"Jimin! Jimin! Listen, if you don't come out right now I'm coming in!"
"I have soap in my eye!" Jimin says. "Ow. This is all your fault. Now I'm going to be stuck in here an extra minute trying to regain my eyesight all because you couldn't stop yourself from giving me a heart attack in the shower -"
"Jimin, I swear this is serious." Taehyung knocks on the cubicle door like his life depends on it. "Like, the most serious thing to have ever happened to me in ever."
"More serious than breaking your Patronus?" Jimin teases.
"I didn't break her," Taehyung splutters. "She just - got a little surprised, is all - anyway, I'm coming in, I don't know how long I have left before I fade from this earth and cease to exist completely."
Jimin has known Taehyung long enough to be able to tell Overdramatic Taehyung from Legitimately Terrified Taehyung. It's just, sometimes, Taehyung tends to get legitimately terrified by things that aren't actually terrifying. Like heights. When he's a Chaser.
"Um," Jimin says, when Taehyung scoots through the space between the cubicle door and bathroom floor. Well. It’s more accurate to say that a tiny black Pomeranian pup scrabbles under the cubicle door and into his private, showering space. Jimin turns off the shower, because that seems to be the polite thing to do. Also, Taehyung in his tiny Animagus form looks like he might drown.
"Look," Taehyung says, once he's reverted back into human form. He shakes water out of his hair. "Look at my hands."
Jimin blinks. He blinks again. All this blinking has removed the soap sud in his eye, which is great, but.
"Yeeaaargh," Jimin says, looking to the heavens. "Merlin's sake, Tae, why didn't you transform your clothes in with you too? I'm not looking at anything, that's too much skin for me to handle right now."
"You're not any less naked," Taehyung points out. "And anyway, I'm in the middle of a crisis! You know I don't transform well under duress. Aren't you my Bestest Best Friend? What does it matter if I don't have clothes on? Look at my hands!"
"I swear," Jimin says, breathing thinly through his nose, "that if your hands are anywhere near your dick, I will personally throw you into the Great Lake and let the Giant Squid eat you."
"First of all, the Giant Squid loves me. I gave it apples. Now look." Taehyung thrusts his hands into Jimin's line of sight. At least, that's what Jimin gathers from Taehyung's movements in his peripheral vision. Except he doesn't actually see anything. He just sees... wrists. Ending in... nothingness.
"Holy Merlin," Jimin says.
"I don't know how long I have left," Taehyung wails. "I'm vanishing! I'm being banished from existence! I -"
"Have you been to the Hospital Wing?" Jimin asks.
"Of course not!" Taehyung takes Jimin's shoulders. His hands feel normal. They feel like hands. "I came straight to you. I have to tell you something. It's important. It's vitally important. I won't be able to live with myself if I die without telling you. Park Jimin, you are my Bestest Best Friend and I love you to the ends of -"
"Why haven't you seen Madam Pomfrey?" Jimin demands. "Dude, you are so stupid. I hate you so much."
This is how Park Jimin and Kim Taehyung end up in the Hospital Wing with only towels tied around their waists, dripping determinedly into their own puddles as Madam Pomfrey and Professor Longbottom stare at them.
"So you drank an unidentifiable substance," Professor Longbottom says, like he can't believe what he's saying, "from the Potions classroom. Because it looked like pumpkin juice, smelled nice and was in a nice-looking mug." Even his fingers, which he's been ticking off of, look disbelieving.
Madam Pomfrey sighs. Loudly.
"Yeah," Taehyung says morosely. "It tasted nice too." He has the grace to look at his feet. "Fuck! My feet are gone!"
"Perhaps it's just an invisibility jinx gone awry," Professor Longbottom says unconvincingly. "And you'll be right as rain in a jiffy."
"Professor," Taehyung says. "You're supposed to help."
"Listen," Madam Pomfrey says impatiently. "We have to call in the Headmistress."
Taehyung pales. "Let's not," he whimpers. Jimin takes his hand and tries not to think about the fact that it looks like he's holding thin air. Taehyung squeezes his hand.
In the end, the whole Hogwarts faculty ends up crowded around Taehyung after Madam Pomfrey has impatiently poked, prodded, dried, clothed and sent him to bed with a disapproving: "Why do you smell like wet dog?"
Jimin sits on the bed next to Taehyung and tries not to look too anxious. This is not Overdramatic Taehyung. This is Legitimately Terrified Taehyung, who's shaking all over and can't seem to stop prodding his invisible feet with his invisible hands.
It sucks. Jimin hates watching Legitimately Terrified Taehyung, especially when he can't do anything to comfort him. It's just... not right.
"Oh god," Kim Namjoon, teaching assistant to Professor Kim Seokjin, suddenly says. "This is why I should never be promoted to Potions Master. Ever. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I resign! I don't deserve to teach here. I completely understand."
"Namjoon," Professor Mcgonagall says through gritted teeth. Her teeth are definitely gritted. Jimin thinks he even hears a bit of grinding. "Namjoon, what did you do this time." It's not a question.
"Okay, it was partially my fault too," Professor Seokjin says. "Both of us were heading the experiment, and it's my fault we forgot to clean up. Joonie, he's just - he's really smart! I'm always picking up new things from him. Sometimes I wish he would pick me up too."
Namjoon coughs and turns red.
"Anyway," Professor Seokjin continues, as Jimin tries not to puke a little in his mouth. “We were testing the limits of magical energy transfer and conversion. Apparently it's possible to, um, what was that Joonie? Absorb light energy into your body and convert it into magical energy to create stronger spells."
"Like solar panels!" Namjoon continues excitedly. "You know, the, uh, renewable energy system that Muggles use to generate electrical energy from the sun?" Everyone looks at Namjoon blankly. "Never mind. Anyway, like solar panels, your body will no longer reflect light photons because it's absorbing it, which is why it's confusing that our Taehyungie here is going invisible, because I'm pretty sure he's supposed to turn black, unless - unless his body is spitting the photons back out in the same direction they came from..." Namjoon turns horrified eyes at Taehyung, who in turn looks twice as Legitimately Terrified as he did before. "Taehyung's body must be rejecting the potion," he whispers. "His body must be leaking magical energy to spit the light photons back out! The more magic he uses, the more magic he leaks, and the more parts of his body will go invisible... He - he could very well run out of magic. But! Don't worry, Taehyungie. You're not going to die or fade from existence. You'll just become... a Squib. Probably temporarily, though!“
The room is deafeningly silent.
"What?" Jimin says, high-pitched. "Excuse me?"
"I hope you have a cure for this," Headmistress Mcgonagall says coldly. "Or you can both consider yourselves fired."
"Oh, yes," Namjoon says, looking distinctly relieved. "We do have a cure. True Love’s Kiss. That's the cure! Only love can restore the imbalance of energies within -"
"Like," Taehyung squeaks, "like a romantic kind of love? Or, like, can my mother fix this?"
Namjoon looks apologetic. "Romantic love, I'm afraid." He sighs. "We were still working on expanding it to other forms of love. Romantic love was just the easiest."
"I hope you have a girlfriend," Professor Seokjin says. "Or a boyfriend." He laughs nervously.
Taehyung facepalms himself, except his hands don't actually do anything to cover his face.
"Fuck," he groans, and flops back down onto bed.
"Tae. Are you okay?" Jimin asks, after Taehyung is discharged from the Hospital Wing. They're curled up in the Prime Spot in front of the Hufflepuff Basement fire, after Taehyung had gone on a long and dramatic spiel to the younger Hufflepuffs about how he'll disappear from the face of the earth if he doesn't absorb as many light photons as possible.
He's not sure what photons even are, to be honest.
("Aren't they, like, protons?" Taehyung had asked Jimin on the way back to the Basement.
"Do you even know what protons are?" Jimin had replied.
"Shut up," Taehyung had said. "'s'not my fault my ass got whipped up here before I fully understood Muggle Chemistry. It was terrible, by the way. Consider yourself lucky.”)
"No, I'm not. I'm essentially a Squib," Taehyung moans, gesticulating wildly with his gloved hands. "Who wears gloves in the middle of September? It's so hot. My hands and feet have been perspiring non-stop. I feel disgusting, like a sewer. But worse." He picks at the special anti-light socks that Namjoon had magically conceived out of the depths of his sock drawer. He really does feel icky.
"Please don't remove them," Jimin says anxiously. "Don't use your magic either! No transforming, okay? Tae? Promise me."
"Yeah, yeah," Taehyung says. Jimin is such a worrier. "I promise. I just -" He perks up. "I just need to eat more! Food gives you energy right? And energy gives you magical energy?"
This is how Taehyung ends up eating so much at dinner he almost hurls.
"I can't live like this," Taehyung moans, throwing his gloved hands into the air. He slides down so low on the chair that only one-tenth of his ass is actually on the seat.
Hoseok and Jungkook laugh at him over the table.
"Is it true?" Hoseok asks. "Do you really need True Love's Kiss to stop the curse?"
"Yeeees," Taehyung says, drawing out the "yes" so it sounds like three syllables. "Hobi. Do you love me?"
Hoseok quirks an eyebrow. "Of course," he says. "Do you want a smooch?" He makes a ridiculous kissy face.
Jimin chokes on his pudding, and Taehyung spends the next minute hitting him on the back.
“No,” Taehyung says, settling back into his chair after Jimin stops spurting pudding out of his nose. "I was just kidding. You know I don't swing that way."
"Do you love anyone?" Jungkook asks.
"Of course!" Taehyung says indignantly. "I love Jiminnie and you and Hobi and my mother -"
"You know what he means,” Jimin interrupts. He's slightly pink in the cheeks. "Romantic love, Tae."
Taehyung frowns. "Not right now, no. This is it. I'm destined to be a Squib forever and ever and I won't be able to graduate at the end of the year and I'll have to work a Muggle job in an office."
"Hey," Jimin says mildly. "We wizards will probably have to work office jobs too."
"Let me stop you right there," Taehyung says, wrapping a gloved hand around Jimin's face. "Don't talk to me about work and adulting."
"What about Georgina?" Hoseok asks. "You went to the Yule Ball with her."
"Yeah, but. We broke up. Don't think that smacks of True Love," Taehyung says.
"Mm mmmph mmrph," Jimin says.
"Oh, sorry," Taehyung says, taking his gloved hand off Jimin's mouth.
"Maybe it doesn't have to be mutual," Jimin says, gasping. "Maybe it just has to be someone who truly loves you."
"That's a great idea!" Jungkook says, and then he's standing up on his chair and Headmistress Mcgonagall is looking up sharply from the High Table and Taehyung is falling off his seat trying to stop him.
"Taehyung needs kisses!" Jungkook yells. Everyone in the Great Hall turns to look at them. Taehyung is suddenly glad he's fallen off his chair, because hiding under the table has never been more convenient. "He needs True Love's Kiss to lift his curse! Or he'll turn into a Squib!"
"Merlin," Taehyung whimpers, clutching Jimin's leg. "Merlin help me."
"It's for your own good," Jimin says, sounding strangled (with laughter, probably, the traitor), but he puts a hand in Taehyung's hair so Taehyung thinks he'll forgive him anyway.
"Is it safe now?" Taehyung whispers, after a few moments pass in which Jimin gently massages his scalp the way Taehyung loves it, especially when he’s Tae Tae, his tiny black Pomeranian Animagus form.
"Yeah,” Jimin says.
Jimin is a fucking traitor.
When Taehyung rises from his hide-out under the table, there are a bunch of girls at their table. The looks on their faces are terrifying.
"Look," Taehyung says, raising his hands. He didn't think it was possible for his palms to get any sweatier, but he's so wrong. A droplet of perspiration trickles out from his glove and down his wrist. Ew. "Look, I'm not a consensual party here."
"It's for your own good," one of the girls parrots. She looks sweet. She also looks 14. "And I've been in love with you since the moment I laid eyes upon you."
"Oh," Taehyung says. That sounds kind of familiar. "Have you been leaving me Valentines' Day cards in my locker every year? You always sign off as "I've loved you since the moment I laid eyes upon you.""
The girl has the grace to blush. "Yes," she says, and then she approaches Taehyung and takes his hands, leaning up to give him a small peck on the lips.
"Did it work?" she asks breathlessly.
"Um," Taehyung says. He moves to take the glove off to check, but all of a sudden Jimin is in his space, practically shoving the girl away and covering his hands with his own.
"Don't be stupid," Jimin hisses. "Don't take it off! Just - peek in, or something."
"Oh," Taehyung says, "right."
He does that. He still doesn't see anything.
"You do it," he says, offering his hand to Jimin. "I don't trust my eyes anymore."
Jimin peers in, his breath wafting softly over the skin of his wrist. "Nope," he says, turning relieved eyes at Taehyung. "Guess that proves my theory wrong -"
"Maybe she's too young to know what true love is," one of the other girls says loftily.
All four of their heads swivel to look at her. She's tall and willowy. She's Lily. As in Head Girl Lily.
"Oh," Taehyung says, almost swallowing his tongue. What a turn of events. Lily is only the most hotly contested girl in Hogwarts history. It helps that she was named after Harry Potter's very own mother, who, judging from the photos, was also a babe.
"I think you're really great," Lily says, smiling. Jimin coughs. Taehyung whacks him on the back, perhaps harder than necessary.
"Yes, I am," Taehyung says, puffing up a little.
"And it hurts me to see you hurting," Lily continues. "I don't normally do this, you see."
"I see," Taehyung says, because apparently the extent of his vocabulary becomes limited to monosyllabic words in the face of powerful and attractive females.
"Just get on with it," Jimin says, a little snippily. Taehyung slants him a look that says I'm going to kill you tonight.
Jimin cocks his head. Come and get me.
Taehyung licks his lips. Just you wait.
Jimin winks at him. Taehyung isn't sure what that means, except for the fact that Jimin is very annoying.
"Alright, maybe we should set a time limit," Hoseok says, because Lily hasn't moved an inch and Taehyung has been... distracted. "30 seconds per person. Get in line, everyone!"
Lily is sultry, to say the least, but a little wet. The next boy is soft and dry. The next and the next and the next blur into each other until...
("Wow, he's really milking it, isn't he," Namjoon whispers to Seokjin.
"I wouldn't mind getting some of that too," Seokjin says dreamily.
Namjoon hits him. "Professor!" he says, aghast.
"I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that," Headmistress Mcgonagall says.)
... until Taehyung's lips are raw.
"I think that's enough kisses to last me a lifetime," Taehyung announces to Jimin, who looks strangely flushed. "Hey. You okay?"
"Yeah!" Jimin says brightly. "I'm great. Guess you really proved my theory wrong, huh."
"Oh yeah," Taehyung says sadly. "You were wrong big time."
"Can I get me some of that potion too?" Hoseok asks. "Lily, huh." He whistles.
Taehyung grabs Jimin by the wrist. "You can have her," he says flippantly. Right now, he's just really tired. All he wants to do is cuddle with Jimin in their Prime Spot in front of the fire.
They do exactly that.
Taehyung goes to sleep that night feeling a little less terrified than he had that afternoon.
Jimin, one week later.
Despite Jimin's best efforts, Taehyung is convinced that it doesn't take magic to fly.
"Look," Jimin says, dragging Taehyung by the hand and throwing his entire body weight in the opposite direction. "Can Muggles fly? No! Do you know why? Because they need magic to fly. You need magic to fly. Oh, look, it's Madam Hooch. Madam Hooch! Tell Taehyungie that flying is inherently magical. Please. Please."
Madam Hooch looks up from one of the broomstick racks in the Quidditch shed. “Yes, boys,” she says. "Flying is definitely inherently magical."
"The broomstick is magical," Taehyung says. "The rider doesn't have to be. I read about it somewhere."
"And where, pray tell," Jimin pants. He's practically sat his butt on the ground trying to stop Taehyung from his slow but relentless pursuit of the broomshed and certain death. He might or might not have grass burn on his ass. "Where did you find this information?"
"Google," Taehyung says. He picks up his Firebolt Supreme. Jimin almost punches him.
Madam Hooch steadily ignores them.
Jungkook bursts into the shed. "The enemy!" he gasps dramatically, hand to his heart.
"Oh, Kookie!" Jimin says. "Taehyung can't fly today. Or tomorrow. Or the rest of his life until the curse is lifted."
"Perfect!" Jungkook says. "Ravenclaw is definitely beating your Hufflepuff ass this time!"
“Oh no," Jimin moans into his hands.
"That's it," Taehyung says, brandishing his broomstick. "You're on. Come on, Jiminnie, I gotta go. Where's my good luck hug?"
Jimin has never been able to say no. Reluctantly, he steps into Taehyung's open arms, rests his forehead into the curve of Taehyung's shoulder. He feels Taehyung swallow and his arms shake just slightly. "Be careful," Jimin says miserably. "Do you remember what I always say?"
"I'm not afraid of heights, I'm just afraid of the fall," Taehyung quips.
"And I'll always be here to catch you if you do," Jimin mumbles into Taehyung's shoulder.
"This is sweet, but I think the whole Hufflepuff team is about to storm the shed," Jungkook says.
Jimin can't see it, but he's pretty sure Taehyung flips Jungkook off behind his back.
It's an irritatingly bright and sunny afternoon, so bright that Jimin has to squint into the sun as the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw teams fly into the Quidditch pitch. He prays that his levitation skills are strong and fast enough to catch Taehyung when he inevitably falls from inadequate magical energy or magical leakage or something.
Which… he doesn't. At least, not immediately.
Jimin's probably the first to notice because his eyes are trained on Taehyung, swooping and swerving and effortlessly chasing the Quaffle. It's almost impossible to tell that Taehyung is terrified of heights. It is, however, possible to tell when Taehyung goes completely invisible. He's still flying, completely unaware, except he also looks like a headless wizard on a broom.
Jimin stands up, yells: "Taehyung!" and starts running, stumbling, falling down the bleachers towards the pitch.
Taehyung gets the Quaffle.
The crowd roars as Taehyung hurls it past the Keeper and straight into the goal. And then the crowd goes silent, because there's a loud boom and an explosion of light from Taehyung's broom, and then he's falling, dropping like a stone from the sky.
"Wingardium Leviosa!" Jimin screams, and he doesn't even realise he's not using his wand until Taehyung hits the ground.
He loves being a Chaser. The thrill of it, the euphoria of getting a goal, the swooping and swerving and pirouetting. It's just him and his baby against the world.
He doesn't think about the volume of air between him and the ground, or the fall as he hurtles through the air at Merlin-knows how many miles per hour, or what it'll feel like to hit the ground and realise one of his greatest fears.
All he thinks about is: I'll be always be here to catch you.
Everything goes black.
Wait. Maybe it's because his eyes are closed.
Taehyung blinks his eyes open. The sky swims lazily into view, mercilessly blue. There are no clouds. His teammates flit in and out of his vision.
He can hear the sounds of muffled screaming, of Quidditch commentator Min Yoongi speaking quickly and calmly over the noise of rising chaos, of - Jimin?
"Tae!" Jimin slides into view, worried eyes shining brighter than the bright blue sky. "Taehyung, I'm so sorry, oh, fuck, fuck fuck fuck -"
"Didn't take you for a swearer," Taehyung murmurs, and then everything definitely goes black.
Taehyung had been a special 11-year-old. There's really no other way to describe 11-year-old Taehyung. Special, with a terrible grasp of the English language and an even worse haircut.
"Oh no," Bad Haircut Boy said, because for the strangest reason he had been running out of Platform 9 3/4, just as Jimin had been nervously plucking up the courage to run in, and in so doing had crashed into Jimin's well-packed trolley full of trunks and books. "Sorry! Very sorry." Bad Haircut Boy did a double-take. "Can you? Korean?"
Jimin slipped excitedly into Korean. "Yeah, I'm Korean! Um... are you going to Hogwarts?"
"Hush, Jimin-ah," his mother said. "People can hear you."
"No one knows Korean here.” Jimin pouted.
Bad Haircut Boy nodded.
"You know it's... this way, right?" Jimin said, pointing at the brick wall Bad Haircut Boy had just stumbled out of.
"Yes," he said. "I was just saying good bye."
Jimin looked around. There was no one to say good bye to.
"To who?" he asked.
"To - to being normal!" Bad Haircut Boy said, laughing, as though it was obvious.
"Going to Hogwarts is normal," Jimin said.
"No," Bad Haircut Boy whispered. "Going to Hogwarts is magical."
Magic seemed pretty normal to Jimin, but the way this boy's eyes shone made Jimin think, perhaps, that magic was something special, something not everyone had.
11-year-old Bad Haircut Boy's name was Kim Taehyung, and he had a terrible grasp of the English language and an even worse grasp of normalcy. He was and is the most special boy Park Jimin has ever met (or crashed into), with a love for magic that could encompass the whole Wizarding World.
And now, he's dead.
"Fuck magic," Taehyung is saying. "Fuck flying, fuck Kim Namjoon, fuck Kim Seokjin, why the flying fuck did I even come to Hogwarts?"
They're in the Hospital Wing. It had taken Taehyung three mind-numbingly fretful hours to wake up, and then just three minutes after Namjoon had left upon checking up on him to fly into a rage.
"You know, the whole reason you're angry is because you don't actually hate magic," Jimin points out.
"Fuck magic," Taehyung says meaningfully.
"And if you hadn't come to Hogwarts, you wouldn't have met me." Jimin bats his eyelashes.
"At least you're visible again."
"Park Jimin, stop finding flaws in my rants or I swear I will throw you out of the window. With my bare hands. I don't need magic for that. Speaking of all the fucks I give, since when did you start swearing, Mr Wholesome Wizard and running Top Scorer of the Year?"
"Since you almost died," Jimin says quietly.
Taehyung turns big eyes on him. "I'm sorry."
"No, I'm sorry," Jimin says. "I should've been faster, stronger -"
"Dude, you saved me, what are you on about?"
"If I'd been faster, you wouldn't be lying here with a concussion."
"If you hadn't saved me, I wouldn't be lying here at all," Taehyung says. "I'd be six feet under. So. You know, I'm really sorry. If I'd been less stupid, I wouldn't even be lying here. With my magic drained out of my soul."
Magical short circuit, Namjoon had said. And magical power outage. Kind of like a blackout, he'd explained to Taehyung. Don't worry, it's temporary! Jimin doesn't really understand.
"Hey," Taehyung says, taking Jimin's hand. "Why am I comforting you? I'm the patient. Comfort me."
"Well." Jimin cocks his head to the side, thinking. "Hufflepuff won."
"Oh!" Taehyung looks pleased. "Did we catch the Snitch?"
"Don't be silly," Jimin says. "They cut the game after you fell. You were the only one who scored a goal."
"Oh," Taehyung says, smiling. Then the smile flits off his face like a butterfly in flight, and he looks serious. Sad. "I guess I'll never play again. I'll have to tell Tom to look for a new Chaser."
"Hey, no. We'll break the curse before your next match," Jimin says, squeezing Taehyung's hand. "I promise. Pinky promise. Okay? I won't let you go back to normal. You're the best wizard out there."
"Jiminnie! Are you saying you actually appreciate the fart-inducing charms I created last year?"
Jimin sniffs. "Don't let it get to your head."
"Eat my ass," Taehyung says fondly, but he squeezes Jimin's hand back.