” Namjoon rolls his eyes at Seokjin playfully. “I already said it’s fine.”
Seokjin puts his hands up in mock surrender, laughing. “Okay, okay. I’m still sorry though. After today I’ll be able to attend more meetings.”
“That’s good. I think I need help handling some of those stubborn Slytherins.”
“What did they do again this time?” Seokjin huffs.
“The real question is what did they not do other than mess up everything? They told Peeves about the rooms for the guests and the poltergeist went to wreck the rooms for fun.”
“Ugh,” Seokjin groans. “The poor house elves.”
“Exactly,” Namjoon pushes a branch aside for Seokjin to walk under, before following him through. His wand lights up Seokjin’s face and he sees him rolling his eyes. “The house elves, nice as they are, told me it was okay, but I made those Slytherins clean it up themselves anyway.”
“Must have been a pain in the ass.”
“They were,” Namjoon nods. “And therefore I need you there.”
“Oh,” Seokjin says. “But you know they would never listen to me.”
“Why not? You are Head Boy, they have to listen to you.”
“I’m a Mudblood.”
Namjoon’s head snaps up from where he’s squinting at the ground. “Don’t call yourself that.”
“It’s true, and you know it. It’s 2017 and I still get called Mudblood whenever I veer too close to the Slytherin common room.”
“No one deserves to be called that. You don’t deserve to be called that by anyone.”
Seokjin scoffs. “Well, tell that to the Pureblood assholes from Slytherin.”
“I’ll make sure to do just that, don’t worry.”
Seokjin doesn’t speak, and Namjoon looks up. Seokjin’s looking at him with a strange smile on his face. “You’re interesting, Kim Namjoon.”
“Why? Just because I’m a Pureblood who doesn’t think the M word is acceptable? It’s really not that big of a deal to be socially aware about the harmful associations one’s everyday language can have-”
“No, it’s just…” Seokjin trails off. “Something else about you. Thanks.” He punches Namjoon’s shoulder softly.
“So how’s Quidditch going?” They cross over a fallen log, and Namjoon almost loses his balance twice, but Seokjin’s hand on his elbow keeps him upright on the uneven terrain.
“Oh, it’s going fine, I guess,” Seokjin shrugs. The final Quidditch team for the Interschool Tournament was just decided today.”
“And I assume you’ve been chosen as Keeper?”
“That assumption would be correct.”
“Congratulations,” Namjoon says, with a bright smile to counter Seokjin’s. “It’s prestigious, it means a lot for your future.”
“Oh stop,” Seokjin’s cheeks flush a little, from what little Namjoon could see from the light from their wands, “It’s nothing.”
“It’s not nothing! I’m very happy for you, Seokjin.”
“Ah, thanks-” Seokjin’s head whips to their right. “Did you hear that?”
A crack. Like twigs breaking under running feet.
Seokjin puts a finger on his lip, and points in the direction of the crack with his other hand. “Nox,” both of them whisper at the same time.
They are engulfed in sudden darkness, the moonlight shining through some empty spaces in the thick canopy of leaves above them. They hear cicadas and the sound of creatures running around, but those are normal, nothing out of the ordinary.
What is out of the norm is the high-pitched screeching of… something that Namjoon can’t identify, which comes from behind the trees. They creep slowly to where they heard the sound coming from, and hiding behind a tree trunk each they peek at an opening in the woods.
“There’s someone there,” Seokjin mouths at Namjoon.
There is someone, when Namjoon looks closely. A boy, with short blond hair, crouched over something gigantic and black. Trailing his eyes over the huge black thing and seeing a huge furry body, with eight legs sticking out of it, Namjoon realises it’s an Acromantula.
The boy looks around and takes out multiple vials, carefully slitting open the sides of the Acromantula’s mouth fangs, where the venom glands are. “He’s collecting its venom.”
Seokjin nods, and he motions to step out into the clearing. “What do you think you are doing?”
The boy whips around to face them. When he sees that it’s Seokjin and Namjoon, he snarls, whipping out his wand, but Seokjin is faster.
“Expelliarmus!” The boy’s wand flies through the air to Seokjin, who catches it perfectly.
“Do you know that harvesting Acromantula venom is illegal?” Namjoon asks. “As Head Boys we are going to have to report you.”
“Namjoon, look.” Seokjin is squatting by the carcass. “It was murdered.”
Namjoon’s eyes widen. “You have been the one baiting the Acromantulae out from their nest and killing them?”
“It seems to be,” Seokjin replies when the boy only glares at them.
“Fuck off, you filthy Mudblood,” he spits at Seokjin. “No one asked for your opinion.”
“Hey!” Namjoon snaps. “Don’t call him that.”
“What can you do about it? You aren’t any better. Blood traitor.”
Namjoon stiffens when he hears the name, and his fist clenches tighter around his wand. “I can report you to the Headmistress for both illegally acquiring Acromantula venom and for insulting Seokjin.”
He drags the boy by the collar when he refuses to move with them, and they make their way out of the Forbidden Forest and head to the Headmistress’ Office.
McGonagall appears at her door when they knock, and they wait outside while she handles the situation. Seokjin sits beside Namjoon on the floor, leaning on the wall of the corridor, in silence. Some time later Seokjin falls asleep, presumably due to his exhaustion from Quidditch practice. His head lolls on to Namjoon’s shoulder and rests there, smooth black hair tickling Namjoon’s jaw, and Namjoon lets him rest.
When McGonagall’s done with deciding on the boy’s punishment, Namjoon wakes Seokjin up gently. “Hey, we need to escort him back to his dorm.”
Seokjin’s eyes flutter open. Namjoon coughs a little, to hide the slight flush on his cheeks at seeing Seokjin like this. He had known that Seokjin is good looking, but he had never realised just how… pretty he is, and it’s overwhelming him all of a sudden.
“Oh god, get a room, will you?”
Namjoon coughs again, and they scramble to their feet. The boy is standing there, glaring at them with his arms crossed in front of him.
Seokjin gives Namjoon a tired smile. Namjoon looks away. “Let’s go then.”
Two weeks later, the students from other wizarding schools around the world start streaming into Hogwarts in little batches. The Durmstrang boys arrive on Monday, the Mahoutokoro kids come in a day after, and the rest reach Hogwarts at different times of the days for the rest of the week.
When they are finally done helping the guest students settle in, directing as many lost students as they possibly can in the right way to various places in the school, Seokjin slumps in his seat in the room they have set up as the main operations room for the event.
“Oh god,” he says, stretching his joints out. “I’m beat. There’s so many of them.”
Namjoon chuckles. “There are like six schools coming to us for the winter.”
“I’ve had way too many of them panicking about the moving staircases and getting lost in the process. Do you know how many people have come to me asking about where the guest dorms are after ending up in the Slytherin dungeon?”
“I feel you, my dude,” a fifth-year Hufflepuff prefect, Jung Hoseok, pipes up. “The worst is that they always come out looking like they have witnessed something unspeakable.”
“Exactly! I don’t even want to know what they do in there,” Jennifer, another prefect, says with a shudder.
Seokjin emits a tinkling laugh, one that Namjoon easily manages to filter out and identify over the rest of them. He’s been on the receiving end of this laughter over the past few weeks after all.
Namjoon watches the way Seokjin casually props his legs up on the table, rocking his chair backwards on two legs, chatting happily with the others. It’s nice to see Seokjin happier, and looking more alive than he did two weeks ago. He doesn’t realise he’s staring until a hand waves in front of his face. “Helloooo, earth to Namjoon!”
Namjoon jumps, and sees Luke, a sixth-year prefect standing by him with a piece of parchment in his hand. “I need to confirm Ilvermorny’s name list with you, I need to pass it to Professor Sprout as soon as possible.”
“Oh, okay, sure thing,” Namjoon replies, looking over the name list once again. There’s a total head count of 33 students, and he has all of their names committed to memory over the past few weeks, because the Headmaster of Ilvermorny insisted that the Head Boys and Professors at Hogwarts remember all the students’ and teachers’ names, for a weird reason that Namjoon never really understood. When he gives the okay for the list, Luke rushes off to pass it to the Professor in charge of Ilvermorny’s accommodations, and he tunes back into the conversation Seokjin is having with the other prefects.
“She started flirting with me too,” Seokjin says. “But I had to politely reject her… kind intentions. I could recognise the smell of the Elixir from a mile away, it felt like she was a weed dealer.” Seokjin shrugs. “This probably is the wizarding world’s equivalent of weed, to be honest.”
Hoseok howls with laughter, clapping his hands enthusiastically at what Seokjin was saying. “Oh my god, you are right, it is like weed.”
Clearly weed is a muggle thing, because only the half-bloods and Muggle-borns in the room get the joke. “What is weed?” Namjoon asks, wrinkling his nose.
“Weed... How do we explain this?” Jennifer says. “Its real name is cannabis and it’s a drug. Teenage muggles like to use it to get high, but like, it’s used for medicinal purposes as well, in some cases.”
“Interesting,” Namjoon replies. He scrawls this information down on the top right-hand corner of a random piece of parchment he has on the table in front of him. He remains silent as he listens to the others tell hilarious stories about Peeves playing pranks on the guest students, but he laughs along with them.
Soon after, the prefects are all shooed away by Namjoon and Seokjin to do their patrols. They usually wouldn’t do this in the day, but Seokjin brought up a very important concern a few days back. He had been worried that lost students would somehow make their way into the Forbidden Forest or veer too close to the Whomping Willow and get themselves injured. The prefects had all agreed to the plan to do two more rounds during the day to ensure that this wouldn’t happen to anyone.
Seokjin had beamed, and thanked everyone for agreeing to it, but Namjoon was sure no one would have objected to his suggestion anyway.
Namjoon and Seokjin remain in the operations room, Seokjin relaxing while Namjoon finishes up some of the paperwork that the professors entrusted him with.
In the middle of an incredibly riveting story about a half-Veela student from Beauxbatons accidentally causing 5 boys from Ilvermorny to follow her around the school all day, Seokjin is summoned by Madam Hooch to help out with the preparations of the Quidditch match, because he’s the captain of the Interschool Tournament team representing Hogwarts.
“Will you be okay?” Seokjin perches himself on the edge of the table that Namjoon is using.
“I’ll be fine,” Namjoon tells him. “Now go. You don’t want to suffer from Madam Hooch’s wrath.”
Seokjin fakes a shudder, but he laughs after. “You’re right. I don’t. I’ll see you later.”
“Bye,” Namjoon says as he waves at Seokjin.
With a squeeze to his shoulder, Seokjin goes, leaving Namjoon to his work.
One Saturday a few weeks before the Yule Ball, and a week before the final match of the Interschool Tournament, the students are released for an outing in Hogsmeade. Namjoon and Seokjin have to go as well, because they are responsible for keeping the younger students in check in the small village.
The both of them just had a very heavy lunch an hour before leaving for Hogsmeade, but it’s still a little too cold to walk outside, so they find themselves sitting in Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop, a little out of place in their all-black clothing. Their too-long legs stick out awkwardly from opposite sides below the small pink frilly table, Seokjin’s legs resting on top of Namjoon’s comfortably.
In front of them there’s an assortment of cakes and pastries, with cups of tea placed near their little plates. Namjoon is currently tearing apart the little lace doily that was placed on the table they had managed to snag from a giggly couple using the table before them.
Namjoon looks exceptionally uncomfortable, and Seokjin gently pries the doily from his hands. “Stop,” he says gently, “you’re making Madam Puddifoot glare at us every 5 seconds because you are defiling her beloved lace doilies.”
“Sorry,” Namjoon says quickly, sneaking a glance at Madam Puddifoot, who really is glaring at them from where she’s serving another table of students. He quickly turns back to face Seokjin. “I really wish we had gone to The Three Broomsticks instead.”
Seokjin chuckles. “You know we can’t get tipsy today. But too many couples? Too pink?”
“Definitely too many couples here. Too much love in the air, and it’s not even Valentine’s.”
“It’s even worse in here during Valentine’s,” Seokjin agrees. “I never thought any place could get pinker than Madam Puddifoot’s, but this place during Valentine’s really manages to outdo itself. It’s like bloody Aomine.”
“Ao-what?” Namjoon asks.
“Nothing, just a character from an anime about basketball.”
“The Japanese have these animated media called anime. I usually catch up on them while I’m back home for Christmas and the summer. A lot of them are really good, you should watch them some time.”
“I can’t believe I don’t learn about this in Muggle Studies. We spent a whole lesson last week talking about hangman, can you believe that?”
Seokjin’s eyebrows raise, and his mouth turns into the shape of an ‘o’. “You never told me that you still take Muggle Studies.”
“It’s not exactly a… conventional choice for a Pureblood like me. My family didn’t really approve, but they let me do it after I finished the subjects they wanted me to take with flying colours last year.”
“Oh, I see. My parents don’t know anything about the wizarding world, so they let me do whatever I want. I almost joined the Frog Choir,” Seokjin says, chortling with laughter. “Almost became one of those jocks from Glee.”
“What’s Glee?” Namjoon asks.
“Oh,” Seokjin replies. “Hm, let’s see. How do I explain this? It’s a television show, where this bunch of kids join the show choir club in their school. And the nerdy kids who join get bullied even more for it, and the jocks and cheerleaders don’t really want to join because they get mocked for it, but they were instructed by their coach to take down the club from the inside, so they had to do it.”
“That sounds… interesting.” Namjoon says, scribbling down notes on a piece of parchment on his lap, because the tables at the Tea Shop are too tiny to hold much other than their food and drinks.
“Mm,” Seokjin shrugs. “It’s cool, because they all love it in the end, and they form amazing friendships despite it all. I loved the first few seasons, but a new cast came in for Season 4 and I stopped watching it because it sucked.”
Namjoon makes a small ‘oh’ with his mouth, his tongue sticking out the side of his mouth, scrawling even harder than before as he speeds up his writing. Seokjin’s brows furrow, and he takes the parchment when Namjoon seems to be done writing. “What on earth are you writing down?”
“Hey! Give it back,” Namjoon reaches out for the parchment, but Seokjin lifts it out of reach as he reads the notes out loud.
“Muggles watch television shows about show choir (?) – singing and dancing – apparently jocks do not join show choir!! Show choir is not a cool extracurricular activity in the muggle world.”
“Seokjin,” Namjoon whines.
“Oh my god,” Seokjin laughs. “What are you even writing all these down for?”
Namjoon blushes, looking anywhere but at Seokjin. “Muggle Studies,” he mumbles.
“I’m fairly certain you learn other more important things about muggles in Muggle Studies.”
“Okay, fine,” Namjoon pouts when Seokjin finally returns him his parchment. “I’m fascinated by muggles, okay? I’m a Pureblood, I’ve never known much about muggles before. That’s why I’m taking Muggle Studies and Muggle Music now, people who live without any magic in their lives just… I’m amazed by how they get by.”
Seokjin smiles. “It’s not that hard. I got by just fine for 11 years before I was accepted into Hogwarts.”
“Right!” Namjoon pushes his round reading glasses higher up his nose. Seokjin always tells him that it’s a really ugly pair of glasses, but he secretly finds it endearing. “See, exactly! How did you do it? I need to know. And I forget things easily if I don’t write it down, so I write down everything. I’ve been writing down everything you have told me about muggles since we met.”
“Oh,” Seokjin says. “Well, I can tell you even more, if you’d like.”
Namjoon’s face lights up. “Oh shit, you would?”
His face lights up even more when Seokjin nods, lips tilting upwards to form a big grin on his face. “Thanks, Seokjin.”
“For starters,” Seokjin says, stifling his laughter when Namjoon scrambles to dip his quill in ink again and start taking down notes. “You know about rappers?”
Namjoon nods. “We learned about them in Muggle Music.”
“Right. Sometimes rappers have these underground competitions, and whenever they win, they say that they ‘destroyed’ the opponent. And every year, there’s this gigantic rap contest where they fight for the title of the God of Destruction.”
Namjoon squints. “Seriously?”
Seokjin nods, breathing hard to keep from bursting into laughter.
“That’s an awful title to fight over.”
Seokjin almost bursts out laughing. “It is, but it’s true.”
Watching Namjoon scrawling furiously on his parchment, muttering to himself with a slightly sceptical look on his face about how muggles are so weird sometimes, Seokjin thinks about how much he wants to continue telling Namjoon about all these muggle facts because it’s so funny to watch.
(Seokjin also relishes the unwavering attention and fascinated look that Namjoon gives him as he listens to Seokjin talk about muggles, because it’s cute. Namjoon is cute. And Seokjin just so happens to like cute people.)
Winter, 2017. Hogwarts, Gryffindor Common Room.
“I’m sorry!” Seokjin says as he comes running in, panting, coming to a stop right in front of where Namjoon sits. “Sorry I’m late again.”
“It’s fine, I only just got here anyway-” Namjoon stops when he notices how haggard Seokjin looks. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, I’m fine,” Seokjin reassures him, but he has a hand placed gingerly on the armrest of the couch, and he’s trying way harder than usual to get back to breathing normally.
Namjoon watches, with a frown on his face, for a second as Seokjin almost keels over from the exhaustion. He gently pries Seokjin’s broomstick and belongings from his hands. “Let’s take a break.”
He drops the stuff down on the floor of their common room. “Just sleep. For a while.”
Seokjin shakes his head resolutely. “I can’t. We’ve got stuff to do. I can’t just dump everything we’ve got to do on you. I’ve been doing that too much lately.”
“I’m not taking ‘no’ for an answer, Seokjin,” Namjoon takes a cushion and shoves it into Seokjin’s chest, “you need your rest, so you don’t burn out.”
“I’m already,” Seokjin’s eyes flutter shut as he whispers, “burned out.”
“Exactly. I’ll finish up everything we need to do for today.”
Seokjin’s head rests on Namjoon’s lap, his arms hugging the cushion tightly. Namjoon’s hand brushes Seokjin’s hair away from his forehead. “Goodnight, Namjoonie.”
After Namjoon is sure that Seokjin is asleep, he mutters, “Goodnight, Seokjinnie.”
When Seokjin wakes up, he finds himself huddled under a thick blanket that he recognises as Namjoon’s. His belongings are at his feet by the couch, and he’s alone. He rubs at his eyes, yawning as he wraps the blanket around himself, and grabs his stuff so he can put them back into his room.
The first thing he sees when he walks past Namjoon’s room is Namjoon putting on a coat and a beanie, looking like he’s leaving the castle.
“Where are you going?” Seokjin squints at the bright light coming from the lit lamps in Namjoon’s room.
“I got permission from McGonagall to go to Diagon Alley for the day,” Namjoon says, buttoning up his coat. “I broke my wand again.”
“Again?” Seokjin asks. “Give me a minute, I’ll come with you.” He hurries into his room, dumps his things on the floor, and grabs a fresh sweater to wear.
“There’s no need, I can just go by myself, Seokjin,” Namjoon says from across.
“Hush, I have nothing to do anyway.” He walks into Namjoon’s room, dressed up, but sees Namjoon struggling a little with keeping his scarf tucked into his coat. He chuckles, and pries the scarf from his hands, before pulling it around his neck and making sure it’s even on both ends before tying it neatly into a thick knot around his neck. “There, much better.”
He pats down Namjoon’s shoulders, pulling at the scarf one more time, before turning to walk out of the room.
“I can’t believe you broke your wand again,” Seokjin says as they walk out to the main entrance. “How did you break it?”
Namjoon hesitates to answer. “You are just going to laugh at me again.”
“Oh, I won’t,” Seokjin replies with a grin. “Tell me.”
“It was in my back pocket, and I sat on it,” Namjoon answers, with a pouty frown.
“Seokjin!” Namjoon whines. “You said you wouldn’t laugh.”
“Well, to be fair, it isn’t the dumbest way to break a wand that I’ve heard of.”
“What is the dumbest way of breaking a wand that you have heard of, I need to know.”
Before Seokjin answers, he hooks his hand around Namjoon’s elbow. “Let’s Apparate there first, I trust you already got the token from McGonagall?”
Namjoon nods, and holds up a little gold engraved plaque attached to a chain, a token that allows people in the castle to Apparate in and out freely. It’s only available to students on a case-by-case basis, and only with specific permission from Professor McGonagall herself.
Seokjin Apparates them both out of the school, because they both agree that Seokjin’s less likely to cause them to Splinch themselves and permanently lose a limb during the process.
It feels exactly like it always does: being forced through a tight rubber tube. It’s a repeat of every single time he has tried to Apparate, so Namjoon tries to relax, and ignore the slight nausea he feels when they arrive right outside Ollivander’s. He bends over, a hand placed gingerly on the uneven wall of the shop.
“Are you alright?” Seokjin has one hand on Namjoon’s elbow, and the other behind his neck, rubbing it softly. “Are you feeling nauseous?”
Namjoon nods, and it makes his head spin and his stomach churn even more than they already are. “Okay, sit down.”
Namjoon sits down on the cobbled pavement with Seokjin’s help. He leans his head against the wall, closing his eyes and trying to focus on stopping yesterday’s dinner from rising up his gullet and out of his mouth. Seokjin takes his hand in his, massaging certain spots on Namjoon’s hand.
“What are you doing?” Namjoon asks tiredly.
“Acupressure to relieve your nausea,” Seokjin responds, slowly moving the massage up Namjoon’s forearm. “My mom always did this to me when I felt nauseous as a kid. It works, I swear.”
Namjoon doesn’t respond. He lets Seokjin do his thing silently, and although he has completely no idea what acupressure is, he can feel it working its magic. It might just be the placebo effect (he had read about this theory somewhere once before), but he chooses to believe that it really works.
“I’m feeling much better,” Namjoon says 5 minutes later. “Thank you.”
Seokjin helps him stand up. “It’s no problem. You sure you’re feeling better?”
Namjoon nods, and Seokjin shakes his head.
“How have you always been Apparating like this to Ollivander’s by yourself and not been found dead in a ditch somewhere?”
“Mr. Ollivander’s always found me sitting down outside and brought me in to have some tea. I don’t think he came out this time around because you are here with me.”
“Next time bring me along with you, or at least someone who can watch over you just in case you collapse. Please,” Seokjin pleads. He opens the door for Namjoon, and a small tinkling bell alerts Ollivander, who appears from behind one of the tall shelves.
“Ah,” Ollivander says as he squints at the pair. “Namjoon, it’s you again.”
“Hi, Mr. Ollivander.”
“Here for another wand? You were just in here two months ago!” Ollivander chides.
Namjoon, at least, looks sheepish about it. “I’m sorry, I really tried to take care of it, but I’m too clumsy for my own good, you know that, Mr. Ollivander.”
Ollivander sighs, and Seokjin almost laughs at the resigned look on his face. “No matter. Let me get one of your replacements for you.”
Seokjin stares at Namjoon with wide eyes. “You break your wand so often that Ollivander has actual replacements for you when you come in?”
“He always has two in stock for me, because sometimes it’s difficult to get the core or the wood I need in short notice,” Namjoon pouts. “Don’t mock me.”
“I’m not,” Seokjin says, patting Namjoon on the shoulder, “I was just surprised, is all. You never fail to surprise me, Kim Namjoon.”
Namjoon is about to say something, but Ollivander returns with a wand. It’s light brown, nice and thick, and he passes it to Namjoon. “There you go, pear wood with a dragon heartstring core. 11 inches. Just like before. You are so lucky I like you and your family, Namjoon.”
Namjoon grins. “Thank you, Mr. Ollivander. What would I do without you?”
Ollivander smiles kindly. “Wandless and unable to do magic, that’s what. Give it a wave, will you?”
When Namjoon takes the wand, and tries to cast a spell, instead of gently lighting up the little candle in the glass lamp in the corner like the spell is supposed to, the glass breaks, and the pieces fly everywhere. Seokjin has to grab Namjoon and pull him down to dodge the pieces. When they rise again, Namjoon is looking at Ollivander in shock.
Ollivander, on the other hand, is looking at Namjoon with a furrow in his brows, like he’s thinking hard about something.
“What just happened? The wand was the correct one, right?” Namjoon asks, confusion washing over his face after the initial shock wears off.
“Curious,” Ollivander says, his finger tapping at his chin. “Very curious.”
Ollivander turns his gaze on to Seokjin. “Interesting.”
“What’s interesting?” Namjoon’s tone gets more confused as Ollivander ignores all his questions. He says nothing, only walks in to the left of the shop, and pulls out a box from one of the shelves.
The wand that he removes from the box looks exactly the same as before, but this time when Namjoon holds it, Seokjin recognises the warmth that radiates and the feeling of intense magic that emits from the connection between a wand and its chosen owner. It happened to him once before, after all.
“I’m confused,” Namjoon says, his mouth gaping open like a fish.
“Interesting,” Ollivander says once again. “Everything else remains the same, but the core of your wand… It’s changed.”
“What do you mean?”
“This wand, it’s made of pear wood, 11 inches, but its core is unicorn hair. If I remember correctly, the same as Seokjin’s, from all those years ago. They were even from the same unicorn,” Ollivander looks between the both of them with a kind smile, not unlike the one that Seokjin’s own grandmother always gave him. “That makes your wands brothers. He changed something in you, made you change enough that even the essence of your magic has changed.”
“Our wands are now brothers,” Seokjin mouths to Namjoon with a grin.
“But unicorn hair,” Namjoon swallows, “Isn’t it weaker than my dragon heartstring core, according to wandlore? Will this affect my magic in any way?”
“Not necessarily, on the contrary, in fact,” Ollivander answers. “It depends on the owner, really. If anything, the change might mean that unicorn hair is the core to channel your greatest potential. It might even wield more power. It’s the most consistent, the most stable, and I think that says something about you now, my dear Namjoon.”
Namjoon doesn’t know what to think. Seokjin is looking at him with this fond smile on his face, and all he can think of is how much he has to pay for his wand, apart from what Ollivander just said about what his wand core changing means.
It’s 7 Galleons, like always, and he makes payment for his new wand, before heading outside. Ollivander, however, stops Seokjin from leaving. “Seokjin, would you mind staying for a second? I need to tell you something.”
Namjoon stands outside of the shop, too many thoughts running through his mind. He thinks about what Ollivander just told him.
It’s peculiar, for a special case like this to happen, and Namjoon never expected it to happen to him, for sure.
(When Seokjin and Ollivander are left alone in the shop, Seokjin asks, “What is it, Mr. Ollivander?”
Ollivander gives him the same kind smile he gave Namjoon previously. “Nothing much, I just wanted to tell you to treasure each other well.”
Seokjin gives him a bashful smile. “Ah, I do treasure him, I’m just not sure if he feels the same.”
“It’s rare for wand cores to change, Seokjin, because your wand core is dependent on your soul, your personality. In all my years as a wandmaker, I’ve only ever seen two other people have their wand cores change. You transformed Namjoon in some way, remember that. He treasures you, for sure. Now go, he’s waiting.”)
Two weeks later, Namjoon finds himself walking to the Quidditch pitch with his younger brother, Taehyung, for the final match of the Interschool Quidditch Tournament. The Tournament started the week before, and as the week flew by, Namjoon had not seen even a glimpse of Seokjin at all. He had been swamped with taking on Seokjin’s responsibility as Head Boy as well, because Seokjin had been completely out of commission due to Quidditch matches almost every day.
There was once when he did see Seokjin walk by his dorm room to his own, but Seokjin was practically dragging himself to his bed, his eyes drooping, and his back slouched as he put one foot in front of the other. Namjoon had decided not to disturb him then.
But it’s finally the last match of the Tournament, between Hogwarts and Durmstrang. Yesterday’s match, which Namjoon had also regretfully missed due to Head Boy responsibilities, had been to decide the second runner-up, where the Uagadou team had prevailed.
Both Taehyung and he wrap their scarves and coats tighter around themselves, because the snow has gotten slightly heavier since they left the main school grounds. It’s hard to imagine having to fly and play Quidditch in this weather, but he supposes the teams are used to it by this point.
He just hopes Seokjin is doing fine. He can’t help but wonder if he’s nervous, pacing around the players’ tent like he always does when he’s feeling anxious. He wonders if Seokjin’s blinking his eyes way too hard and way too much, running his palms across his robes to clear the sweat that forms when he’s nervous.
When they reach the stands, they take their seats in the middle of their section, which Taehyung claims has the best view of the players when they fly around. The usual fanfare as people get seated occurs, with loud music playing, the chatter of spectators, and the commentators hyping the crowd up, to get them excited for the game.
“Welcome to the greatest Quidditch game we will witness for the year of 2017!” One of the commentators, Charlie Duncan, speaks into the microphone.
“That’s right!” The other commentator, Scarlet Davis, adds. “It’s the final match of the Interschool Quidditch Tournament, the one that all of you have been waiting for: Hogwarts vs. Durmstrang!”
The crowd cheers and screams, overlapping with the chants that cheerleading teams from both schools are shouting with all their might.
Minutes later, a trumpet plays the starting tune loudly, and the crowd quiets down, as the commentators start speaking. The doors open, and the players from each team walk out single file beside each other, broomsticks clutched in their hands.
The Hogwarts team is led by Seokjin, his black hair kept away from his eyes by his signature red-and-gold striped headband, and Namjoon grins and cheers loudly for the Hogwarts team.
“And here we have the Hogwarts team, led by team captain and Keeper, one of the best from Hogwarts, I might add: Kim Seokjin!”
“Now, now, Charlie, we mustn’t forget the Durmstrang team, headed by team captain and Seeker, Imke Alfonsina!”
The crowd cheers for both teams, the chants getting louder as the spectators from both schools join in on the fanfare. “Now both teams are bowing to each other, the captains are shaking hands.”
Seokjin gives a firm handshake to Imke, and on the appointed referee’s mark, the players mount their brooms.
“The players are now mounting their brooms,” Charlie says. “Everyone cheer for them!”
“Now I want a clean game, from both teams,” Madam Hooch, who stands beside the referee says. She releases the Snitch and the two Bludgers from the case, everyone’s eyes following the three balls as they fly up into the sky, the Bludgers whizzing around as the Snitch disappears from view. The two Seekers, who are stationed up above the other players, try to follow the Snitch with their eyes, remembering the location they last saw it.
“And the referee’s up on his broom too,” Scarlet announces.
With the referee’s approval, Madam Hooch removes the Quaffle from the case, and throws it into the sky just as the referee blows on his whistle.
“Aaaand the game begins! Hogwarts has the first catch!” The Hogwarts crowd cheers, chants getting louder and more powerful.
“The Keepers are now in their positions in front of the hoops!”
“Njord’s got the Quaffle now, and she passes to Charlize!”
Namjoon’s eyes follow Charlize as he dodges several attempted steals from the Durmstrang boys, and- “He shoots, he scores! 10 points to Hogwarts!”
The Hogwarts crowd erupts into a loud cheer, full of claps and shaking of noisemakers to cheer for the team.
“Seems like Jeon has caught sight of the Snitch, and he’s heading for it, oh, Nitin’s followed suit, he’s heading for the Snitch as well!”
Namjoon’s attention is pulled to the two Seekers. Jeon Jungkook from Ravenclaw, the Hogwarts team’s Seeker, is diving straight to the ground at an insane speed. The Durmstrang Seeker is neck and neck with Jungkook, heading downwards by his side.
But at the last second right before they hit the ground, Jungkook pulls the front of his broom upwards, narrowly dodging the bullet of a nasty crash into the ground. Nitin, however, isn’t as lucky. He crashes straight into the sand, and rolls a few metres from where he landed, his broom skidding to a stop into one of the stands. A collective gasp erupts from the audience.
“Jeon has managed to perfectly execute the Wronski Feint, once again! The last time he did this was during the Slytherin-Ravenclaw match last term!”
“Impressive, that one, can you believe he’s only a second-year?”
“A second-year and already playing in the Interschool Tournament! That is remarkable!”
Namjoon tunes out the commentators in favour of watching the game with his own eyes. There’s always so much happening at any one point in time for Quidditch, and most of the time he feels like it’s just a matter of which position you want to focus your attention on.
Today, his brain decides to focus his attention on Seokjin.
Seokjin has both his hands on his broom, eyes following the Quaffle and Chasers like a hawk. A Bludger comes flying towards him, and he dips a little to dodge it right as the Quaffle is thrown towards the left hoop. He swerves to the left, doing a flip, using the back of his broom to hit the Quaffle away from the hoop.
The Quaffle is returned to the hands of a Chaser from the Hogwarts team, and through his binoculars he sees Seokjin grinning wildly at the Durmstrang Chaser who tried to shoot a goal. He can’t see their eyes through the thick goggles that the players are wearing to protect their eyes from the snow as they fly, but he imagines Seokjin to be winking at the Chaser, as he always does when he successfully defends the goal.
He chuckles to himself when he sees that image in his head, because knowing Seokjin, he would do exactly that.
Both teams score one after the other, their scores neck and neck with each other, with Durmstrang 20 points ahead of Hogwarts. It’s already been hours of gameplay, but both team captains have shown no sign of wanting to call for the end to the game.
They have called for a timeout, however, to warm themselves up, and to melt the ice that had formed on their Quidditch uniforms and brooms. Namjoon had watched as Seokjin convened with the Hogwarts players, pointing out things that he had noticed about the other players during the game. He remembers, vaguely, Seokjin telling him once that being a Keeper, a relatively stationary position, gives him good leverage as the Captain, because he can observe, and come up with new tactics quickly and effectively.
Seokjin had been watching the whole time, defending the goals when he needed to. On a small board with an aerial view of the Quidditch pitch drawn on it, Seokjin points out the different routes and spots that they will change to using after timeout. When that’s done, Seokjin puts his hand in the middle of the circle, and they do a team cheer, before mounting their broomsticks again and flying into the air to take their positions.
The game resumes, as intense as before, players whizzing by one another way too quickly on their broomsticks.
It’s another 15 minutes (Namjoon counted), before any of the Seekers make a move. They haven’t been able to spot the Snitch at all for the past few hours, with Jungkook only spotting it zooming by him once before he lost it in the falling snow again.
Namjoon hears the commentators trying to entertain the crowd with their commentary. “They say that Kim uses his shoulders to defend the goals, because his shoulders are as wide as the Black Lake!”
“Looking at them, it does seem like it,” Scarlet chuckles. “It’s hard to get anything past those shoulders, that’s for sure.”
On the other side of the pitch, there is an intense battle between the Chasers of both teams, the players throwing and catching the Quaffle from side to side, before being intercepted by members of the other team. Two throws later it reaches Hogwarts’ side of the pitch, and a Durmstrang Chaser tries to shoot a goal.
It’s thrown harder and faster than the other Chasers, and it might be the cold or the exhaustion, but Seokjin reacts a little slower than usual, and he manages to stop the Quaffle from going through the hoop. One of the Durmstrang Chasers gets the Quaffle from underneath him, but Seokjin was hit in the shoulder by the Quaffle.
“Well, speak of the devil,” Charlie says. “He really used those shoulders to stop the throw!”
“That looked like it hurt a lot, though. Cori has a strong right throw, that one.”
Seokjin is currently leaning towards one side, his body off-kilter on the thin handle of the broom, his balance off after being hit by the Quaffle. He grits his teeth, Namjoon sees through his binoculars, and forces his broomstick straight.
“And he’s back! Kim is okay, everybody.”
As Seokjin tries to get his balance back, he doesn’t see one of the Bludgers flying his way. He narrowly dodges it by ducking quickly, but yet another is clubbed his way, the Durmstrang Beaters smirking as the second one makes contact with Seokjin’s stomach.
A collective “ooh” comes from the crowd of spectators as it happens.
“Durmstrang,” Taehyung comments as he shakes his head. “They play really rough. They are always out to injure.”
But Namjoon doesn’t listen to anyone, doesn’t look at anybody else. His eyes are only on Seokjin, who is thrown backwards by the sheer impact of the Bludger. Seokjin falls off his broom, and it’s too quick a fall for anyone to do anything.
He watches as Seokjin’s body descends to the sandy ground of the pitch and remains unmoving, his arm lying at an awkward angle under him.
“Aaaaand Hogwarts is the champion of the 6th Biannual Interschool Quidditch Tournament! Congratulations to the Hogwarts Quidditch team!”
Jungkook tumbles down on to the ground after a rough landing, the Golden Snitch clutched between his gloved fingers.
The crowd cheers.
Namjoon can’t breathe.
Before the award ceremony even begins, Namjoon is squeezing through the others in their row, some of the other students tutting at him disrupting their attention on the players down below. He quickly makes his way back to the castle, manoeuvring his long legs across the rough terrain of the school grounds.
Namjoon sprints to the Hospital Wing the minute he makes it to the castle grounds. The last he had seen of Seokjin was when the school’s first aid team had brought Seokjin off the Quidditch pitch on a stretcher. He hadn’t bothered to stay for the award ceremony, but it still took him a long time to trudge through the wind and snow back to the castle.
When he reaches the Hospital Wing, he sees no one, but Seokjin is lying on one of the beds in the corner of the large room. He speedwalks to Seokjin’s side, and he sees a large cut on Seokjin’s forehead, dried blood around the gash, his eyes closed, his breathing very, very shallow.
Seokjin also has a gigantic bruise blooming on his abdomen, and Namjoon winces in pain. When he tries to wake Seokjin, he doesn’t, and panic rises up within Namjoon’s chest. He starts tearing up, and clasping Seokjin’s freezing hand between his own, mumbling and sobbing at the same time. “Oh my god, please, don’t die, Seokjin. You can’t do this, who else is going to be Head Boy with me? Only you can, don’t die, please.”
As he’s sobbing, mucus and tears running down his cheeks uglily, Madam Pomfrey rushes to the spot beside Namjoon. She moves things around, bottles of medicine and potions on a metal tray in her hand. When she notices Namjoon, she does a double take and asks, “What on earth are you doing here, Mr. Kim?”
Namjoon rubs at the tears in his eyes. “N-nothing, Madam Pomfrey.”
“Good heavens, why are you crying as if Mr. Kim is dead?! Mr. Kim’s going to be all right, it was just a fall and some broken bones, nothing I can’t fix. You’re just overreacting.”
Namjoon blushes. He really did think Seokjin was going to die, but he had no idea why he cried. He’s shooed away from the Hospital Wing by Madam Pomfrey, and he trudges to the Great Hall for dinner.
“Where did you go?” Taehyung asks the moment he enters the Great Hall. “I was looking for you after the match; one minute I was cheering for the Hogwarts team, and the next minute when I turned to talk to you, you were gone!”
“Sorry, I went to the Hospital Wing,” Namjoon answers, taking his seat beside Taehyung at the Hufflepuff table.
“What for?” Taehyung asks.
“I went to visit a friend,” Namjoon says quietly.
“A friend?” Taehyung’s brows unfurrow when he finally figures it out. “Oh, you went to visit your boy crush?”
“Stop it,” Namjoon groans. “I don’t have a boy crush.”
Taehyung looks awfully unimpressed when he says that, snagging a chicken drumstick off the giant pile in front of him and biting into it. “Really.”
“Your wand core changed because of him,” Taehyung says, an eyebrow raised.
“You know what it means, hyung.”
“It means nothing, Tae.”
“Uh huh,” Taehyung deadpans. “If that lets you sleep at night, hyung.”
Namjoon doesn’t comment.
That night, however, he heads to the Hospital Wing to visit Seokjin one more time. This time his table is filled with candy and flowers, get-well gifts from his team, and some admirers from various schools, mostly the girls from Beauxbatons.
He sits on the chair by Seokjin’s bed, and he sighs as he sits. He looks at Seokjin sleeping for a little while, his breathing now stable and looking much more normal than it did right after the fall.
He puts one hand beside Seokjin’s, thumb slowly making his way to the back of Seokjin’s palm. Unknowingly he starts stroking the skin there, taking out a book he’s currently reading and resting it on the bed.
Namjoon doesn’t know how much time has passed, but suddenly Seokjin’s hand moves. His fingers twitch, and Namjoon quickly retracts his hand, and he scratches the back of his ear. Seokjin’s eyes slowly flutter open.
Seokjin looks around the room, before his gaze lands on Namjoon.
“Hey,” Seokjin says softly.
“Hey to you too,” Namjoon says, with a soft smile.
Seokjin rubs at the grogginess in his eyes, and he uses his previously-broken arm to push himself upright. Namjoon immediately stands to help prop his pillow up so he can lean comfortably on it.
“Congratulations on the win, Jungkook managed to catch the Snitch just as you fell.”
“That’s great to know,” Seokjin says. He closes his eyes tiredly. “How long was I out?”
Namjoon glances at the clock on the wall. “About 7 hours.”
Seokjin groans. “I feel like crap.”
“As you should,” Namjoon answers. “You took a hit to the stomach and the shoulder, and then fell off your broom and broke your arm. Madam Pomfrey had to do so many things to heal you, I freaked out.”
“You did?” Seokjin asks.
Namjoon coughs. “…Yes.”
“How sweet of you,” Seokjin says, smiling.
“It was stressful,” Namjoon counters. “I thought you were going to die!”
Seokjin laughs. “I’ve suffered worse.”
“Well, I didn’t know that, did I,” Namjoon pouts.
Seokjin punches him on the bicep lightly. “Thank you, anyway.”
Namjoon clears his throat, standing up from his seat. “Well. Madam Pomfrey would kill me if she caught me keeping you up this late. You should sleep, I’ll see you in the common room tomorrow.”
As he turns away, Seokjin’s hand shoots out to grab hold of his. “Stay? It would be nice to have company. Until I fall asleep, at least.”
“Uh,” Namjoon stutters. “Madam Pomfrey would kill me-”
“Please?” Seokjin pleads.
Namjoon sits back down. He’s never been able to say no to Seokjin, after all.
Winter 2017. Hogsmeade, The Three Broomsticks.
“I’m so glad we came to The Three Broomsticks this time,” Namjoon says, nesting his warm Butterbeer between his hands. “At least there are bigger tables here, and beer.”
“And beer,” Seokjin agrees, nodding. Their friends are sitting to their side, chattering away by themselves.
“I would have gone for some Firewhisky, considering the occasion, but we’ve got guests to host after we return to Hogwarts.”
“Understandable,” Seokjin smiles. “Although I would argue that we definitely need some Firewhisky in our systems to be able to handle those buffoons from the Ilvermorny team.”
Namjoon snickers under his breath. “I don’t think I can argue with that.”
Seokjin laughs out loud, taking a bite of his slice of the chocolate cake that their friends had brought out for the celebration just now. Namjoon takes this opportunity to give his own private toast to Seokjin.
“Happy birthday, Seokjin,” he says as he lifts his pint glass. It clinks against Seokjin’s when he does the same.
“Happy birthday to me.” Seokjin chugs his beer, tipping his head back as he does so. His throat is bared, pale skin glowing in the winter sun that shines through the small windows of the pub. His Adam’s apple bobs up and down as he gulps down his Butterbeer.
When he’s done, he puts down the glass gently, with a bright smile on his face.
“You’ve got a little…” Namjoon starts, pointing at right of his upper lip to show where a little foam moustache rests.
“Oh,” Seokjin says as he wipes at the wrong spot.
“Here,” Namjoon reaches out. “I’ve got this.”
He gently uses his thumb to remove the foam from the top of Seokjin’s lip, before wiping it on a napkin he has in his other hand. Seokjin’s cheeks are flushed, his lips slightly parted. He uses his sleeve to wipe at his lips again.
“Thank you, Namjoonie,” Seokjin says, beaming.
Namjoon smiles back, and he asks, “Hey, do you want to-”
“Namjoon! Seokjin! We should get going if we want to make it back to Hogwarts on time,” says one of their mutual friends, Dean.
“Oh,” Seokjin says, as he hops off his stool, and shrugs on his coat and scarf quickly. “Alright.”
Namjoon does the same, buttoning up his coat and adjusting the beanie on his head to cover his ears properly from the falling snow outside.
When they head outside, the wind rushes by, making Namjoon’s skin cold to the touch. The snow crunches beneath his boots, and he moves closer to Seokjin. They huddle up closer together as they walk side by side, Seokjin gritting his teeth against the cold.
“What were you saying?” Seokjin asks him.
Namjoon moves his ear closer to Seokjin so he can hear him. “Huh?”
Seokjin increases his volume. “What were you going to say just now, in the pub, right before we left?”
“Oh,” Namjoon hesitates to answer. “It’s nothing.”
Seokjin doesn’t say anything in reply, he just looks at Namjoon as if he’s pondering something.
When they finally reach Hogwarts, the snow has piled up significantly since the time they left the school grounds. It’s thick enough for them to gather up enough snow and pack them into balls between their hands, and it’s exactly what Dean does.
Dean throws his first snowball at Hoseok, who yells in pain as the snowball hits him square on back of the head. Hoseok turns around to find Dean cackling at his shriek, and bends down to scoop some snow up with his hands and pats it into a ball. He throws it back at Dean, and this ignites a-
There are shrieks and laughter as they naturally gravitate to different sides of the courtyard, two teams formed in an instant depending on which way the students ran. Seokjin and Namjoon happen to be on the same side.
After about five misaimed snowballs, none of which hits any of the more agile Quidditch players, he gives up and decides to just make snowballs to supply Seokjin with instead. They are a well-oiled machine, Namjoon bending down and making snowballs at the speed of light with his large hands, passing them over to Seokjin who aims in an instant and shoots hard and strong like a cannon.
Namjoon is about to bend down once again, when suddenly Sybill Ogden, a Hufflepuff friend of Namjoon’s who met him through Taehyung, gives a war cry. “ATTACK!”
His head snaps up to find her team pointing at him and Seokjin before starting to sprint towards them (as fast as they possibly can with all their thick winter wear on) with snowballs in their hands.
Namjoon drops all the snow he picked up and looks around for a place he can hide, but before he finds a good place Seokjin is already grabbing his hand and pulling him along into a run.
“Run!” Seokjin yells back at him with a smile on his face, breaths fogging up and he starts panting. Namjoon struggles to keep up a little, only because he isn’t an athlete like Seokjin, but he keeps up well enough.
He chances a glance backwards and finds that they are still chasing him, and they finally hit a dead end in the corner of the courtyard, where only a large tree stands.
“Uh-oh,” Seokjin says with his eyes wide.
Their friends are behind them, snow crunching beneath their feet and Namjoon braces himself for the impact, closing his eyes and mouth so none of the snow gets into them.
He feels himself being nudged backwards gently by hands on his shoulders, and his back hits the tree. But the sharp, cold, freezing pain of being hit by snowballs never comes, even though he hears the sound of the blunt impact of snowballs exploding on someone’s body.
When Namjoon opens his eyes, he’s met with Seokjin’s face, only centimetres away from his own. Seokjin has his arms on both of Namjoon’s sides, palms resting on the tree trunk. His body is so close to Namjoon’s, just barely leaning his body weight against Namjoon.
Seokjin is staring at him. His plump lips are slightly apart, and he’s panting. Namjoon can’t help but lick his lips, and Seokjin’s eyes follow the motion of his tongue, before returning to Namjoon’s eyes again.
Time seems to slow down for Namjoon. Seokjin doesn’t even show any sign of pain as Hoseok throws another snowball at Seokjin’s back. When that is done, Namjoon vaguely notices them cheering and whooping in the background, laughing over all the funny things that happened during the snowball fight.
Seokjin is still staring at him. He makes no move to remove his hands from the tree even though the snowball fight is over, and Namjoon is still caged in. But Seokjin looks beautiful like this, nose a little pink from the cold, cheeks flushed, and lips moist from the strawberry lip balm he religiously uses every thirty minutes.
His hand moves to Seokjin’s waist, fingers trailing over the clothing there, before gripping the material tight between them. And that’s when Seokjin starts moving in closer, closing the distance between them.
Namjoon’s breath hitches. They are so close. He can even smell the remnants of Butterbeer that Seokjin was chugging just now. He closes his eyes, and waits, anticipates, when suddenly-
“Oi, you twats!” Sybill shouts from afar. “Are you coming with us or not?”
Namjoon immediately lets go of Seokjin’s coat, and he turns his head to the side to look at Sybill. Seokjin’s warm breath disappears from his skin. He feels the harsh wind beat against him when Seokjin’s arms leave his side.
“Yeah!” He shouts back, missing the way Seokjin’s head hangs in disappointment beside him. “We’re coming!”
Sybill turns to catch up with the others, and he makes sure that Seokjin is there with him. “Hey you alright?”
Seokjin looks up from where he was staring at the ground. “Oh, yeah, I’m fine. I’m fine.”
Namjoon and Seokjin speed up to a jog to catch up to the others. When they finally do, Namjoon turns to look at Seokjin once more. “Hey, do you want to-”
He’s cut off by Dean draping himself over his shoulders, the only other person, apart from Seokjin, who is tall enough to do it. “Yo, Namjoon, my man, wanna go find a date for the Yule Ball tonight? There’s a party going on for The Slug Club, you could probably find some good ladies there to bring.”
“Ah,” Namjoon says. “I think it’s fine, I already have someone in mind, I just need to pluck up the courage to ask.”
“Well, you better get a move on then,” Dean says. “Or all the good ones will have gone!”
“Good luck!” Dean shouts down the corridor as he leaves for his dormitory. Namjoon waves back at him.
When he turns back to talk to Seokjin again, he’s gone.
One night the next week in the Gryffindor common room, Namjoon is hanging out with Taehyung on one of the couches near the fireplace. Taehyung’s leg is shaking up and down, and Namjoon places a hand on his thigh to stop it from fidgeting. “Stop it, concentrate.”
“Ah, hyung,” Taehyung whines. “It’s the last two days of lessons anyway, who cares if I finish my homework or not?”
“I do,” Namjoon says. “You should finish it before the holidays begin. Mom and Dad are going to kill you over Christmas if you don’t.”
“I’m more worried about my date to the Yule Ball, hyung. I’m trying to find the courage to ask this person to the Ball, but he’s always with his friends, and I can’t find the opportunity.”
“Who is it?”
“You know Park Jimin? From Slytherin?”
Namjoon remembers him. He’s a friend of Taehyung’s, whom he met recently during one of the Hogsmeade trips last term. He nods.
“Yeah,” Taehyung says fondly. “I really want to ask him out. Do you think he will say yes?”
Namjoon remembers the way Jimin looks at Taehyung when he sees them in the hallways of Hogwarts. Jimin looks just as fond of Taehyung as Taehyung does him, and it’s hard to imagine anyone rejecting his younger brother, because Taehyung is known to be charming.
“I’m sure he won’t,” Namjoon reassures Taehyung.
Taehyung shrugs. “Hopefully.” He turns his gaze on to Namjoon, and narrows his eyes. “Who are you asking to the Ball?”
“Me? No one.”
“Oh, there has to be someone, I can see it in your eyes.” Taehyung moves closer to Namjoon. “Tell me who it is.”
“I’m not going to tell you. You’re just going to ruin things for me.”
“All right, fine,” Taehyung says. “At least tell what they’re like.”
“They’re kind, beautiful, even more beautiful when they smile,” Namjoon says. “We hung out, and their smile, it made me want to make them happy just to see it stay on their face forever. They’re thoughtful, caring, the best person I’ve ever met.”
“Wow,” Taehyung says, chewing on his Licorice Wand. “You’re in love. It’s your little crush, isn’t it, the one we talked about the other day, after the Quidditch finals?”
“Pft, yes,” Taehyung counters. “I knew it. I’m your younger brother, hyung.”
“And,” Taehyung rolls his eyes. “I know you like I do the back of my own palm. You’re so easy to read.”
“No,” Namjoon scoffs. “I’m not.”
“You might be able to fool yourself, but you fool no one else.”
Winter 2017. Hogwarts, Gryffindor Tower.
During the next week, the school is preparing for the Yule Ball, and everyone involved in its preparations is busy. McGonagall had insisted on teaching the students how to dance, because she had been appalled at their dancing skills.
Namjoon is the busiest of them all, and right now he’s busy liaising with The Weird Sisters’ manager to book them for the Yule Ball. He keeps receiving owl mail at odd times of the day, once even waking him up in the middle of the night, and he had been forced to put on his glasses and scramble for parchment and a quill to write a reply back.
Finally, on Thursday, after ten letters and a particularly weird Howler from the lead singer of the band, he had managed to book them for the night.
He had not seen Seokjin much at all, except during meetings that they had with the professors and the other prefects. Seokjin hasn’t spoken much to him either, only talking to him when necessary.
He had been planning to pop the question to Seokjin, but he’s certain fate has it out for him. He’s often stopped by the other prefects and professors to clarify things, and by the time he’s done saying “yes, this is correct, Professor, I’m really sorry, I need to go find Seokjin to ask him something,” Seokjin’s always gone from the room and his sight.
One time he almost catches Seokjin, but Seokjin had spotted him before he could make his way through the crowds milling about the halls, and had turned down a corridor and disappeared from Namjoon’s sight.
Namjoon’s heart had sunk, because he had no idea what he had done wrong, and he just wants to ask Seokjin to find out.
As he rounds the corner of the corridor near the Gryffindor common room, he’s stopped by a girl from their level. He recognises her as another seventh-year from Ravenclaw who shares the same classes as him, Gabrielle Rookwood.
“Hey, Namjoon,” she says, beckoning him over with her hand. “Could I talk to you for a minute?”
The portraits around him whoop, and Namjoon even hears a wolf-whistle, which makes Gabrielle blush and look at him shyly. The Fat Lady even claps her hands in glee. “Good luck, Gabrielle,” she trills, as they walk to the end of the corridor.
“Yes?” Namjoon asks when they reach the end. “Is there anything I can help you with?”
Gabrielle wringes her hands together, and it’s clear that she’s nervous. When she looks up, her lower lip is caught between her teeth, but she releases it to ask: “Would you like to go to the Yule Ball with me?”
Namjoon is stunned, and he starts gaping like a goldfish at Gabrielle. She continues, “I like you, and I asked around, you don’t have a date yet, so I was hoping we could go together.”
“Uh, I, uh,” Namjoon stutters. “That’s- uh-”
He’s interrupted by the sound of books clattering to the floor, and both he and Gabrielle turn around. He sees Seokjin standing there, two books on the floor in front of him, looking like a deer caught in headlights. Seokjin’s eyes trail down to see the burgundy envelope in Gabrielle’s hands, and his face changes, as realisation dawns on him.
“Oh, shoot,” Seokjin says, slowly backing away. “Don’t mind me, continue on, I’ll just go, sorry.”
Seokjin turns away quickly, and starts marching in the opposite direction. “Seokjin, wait!” Namjoon shouts after him, but Seokjin only walks faster upon hearing Namjoon.
Namjoon sprints down the hallway, grabbing Seokjin by the elbow. “Wait, Seokjin.”
Seokjin gently pries his elbow out of Namjoon’s hand, and Namjoon pretends not to feel his heart sink down even deeper than it already is in his chest. “What are you doing here? You should be with her right now, you asked her out to the Yule Ball!”
“I didn’t ask her.”
“She asked you?”
Namjoon nods. Seokjin adjusts his books in his hands, and hikes his bag up higher on his shoulder. He gives Namjoon a bright smile, but it doesn’t reach his eyes.
“Congratulations,” Seokjin whispers. “It’s what you wanted, isn’t it? I overheard what you said to your brother the other day, and she sounds perfect. You really do love her.”
Namjoon gets chills, and he wants to say no, he doesn’t love her, he loves someone else, but Seokjin continues before he can get himself together. “This is even better, that she asked you. You told Dean previously that you didn’t have the courage to ask her before, but now that she asked you, it’s the perfect opportunity. You just have to say yes.”
He wants to say no. But his body betrays him, freezing on the spot. Seokjin is still smiling.
“Go,” Seokjin says, gently pushing a little clump of Namjoon’s fringe out of his eyes. He tries to tuck it in, but it falls back to its original position. “Go to the Yule Ball with her.”
Seokjin’s hand falls back to his side, and Namjoon wants to catch it, and hold it. His body refuses to listen.
He doesn’t move even when Seokjin turns his back on him, and walks away.
The portraits of knights around them tut and shake their heads.
He doesn’t move until Seokjin is completely gone from his sight.
Namjoon is walking towards the Astronomy Tower when he hears about it.
“Did you hear,” Wendelin Vane whispers excitedly to her best friend as they walk along to the corridor, “Lee Jaehwan, from Durmstrang, he just asked Kim Seokjin out to the Ball!”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes! He even used his Patronus to do it!”
“Did he say yes?”
“Of course he did,” Wendelin says, giggling. “If someone asked me out using a whole Patronus, I would say yes in a heartbeat too.”
“All the students hoping that they would ask them must be so disappointed.”
“I know,” Wendelin says. “He’s gorgeous! They are both gorgeous. They are going to win the award for Best-Looking Couple at the Ball, for sure.”
Namjoon halts in his footsteps. He turns back around, walks to the Ravenclaw common room, and asks for Gabrielle.
There is a glint of hope in her eyes when she comes out of the common room to meet him in the hallway.
He says yes.
Namjoon’s mother sends him dress robes a day after he writes home to ask for them. Their snowy owl, Hermes, ingeniously named by Namjoon himself when he was 10, drops off a large package on the table in the Great Hall in front of him, during breakfast.
He unties the twine holding the package together, and gently removes the wrapping paper. He sees two sets of dress robes inside, both equally large but one is completely black, and the other consisting of silver trim. They are both labelled, ‘Namjoonie’ and ‘Taehyungie’ written neatly on little pieces of cardstock and resting on their respective dress robes.
Taehyung bounds over to the Gryffindor table before Namjoon even looks up to call for him. “Hey, did Mom finally send our dress robes over?”
“Yep,” Namjoon says, removing the one with silver trim and passing it to Taehyung. Taehyung takes it, and peeks into the box. As Namjoon takes another spoonful of porridge into his mouth, Taehyung swipes something bright red out of the box.
“Hey, what’s this?” Taehyung asks. Flipping over the red envelope, they see the tell-tale folds of a Howler staring back at them.
The two brothers look at each other, and they see fear in each other’s eyes. “Mom sent us a Howler,” Taehyung gulps.
The thing is, Namjoon and Taehyung both love their mother very much. But a Howler never means anything good, especially when it comes from Mrs. Kim. Taehyung throws the Howler back into the box, and tries to march back to his table, but Namjoon grabs hold of the back of his robes before he can run away.
“Not so fast,” Namjoon says. “It’s addressed to the both of us. We suffer together.”
“Can’t we just ignore it?” Taehyung asks, dread washing over his features.
The Howler is smoking just at Taehyung’s suggestion that they ignore it, and Namjoon opens it, bracing himself for what his mother is about to announce to the entire Great Hall to hear.
The Howler blooms into the shape of lips, before it starts moving, and their mother’s voice filters out of the paper.
“Taehyungie, Namjoonie, I hope Hermes brought your dress robes safely to you, the poor owl’s been feeling a little under the weather lately, and such a heavy package is not good for his heart. Feed and hydrate him immediately after he arrives, will you?”
The Howler turns to Taehyung. “Sweetie, I’m so happy you found a date! I’m sure this Park boy is honoured to have your company with him during the Yule Ball. Dress warmly, and don’t drink. If I find out from your brother, or anyone else, that you have been drinking anything you aren’t supposed to, you will get it from me when you come back from Christmas!”
Taehyung breathes a sigh of relief when the Howler turns to Namjoon. The worst is over for him. Namjoon, on the other hand, feels dread wash over him. He has a bad feeling about what his mother is going to say next.
“Namjoonie, sweetheart. It’s so lovely to hear you talk about your crush, at last! You never tell me anything.” The Howler tuts, disturbingly similar to the way his mother would if she were here, right in front of him. “I don’t know who they are, but you sound so in love with your date to the Yule Ball, I’m so happy for you, baby. Now, in the box, under your dress robes, you will see some condoms and some lube, you might be wizards, but practising safe sex-”
Namjoon cuts the Howler off by grabbing it mid-air, and crushing it in his palm. The students in the Great Hall are staring at him, and Taehyung is stifling his laughter with his fist. The Howler is still talking, voice muffled in his hand. Dean, from a table down, wolf-whistles, and some of his friends start howling with laughter, which causes Taehyung to stop trying as well.
Even the Ravenclaws heard it as well, and Gabrielle is looking at him too. She is blushing as her friends nudge her playfully. Namjoon just wants to crawl into a hole and die of embarrassment.
He spots Seokjin a few metres away from him, eggs and toast half-eaten as he stares at Namjoon with a somewhat amused expression on his face. All thoughts of being embarrassed in front of a hundred students are pushed to the back of his mind in an instant. All Namjoon can think is that Seokjin heard it.
Seokjin heard his mother telling him to practise safe sex with his date. His date who isn’t the person he had actually wanted to go with.
Namjoon can feel what little porridge he ate just now rising. He vaguely hears Taehyung asking if he’s okay, but he waves Taehyung away. He leaves the dress robes on the table, Taehyung will bring it up for him later.
He just wants to get away from the Great Hall, to get away from everyone who heard his mother give him The Talk through Howler (how embarrassing).
Most of all, he wants to get away from Seokjin.
It’s days before anyone stops making fun of Namjoon. Even the ghosts have heard of it. When Namjoon walked by Nearly Headless Nick and The Grey Lady together one day, Sir Nick had tried to comfort him sympathetically about it.
“At least she didn’t shout it out, my dear child,” Sir Nick said with a smile.
Namjoon only sighed. “Thanks, Sir Nick. That’s great comfort.”
“Oh, anytime, dear child,” he said, not sensing Namjoon’s sarcasm.
It wasn’t fair that Namjoon got the shorter end of the stick here, and Taehyung escaped unscathed from this traumatic experience. But now everyone finally got bored of this incident, and Namjoon could finally step out into the halls without anyone smirking at him; he thanks the gods for this.
He’s due in the Great Hall in about 5 minutes to finish up some last minute preparations for the Yule Ball tomorrow, after the dinner and tables have been cleared to make space for the stage and the round dinner tables.
Most of the other prefects are already there when he arrives, Jennifer coming in slightly after he does. The only person left is Seokjin.
“Where’s Seokjin?” Namjoon asks, but the other prefects have no idea.
“Oh,” Hoseok points to the doorway to the Great Hall. “There he is.”
Seokjin is there, but with Jaehwan. Jaehwan lets go of Seokjin’s hand, and gives him a peck on the cheek. Seokjin waves at him, before walking to where they all stand.
There’s a wolf-whistle from one of the younger prefects as Seokjin comes to stand by Namjoon’s side, and Seokjin laughs, rolling his eyes playfully. Namjoon’s grip on his stack of decoration plans and table arrangements tighten a little upon seeing the flush on Seokjin’s cheeks, and pink nose. He and Jaehwan were out on a date in the snow again.
But he forces himself back on task. He was appointed Head Boy for a reason, and work and personal matters must be separated, no matter how thin Seokjin makes that line become. He starts assigning the different jobs to the prefects. “Okay, Hoseok and Camille, you two are the best at Transfiguration, you will need to get the current banners transformed into the colour scheme for tomorrow. Here’s the plan for the decorations, so you know where the banners go.”
“Jennifer and Francis, you two are on table duty. Set up the tables according to this formation.”
He passes them the respective papers, and after finishing the rest of the allocations, Namjoon looks at Seokjin. “And that leaves us with…” He rifles through the parchment he has left in his hands. “… stage setup, and the dance floor.”
Seokjin nods, and they pull out their wands, using spells to set the metal up and drape a pretty looking carpet over the floor of the stage. The components of the stage attach themselves to each other, and the stage is set up, instruments left at the positions requested by the wrock bands they have acquired for the Ball.
Next is the dance floor, and Namjoon and Seokjin look through the colour options, to decide what they can Transfigure the floor into in order to fit the colour scheme. When Seokjin gets a little too close trying to take a closer look at the parchments, Namjoon catches a whiff of something foreign, a cologne. It’s not Seokjin’s.
He takes a step away, and clears his throat. “Yeah, I think crystal blue would be nice. It would fit the silver colour scheme nicely.”
Seokjin looks at him strangely, like he’s about to say something, but doesn’t in the end. “Okay, would you like to do the honours?”
Namjoon pulls out his wand, and Transfigures part of the floor in the Great Hall to a crystal-looking floor. When everything is finally done, it’s midnight.
As they take a step back and look at the entire Great Hall, it looks ready to be a ballroom for tomorrow. After Namjoon and Seokjin thank the prefects for helping them, they head back to the common rooms together.
The other Gryffindor prefects pester Seokjin about what it’s like to hang out with Jaehwan, what it’s like to kiss him.
Namjoon tunes it all out.
Christmas Eve, 2017. Hogwarts, The Great Hall.
Taehyung insists on getting ready together, because they are brothers, and the Kim brothers need to appear at the Ball together. After putting on their dress robes, Taehyung artfully styles his hair, making his hair slightly wavy and then parting it in the middle. He’s dyed his hair a metallic grey to match his robes, and Namjoon is in awe, once again, at his younger brother’s amazing looks.
He’s always thought he’s the uglier brother, although Taehyung always says otherwise. Taehyung says that Namjoon is a different type of handsome, the kind that grows on you after a while. If anything, Namjoon’s definitely the cuter brother, according to Taehyung. Taehyung helps him to style his hair, accentuating his natural side part and pushing the front of his fringe up, letting the ends flop down on to the side casually.
When they both think they are ready to face the crowd, they leave for the Great Hall. As they walk out of Namjoon’s room, Seokjin’s door is closed, and Namjoon wonders if Seokjin is inside, still getting ready. In normal circumstances Namjoon and Seokjin would be getting ready together with their doors open, as they always did in the mornings before classes in the past.
But Namjoon hasn’t spoken much to Seokjin, because Namjoon’s busy with getting some last-minute self-studying done, and Seokjin’s busy with… whatever he’s doing. Like going on dates with Jaehwan in the snow. Having snowball fights, and then kissing by the tree where Seokjin had shielded Namjoon from snowballs. They always kiss for 5 minutes and longer, Namjoon realises. He only knows because he was studying by the courtyard this one time and heard Seokjin’s laughter, looking down to find them playing in the snow.
Namjoon’s okay, really. Seokjin had never expressed romantic interest in him, and the incident by the tree during the snowball fight? Namjoon had chalked it up to Seokjin being slightly tipsy from the Butterbeer, and he had just been shielding him from the snowballs. Seokjin had always just seemed genuinely interested in knowing what’s up in his life, in the position of a good friend.
So yeah, Namjoon’s okay. He really is. Thinking back about it, he had no idea why he thought it would be a good idea to ask Seokjin to be his date for the Yule Ball. It most likely would have turned out badly. Even fate seems to think so, preventing him from even asking Seokjin in the first place.
They finally reach the Great Hall ten minutes later, and they are greeted with the sight of students milling about with drinks and munching on the canapes being served on the trays floating around. Jimin is by their side in an instant, taking Taehyung’s hand. He bows, and kisses the back of Taehyung’s hand.
“Hey, cutie,” Jimin says, eyes only on Taehyung. He acknowledges Namjoon as well, before whisking Taehyung away to their own little corner, to have some drinks and the hors de’oeuvres before the actual dinner begins.
Namjoon starts looking around for Gabrielle at the statue on the right of the door to the Great Hall, and he finds her standing there chatting with her friend, as she said she would. He manoeuvres his way down the stairs and to the statue, bowing to her. “Good evening, Gabrielle.”
He holds out his arm for her to take, matching corsage and boutonnieres on show for everyone to see. Gabrielle had thought it would be nice to have these flower things on their wrists, just because. She had mentioned in passing that muggles wear it for a thing called prom, and Namjoon had been sold, agreeing to it immediately.
He passes Gabrielle a glass with some fruit punch, and they take sips of their drinks, occasionally popping some canapes into their mouths as they talk. They both get a lot of friends coming up to them to chat for a little while, but for the most part it’s just the two of them, and Namjoon enjoys the riveting conversation that they hold about sociopolitics in the wizarding world.
When it’s 7:15, almost time for the Ball to begin, and Namjoon and Gabrielle have moved on to the topic of funny family stories. Namjoon is genuinely laughing at Gabrielle’s animated story of how her aunt had a tail for a week because of a failed Polyjuice Potion, when he sees Seokjin enter the area with Jaehwan.
Seokjin looks breathtaking, as always. He’s dressed in fully black dress robes, his hair in a slight side part that shows off his forehead beautifully. Gabrielle is looking at the pair as well, and she marvels at how good they look together.
“Yeah,” Namjoon swallows the bile that threatens to rise up his throat. “They do.”
Namjoon wants to look away. It’s not Seokjin, he can never look away from Seokjin. Seokjin doesn’t need makeup to look beautiful, his lips are naturally pink and full, jawlines sharp, and eyes wide and shaped prettily. It doesn’t take a genius to know that the man’s beautiful. It’s seeing Jaehwan with Seokjin on his arm that makes him want to gouge out his own eyes so he doesn’t feel pain like this ever again.
He’s okay, he really is, he tells himself. They look good together.
He forces himself to give Seokjin a bright smile and a wave when he looks over to see Namjoon looking at him. Seokjin nods, a grin on his face, and then turns to greet his friends who have huddled around him upon his arrival.
When the clock strikes 7:30, McGonagall gathers Namjoon, Seokjin, and the head prefects from the other schools as well. The Head Girls and Boys are supposed to have the first dance during the Yule Ball.
They line up in a row behind the closed doors, and Namjoon holds out his arm for Seokjin to take. He gingerly puts his arm through, a feather-light touch of his palm on Namjoon’s forearm.
They line up behind everyone else, because their guests are priority. “Are you ready?” Seokjin whispers to him.
Namjoon swallows. He’s not sure. He really isn’t. Because he and Seokjin had been practising the dance together before the whole mess had happened. They had been dancing with each other almost every night before, and after Seokjin started hanging out with Jaehwan, they hadn’t done it for two weeks. So Namjoon can’t trust that his two left feet won’t fuck up.
Seokjin seems to sense this, and Namjoon wants to laugh bitterly. Of course he senses it. Seokjin bends his body so that Namjoon can see his face. “Hey, don’t worry about it. Just take my lead, we practised this before.”
Namjoon nods nervously. The orchestra music begins, muffled by the large wooden doors, and as they swing open, the Head Boys and Girls start walking down the silver carpet laid out on the floor. Namjoon and Seokjin are every part the perfect host Head Boys, smiling at their fellow students and waving.
They position themselves on the dancefloor, and Namjoon takes Seokjin’s waist, and Seokjin’s hand rests gently on his bicep. Their other hands join on the other side, lifted at head level.
The music begins, and Namjoon has to think of the steps as he goes. Left, right, left, right, turn. A few seconds in, Namjoon relaxes, and he follows the flow of the dance, feet and body moving based on pure muscle memory. The feel of Seokjin’s body under his large hands feel the same, Seokjin smells like himself again, and it feels like things have gone back to normal once again.
Namjoon cracks a smile upon seeing Seokjin’s own, and they dance a little more goofily as everyone else joins in on the dancefloor. They are just having fun, in their own little world, and for a moment it feels like it’s just the two of them.
Namjoon pulls Seokjin in a little closer, and he lets go of Seokjin’s hand. Seokjin moves his arms to around Namjoon’s neck, and Namjoon relishes the wave of Seokjin that invades his senses-
“May I have this dance?” A deep voice comes from their right. Seokjin immediately pulls apart from Namjoon, leaving only regret with Namjoon, and Namjoon turns to their right to see Jaehwan waiting with a hand out for Seokjin to take.
“Yes,” Seokjin says, slightly breathless from the dancing and laughing with Namjoon. He looks back at Namjoon, and leaves with Jaehwan.
Namjoon resists the urge to pull Seokjin back, and he turns on his heel to look for Gabrielle.
All in all, it’s a pretty fun night. He and Gabrielle rock out to The Weird Sisters, who had prepared a really impressive set list for the event. They had gotten a sneak preview performance of their new title song, and everyone had clapped Namjoon on the back and thanked him for managing to bring them to the Ball.
At the end of the night, he escorts Gabrielle back to Ravenclaw Tower, and kisses her hand. “Thank you,” he says, beaming. “It was a wonderful night.”
Gabrielle smiles, her hair a little messed up from all the dancing, her heels in her hand. “I’m glad. Thank you too, Namjoon.” She pauses.
“I know I wasn’t the one you wanted to go with.” Namjoon freezes at the knowing look in Gabrielle’s eyes, and she laughs. “Don’t look so surprised. I’m a Ravenclaw. Also I’m intuitive. I saw the way you looked at them when they left the Great Hall together. You are too easy to read.”
She smiles. “But thank you for agreeing to go with me nonetheless.”
Namjoon nods. “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight, Namjoon.” She turns back slightly. “Oh, and good luck with him.”
Christmas, 2017. Hogwarts, Gryffindor Tower.
It strikes midnight when Namjoon gets into bed. He’s dressed comfortably in his oversized tee and sweatpants, huddled under his thick duvet, away from the cold and feeling fresh and clean.
He’s about to fall asleep when he hears a loud thump right outside his door. It sounded like someone falling down, and the person coughs, gagging, and, if Namjoon hears correctly, sobbing.
Immediately he rolls out of bed to check on the person, as Head Boy he needs to help whoever it is. He lights up his lamp, and walks out to the dimly lit hallway that he and Seokjin share.
He sees someone curled up against the wall, right outside Seokjin’s door. The person is heaving, clambering to keep himself upright, and Namjoon immediately rushes to the person to help him.
When the person looks up, Namjoon sucks in a breath. It’s Seokjin. A very drunk Seokjin.
“Seokjin,” Namjoon says, “Are you okay?”
When Seokjin doesn’t reply or even seem to realise he’s there, he gently cups Seokjin’s cheeks to make him face him. “Seokjin.”
Seokjin’s eyes focus on Namjoon, and he breathes out. “Namjoon.”
He clambers to his knees, to put his arms around Namjoon’s neck, “Namjoon!”
Namjoon almost falls over from the impact, but he manages to maintain his balance. Seokjin is sobbing even more now, and Namjoon can feel wetness seeping through the collar of his shirt and on his neck.
“I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t, he tried to get me to do it, but I just couldn’t-”
“Hey, shh, shh,” Namjoon says softly, rubbing Seokjin’s back soothingly. “What happened?”
Seokjin has a vice-like grip on the back of Namjoon’s shirt, and it tightens when Namjoon asks that question. “I just couldn’t do it.”
“What couldn’t you do?” Namjoon asks, panic rising within him. Chills run down his spine at the thought of Jaehwan possibly trying to coerce Seokjin into doing something he didn’t want to. “Did Jaehwan force himself on you? I swear to god, if he did-”
“No, he didn’t,” Seokjin whispers into his neck. “I just couldn’t do it with him.”
“I don’t love him.”
Namjoon freezes. He swallows down the question he wants to ask.
“I don’t love him.” Seokjin resurfaces from where he was nuzzling into Namjoon’s neck. He presses his lips to Namjoon’s jaw. His warm breath tickles Namjoon’s skin. He trails a line up from there, on his cheek, on the side of his lips, punctuating each kiss with a hurriedly whispered, “I don’t love him.”
Seokjin presses the last kiss to his lips. “I don’t love him.”
When Namjoon doesn’t say anything, Seokjin presses his lips to Namjoon’s again.
Namjoon turns away, and the kiss lands on his cheek. Seokjin pulls back, and Namjoon looks down. He doesn’t want to look at Seokjin’s face, tear tracks marring the beauty of his face, because he knows that doing so would make him want to kiss Seokjin back. He’s too weak for Seokjin, he always has been.
But Seokjin’s drunk off of the shit ton of Firewhisky he drank just now, and Namjoon doesn’t think Seokjin is thinking properly right now. He gently holds Seokjin’s wrists, and removes his hands from the front of his shirt, where Seokjin’s fingers had been curled in the fabric as he kissed Namjoon. He puts an arm under Seokjin’s armpit, pulling him up, supporting his body weight.
“You’re drunk, Seokjin,” Namjoon says quietly. He’s still looking down.
“I’m not,” Seokjin protests.
“You are. You wouldn’t be saying all these things, or doing all these things if you weren’t drunk,” Namjoon insists. They make it into Seokjin’s room, and he sits Seokjin down on the bed.
“I’m not,” Seokjin says. “I don’t love him. I know what I’m saying. I love-”
“Don’t say it.” Namjoon head snaps to look at Seokjin. Seokjin is looking at him with lidded eyes, cheeks flushed. “Please. I don’t think I can handle it if you do.”
Seokjin remains silent. Namjoon pushes him down gently so that he’s lying on his pillow. Seokjin’s eyes close the moment he lies down, and soon enough he falls asleep.
He uses magic to change Seokjin’s clothes. He sets an alarm for Seokjin so that he won’t miss the train back home in the morning, and lays out a glass of water and a little hangover potion for when Seokjin wakes up in the morning. With a wave of his wand, and a muttered spell, Seokjin’s things start packing themselves up into Seokjin’s blue suitcase.
When everything is done, he extinguishes Seokjin’s lamp, and returns to his own room.
(When Seokjin wakes up in the morning, he finds himself dressed in clean clothing, his dress robes folded neatly and placed at the foot of his bed. His head is pounding, and his things are all already packed in his suitcases. All his essentials are also packed into his carry-on bag, and a fresh set of clothing lay on top of his suitcase. There’s a glass of water and hangover potion on his bedside table.
His eyes widen when he remembers what happened last night. He had been drunk off the 4 bottles of Firewhisky he had downed with Jaehwan, and then they had kissed. It had been frantic, and Seokjin had already shrugged off his shirt. Jaehwan had his hands running up and down the span of Seokjin’s body, but Seokjin had frozen.
The hands, they are too rough. Too rough, too many callouses, and not large enough.
It felt wrong. So wrong.
And Seokjin had pulled away, his eyes wide, looking at Jaehwan. He’s not Namjoon.
He’s not Namjoon.
He had started putting his clothes back on frantically, and had left a very confused Jaehwan in his room. People had seen him running back to the Gryffindor common room, but he ignored them all, rubbing at the tears that had started to form in his eyes. He had to get back.
But Namjoon’s door had been closed, lights off, and Seokjin didn’t have the guts to knock on it. He wanted Namjoon so badly, but Namjoon loved someone else, not him.
And he had sunk down to the floor, started sobbing and heaving, and the whisky he had drunk made his insides burn, and he wanted to vomit.
Then Namjoon had appeared, and for a moment he thought it was a dream.
And then he had kissed Namjoon, but Namjoon, of course he didn’t reciprocate. Of course he didn’t. He loved someone else. Not Seokjin.
Seokjin hops off his bed, his head protesting, threatening to explode, but he ignores it. He runs across the small hallway to Namjoon’s door, and presses down on the handle, pushing the door open.
The bed is neatly made, desk cleared of the little muggle trinkets that Namjoon had collected over the past semester.
Christmas, 2017. Hogsmeade Station.
Namjoon, wrapped up in his thick coat and sweaters, assists the train conductor in ushering students up the Hogwarts Express, occasionally lifting suitcases into the little baggage compartments on the side of the train. From the corner of his eye, he sees Seokjin doing the same.
Namjoon ignores the fact that Seokjin keeps glancing over at him. Once when Namjoon accidentally looks in Seokjin’s direction because someone near him yelled for another student, their eyes meet.
Seokjin looks hopeful, and lifts a hand to wave at Namjoon. He doesn’t reciprocate.
Seokjin’s face falls when Namjoon turns away.
Winter 2017-2018. The Kim Family Manor.
Namjoon ruminates a lot over the winter holidays. He replays what happened that night over and over again in his head, and his heart breaks a little more every time he thinks about how Seokjin was going to tell him.
Seokjin had been about to tell him that he loved Namjoon, but he had been intoxicated, and Namjoon didn’t believe that it was really what Seokjin felt.
He had left before Seokjin had woken up, on Christmas morning, to avoid him. The last time they had seen each other was on the platform at Hogsmeade station, and it’s now weeks past Christmas.
Namjoon had been slightly distracted by Christmas celebrations with his family, and then his family had gone on a short vacation to the Bahamas. He buries himself in studying for his upcoming N.E.W.T. examinations, practising his Transfiguration and Charms, now that his birthday is over and the Trace on him is gone.
Taehyung, however, could tell that something was weighing on Namjoon, and had tried multiple times to get him to spill. But Namjoon doesn’t tell, and soon after Taehyung gives up on trying to get him to tell, although he still keeps a watchful eye on Namjoon.
They haven’t talked yet at all, about anything, let alone what happened that night. But one night he gets mail in the middle of the night. The owl that lands on his windowsill is a brown tawny owl, which he recognises as Seokjin’s owl, Grinch.
He takes the letter that is attached to Grinch’s leg, nudging some water towards it. After it finishes drinking its fill, it flies away.
Namjoon stares at the letter, addressed in Seokjin’s familiar chicken-scratch handwriting to him, a simple ‘Namjoon’ labelled on the front of the envelope. The envelope is a little wrinkled, as if someone had fiddled with it over and over, turned it over and over, trying to decide whether to send it or not.
Namjoon opens the letter with trembling fingers, afraid of what it’s going to say.
He unfolds it. There’s only one thing written on it.
Winter-Spring, 2018. The Hogwarts Express.
The winter holidays fly by, and Namjoon finds himself standing on Platform 9¾, ready to return to Hogwarts for his final semester. He bids his parents goodbye, and boards the train with Taehyung.
Taehyung heads for the Hufflepuffs’ train cabin, and Namjoon heads towards the Prefects’ special train car. As he’s putting his carry-on bag on the top shelves, he hears someone slide the car door open.
Namjoon turns around, greeting the person before his body is fully turned, “Hey, it’s nice to see you again.”
Seokjin is standing there, eyes wide upon seeing Namjoon. “Hi,” he says, breathily.
“Hello,” Namjoon nods. He moves aside so that Seokjin can put his stuff down as well. He takes a seat, settling down and relaxing for a little while as the train starts moving, the high pitched whistle of the train indicating that it’s time to leave.
He takes out a book he recently found at a bookstore, a tattered copy of this muggle story called The Great Gatsby, reading it quietly. Seokjin sits down opposite him, not saying anything. From the corner of his eye he sees Seokjin playing with his fingers, tapping and fidgeting. He can feel Seokjin staring at him.
He continues reading.
A little into the train ride, he glances at his watch. It’s time for the prefects to make their patrols along the train, so he closes his book, leaves it on the table so he can get back to it later, and stands up.
Seokjin stands up too, because his patrol is at the same time as Namjoon’s, just at a different section of the train. Seokjin already knows what he’s supposed to do, so Namjoon heads out of the prefects’ cabin without saying a word. He’s stopped by Seokjin’s voice, however.
Namjoon turns back to face Seokjin, a questioning look on his face. Seokjin looks slightly nervous. “Yes?”
“I, uh,” Seokjin starts, “uploaded your song on to the Internet over the holidays.”
Namjoon’s eyebrows furrow. “Song?”
Seokjin seems more confident when it comes to answering the question. “The rap song, remember?”
Oh. Namjoon remembers. He had to compose a song for one of his assignments for his Muggle Music class last semester, but he had barely passed it, and couldn’t understand why. Seokjin had insisted on listening to it when he was complaining about the professor who gave him the grade, and Seokjin had loved the song. Seokjin had then offered to upload it on to the Internet for him, just to prove the professor wrong. He’s surprised that he even remembered, because that was a fleeting conversation months ago.
“Oh,” Namjoon says. “Yeah, yeah, I do. You really did it?”
“Of course I did, I always keep my promises.”
“Yeah,” Namjoon says. “I’m just… How did it do?”
At that, Seokjin smiles. “Amazing, it did really, really well, the muggles loved it. I uploaded it on this platform called Soundcloud and Youtube as well, and it got like, more than a thousand hits the first night.”
Namjoon feels excitement bloom within him, and happiness at having his work acknowledged. “And I uploaded it anonymously, so there are actually articles written about you, wondering who RM is.”
Namjoon breaks out into a wide grin, and says, “Holy crap, this is just- Amazing. Thanks so much, Seokjin.”
At this, Seokjin grins too. “You have to do more, I’ll upload all of them for you.”
“Shit, thank you so much, really,” Namjoon says, moving in for a hug. When Seokjin lifts up his arms to do the same back, Namjoon stops himself halfway. He takes a small step backward, and he gently punches Seokjin on the bicep instead. Like how they always did to each other in the past. “Ah, thanks again.”
He ignores the way Seokjin’s face falls a little.
“Yeah, no problem. You could probably become the next God of Destruction,” Seokjin jokes.
Namjoon smiles, but he doesn’t laugh, like he normally would have. It’s a little awkward, he knows, but he can’t help it. Not with what happened. “Thanks.”
Seokjin moves past him, his head bowed. “Let’s get started on our patrols, shall we?”
He walks out of the cabin and turns left towards the front of the train after passing the sliding door, and Namjoon follows him.
At the door, Namjoon turns right.
Spring, 2018. Hogwarts.
After the fanfare of the previous semester, this semester is significantly less chaotic and exciting. Lessons begin, and the fifth-years and seventh-years stop Quidditch practice in order to dedicate more time to their O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s. There are fewer ongoing extracurricular activities, and Namjoon and Seokjin have fewer duties as Head Boys, relinquishing some of the responsibility to the younger prefects.
This means that Namjoon sees Seokjin a lot less now, which he is grateful for. He wants to get over Seokjin. He needs to. So Namjoon doesn’t talk to Seokjin unless necessary, and Seokjin does the same. They are still awkward around each other, but they both keep things as professional as possible. A line is drawn between the both of them, one that keeps either of them from going too close to each other like they did before.
Namjoon thinks it’s more of a divide, maybe even an irreparable crack that neither of them can cross.
He spends half his time in the library, before and after lessons, removing book after book from the shelves and writing down everything he can so he can start memorising and revising these materials in his own time.
January passes quickly, and February arrives. Two weeks in, Namjoon’s dreaded holiday occurs.
He can smell the love in the air the minute he wakes up and walks through the corridors at Hogwarts. Literally. Someone spilled Amortentia in the hallway near the Potions classroom, and its vapours are affecting everyone who goes too close. There are students getting a little giggly as they walk past, but smelling it isn’t as lethal as drinking it, thank goodness.
When Namjoon walks by, it doesn’t affect him much, but he does smell parchment, snow, and oddly enough, the Hogwarts Quidditch pitch.
The Great Hall is drowning in pink, and there are Valentine’s shenanigans everywhere. There are flowers blooming wherever this girl from Gryffindor walks, and this couple right in front of him are literally bound to each other by a temporary Valentine’s binding spell. Apparently they can’t be separated from each other for 24 hours or both of them will be crying uncontrollably all day.
There’s even an anonymous love letter service powered by the Weasley kids, a tradition passed on from their parents when they were at Hogwarts. People are being surprised with random love letters appearing in their books and bags, and in some cases, chasing them and trying to bite them at the ankles.
The prefects don’t really bother with trying to stop all these gimmicks, because: 1. it’s unstoppable, and 2. it’s fun. It’s pure, innocent fun, and the professors let the kids have their fun for a day before going back to intense preparation for their examinations.
Namjoon receives chocolates, of course. He hadn’t been expecting it at all, but he gets them. There are piles on his desks in the various classrooms he goes to, and he stuffs them all into his book bag to the best of his abilities.
The rest that he receives, he carries them in his hands, back to his dorm room. He’s not going to eat any of them, of course, especially when most of them are unnamed and anonymous. He’s never dared to eat any of the Valentine’s chocolates he’s received ever since the Great Disaster of 2015, when half the boys in the school developed a sudden infatuation for one girl thanks to the love potion she somehow managed to slip into their chocolates. It had taken the professors ages to bring those boys back to normal, with classes being cancelled for the entire day.
On his way back to his room at the end of the day, he puts all the boxes down on one side. He feels awful, but he will burn those in the trashcan later behind closed doors, because they shouldn’t be fed to any living thing which has the capability to feel emotions and develop feelings.
He sits down on his bed, however, and takes out all the letters he received throughout the day. Spiked chocolates are one thing, and letters are another. He always opens them and reads them, because people took the effort to write them, and Namjoon wants to at least respect that.
Most of them are just confessions from other students, and some are jokes from his friends. The confessions he puts it into his little metal trash bin, the joke letters he keeps for memory’s sake. But when he reaches the last one of the pile, it’s in a jet black envelope, an unconventional choice from the usual pink and red stuff, and it catches Namjoon’s attention. It had appeared a minute ago, right as he had finished reading the last letter that he had received during Charms class.
He uses his wand to open it – he shudders at the thought of accidentally touching a love potion that works via contact or something – and the parchment unfolds itself. It levitates in mid-air, at Namjoon’s eye level for ease of reading.
The words inside are written in a neat cursive font. It’s short, only taking up about half of the page:
Should I draw you the picture of my Heart,
it would be what I hope you still would Love;
tho it containd nothing New;
the early possession you obtained there;
and the absolute power you have ever mantaind over it;
leaves not the smallest space occupied.
Abigail to John.
December 23, 1782.
It strikes a little too close to home. It makes his heart ache a little.
He folds it back neatly, slotting the parchment back into the envelope. He places the black envelope in his DADA textbook.
Quietly he mutters “Incendio” at the bin. Red and orange consume the papers in the bin, until they become nothing but ashes.
After Valentine’s Day passes, the students calm down, and most of them go back to studying furiously for their final examinations. Even Dean, the residential prankster, has tamed himself, to focus on his goal of getting a job at the Department of Magical Law Enforcement in the Ministry of Magic.
Namjoon is working on his own subjects, mostly requirements to become an Auror. The Ministry had approached him last year to try and recruit him, persuade him to try for the position of an Auror after he graduates from Hogwarts. He had said yes, mainly because he needed to carry on the family tradition of becoming an Auror. Besides, he was already studying the required subjects for Auror training anyway.
It’s currently 3:30 in the afternoon on a Thursday, and that means Defence Against the Dark Arts class for the seventh-years who take the subject. Today, all of the tables are gone from the classroom, as it is every Thursday, because it’s the practical session of the week for them. The DADA teacher, Professor Merryweather, has all the students arranged in pairs around the room, with significant space between each pair.
“Today, you will be continuing your practice on conjuring your Patronus,” Professor Merryweather says. Some of the students in the class groan, and she tuts. “Now, now, I’m sure you will be able to do it this time. Don’t give up!”
One of the components of the Defence Against the Dark Arts examination will be a practical test, assessing their ability to conjure a Patronus. He overhears someone complaining about how easy past students had it; conjuring a Patronus was never part of the curriculum before because of how advanced it is, until a few years back, when the Ministry decided it was best if students started practising this charm from a young age.
It’s not their first practice session for this; they have had a few over the past few weeks, but even the stronger students had only been able to conjure incorporeal Patronuses so far. Their DADA professor reassures them that it doesn’t really matter whether it has a shape or not, as long as they are able to hold their own against a Dementor, they will do fine.
But having a corporeal Patronus guarantees you an Outstanding in the practical test, so naturally Namjoon is aiming for that, if he wants to become an Auror like planned. The professor urges them to start, and the words ‘Expecto Patronum’ echoes around the room as several students start on their practice.
Namjoon’s partner, another Gryffindor boy named Gregory, lets him start first. They are paired up so that they can identify any mistakes in enunciation or pronunciation of the incantation, or in the way they move their wand during the spell. Namjoon focuses on the memory he defines as his happiest, one of him and his family in Switzerland, making snow angels together, after their father had returned to them.
It is what Namjoon considered his happiest, because they had pronounced his father dead after a hunt for a dark wizard in Austria, body burned down to a crisp. For a whole year Namjoon and Taehyung had lived thinking their father was dead, their mother trying her hardest to support the family on her own, although the Ministry had given them some benefits after the incident. Then one day some Aurors had found him captive in the dungeon of a wanted dark wizard during a raid, and the Kims had rushed over to Switzerland to retrieve their father.
They had been reunited in the snow then, and it had been the happiest day of Namjoon’s life.
Namjoon brings that memory to the forefront of his mind, and channels that energy through his wand as he utters, “Expecto Patronum!”
A large silver ball shoots from the tip of his wand. It follows Namjoon’s silent commands on where to go, but it’s nothing new; he’s been able to conjure an incorporeal Patronus since last week, and despite everyday practice in his dorm at night, he’s been unable to progress further than that.
He lets Gregory have his turn after the silver ball disperses. Gregory is still unable to conjure up any form of his Patronus, and Namjoon patiently observes and tells him what he did wrong.
“I think it might be because you aren’t putting enough power into it, maybe you could focus on the details, the nitty gritty that made you happy in that memory,” Namjoon says. “I find that identifying what truly made me happy that day really helps me in casting one.”
Gregory nods, and focuses, before casting the spell again. This time the tip of his wand glows a little, and a small ball pulls away from the tip. Namjoon claps him on the back, beaming. “Good job, that’s a vast improvement! I think with just a few more tries and more focus on your memory you will be improving exponentially.”
It’s another fifteen minutes or so with Namjoon now managing to consistently cast a Patronus each time he does the incantation, and Gregory managing to create a larger Patronus, when Professor Merryweather claps her hands to capture the class’s attention. She gathers them all together.
“Now, anyone who would like to do a demonstration for the class, please step forward,” Professor Merryweather says with her back turned, as she drags out a large rattling chest from the corner of the classroom. She gives the chest a hard smack, and the thing inside stops shaking. When she turns around to look at the class, she beams. “Very good, you two! As I would expect from our two Head Boys. Come on up to the front here, Mr. Kims.”
Namjoon whips his head around to see only Seokjin standing horizontally a few metres away from him, and looking back he sees that the rest of the class has taken a few steps back, and successfully deceived the professor into thinking that both him and Seokjin have volunteered for the demonstration.
He and Seokjin look at each other. “Well, come on, what are you dawdling around for?” Professor Merryweather urges, and Namjoon breaks eye contact first, heading to where Merryweather stands. The large box jerks suddenly, which startles Seokjin and makes him jump.
“Now,” Merryweather says. “All of you can now conjure an incorporeal Patronus at the very least, which is very, very good. What you need to learn now is how to handle yourself in front of a real Dementor, or a Lethifold. God forbid you ever face one in real life, but precautions must be taken nonetheless; that is the main purpose of this subject.”
She puts one hand on the top of the chest. “What I have here is a very real simulation of a Dementor. It will do everything a Dementor can, make you feel like all the happiness in the world is gone, instil fear in you, and it will even try to give you the Kiss.”
Some of the students look scared. Merryweather continues. “It will not kill you for real, of course; the Department of Magical Education has ensured that this is a safe method of training students for the Patronus practical. However, if you are uncomfortable with it, you have to let me know, and you need not partake in this exercise.” She looks at the students expectantly. “Anyone?”
The students shake their heads, and she turns to Namjoon and Seokjin. “Now, both of you,” she begins quietly. “Should you feel like you need to stop this at any point in time, say the word ‘stop’, and I will contain the simulation and stop the exercise. Understood?”
They both nod.
“Very well. Shall we begin?”
They stand opposite each other, wands at the ready. Before Professor Merryweather opens the chest, Namjoon takes deep breaths and replays his chosen memory again and again in his head. Seokjin is looking at him from opposite, head tilted a little to the side, but Namjoon ignores him. He wants to make full use of this opportunity to test his skills.
When Professor Merryweather unlocks the chest, there is a sudden chill in the air. The room suddenly grows dark, in spite of the afternoon sun shining brightly outside. Namjoon gulps. The air around them reeks dismally of misery and sadness, and Namjoon finally knows what everyone who has ever encountered a Dementor means when they say that it feels like they would never be able to feel happy ever again.
He shivers, and two large black cloaked figures rise up out of the chest, ripped black cloaks rippling behind them. Their size is intimidating enough, but what makes it worse is the face of the Dementor. There is scabbed skin over where the eye sockets are, resembling a badly healed wound, and a large gaping hole where the mouth is.
It looks rotten to the core, the embodiment of evil, and it makes Namjoon want to vomit. His heart thumps in his chest, adrenaline running through his veins. Every fibre in his being is telling him to run far away from the Dementor, to escape from this darkness, but he can’t. His legs don’t move, and he can’t stop staring as the Dementor glides across the distance from the chest to where he is.
“Mr. Kim! Your Patronus!” Professor Merryweather says from somewhere near him.
He fumbles desperately with the memory in his brain, connecting bits and pieces of the memory together, but they aren’t in chronological order. He patches together a messy quilt of memory fragments, and he says the incantation.
Nothing. Nothing appears from his wand, not a Patronus, not the silver ball that he had managed to conjure several times before, nothing. The Dementor comes nearer towards him, and Namjoon feels despair explode and flourish within him.
He tries again and again, but nothing comes out. The memory isn’t strong enough, and Namjoon’s mind draws a blank with his increasing panic. The Dementor reaches him, and it pulls back its hood. Upon the revelation of its face, Namjoon’s brain is attacked with the sudden memory of the day Ministry officers had visited his home and told them that his father was dead.
Namjoon’s mother had collapsed upon hearing the news, and Namjoon had had to comfort a sobbing Taehyung until he fell asleep from exhaustion. He had cried himself to sleep that night, all alone in his bed. It had been the worst day of his life, and no one else had been there to support him.
He can’t breathe.
“Namjoon!” A voice cries out.
Through teary eyes, he turns towards the voice. There, standing metres away from him, behind the black wispiness of the Dementor, is Seokjin. He’s looking at Namjoon with worry etched in his beautiful features, and suddenly Namjoon remembers.
He remembers a string of memories, of him and Seokjin before everything happened. That night after Seokjin had gotten injured, Seokjin’s tired but happy smile, Seokjin singing him a silly song while playing his little pink ukulele, their late nights in the Gryffindor common room, Seokjin shielding him from the snowballs, that night when they had gone to the Astronomy Tower to watch the stars.
They come rushing back to him, and with that Namjoon raises his wand, shouting, “EXPECTO PATRONUM!”
A large animal, glowing bright and silver and beautiful, erupts from the tip of his wand, and runs head first into the body of the Dementor. The Dementor screeches, as it’s wrestled back into the chest by his Patronus without much effort. Professor Merryweather shuts the lid of the chest when it’s completely in, and Namjoon vaguely registers the loud whoops, cheers and applause coming from the other students.
His Patronus, a large wolf, continues to speed around the room, slowing to a trot after a while.
Namjoon is rooted to the spot.
The Dementor is gone, but Namjoon still can’t breathe.
In the middle of the room, on the floor, two large silver wolves roughhouse, the slightly smaller one nipping at the other’s muzzle. The other licks the smaller one lazily, before straightening up and looking directly at him. It disappears into thin air, the spell wearing off, and everyone is cheering because he somehow managed to conjure a corporeal Patronus.
He had managed to cast a corporeal Patronus for the first time, but he can’t bring himself to celebrate. Seokjin had done the same too.
He had cast a corporeal Patronus too.
Their Patronuses are the same animal.
Namjoon wants to vomit. His eyes go out of focus. Merryweather asks if he’s okay.
He sprints out of the classroom, eyes blurry with hot tears.
He’s not okay.
That night Taehyung brings him his book bag and his robes. He had run away from the DADA classroom without putting his outer robes back on or taking any of his belongings with him, except his wand.
Namjoon thanks him when he enters and dumps everything at the foot of his bed. Namjoon pulls the covers farther up his body, and huddles into it. He can sense Taehyung hovering in the room, still. Before long, Namjoon hears the question he knew Taehyung would ask.
“I heard about what happened. Are you okay, hyung?”
That’s what Professor Merryweather had asked him too.
“I thought I was,” Namjoon answers simply.
He hears Taehyung immediately put down all his things, and sit down on the floor, leaning against the frame of the bed. He lays his head on the mattress.
“Tell me?” Taehyung probes. It was never that hard for Taehyung to get what he wants out of Namjoon; Namjoon ever only tells Taehyung things on his mind.
“I thought I was fine,” Namjoon swallows. “You were right about my crush, I’ve liked him since before the Yule Ball.”
Taehyung doesn’t say anything, and Namjoon continues. “I wanted to ask him. I really did, I never found the opportunity to, and then.” Namjoon’s eyes well up with tears. “He told me to go with Gabrielle. And I wasn’t going to. I was still going to ask him.”
He rubs at the tears in his eyes, sniffling. “And then I hear from these two girls gossiping in the corridor that he accepted Jaehwan’s invitation to the ball, and I just- I just knew that he didn’t like me in that way, and that it was all one-sided on my part. I tried to get over him. I really did, but then my Patronus turned out the same animal as his today in class, and I couldn’t breathe.”
He hears Taehyung suck in a breath at Namjoon’s revelation. “Hyung…”
“This is so fucking pathetic. He doesn’t even like me,” he heaves through tears. “He doesn’t even like me, but my Patronus is the same as his. Taehyungie, I had to- I had to get away from him-”
“Hey,” Taehyung says. He crawls into the bed with Namjoon, and Namjoon scoots over to make space for him. Taehyung rests his head on Namjoon’s chest, like they have always done since they were kids. “It’s not pathetic. You deserve everything, hyung.”
Taehyung smacks him on the stomach, and he yelps in pain. “You do. Don’t you dare think otherwise. And regarding this issue, you need to talk to him.”
“I can’t. I can’t even look at him right now, let alone hear his voice.”
“Then just forget it for now,” Taehyung says, voice unwavering. “Forget it for a little while, come back to it later.”
Namjoon doesn’t respond. He just focuses on breathing, in and out, in and out. There are so many thoughts buzzing in his head, and he feels like it’s about to split open. But Taehyung keeps him grounded, soft hair tickling his chin, fingers tapping a rhythm on his ribs. It soothes him, and soon after, he feels his breathing taper to shallower breaths that feel more normal. He dozes off after a while, eyes falling shut.
It feels like he’s only spent a few short minutes in dreamland when their quiet bliss is interrupted by a knock on Namjoon’s door.
Namjoon’s eyes open, and he sees Seokjin standing there. He’s fully awake now, and Taehyung scrambles to get his stuff, even as Namjoon silently wills him not to go.
“I’ll let you two talk.”
Taehyung leaves. Seokjin continues standing at the door, and Namjoon focuses his attention on the little snow globe he has on his desk. He can’t look at Seokjin right now.
“What are you doing here?” Namjoon asks quietly.
“I just wanted to talk about what happened today.”
Namjoon’s finger curl into the blanket, and his head hangs low. “I don’t think I can do this right now, Seokjin.”
Seokjin takes a step across through the doorway and into his room. “Namjoonie-”
“Please have mercy on me,” Namjoon says quietly, voice barely a whisper, but when Seokjin halts in his footsteps, he knows he heard him.
“I’m sorry,” Seokjin whispers.
When Namjoon hears the door click shut from the opposite side of the hallway, he sinks inside his covers and closes his eyes.
Namjoon doesn’t see Seokjin anymore from the next day on. Seokjin’s door is always closed whenever Namjoon leaves and returns to his room. They ask other prefects to pass on messages and information regarding school patrols. They switch patrol partners from each other to other prefects from their year.
He avoids Seokjin like the plague, and all his friends can tell, because they ask him why he doesn’t hang out with Seokjin anymore, why they don’t see Seokjin and Namjoon out on prefect duty together anymore. Namjoon answers ambiguously, and they don’t pry further.
He buries himself in studying for the upcoming examinations, and bit by bit, week by week, Namjoon starts to think that he might be better, with Seokjin out of sight and out of mind. He does see him in the classes they share, but Namjoon cocoons himself in the safety of his friend group, shielding himself from Seokjin.
He manages to patch his heart back up, band-aids haphazardly placed over it, trying their best to hold the pieces together.
A few weeks pass, and Namjoon thinks he might just be okay again.
It’s not until April, two months before their exams, when a girl named Sidney approaches him at his table during breakfast in the Great Hall one day.
“Hey, Namjoon,” she says. “I need to talk to you.”
He knows her as one of Seokjin’s closer friends, but he had never spoken to her before. He had only seen her hanging out with Seokjin sometimes, in the courtyard or after classes.
“Has Seokjin spoken to you recently?”
Namjoon’s brows furrow. It’s strange that she’s asking him a question like this, considering the past one and a half months. She knows that they haven’t talked at all. She had been there when Namjoon and Seokjin passed by each other in the halls countless times, barely acknowledging each other. She’s been there ever since Namjoon stopped being by Seokjin’s side.
“No,” Namjoon says slowly. “We haven’t talked in-”
“-ages. Yeah,” Sidney says, glaring at Namjoon. He suppresses a flinch at how venomous the glare is, after he mentions that they haven’t talked. “I’m acutely aware.”
When Namjoon doesn’t respond, she continues. “Look. I just wanted to check if he’s even speaking to anybody. I haven’t seen him in two whole days, and he’s either never in his room, or not opening his door when we knock.”
“That’s really odd behaviour,” Namjoon says before he can stop himself. “He never ignores his friends.”
Sidney rolls her eyes. “Yes, Captain Obvious. I’m his friend, I know that.” Her face contorts in worry after a short pause. “But we haven’t seen him in two days, any of us. And you were my last resort. You two were close, really close.”
“I’m sorry,” Namjoon says. “We really haven’t spoken at all.”
“Okay,” Sidney’s shoulders slump. “But tell me if he does come to you, yeah?”
“I don’t think he will, but I’ll inform you if he really does.”
Sidney purses her lips as if she wants to say something, but changes her mind.
“I wouldn’t say that if I were you,” she turns to walk away, and Namjoon almost doesn’t hear what she says next, “he really treasures you, Namjoon.”
One day after Potions class, everyone files out of the dungeon, Namjoon included. Sidney holds him back, however.
“I need you to follow Seokjin one of these days,” she says. She looks over to where Seokjin is walking away from them, his black hair easily recognisable due to his height over others.
“Um, I don’t think I’m the best person to do it-”
“Yes, you are,” Sidney hisses. “None of us are smart enough to know what he’s doing. We always lose him whenever we try to follow him after class.”
“What do you mean?”
Sidney rolls her eyes. “And they say you are brightest wizard of our cohort. Listen, Seokjin… he’s cloaking himself, somehow, with a spell, or whatever. I don’t know. But every time we try to follow him, we lose him after he rounds a corner faster than we can catch up to him. We figured you are the only one smart enough to figure out how he’s doing it.”
“Well,” Namjoon asks. “Do you have any idea what it might be? A spell? An invisibility cloak?”
Sidney gives him an unimpressed look. “An invisibility cloak,” she deadpans. “When the only real invisibility cloak the world has ever known has belonged to the Potters for years?”
Namjoon sputters. “Well, he could have had one made of Demiguise hair or something, I’ve seen that being sold in Diagon Alley.”
“That’s pretty darn shady, Namjoon. Where have you been lurking in Diagon Alley? In any case, I don’t think it’s any of those,” Sidney says. “He doesn’t look like he’s putting on a cloak, and his wand’s always in his bag or his pocket. He just disappears.”
“Disappears? What do you mean, disappears?”
“Like, he just disappears. Into thin air.”
Namjoon goes through the archive of information he has in his head about what kind of magic this is, but comes to no plausible conclusion. Most wizards need wands for their magic, and none of them, at this level, should be able to do it.
“Have you tried talking to him again?” Namjoon asks.
“Yes, but he only brushed me off,” Sidney’s face falls. “Not only that, I’m worried because his grades. They are falling.”
“He’s failing half his classes, barely passing the other half. It’s like he isn’t even trying anymore, and I don’t understand. The Seokjin I know would never compromise on his studies like this,” Sidney says. “McGonagall’s asked me what happened to Seokjin, and all I could say was I have no idea.”
The Seokjin Namjoon knew would never have been like this either. He honestly thinks the professors or McGonagall would have a better chance at helping Seokjin, but he doesn’t tell Sidney that, of course.
Nonetheless, Namjoon tells Sidney that he will look into it, when he sees the worry on Sidney’s face.
It’s been a day since Sidney asked him to follow Seokjin, but they haven’t shared any classes since then. He hasn’t even caught sight of Seokjin at all, and it’s clear that he doesn’t want to be found at all.
When Namjoon passes by the Hogwarts kitchens on his way back to the dorm, he hears a ‘pssst!” coming from behind a corner. He looks towards the sound, and finds Tinky peeking at him.
Tinky is an elderly house elf whom Namjoon had met once or twice when Seokjin brought him down to the kitchens to ask for some midnight snacks. The house elves could never resist their puppy eyes, especially Seokjin’s, but Tinky had practically taken him under her wing.
“Namjoon,” she begins. “Have you heard from Seokjin at all?”
Namjoon shakes his head. “I don’t think he wants to talk to me.”
Tinky mumbles something under her breath, something that sounds suspiciously like, “he does, that stupid child,” and Namjoon asks, “what?”
“Seokjin asked me not to tell anyone, dear boy,” Tinky sighs. “But he only asked, he never ordered – you know he never would – me to do so.”
“What do you mean? Do you know what happened to Seokjin?”
Tinky nods, hands wringing in the tea towel she wears. “He told me.”
“Can you tell me?”
Tinky shakes her head. “I cannot, Namjoon. It’s his story to tell. But I know where he goes to every day after his lessons, how he avoids everyone.”
“House elf magic, of course,” Tinky says. “I help him hide in a different place of the castle every day.” She shakes her head. “No one ever knew, all his friends couldn’t figure it out either.”
“Then can you tell me how he went where we went?” Namjoon asks cautiously.
“I was going to tell you anyway, even if you didn’t ask. Today’s location is worrying, Namjoon,” Fear clouds her eyes. “You’re the only one I could think of who might be able to help him. Namjoon, you need to help him.”
A feeling of dread washes over Namjoon, and his heart starts pounding. “Um,” Namjoon says. “Okay, you can just tell me where he went, and I’ll go there right now to look for him.”
He bends down to Tinky’s height, and after Tinky whispers Seokjin’s location to him, he runs.
He runs past many students, professors yelling at him not to run in the corridors, and finally finds himself panting and standing right below the Astronomy Tower.
It’s the tallest tower in the school.
He runs up the stone stairs, reaching one of the highest levels of the tower, and he sees Seokjin standing in front of the balcony that sticks out of the tower, meant for students to observe the sky for their lessons.
Namjoon runs forward, grabs his hand, and pulls him into the nearest classroom he can find, just in case Seokjin tries to run back to the balcony.
Seokjin squirms in his grip, and tries to pry Namjoon’s hand off his, but Namjoon’s vice-like grip comes through for him.
When they are in the classroom Namjoon finally lets go, and he faces Seokjin, who’s looking at him angrily and disbelievingly.
“What the hell were you thinking, Seokjin? That’s never the answer.”
“What-” Seokjin starts, confusion on his face. Realisation dawns on him when he registers how serious Namjoon looks, how tensed his body is. “I wasn’t going to fucking jump, if that’s what you thought.”
“Oh,” Namjoon says, breathing a sigh of relief. “Well, that’s a relief to know.”
Silence ensues, which Seokjin decapitates with a tone laced with anger and spite, when another realisation dawns on him.
“What are you doing here?” Seokjin asks, his eyes narrowed. “Tinky told you where I am?”
“Don’t blame her. I just came to make sure you were okay.”
Seokjin doesn’t say anything, he just scrutinises Namjoon, and Namjoon squirms under his gaze. It’s the first time in forever since they were physically this close to each other.
“Fuck you,” Seokjin mutters. Namjoon doesn’t think he heard him right.
“I said,” Seokjin clenches his fists, shooting Namjoon a venomous glare. “Fuck you.”
“Uh-” Namjoon starts, but Seokjin beats him to it.
“You don’t get to ask if I’m okay, or check up on me, after not talking to me for months. You don’t just- just get to come and go from someone else’s life as and when you wish,” Seokjin spits. “You don’t get to make someone fall in love with you and then just up and leave.”
Namjoon’s eyes widen. “What did you just say? Seokjin-”
“I don’t want to hear it, just leave! Leave me alone,” Seokjin says, panting. Namjoon takes a step forward, towards Seokjin, but Seokjin’s flinch backwards halts him in his steps. That’s when he manages to take a good, close look at Seokjin; he looks haggard, his eyes sunken, his lips and skin pale.
His lips are trembling, and when his eyes start tearing and he lifts a hand to rub at his eyes, his hand’s trembling too. Namjoon desperately wants to ask if he can help, if there’s anything he can do, but he also knows that whenever Seokjin gets upset, he wants to be left alone to his thoughts. Seokjin’s always been independent like that.
“Okay,” Namjoon says finally, “I’ll go. I’ll leave.”
He turns away, and walks out of the room, turning around the corner down the hall before he realises that he forgot to tell Seokjin to talk to him when he’s ready. He heads back into the classroom he had brought Seokjin to.
Seokjin is nowhere to be found in the room when he looks around, and he assumes that Seokjin left the room after he did as well, until he hears something clatter to the floor, somewhere in the room. Namjoon squints his eyes to look closer in the dark room, until he notices a wand rolling from behind the teacher’s large wooden desk.
It’s a long mahogany brown wand, slightly thinner than Namjoon’s own, with familiar engravings of a vine snaking up its side. It’s Seokjin’s wand.
Listening closer, Namjoon hears panting, but it doesn’t sound normal to him. Not at all. It’s breathing that’s too fast, too deep, like someone trying desperately to catch their breath because they can’t breathe.
Because they can’t breathe.
Namjoon gets a chill down his spine, the most horrendous feeling ever, and rushes to the back of the desk.
Seokjin is curled in on himself on the floor, matted hair stuck to his forehead due to cold sweat. He’s making gasping sounds, as if he’s trying to take in breaths but can’t. It’s like cold water is poured over him, his heart pounding, with sudden fear striking him. Namjoon runs to his side, crouching by Seokjin.
“Seokjin?” Namjoon touches Seokjin on the forehead, pushes his hair back. “Seokjin, are you okay? Talk to me.”
Seokjin shakes his head, “I can’t,” he gasps for breath way too loudly and forcefully for Namjoon’s liking, “I can’t breathe- I can’t- Namjoon-”
Namjoon takes Seokjin’s hands in his own. He recognises this as a panic attack, which Taehyung used to have constantly in that year their father was missing, and he wills himself to calm down and think straight, to remember what he’s supposed to do in situations like this, so that he can help Seokjin to the best of his abilities. “Hey, Seokjin, okay, okay, I need you to take deep breaths.”
“I’m,” another gasp, “going to,” another gasp, “die.”
“Shh, no, you’re not. You will be fine,” Namjoon says.
Seokjin is crying now, fat tears falling down his cheeks, mucus mixing with the liquid. “My chest- it hurts. It hurts, Namjoon,” Seokjin manages to choke out.
“Shh, shh, hey, look at me,” Namjoon says as soothingly as his deep voice can go, continuing when he sees Seokjin’s eyes focus on him. “You will be fine, Seokjinnie, you will be okay. This is only temporary, I just need you to breathe. Take some deep breaths, okay? I’ll count for you, listen to me.”
Seokjin continues gasping, his chest moving up and down in its desperate attempt to get oxygen into his lungs, his hands still trembling Namjoon’s grip. They are cold to the touch.
“Okay, shh, it will be fine. Take a deep breath in for four seconds, and then deep breath out, Seokjinnie, can you do that for me?”
Seokjin shakes his head furiously. “I can’t- I’m going to die, Namjoonie-”
“Okay, hey, here we go: 1, 2, 3, 4, deep breath in,” Namjoon nods encouragingly when he sees Seokjin try. “That’s good, Seokjin, there you go. Now deep breath out, 1, 2, 3, 4, yes, there you go.”
Namjoon continues the counting, keeping an eye on the clock on the wall at the far end the entire time. After what seems like hours of trying his best to keep himself calm for Seokjin’s sake, Seokjin slowly calms down at the 6 minute mark, which is normal, thankfully, from his experiences with Taehyung. Any longer than 10 minutes and he would have had to ask for help.
Seokjin’s fists unclench, his fingers relaxing as the rest of his body does, at the 7 minute mark. He’s not gasping anymore, although Namjoon continues to count and make sure he’s getting the oxygen intake he needs.
When all that’s finally over, he gently pulls Seokjin up into a sitting position. Seokjin immediately slumps against Namjoon, and Namjoon positions himself so that he’s leaning against the desk, and Seokjin is comfortable against him.
He knows how tired a person can get after an anxiety attack, so he doesn’t talk, just lets Seokjin catch his breath and recuperate. They sit in silence for a while (Namjoon doesn’t know for how long), occasionally moving his legs so that they don’t become numb.
When Seokjin’s breathing finally shallows out, his head laying tiredly on Namjoon’s shoulder, Namjoon gently takes his hand and starts prodding and pressing on Seokjin’s fingers, his joints, the pads of his fingers.
“What are you doing?” Seokjin whispers.
“Acufissure,” Namjoon answers simply, his bottom lip tucked under his teeth as he focuses on remembering how Seokjin did it for him last time. He remembers Seokjin pressing on the inside of his wrist, and his thumb, so he does that.
Seokjin cracks a smile. “It’s called acupressure.”
“Well,” Namjoon says. “Doesn’t matter.”
His hand slowly moves back down to Seokjin’s hand, thumb rubbing circles into Seokjin’s hand.
“I’m sorry I asked you to leave,” Seokjin says.
“I really thought you did want me to leave, that’s why I did,” Namjoon answers. “I didn’t want to, at first.”
“I think it was the anxiety talking. I just… shot my mouth off like that in my panic.”
“Hey, it’s okay. I figured,” His thumb continues to rub soothing circles on to Seokjin’s skin. “I understand. I just wish I recognised the symptoms sooner and knew to help you before it happened. I should be the one who’s sorry.”
“I think… we were both at fault here.”
“But what happened? Do you want to tell me? It’s okay if you don’t want to, though,” Namjoon says quickly.
“It’s alright,” Seokjin pauses. “I want to tell you, if you want to listen.”
“Of course I want to,” Namjoon says. “I’ve always wanted to listen to you. I… I’ve missed your voice, Seokjin.”
Namjoon doesn’t know how Seokjin takes that information, because he doesn’t say anything, until finally, “I’ve missed your voice too, Namjoonie.”
Namjoon’s hand manoeuvres itself to hold on to Seokjin’s, fingers lacing through each other’s. He squeezes tight, want to let Seokjin know that he doesn’t ever want to let go.
“After we came back, a few weeks after school started again, I received news,” Seokjin swallows, as if tears are threatening to spill again and he’s trying his best to hold them back. “News that my grandmother passed.”
Namjoon holds on tighter. He knows that Seokjin and his grandmother had been close, closer to each other than his own parents had been, because she had been the one to bring up Seokjin when he was very young. Seokjin loves her dearly, that he knows too, and he knows how hard it is to lose a family member whom he loved very much. Seokjin continues.
“I was so upset when she passed, but I didn’t tell anyone. I thought I could handle it by myself. I didn’t even manage to see her one last time,” he says, sniffling as he adjusts his head a little on Namjoon’s shoulder. “Then that day… when you ran out of the classroom after our Patronuses turned out to be wolves,” Namjoon’s hand squeezes at that, “I thought, ‘oh, I’ve lost another precious person in my life.’ And then I tried to talk to you that night, I wanted to clear things up, wanted to just hear your voice again, but it felt like another stab to the heart when you only told me to go.”
“I’m sorry,” Namjoon whispers. “Seokjinnie, I’m so sorry.”
“And then my grades started falling, when it’s so near our N.E.W.T.s, and I got so stressed out. Everything started piling up, it just snowballed into something else entirely, something so fucking scary inside of me, Namjoon.”
Seokjin sounds so tired, and Namjoon wants nothing more than to pull him into a hug. But he doesn’t, because after so many times of doing the wrong things at the wrong time, he wants to finally do something right.
“You came here today, because Tinky told you where I wanted to go to today. I really wasn’t thinking of jumping. But then I saw you caring for me, and I just felt this uncontrollable rage. I started spouting things that I didn’t really mean, my mouth just wouldn’t stop. And when you left, I got so scared,” Seokjin says. “I got so scared you were going to leave me too. It had already felt like it for months, and when you turned your back on me, that’s when it hit me that I really, finally, lost you.”
Seokjin has tears running down his cheeks again, and he sniffles softly. Namjoon conjures up a handkerchief with his wand, and wipes Seokjin’s face with it, shushing him as he does.
“I’m sorry, Seokjin,” Namjoon says finally, when Seokjin stops crying. “I’m sorry I was such a coward, such an idiot who didn’t know better. I should have seen it, but I was just too scared to do anything about it. I only thought of protecting myself, I never once thought about you. I just,” his hand tightens around Seokjin’s. “You deserve better.”
Seokjin laughs tiredly.
“You’re right,” Seokjin says. “You are an idiot.”
Seokjin nuzzles his face into Namjoon’s neck.
“But I think you are all I need, Namjoonie.”
Seokjin’s anxiety attacks don’t stop after that one time. It happens a few more times afterwards. But more often Seokjin wakes up in the middle of night, gasping for breath from a nightmare, and he cries, thinking he’s going to relive the worst. Namjoon keeps having to run across the hallway when he hears Seokjin making too much noise when he sleeps for his liking, and open Seokjin’s door to wake him up and calm a hysterical Seokjin down.
It happens again this night, on a full moon, and the moonlight shines through the windows as Namjoon makes his way into Seokjin’s room again after hearing him sobbing in his sleep. He kneels by Seokjin, gently shaking him awake while whispering, “Seokjin, baby, wake up.”
When Seokjin’s eyes open, he lunges for Namjoon, arms going around his neck immediately. “Namjoon, Namjoon, I dreamed of her again, I miss her so much, I miss her so fucking much,” Seokjin gasps.
“I know, sweetheart, I know,” Namjoon whispers into Seokjin’s sweaty hair. He clambers up to his feet as quickly as he can with Seokjin on him, and slides into Seokjin’s bed, lying down beside him. “Just cry, let it all out.”
At that Seokjin cries harder into Namjoon’s neck. Namjoon’s hold around Seokjin’s waist tightens. They don’t talk, Namjoon just stroking the little bit of Seokjin’s skin that’s exposed between his shirt and sweatpants, until Seokjin finally falls asleep from exhaustion.
Namjoon thumbs at Seokjin’s tear-streaked cheeks, sighing as he looks at Seokjin. Seokjin’s been way too exhausted from all the attacks recently. Last week he had been in better condition, and they had made it through the week without any attacks.
But this past week had been their final mock examinations, and all the stress from wanting to do well for this set of examinations had taken its toll on Seokjin and triggered a series of anxiety attacks at night. Namjoon had been trying his best to make sure that Seokjin is nourished, hydrated, and getting at least a few hours of sleep each night, so that he won’t be a zombie the next day.
All Namjoon wants is for Seokjin to be able to get a good night’s rest, and his heart breaks into a million pieces every time he hears Seokjin’s sobs travelling from the other room.
He’s exhausted too, because his sleep cycle is being thoroughly wrecked from being forced awake in the middle of the night. But he’s still managing well enough for school, and for Seokjin.
One look at the clock on Seokjin’s bedside table tells him it’s 3am in the morning, and they have their DADA mock practical in the morning at 11am later. Plenty of time for Seokjin to sleep in, for them to have a good hearty breakfast together, and then head to the DADA classroom. After all, it’s not like they haven’t had their Patronus conjuring down to perfection.
Namjoon closes his eyes, falling asleep in an instant.
When he wakes up, it’s to Seokjin’s face smiling down at him. Seokjin’s finger is twirling his hair around. “You snore, you know.”
“Mmm,” Namjoon responds as he stretches his body. He takes a bleary glance at the clock, blinking a few times to clear up his vision. It’s 8am. They’ve had 5 more hours of sleep, at least, which is a good thing.
Seokjin pecks him on the cheek. “It’s time for breakfast, we have to go soon. The mock practical’s awaiting.”
He hops off the bed and off Namjoon, and Namjoon whines at the sudden loss of warmth that Seokjin was providing for him, which makes Seokjin chuckle. “We have to get up now, babe. As much as I would love to stay in bed all day with you. But that’s what we have this Sunday for.”
Namjoon reluctantly pulls himself out of Seokjin’s bed, and hobbles to his own room to change into his robes after brushing his teeth. When they are fully dressed, they head down to the Great Hall together. Sidney immediately takes the seat beside Seokjin, and Namjoon eats his eggs and toast quietly as he watches Seokjin talk animatedly to Sidney.
Sidney had approached him after class one day and had thanked him for whatever he had done to bring Seokjin back to them. He had said he didn’t really do anything, which was the truth. Seokjin had been the strong one here, and when he had finally let everything out, he had made the decision to explain everything to Sidney and his other friends.
His hand had been tucked tightly into Namjoon’s, and Sidney had given him a thankful look with a hint of approval.
After breakfast they all head to class together, and when they enter Professor Merryweather stands ready with a clipboard in her hands. They will be doing the examination one-by-one, with the rest of the class watching. She starts the examination immediately when the last student arrives.
Seokjin stands nervously beside Namjoon, tapping his fingers on the desk he’s leaning on. Namjoon notices this, and quietly wraps his fingers around Seokjin’s other hand, and Seokjin stills. They aren’t supposed to talk to each other while other students are doing the test, so Seokjin only moves his hand to hold Namjoon’s back.
It finally reaches ‘K’ on the list of names, and Namjoon goes first, because his name starts with ‘N’. He finishes his exam quickly, although the Dementor brings back the same horrible memory of his father dying. This time, however, it brings the image of Seokjin gasping for breath and sobbing to the front of his mind as well.
Forcing all those out of his mind, he latches and holds on tight to the same memories that brought his corporeal Patronus out of his wand the last time. He doesn’t let the memory go, and his wolf forces the Dementor back into the chest easily this time around.
When it comes to Seokjin’s turn, Namjoon gives him a bright smile as Seokjin walks up to the front where Merryweather stands. He gives him a thumbs up to encourage him, and Seokjin nods back nervously.
They had been practising the charm all week, and they had both been successful every time. But it’s different now, because this Dementor will dig up your worst memories and shove it in your face, mocking you with it, and Namjoon’s worried about how Seokjin will handle it. Seokjin is strong, but having one’s worst and scariest memories brought up can strike fear even in the strongest of hearts.
When the Dementor is released from the chest, Namjoon ignores the cold, the darkness. His eyes are only on Seokjin, watching him, making sure he’s okay. He notices fear flit across Seokjin’s eyes, and Seokjin gulps. His hand is white around his wand, trembling with how tight he’s holding it. Namjoon yearns to call out to Seokjin, to remind him, but he can’t.
Then Seokjin’s eyes flit to him, just for a moment, so quick that one might have missed it. But Namjoon doesn’t, because he’s been staring at Seokjin the entire time. When Seokjin shouts the incantation, the familiar wolf erupts from his wand, and does the same that Namjoon’s wolf did.
The class claps, as they do for anyone who has completed the exam, and Merryweather gives him an encouraging smile, congratulating him on succeeding. Seokjin thanks her, and scurries back to Namjoon’s side, grabbing hold of his hand immediately, lacing their fingers together. Seokjin turns to him with a slight flush on his face, and a grin from ear to ear.
It’s the brightest smile Seokjin has given him these past two weeks, and Namjoon feels happiness, warmth, pride, and most of all, relief flood through him all at once.
They don’t let go of each other’s hands for the entire lesson.
The month flies by quickly, and soon enough their exams arrive. Namjoon and Seokjin spent the entire month studying their asses off in the library, sitting beside each other on the beanbag chairs in the corner of the library, Seokjin always found with his legs propped up on Namjoon’s.
Sometimes Seokjin is unable to focus, but Namjoon takes it as one of those days where they deserve a little break. So they pack up their books and run to the Quidditch pitch, where they take a broom each and start flying around the pitch to their heart’s desire for an hour or two. It relaxes Seokjin to be able to feel the wind on his face, to be high above everyone else, and all their worries. Namjoon can tell, so he’s always happy to indulge.
(He also really enjoys the mid-air makeout sessions they sometimes have, but don’t tell anyone that.)
The weeks of their examinations pass by in a flurry, and they only see each other for the examination days that they share. Other than that, it’s hard for them to meet unless it’s late at night, because the examinations for the subjects they don’t share are at completely different ends of the school at completely different times of the day.
Namjoon still prepares himself and makes sure he’s ready to go to Seokjin if he still wakes up in the middle of the night crying. But even though it’s examination period, Seokjin is doing that less and less, which brings Namjoon much relief. Seokjin had finally gotten over his grief for his grandmother, focusing on his studies again. His friends also make sure to hang out with him and ensure that he has fun with them, whenever he’s not with Namjoon.
Every day Seokjin’s smile grows a little brighter, and Namjoon feels the heavy weight in his heart being chipped away bit by bit.
When their last written examination for DADA ends at 5pm on the 1st of June, Namjoon waits for Seokjin by the door to the examination hall, because he had been sitting nearer to the exit and had managed to make it out of the room before Seokjin.
As he checks his textbook for the answer to one of the questions, one of his hands is taken by Seokjin, who drags him away from everybody else, breaking into a sprint which Namjoon has no choice but to catch up to if he doesn’t want to fall and take Seokjin down with him.
He doesn’t ask where Seokjin is taking him with that mischievous grin on his face, he just follows. He’s never been able to say no to Seokjin anyway, so there’s no point in asking.
Seokjin leads him to the edge of the Forbidden Forest, near Hagrid’s little hut, and there he sees a beautiful Hippogriff sitting on the floor, a chain loosely tied around his neck and attached to a metal post by his side.
“He’s beautiful, isn’t he?” Seokjin breathes out.
Namjoon eyes Seokjin warily. “Why have you brought me here?”
Seokjin winks. “For a celebration, of course. Hagrid allowed me to hitch a ride on Jjangu here after today’s examination.”
“No,” Namjoon says in awe.
“Yes,” Seokjin says. “But you’ve got to make sure he doesn’t bite your head off first, he’s already okay with me.”
Namjoon does what he’s been taught to do in order to greet a Hippogriff, and he bows cautiously as Seokjin heads to Jjangu’s head and pets him.
It goes much easier than Namjoon expects. “There, good boy,” Seokjin grins when Jjangu bows his head back to Namjoon.
“Come on, we haven’t got all day,” Seokjin beckons him over impatiently as he removes the chain from Jjangu’s neck. Jjangu stands up immediately, stretching his wings.
He helps Namjoon up first, lending him his knee for Namjoon to hop up on to Jjangu’s back, before climbing up himself.
Seokjin’s clearly ridden Jjangu quite a few times before, because when he digs his heel into Jjangu’s side the Hippogriff squawks and gets to a running start. Namjoon feels his body bounce along violently due to how fast Jjangu is running, and he tightens his hold around Seokjin’s waist.
When Jjangu takes off flying into the air, Namjoon hears Seokjin whoop in joy. He takes a look at the surroundings when Jjangu stabilises, gliding through the air beautifully. The wind whips against their hair and faces, but Namjoon doesn’t care.
He sees the Black Lake beneath them, still waters reflecting the bright orange sunset. Hogwarts lies on their left, the Quidditch pitch on the right, and they leave those behind as they fly farther to the north. He doesn’t know where they are going right now, but he trusts Seokjin and Jjangu, so he doesn’t question it.
He enjoys with his eyes, and soon enough Jjangu slows down, descending from the altitude they were at, before landing at a little secluded seaside area near Hogsmeade. He’s never been there before, but it’s quiet, peaceful, away from the usual hustle and bustle of the village.
Jjangu veers off to the side where someone had nicely left a pail of water out for any animals or creatures that might pass by. They take off their shoes, and walk along the shore, grains getting in between their toes. When they find a nice sunny spot, Seokjin conjures a beach towel, laying it on the beach so that they can sit.
They talk. They talk about everything, from Taehyung, to their answers for the examination just now, to when they will see each other next. They have decided to move in with each other after they get jobs at the Ministry, Namjoon an Auror and Seokjin at the International Magical Office of Law.
It’s a nice plan, and Namjoon loves it very much.
When the sun is setting, Seokjin hops up off the beach towel, patting himself down to get some of the sand off his black trousers. He doesn’t put much effort into it, in favour of grabbing a little stone off the ground nearby.
He turns to Namjoon, asking, “Have you ever skipped stones before?”
Namjoon shakes his head, and Seokjin beckons him over. “Here, let me teach you.”
Seokjin goes through the movement with him, swinging his hand back and then throwing it with an appropriate amount of strength, not too much and not too little. Seokjin stands behind Namjoon, back to chest, his arms around Namjoon, fingers wrapped around Namjoon’s hand to guide him through the movement.
Seokjin’s chin is tucked on Namjoon’s shoulder, and Namjoon resists the urge to ask Seokjin to come back when they separate so that Namjoon can try skipping stones on his own. He does his best to copy whatever Seokjin taught him just now, but the stone bounces once and sinks deep into the water.
He pouts, and Seokjin laughs.
“Here,” he says, picking another stone off the ground. “Watch me.”
Namjoon stands beside Seokjin, taking in whatever Seokjin does, remembering how graceful Seokjin looks, how beautiful as his skin glistens in the sunset.
It’s a beautiful sight.
Namjoon is interrupted when he suddenly trips forward into Seokjin, who manages to catch him in his arms before he faceplants on the floor. Seokjin’s gaze, worried at first when directed at Namjoon, turns to a chiding one when he sees Jjangu behind Namjoon.
“Jjangu! Bad boy,” Seokjin reprimands. Jjangu only squawks in response, flapping his wings, nudging Namjoon closer to Seokjin. It makes the both of them lose their balance, and they fall on their asses on to the floor, laughing.
Namjoon manages to prop himself up on his arms after they compose themselves, his body half lying on Seokjin’s. Seokjin takes a clump of Namjoon’s poofy fringe, and tucks them with the rest of his hair. It stands right back up again, as it always does, and Seokjin smiles.
Namjoon grins back. He lowers his head, lips going down to meet Seokjin’s gently at first, moving more urgently when he finally tastes Seokjin.
He’s attacked with the sweet taste of strawberry on Seokjin’s soft lips at first, and when their tongues meet Namjoon relishes the way Seokjin tastes and feels. With the sun shining on his back and Seokjin underneath him, Namjoon thinks he would rather have it no other way.
When they separate, they are panting, and Namjoon realises he doesn’t ever want to let Seokjin out of his sight ever again.
Because right now, drinking in Seokjin’s bright smile for him, Namjoon knows something, for sure.
They will both be okay from now on.