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Of Magic and Maladies

Chapter Text

 

Jeon Jeongguk

Of Magic and Maladies

For Troubles  of Any and All Kind

By  Appointment Only

435 Honeysuckle Ln,  Gangnam-gu, Seoul

 

Yoongi blinks at the little card in his hand, glancing from Namjoon to Hoseok hesitantly. “I - what?”

 

Namjoon sends him a cheerful grin. “Jeon Jeongguk,” he announces, waving his hand, rings catching in the late evening sun to glitter, “Is a genius.”

 

“The best.” Hoseok agrees seriously.

 

“An absolute prodigy, that one.” Namjoon nods, solemn.

 

Yoongi doesn’t get it, and he tells them as much. “Explain, please.”

 

It’s odd, the look Namjoon and Hoseok exchange, and Yoongi feels something turn over in his belly, sticky  and unwanted. “What?” he asks, clicking his chopsticks together anxiously. “What is it?”

 

Namjoon lets out a low sigh,  taking Yoongi’s hand in his, a little less cheerful now, kindness lingering in his eyes. “Hyung,” he begins, and it’s soft, a bit worried. “You need to sleep.”

 

( and that’s the truth of it all, Yoongi’s learned. He needs to sleep.)

 

Then, in this dim ramen shop, a pair of chopsticks held in one hand, Yoongi listens to his  best friends telling him what he’s been telling himself for the last 5 months.

 

“You need to sleep,” Hoseok echos gently, eyes crinkling at the corners. he has a kind smile too, heart shaped, warm and comforting and familiar, and Yoongi agrees with him, however much he doesn’t want to.

 

“Okay, but.” and now he picks up the card again, the paper rough against his fingertips, sunlight filtering through the grain lazily. “What does he have to do with anything?”

 

Hoseok grins at him mischievously and oh , Yoongi feels faint now, terribly familiar with Hoseok’s antics. Oh dear, that’s not good. Not good at all.

 

 

Jeon Jeongguk, Yoongi learns, is a witch.

 

“He’s a - a what now?”

 

“A witch.” Namjoon repeats patiently, tucking his wallet into his back pocket as they shuffle out of the ramen shop, all three of them huddled under a single umbrella. It’s drizzling gently outside, a nice kind of chill in the air, pleasant. “And yes , he’s legal, hyung, I wouldn’t take you to him if he wasn’t.”

 

To be fair, witches are a lot more common than they were before. They’ve been in hiding for years, ever since the great witch hunt of the 1700s, but it’s an official law now, to refrain from persecuting “any and all magical folk.”

 

There are all sorts of witches, but this one, Namjoon tells him, is a healer.

 

“He’s the best in his field.” Namjoon hitches the umbrella higher, Yoongi and Hoseok pressing into him tightly to keep from getting wet. “Seok-ah went to him for a while too, didn’t you?’

 

Hoseok nods, his elbow knocking into Yoongi’s with every step they take. It’s comfortable, this kind of friendship, and their apartment is only a little ways away from the city, tucked in between a flurry of buildings.

 

“Guk-ah is really sweet, hyung.” Hoseok tells him, moving out from underneath the umbrella when they step under the awning of their building.

 

He digs into his back pocket for a few brief seconds before letting out a quiet sigh, turning to Namjoon instead. “Give.”

 

Namjoon shrugs helplessly. “Seokie, I don’t have it-”

 

Hoseok tsks, reaching over to pluck a key ring hanging forlornly from one of Namjoon’s belt loops. “ Seokie, I don’t have it,” he mocks, the door to their apartment opening with a little click , and Yoongi hides his giggle in Namjoon’s shoulder, shuffling in behind him lazily.

 

“Anyway,” Hoseok continues, throwing the keys on the table before sitting, fingers worrying at the edge of a cushion. “Remember when I was having panic attacks because of the new choreographer?”

 

Yoongi does remember. Back then, Hoseok was too tired too often, upset and anxious and tripping over himself with all of the worry.

 

“Yes,” Yoongi offers cautiously. “But I thought you took medication for that?”

 

“I did.” and Hoseok is grinning again, beaming with warmth despite the late hour. “But it wasn’t exactly what you would call conventional.”

 

“It wasn’t conventional at all,” Namjoon buts in, curling into Hoseok’s side on the overstuffed armchair, a hot cup of tea balanced precariously in hand. “None of the usual meds were working for him, so I did a little sleuthing and-”

 

“Sleuthing?”

 

Namjoon shushes him, taking a sip from his tea before wincing when it inevitably leaves him with a burnt tongue. Yoongi presses his lips together tightly, a poor attempt to keep from snorting.

 

Tiredly, Hoseok takes the cup from Namjoon’s hand before setting it on the coffee table, fingers threading through Namjoon’s hair easily. “By sleuthing,” Hoseok mutters, “He means he stumbled - quite literally, I might add - into Jeongguk’s shop.”

 

“Explain, please.”

 

“Well.” Namjoon begins, a tentative smile gracing his lips, “Jeongguk is, ah, what you would call a bit of a recluse.”

 

“He’s not a recluse, don’t be daft.” Hoseok argues. Yoongi listens with increasing interest, leaning forward from his place intently. “He’s just - he’s just afraid, you know, a lot of magic folk still aren’t really accepted in society-”

 

“Okay, that’s utter shit  right there, witches are-”

 

“Hey,” Yoongi interrupts, and then again when he finds it doesn’t do anything to quell the squabbling. “ Hey.”

 

“Hi,” Namjoon says irritably.

 

And then he returns to his argument with Hoseok, ignoring Yoongi completely. Yoongi isn’t sure whether he wants to laugh or scream.

 

He chooses the latter. “Hello .”

 

They blink at him curiously. Yoongi cradles his head in his hands, words muffled, kind of tired. Not much more different than usual, then. “If you two are just going to argue then please take it to the bedroom, I’d prefer it if you went through with the hate sex now rather than later-”

 

Hoseok lets out an affronted noise, cutting Yoongi off. “We will do no such thing, excuse you.”

 

“But we will ,” Namjoon begins, glaring pointedly at Hoseok, as if he isn’t sitting in Namjoon’s lap. “ finish telling you about Jeongguk, if you would please sit down.”

 

Yoongi sits then, tired. “Go on.”

 

“Good. As I was saying, Jeongguk isn’t in the public eye too much. For whatever reason, he keeps himself hidden, even in the magic parts of the city.  I stumbled into him because - okay, yes, I’ll admit it, I was worried about Seokie and went looking for help.”

 

Yoongi nods, turning away when Hoseok pecks the corner of Namjoon’s mouth. It feels strangely intimate whenever he’s around the two of them like this, and he’s not quite sure he’s okay with it (although that’s a problem for later). “And?”

 

“And I found Jeongguk.” Namjoon smiles a little, fondness clear in the quirk of his lips. “He asked me if he could help me any so I told him about Seokie and - hyung, I swear, he knew exactly what to do.”

 

Hoseok nods in agreement. “Namjoon booked an appointment, and it took - what, less than 20 minutes for him to send me on way ?”

 

“And it worked?” asks Yoongi curiously. “Just like that?”

 

“Just like that.” Hoseok echos, curling into Namjoon’s side, their hands weaved together. “It took a few days before I felt normal again, but, hyung, you should book an appointment. He’s worth it, I promise.”

 

Yoongi studies Hoseok carefully, taking him in, his earnest eyes and his warm grin. “Okay,” he agrees quietly, getting to his feet, a yawn escaping his lips. “Okay, thanks, I’ll um - I’ll consider it.”

 

And then he shuffles into his room, bidding the two of them goodnight, the door locking behind him with a quiet little click .

 

He doesn’t fall asleep until the sun rises.

 

 

As it turns out, Jeongguk isn’t quite ready to begin his day yet.

 

“Shut up,” he mutters, feeling around for his alarm clock, eyes fluttering open when his hand knocks into something fluffy instead. “Shit. Shit. Koo, is that you?”

 

There’s a tiny screech in his ear, and yes okay, Jeongguk deserved that. “ ‘m sorry.” he mumbles, shoving his face into his pillow, a pitter patter of scaly feet flicking across his back. “Koo, ‘m sorry, don’t - fuck, you little bastard-”

 

Koo, Jeongguk’s lovely, lovely screech owl, is staring at him balefully when he finally sits up in bed. He’s glaring a little, dark eyes furrowed in annoyance, and okay, yes, Jeongguk deserves that too. But what he doesn’t deserve is the incessant pecking, and he tells Koo as much.

 

“That was rude.” Jeongguk turns his nose up in the air, annoyed. “And after all I’ve done for you? Who caught all those mice yesterday, huh? Come to think of it, did you even say thank you-

 

Actually, ” Koo hoots now, and Jeongguk startles, a bit surprised. Koo’s not much of a talker (not that Jeongguk is one either, but. semantics.) “ As much as I would love to sit here and listen to you complain, I pecked you for a reason. The telephone booth was ringing.”

 

“Oh.” Jeongguk blinks at Koo, at his little round glasses and his red feathers, and sighs. “Are you sure? I don’t remember giving my card out to anyone recently.”

 

Koo hoots again. “ Quite sure. Check and see .”

 

Jeongguk fumbles, dragging his blanket off the bed with him as he walks towards the telephone booth tucked in the corner of his room. It’s for work only, and with that said, it doesn’t ring too often at all because Jeongguk is picky with his customers, let alone his card.

 

(Not too many have his card at all.)

 

“If you’re fucking with me,” Jeongguk mutters, Koo fluttering over to perch on his shoulder, “Then you better catch your own fucking mice by yourself-”

 

He cuts off when the screen pops up, a notification innocently blinking up at him. You have: one missed call.

 

“Well then.” Jeongguk says. “This is awkward.”

 

Koo, as he’s wont to do, pecks at his ear again, although it feels fond this time.

 

“I’ll call them back.” Jeongguk decides, stepping out of the telephone booth, a meaningful look sent towards Koo. “But first, breakfast?”

 

Breakfast is a quiet affair. Jeongguk lives alone, in the upstairs flat above his shop and it’s nice, but sometimes, he has to admit, it gets a little lonely.

 

Koo seems to hear his thoughts, as he often does. he hops onto the table delicately, scaly feet digging into the wood, blinking up at Jeongguk in concern. “ are you okay?”

 

His voice is soft, a little tender in Jeongguk’s head. “I’m good.” Jeongguk whispers, lips parting to reveal a small grin, not much but- enough.

 

He eats his cereal thoughtfully, scattering dry cornflakes Koo’s way every few minutes. It’s warm outside, sunlight streaming in through the windows, puffy clouds drifting lazily across the sky, the kind of day that feels like a dream.

 

“Koo,” asks Jeongguk, sitting up, a sudden thought having occurred to him, “What - what time is it?”

 

There’s a mournful hoot from Koo’s end. “ 6:45.”

 

Aghast, Jeongguk drops his spoon, splattering milk everywhere. “What kind of idiot calls at 6 in the morning? Do they not sleep? Are they out to ruin me?”

 

“It’s really not that bad,” Koo begins, but Jeongguk interrupts him, affronted.

 

“It’s terrible. ” he mutters. “An outrage.”

 

Jeongguk huffs, put out. He takes his bowl to the sink before stalking towards the telephone booth, Koo following closely on his heels until he manages to land on Jeongguk’s shoulder.

 

“The audacity.” Jeongguk tells him, closing the door to the telephone booth with a little more force than necessary, rattling the metal walls. “Why. Why would anyone call me at 6 in the morning.”

 

(In his defense, Jeongguk is what you would call nocturnal. He does his best work in the midnight hour, after the day has gone quiet and all is still. In other words, he’s running on three hours of sleep and half a cup of Taehyung’s leftover  Sage Sherry , an interesting concoction of what Taehyung cheerfully calls “pixie dust and a little bit of what the fuck.” Jeongguk’s clearly not in the best frame of mind right now.)

 

Koo nips at his ear, a warning. “be nice.”

 

And before Koo can reprimand him again, Jeongguk dials back the missed number, tapping his foot impatiently as the call goes through. It doesn’t take too long, a deep, rough sort of voice answering him, raspy with sleep still.

 

Hello?”

 

“Hello.” Jeongguk greets, cradling the phone to his ear, Koo balanced carefully on his shoulder. “I received a call from this number a while ago? 6 a.m?”

 

Oh.” and the voice is surprised now, a little bit more awake than before. “ That went through? I’m sorry, I didn’t expect for it to go through.”

 

Jeongguk takes in a deep breath, pinching the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. “And why is that, exactly? Why wouldn’t you expect for it go through?”

 

Well,  I mean the back of the card said to run it under salt water? Which I did, but then Hoseok said I needed to go to Busan for it to work properly and I wasn’t about to leave for Busan at six-”

 

“So you were aware then?” demands Jeongguk. “You knew it was six a.m, did you not?”

 

Excuse me ?”

 

“Were you,” Jeongguk enunciates carefully, Koo biting sharply at his ear in reprimand, “Or were you not aware of the time when you called?”

 

There’s a distinct, awkward sort of quiet from the other end. “ I was aware.” and oh, whoever it is sounds apologetic now, as if they didn’t quite mean to call as early as they did. “ That’s actually… part of the problem.”

 

Jeongguk unconsciously slides down the wall of his telephone booth, hugging his knees to his chest to get comfortable. There’s a soft hoot from Koo’s end before he hops to the floor too, pressing tightly into Jeongguk’s side, a wing covering his eyes, round glasses knocked askew. Sympathy is curling in Jeongguk’s stomach now, hesitant and not quite sure, but curious all the same.

 

“Oh.” Jeongguk strokes Koo’s tiny head, phone cradled carefully to his ear. “What, um, what did you say your name was? And where exactly you got my card from?”

 

 

Yoongi, Jeongguk learns, has trouble sleeping.

 

“Could you be a little more clear please?” asks Jeongguk, keeping his voice quiet, careful not to wake Koo.

 

I wish I could,” Yoongi sounds tired, sort of hollow, and Jeongguk feels it again, sympathy heavy in his chest. “ But Jeongguk-ssi, I literally haven't slept in hours and I have to be at my studio soon.”

 

“Okay.” Jeongguk murmurs, not wanting to push. “Okay that’s fine. Did you want to set up an appointment so we could get this all figured out or…”

 

Yes, please .” and it’s full of relief, thankful. “ I have work until 7, but I could come earlier if need be.

 

“Oh no, that’s fine.” Jeongguk assures, because it is. His shop is messy, not in the best condition considering how long it’s been since he’s cleaned it; he could do with a bit of organising. “If 7 is good for you, it’s good for me too.”

 

Yoongi thanks him then, his voice still gruff, although less sleepy than before. He seems tired, but a kind sort of tired, as if he’s refraining from letting go completely, keeping the crankiness in.

 

“Perfect.” Jeongguk snaps his fingers, then again until Koo jolts awake, blinking at him blearlily. Seven, Jeongguk mouths at him, gesturing with his hands until Koo hops over to his appointment book, set neatly on his bedside table. “I’ll see you soon, Yoongi-ssi!”

 

He ends the call with a little flourish before getting to his feet, knees cracking from how long he’d spent with them against his chest. An hour had passed by in easy accordance, Yoongi telling him his issues and where he’d received Jeongguk’s card from, voice rough with sleep all the while.

 

“Koo? Hey, bud, where are you?” asks Jeongguk, shuffling around until he finds Koo tucked in between two of Jeongguk’s pillows, one of his favorite places to nap.

 

(Koo is tiny for a screech owl. he’s barely 8 inches, even fully grown, but Jeongguk knows from experience that he won't hesitant to deck you with his wing if need be, round glasses slipping halfway down his beak. His feathers are red, though they turn grey in the winter time, and he’s small and fluffy and not very intimidating at first glance, a bit like Jeongguk himself. They match well.)

 

Koo hoots in reply, in a way that tells Jeongguk he’s not really listening. fair enough, Jeongguk guesses.

 

“Don’t sleep for too long.” he tells Koo, tucking the blankets in around him tightly. Koo snaps his beak in response.

 

Jeongguk, as he’s prone to do, putters around, taking his appointment book from the nightstand. Seven ‘o clock is written in Koo’s chicken scratch (owl-scratch, Jeongguk thinks gleefully) handwriting, and carefully, he adds in Yoongi-ssi, sleep troubles next to it.

 

Jeongguk remembers Hoseok vaguely - in a kind of “ah, yes, he came here and I helped him, but what exactly… did I do?” kind of way. He didn’t tell Yoongi that part though; all Jeongguk said was yes, Yoongi-ssi, of course I remember Jung Hoseok, I remember all of my patients.

 

Which, okay yes, was a bit of a stretch but. Yoongi seemed relieved and Jeongguk felt better for it, so it wasn’t wrong of him, he doesn’t think.

 

“Koo,” Jeongguk asks, as if Koo is even awake (and even if he were awake, would he really listen?) “Do you remember a patient named Hoseok? Jung Hoseok?”

 

As predicted, Koo doesn’t answer. He hoots softly in his sleep, and Jeongguk takes it for what it is, ambling down to his shop to open the doors. It’s a little after 9 now, the sun streaming in fully, and Jeongguk’s modeled his shop with glass walls, ribbons of yellow falling across the hardwood floor. He advertises himself as a healer (if he advertises at all, that is) but for the most part, he doubles as an apothecary, jars  full of odd (and not necessarily legal) things.

 

As Jeongguk sits himself behind the counter, witches hat sloping pointedly to one side, he grabs a quill before writing himself a note, not wanting to forget this time around.

 

(his last patient hadn’t been too happy with how long it had taken to find the apothecary. Jeongguk couldn’t really blame him.)

 

Reminder!!! make sure to call Yoongi-ssi and tell him how to find the shop!!

 

 

Yoongi is having trouble finding Jeongguk’s shop.

 

It’s 6:30 now, the evening sun leaving burnt streaks of orange across the sky. He’s not too familiar with this area, but it’s  busy , flickering with life, crowds of people weaving in and between the cobbled streets.

 

Jeongguk hadn’t given him much information; he’d said to look for a pair of glass doors,  honeysuckle creeping along the window pane and over the handles.

 

The honeysuckle locks over the door unless I tell them to expect a guest.” he’d said cheerfully, and Yoongi had a retort on the tip of his tongue, along the lines of what do you mean please tell me what you mean, not all of us are familiar with magic.

 

But he’d kept it on the tip of his tongue like he was supposed to, instead letting out a quiet agreement, an “ Okay that’s fine, Jeongguk-ssi, I’ll see you there.”  

 

So Yoongi is looking and looking but he’s not seeing and it’s frustrating, to be so out of sorts like this. He can’t exactly call Jeongguk either - there’s no saltwater here, no anything , just hordes of magic folk trampling past him with relative comfort, as if they know where they’re going (probably because they do).

 

The odd (oddest, actually. all of this is odd.) part of this is that Yoongi is sure he’s where Jeongguk said for him to be. He’s standing in the middle of a cobbled street, old brick buildings squished into one another, a tangle of businesses. There’s tables littered outside the tavern across from him, little clothing boutiques with fairy lights strung up along the roofs, sweet shops and book shops and coffee shops.

 

But no honeysuckle and no glass doors and of course, no Jeongguk.

 

The shop nearest to him is the tavern, and it’s bustling with people, windows spilling soft light onto the street, warm and inviting. Yoongi has a sigh on his lips, but he dampens it; instead, he weaves  through the crowd to get to the tavern, fiddling with his hands until the bartender takes notices of him, an eyebrow raised curiously.

 

“Hello? Can I help you?”

 

His name tag reads Yugyeom , a shiny pin hooked through his lapel, and Yoongi coughs a little, embarrassed. He’s not quite how to go about this.

 

“I was hoping you could, actually. I’m looking for a Jeon Jeongguk?”

 

Yugyeom tilts his head to the side, blonde hair falling across his forehead haphazardly. He has sharp features, sly, the kind you would find on a fox. “Who’s asking?”

 

Yoongi blinks, taken aback. “I have an appointment with him.” he says carefully, tapping his fingers against the wooden counter. “It was at 7, but I’m a bit… lost, as you can see.”

 

“Do you have proof?” Yugyeom isn’t looking at him. Instead, he’s cleaning out dozens of ( already clean ) shot glasses, a tiny rag in one hand.

 

“What do you mean proof?”

 

“Oh, I don’t know,” Yugyeom says irritably. “A card maybe?”

 

“Oh.” Yoongi hesitates for a few seconds before flipping open his wallet, Jeongguk’s card in hand. “This?”

 

Yugyeom takes it from him skeptically. The card is still damp at the edges, a salt water blue now instead of pale cream, and it feels heavier than before, oddly enough. 7:00, sleep troubles !   Is written on the back in loopy curves, strangely graceful, the words coloured dark with ocean ink.

 

Yoongi doesn’t quite understand what Yugyeom is looking for, but whatever it is, he finds it. “Okay,” and now, Yugyeom is dropping the shot glasses, all of them whimsically hopping on top of one another to create a delicately balanced tower. “Come on, follow me.”

 

Now that Yugyeom is stepping out from behind the counter, Yoongi can see that he’s tall, all long limbs and lean muscle. He’s dressed in a loose fitting peasant shirt, a tight black vest cinched at his waist, dark slacks and buckled loafers.

 

Yoongi has to jog a little to keep up with him, twisting in and between the tables. “Hey,” he pants, because at second glance, the tavern is bigger than he thought, and Yugyeom’s legs longer. “Are you, um, human?”

 

“No.” Yugyeom says shortly.

 

It seems to be the end of the conversation, because whatever Yoongi had been about to say gets caught in his throat, among the pins and needles of surprise. “Oh.”

 

Yugyeom’s taken him outside, back behind the tavern, a saltwater fountain burbling happily in the corner. There’s a shot glass suddenly being pushed into Yoongi’s hand, Yugyeom’s voice impatient, a little hurried. “Go on, fill it, you need just a bit.”

 

Yoongi’s not quite sure why he’s doing this but he listens, obediently filling the glass about halfway. The salt water is a pretty blue, miniature koi swimming in circles, water lilies floating on the surface and if Yoongi could, he would study it for longer but they’re short enough on time as it is.  

 

“Is this enough?” he asks, turning towards Yugyeom, shot glass held carefully between his thumb and forefinger.

 

Yugyeom is already walking back towards the tavern, having to call behind his shoulder to be heard. “You’re good!”

 

It doesn’t take them too long to weave through the crowd this time, dark having already fallen by the time cross the street, back where Yoongi had started. “Did Jk tell you anything? Anything at all?”

 

“He said to look for a pair of glass doors? And honeysuckle?”

 

Yugyeom nods. “Figures. He’s kind of spacy some days, but it’s fine you just have to - “ and now, Yugyeom is stepping forward, searching the brick wall in front of them carefully, feeling around until he finds whatever it is he’s looking for.

 

“Ah,” a grin graces Yugyeom’s lips, his hands cupped around a particular spot. “Caught the little bastard.”

 

He nods towards Yoongi, not moving. “C’mon, c’mon, we don’t have all day. You’re late enough as it is.”

 

Yoongi considers him dubiously,  until Yugyeom makes a strained noise in the back of his throat, frustrated. “ Please hurry. He’ll crop up somewhere else if we don’t work fast enough.”

 

Whatever he means by that, Yoongi’s not sure. But he moves forward anyway, saltwater held delicately in hand, until he’s as close to the wall as Yugyeom is.

 

“I’m going to leave now,” Yugyeom says through gritted teeth. “You need to give him the salt water quick, okay? Otherwise you’ll lose him.”

 

And before Yoongi can ask what on earth he means, Yugyeom is stepping away, pushing Yoongi in front of him none-too gently.  There, peeking impishly through a crack between two bricks, is a tiny yellow flower, bobbing up and down happily.

 

Honeysuckle , Yoongi remembers dimly. It’s honeysuckle.

 

Carefully, Yoongi tips the glass forward a little. The petals seem to perk up then, reaching until the’re doused in saltwater, yellows and blues and creams fit into a glass not even half the size of Yoongi's hand. Odd.

 

(But again, all of it is odd. Not much to say there.)

 

It happens gradually, the honeysuckle drinking and giggling and then, strangely enough,   blooming . That seems to be the best word, all of the petals spiralling outwards, faded red brick melting away to reveal a pair of glass doors, a silver doorknob twisted to resemble a water lily.

 

Of Magic and Maladies is written at the top in black cursive, honeysuckle weaved in and between the letters. All in all, it’s very pretty.

 

(All in all, Yoongi is very, very confused.)

 

And he could leave; he should leave, considering his appointment is already  long overdue, but the honeysuckle is still giggling, and the water lily’s petals have unfurled, a beckong of sorts.

 

He’s been waiting for you , the breeze whispers, tickling his ear, curving in and around the curves there.

 

Yoongi could leave; instead, he walks in.

 

 

Jeongguk has been bored out of his wits for a while now.

 

If it were up to him, he would’ve closed shop ages ago and joined Koo upstairs for their weekly drama, but as it is, he’s here instead. Why exactly, he isn’t too sure.

 

Help him, he says,” Jeongguk mocks under his breath, feeling a little bitter. “ I’ll see you at seven, he says.”

 

It’s eight. Actually, it’s 8:30, but admitting that when he’s already feeling sensitive wouldn’t be the best idea. Instead, Jeongguk sighs, picking himself up from his chair (his tailbone is aching from all that sitting), to throw his witches hat to the side before he goes off in search of a ladder.

 

His shop is enchanted to look sunny at any and all hours (it’s better for his mood and his sales), and he finds his ladder easily enough, leaning against the wall of a storage closet. It doesn’t take too long for Jeongguk to move it out, lugging the heavy wood until he manages to balance it in the left corner, where the messiest wall resides.

 

(They’re all messy, truth be told but Jeongguk has a system . Fuck the patriarchy.)

 

His robes are a bit too long without the extra inch his shoes provide, but Jeongguk makes do, plodding around in them with all the grace of a baby giraffe. He starts with the highest shelf, organizing the herbs there first by species, then by alphabetical order, and then, when he’s finished all that, by colour.

 

(Jeongguk is nothing if not meticulous.)

 

It’s when he’s in the middle of organizing the second shelf that it happens. The ladder wobbles and Jeongguk has to lurch forward to keep himself from falling, but all that means is that he steps on the hem of his robes instead, tripping one way instead of another.

 

He has that single moment of clarity before he pitches forward - the one where he realises, ah fuck, I’m in a bit of a dilemma now, aren’t I ? and he doesn’t hear the bell above the shop door ringing, doesn’t register the quiet pitter patter of footsteps across his floor.

 

And  Jeongguk doesn’t, as it turns out, feel his back break on impact either. Instead, he falls into a pair well-placed arms, cheek resting against a solid chest, two dark, cat-like eyes blinking at him worriedly, voice rough, and oddly enough, familiar.

 

“Jeongguk-ssi? Are you alright?”

Chapter Text

Jeongguk didn’t actually fall from that high; if he had, he imagined all of this would have gone a bit differently. There would have been a considerable amount of screaming. A puddle of blood, maybe. Even a court date, if Jeongguk had been particularly unlucky.

 

But as it is, he’s lucky. Quite lucky, if he’s going to be completely transparent here.

 

“Hello,” Jeongguk whispers. His fingers are curled into the hem of this stranger’s shirt (not a stranger, a voice in the back of his head tells him. This is Yoongi. It has to be.) “I’m - I’m quite alright, I think.”

 

A pair of dark, narrow cut eyes blink at him in concern. They’re an odd shape, all sharp edges and fine points, similar to a cat.

 

(A very pretty, very delicate cat)

 

“Are you sure?” asks Yoongi.

 

His voice is quiet, a bit deeper now than it was over phone. There’s a faint accent lingering  there, satoori mixed in with the clipped dialect of Seoul, a few of his words slurring over themselves.

 

Jeongguk hides his smile in the crook of Yoongi’s shoulder. “Oh, I’m sure.” he says, words muffled. “Just a bit worse for wear.”

 

Yoongi hums, the reverberations in his chest traveling through Jeongguk, a pleasant sort of rumble. Idly, Jeongguk wonders if he should get up.

 

He doesn’t.

 

(Yoongi had fallen when Jeongguk did, although in a much more graceful way - stumbling backwards when Jeongguk hit him, and then, when he couldn’t quite catch his balance, he hit the floor. Jeongguk can’t really say he minds.)

 

“So.” Yoongi says after a moment. “You are Jeon Jeongguk, right? I’m not in the wrong place?”

 

Something about his voice sounds a bit funny - as if he’s biting back a few  of his words, keeping them hidden in his throat. Jeongguk blinks at Yoongi curiously, head tilted to the side.

 

“Of course I am.” he says indignantly. “ Why, did you have trouble with the instructions?”

 

“What instructions?”

 

Jeongguk huffs, sitting up a little. His robes are puddled around Yoongi’s hips like this, all dark blue and glittering silver, soft velvet shimmering between them. “Surely you received the courier? I swear I sent one out with the post a few hours ago… “

 

A quiet voice pipes up in the back of Jeongguk’s head now, the one that scolds him whenever he tends to forget things. But are you sure you sent the instructions? Are you sure you didn’t fall asleep at the counter for a good hour or two and dreamt you did it? Because you very well could have.”

 

No, Jeongguk argues internally. No, I clearly went out to the post this morning, I know because I wanted the apricot tarts they sell in the bakery next door, I even brought a few home because I like them so much and then I went… back for another few…

 

A horrified Jeongguk scrambles up, pink smearing his cheeks. “I forgot.” he whispers, mortified. “I even left myself a note but I still forgot. I’m very sorry, Yoongi-ssi.”

 

Yoongi is quiet.

 

“Are you angry? Jeongguk frets. “You’re not angry with me, are you? I mean if you are it’s understandable, I just-”

 

“I’m not angry.”

 

Jeongguk startles. Yoongi is getting to his feet, wincing when he stands, but he seems soft at the edges, his eyes warm. “You - You’re not? Are you sure?”

 

“Quite sure,” Yoongi echoes dryly, a little grin twisting his lips. “Getting here was a hassle, but… it was an interesting one.”

 

Jeongguk nods, quiet. He hesitates before letting a few words slip out, hands weaved together anxiously behind his back, twisted into the shimmer of his robes. “Would you, um, care to tell me about it?”

 

“What?”

 

Jeongguk lets out a nervous breath. “I live upstairs,” he mumbles, the words pouring out in a tumbled rush, satoori slipping through to stain. “And it’s too late for our appointment, but; I have tea.”

 

“Tea?”

 

“Tea.” Jeongguk repeats, glancing at Yoongi shyly. Yoongi has his mouth open in a small o of surprise, all warm pink and soft red, and Jeongguk wants.

 

“Tea sounds nice.” Yoongi unwinds the scarf from around his neck, the curve of his throat graceful, lips parted in a crooked grin. Jeongguk has to press his lips together to keep from squeaking. “Lead the way, Jeongguk-ssi.”

 

 

Jeongguk walks funny in his robes. They’re too long for him, the hem catching under his feet every other step, dark blue and shimmery silver, a rippling river of fabric fluttering behind him.

 

It’s very pretty.

 

(Jeongguk is very pretty. He has dark dark eyes, round and warm and deep, twin pools of glimmering sapphire, sharp against the soft pink of his mouth. Silver glints in his ears, delicate rings pierced through his lobes, a double helix caught in his cartilage, a daith in his left, a tragus in his right.

 

It’s been less than ten minutes but Yoongi can already tell he’s shy, all warm grins and bouncy heels and hopeful glances, skipping up the stairs two at a time and checking behind his shoulder every few seconds to make sure Yoongi is following along.

 

Yoongi is endeared. )

 

“Here we are.” Jeongguk ushers Yoongi in nervously, fingertips pressing into the sensitive skin of his wrist for a half second. “I know it’s not much,” he mumbles, peering at Yoongi through shy eyes, fingers worrying the sleeves of his robes, “but it’s - it’s home.”

 

Jeongguk’s flat is, for lack of better word, cloistered. It feels tucked away, as if  he’s taken a piece of himself and pressed it neatly into a jar, all of the edges folded to fit in. There’s a lamp in the corner, throwing warm, buttery light across the floors; a wooden table in the kitchen, kind of small, not meant for more than two; an overstuffed sofa sagging under an afghan, a forest trapped in a glass coffee table. Honeysuckle is creeping along the windowpane and over a few walls, and all of it is cramped, cluttered and flickering with magic.

 

It’s lovely.

 

Yoongi tells him as much. “It’s lovely,” he murmurs, because Jeongguk still looks hesitant, fingertips barely peeking past the sleeves of his robes. “Very… you.”

 

Jeongguk blushes. “Thank you,” he whispers, and then he seems to perk up a little, taking Yoongi by the hand and leading him to the sofa. “Sit, please, I’ll be there in a few seconds.”

 

There’s a flush creeping over Jeongguk’s cheeks, splotches of warm pink and soft red. “You, um, tea? Peppermint?”

 

Yoongi blinks at him.

 

“Sorry.” Jeongguk whispers, half his face covered with his hands. “That - wasn’t the order I was going for, um. I have peppermint tea, and you seem like a peppermint kind of person. Yes. That’s what I meant the first time around.”

 

“Peppermint is good.” Yoongi offers, having to press his lips together to keep his laugh in. Jeongguk is cute. “I am indeed what you would call a ‘peppermint kind of person.’”

 

He makes air quotes with his fingers this time, tilting his head to the side with a small grin. Half of Jeongguk’s face is still hidden, but Yoongi can see his eyes crinkle, the little twist bending his lips, still shy but oddly endeared.

 

“I thought so.” Jeongguk bites his bottom lip before rocking forward on his heels, pointing behind himself nervously, “I’ll, um, be back in a few minutes okay? Just let me put the kettle on to boil.”

 

“I’ll be here.” Yoongi assures, sinking into the cushions when Jeongguk bounds off with a nod, not unlike an eager puppy.

 

Cute, a voice in the back of Yoongi’s head whispers, and when Jeongguk wanders back out with a tray balanced carefully in his hands, eyes narrowed in concentration, Yoongi can’t help but agree.

 

“Here.” Jeongguk sets the tray onto the coffee table, a little clink echoing in the still quiet. “The black cup is for you, but be careful, it’s um. It’s hot.”

 

He’s staring resolutely into his own cup when Yoongi looks at him, pink fluttering just under his skin. Cute.

 

“Thank you,” Yoongi murmurs, because Jeongguk seems like a a murmur-ey person, seems like he would appreciate that kind of whispery quietness.

 

There’s a small grin twitching at Jeongguk’s lips when Yoongi looks, soft pink quirking up, folded eye crinkles. “You’re welcome, Yoongi-ssi.”

 

Jeongguk has a pretty way with words, bits of melodies bleeding from every syllable, voice soft. Yoongi’s name sounds different when it’s resting on his lips, breathing harmony, flooding the air in a strains of pitches, a quiet, graceful sort of song. Yoongi could listen to his voice for hours.

 

“Yoongi-ssi?” Jeongguk is looking at him curiously now, fingers wrapped carefully around his cup. “Penny for your thoughts?”

 

Embarrassed, Yoongi coughs. “You can call me hyung, Jeongguk-ssi. You don’t have to be so formal.”

 

Jeongguk’s mouth pops open in surprise. “Oh.” he murmurs, and it’s quiet, kind of odd. Worry curls in Yoongi’s belly, a feeling of shit, maybe I shouldn’t have said that, but then-

 

A grin. Jeongguk’s prettiest one yet, his eyes curving into delicate half moons, lips parted, nose scrunched, features warm.

 

“Hyung,” he repeats cheerfully, clasping his hands together, silver rings glinting happily. “It’s okay if I call you that? You’re sure?”

 

Yoongi feels dazed, a little light headed. It takes him a while to find his words.  “I’m sure.” he says faintly. “I wouldn’t have offered if I wasn’t.”

 

“Then I’m Jeongguk.” says Jeongguk. He sounds delighted. “No Jeongguk-ssi, okay? Just Jeongguk.”

 

“Just Jeongguk,” Yoongi repeats dutifully.

 

Jeongguk beams.



 

It’s late. Yoongi is tired and Jeongguk is tired and all in all, they’re very tired but it’s okay because Jeongguk is grinning, a slender hand covering his mouth, and it’s okay. It’s perfect.

 

“Oh, that’s terrible.” says Jeongguk. He seems genuine, inky strands of hair falling haphazardly over his forehead, trickling into his eyes, shadows of black. “You stood out there for half an hour by yourself? Oh, you poor thing.”

 

That’s a pout , a voice in the back of Yoongi’s head whispers smartly. He’s pouting at you. For you, even. You fool. You absolute fool. You’re fucked.

 

“I wanted to die.” says Yoongi instead. “I craved death. You made me crave death, Jeongguk. How do you feel now?”

 

“Sad.” Jeongguk’s bottom lip pushes out unfairly, apologetic. “But, you had help with Yugyeom didn’t you? It wasn’t all bad?”

 

Yoongi snorts. “First of all, no? He was very… intimidating. Who has legs that long? He refused to help me until I showed him your card too, and his attitude.”

 

Jeongguk giggles, a whisper of wind chimes. “Yugyeom is a dragon.” he says airily, waving his hand, ring wrapped fingers glimmering under moonlit shadows. “He’s always been a bit protective of me, it’s nothing personal.”

 

“A dragon?” asks Yoongi uncertainly. “Are you sure?”

 

“Oh yes.” Jeongguk nods. “He doesn't look it, but. He’s a hundred and two years old this coming summer, I believe. His mate is in the mountains for the winter but Yugyeom likes to run his tavern for a bit before joining him.”

 

Jeongguk grins, lips pressed against the rip of his tea cup. Yoongi feels faint.

 

“I see.” he mumbles, leaning back against the overstuffed couch. He’d talked to a dragon. A real, wit-filled, long-legged dragon. “That explains the height.”

 

“It does, doesn’t it?” asks Jeongguk pleasantly.

 

He’s still grinning, crinkled eyes and shimmery robes and silver hoops, all kinds of delicate beauty. This late, with the shadows falling across him the way they are, he’s coloured sort of dimly, faded out the edges, eerily similar to a dream, wispy enough to disappear.

 

“Um.” Yoongi coughs, a tiny, soft sound, setting his cup down quietly, a gentle clink of glass against glass echoing in the air. “It’s late.”

 

(Because it is late. He’s been here for far too long, trapped in this little flat above an apothecary with a pretty witch with a pretty grin.)

 

“Is it? asks Jeongguk. He sounds disappointed, slumping over in the sofa across from Yoongi, robes falling softly across his shoulders, dipping into a v at his chest, twin spots glimmering against his skin.

 

Collarbone piercings, Yoongi realizes. Jeongguk has collarbone piercings.

 

(Four piercings total, two on each side pressed neatly into his skin, translucent blues and gentle lavenders. )

 

“It is.” whispers Yoongi, still staring at Jeongguk’s chest, the dips and valleys there, the piercings. He wants to ask. He doesn’t.

 

Instead, Yoongi stretches, unfurling his limbs with a muted groan, getting to his feet, all of him bent out of shape, in every which way. He feels as if he’s been knocked off his axis, as if he’s lived through a week’s worth of dreams, stepped out of heavy sort of fog.

 

“I should get going.” Yoongi mutters, quiet. “We didn’t get much done tonight, but… “

 

“We didn’t get anything done.” Jeongguk corrects, a grin twisting his lips, lovely. “But you can come back tomorrow morning, and I’ll see what I can do for you, hyung.”

 

There’s a faint heat in Yoongi’s cheeks. He’s sure his cheeks are pink, sure his ears are burning. “Tomorrow at ten? I’m free for the day.” Yoongi pushes a hand through his hair, feels the bleached stiffness of it, haphazard straw.

 

“Tomorrow at ten.” agrees Jeongguk, voice hopeful.

 

His robes shimmer as he stands, shades of blue and black, moondust mixed into the dark. Jeongguk’s hand is warm in Yoongi’s, his footsteps quiet as he walks to the door, letting it creak open with a soft sound, an uneventful end to an eventful day.

 

(Uneventful, but promising.)

 

“Tomorrow?” asks Yoongi, because he wants to be sure. He was too unsure last time, didn’t have even the faintest idea, and he doesn’t want to do that again.

 

“Tomorrow.” Jeongguk nods, and his grip tightens for a half second, a brief, fleeting squeeze. “It was nice meeting you, hyung. May the moon be with you.”

 

And before Yoongi can ask him what he means, whisper what do you mean, Jeongguk, please tell me what you mean, the door is falling forward, Yoongi on one side of it, Jeongguk on the other.

 

Not the best way to be.

 

But it’s okay; Yoongi has enough of Jeongguk’s glimmer and grins to last him for a few hours, can still feel the warmth of his touch, his gentle hands and his kind eyes and his shy smile.

 

It’s still dark out, but a different kind of dark; the kind where all is still and nothing feels concrete, faded and forgotten. The train station has long since been empty, and the walk back doesn't feel as long as it should, as long as it is. Instead, Yoongi shrugs on his coat, winds his scarf around his neck, a whistle on his lips and warmth in his veins.

 

May the moon be with you, he uses his fingertip to trace the words into the air, imagines them breathing colour into the dark, translucent blues and gentle lavender. May the moon be with you.



 

It’s seven a.m

 

It’s seven a.m and Yoongi’s been asleep, properly asleep , for less than half an hour.

 

He wants to scream.

 

But Hoseok is still asleep and Namjoon is still asleep, sane people are  still asleep , and so Yoongi does what he does best; bottles up all of his frustration, folds it into a neat little square before tucking it into the space behind his heart, telling it very firmly to stay.

 

And then, when he’s sure he’s made his point, Yoongi throws the covers back, angrily shoves his feet into his kumamon-themed house slippers and shuffles  his way to the kitchen. Early winter sunlight streams in through the window, bathing the walls golden, sunlit patches warming the floor, and it’s pretty, the kind of day you spend tucked into the couch with a good book.

 

Yoongi still wants to scream.

 

Instead, he puts the kettle on the stove, folding himself up on the countertop sleepily. Yoongi has an odd way of making coffee; Hoseok screeched when he saw him do it the first time, shaking his head and letting out a noise of disgust.

 

Too much sugar , he said, nose in the air. Too much sugar and too much milk and not enough coffee, hyung, what the fuck.

 

(Sometimes, if Yoongi’s feeling terrible or tired, he even adds in a dash of cocoa powder.)

 

It’s a slow kind of morning. Clouds drift lazily across the sky, puffy and white and not at all wispy, a solid winter’s day just before the chill really sets in. Yoongi drinks his coffee with too much sugar and too much milk (and just a hint of cocoa powder) and sort of, but only sort of , craves peppermint tea.

 

An hour later he laments his lack of sleep, puts all the dishes in the sink before letting himself fall into the warmth of a bubble bath, water frothing around him in pretty colors, swirls of blue and periwinkle and cream. I’m doing this for me, he tells himself firmly, styling his hair with an unusual amount of care, eyes carefully lined with black, silver piercings fastened. This is for me. I want to look good for me.

 

(if he wears his expensive coat along with the Burberry scarf, that’s no one’s business but his own)

 

The trip is easy this time. Yoongi takes the train at 9, tucks himself in between two human-looking creatures (he can never be too sure after Yugyeom) and pops his earphones in, head resting against the window. It’s a half hours ride, the magic part of town still sort of separated from the rest of them, secluded and cozy and hidden.

 

(Like Jeongguk.)

 

There’s still time before his appointment, and Yoongi takes the opportunity to wander,  poking around a few of the more ambiguous places. He finds a bookshop with a wizard’s brewery in it (open at 9 a.m for some odd reason), a tiny ice cream parlor full to the very brim with giggling dryads,  a boutique entirely for quills.

 

Even this early, the entire town is bustling with people, every street corner swarming with creatures. It takes a bit of rerouting with all of this, but Yoongi finds Jeongguk’s shop easily enough, the samy tiny, impish flower peeking at him from in between two red bricks, rooted in the cement.

 

“Hello there.” Yoongi says pleasantly. He came prepared this time, a little vial hanging from a thread around his neck.

 

The honeysuckle sniffs, craning towards him, tiny trumpet blooms latching onto the vial with a funny sort of ferocity. Yoongi’s jerked forward a little, stumbling where he stands until the thread breaks off with sharp snap.

 

The bricks melt away much the same as before, delicate walls of glass left in place. Jeongguk’s shop is prettier in the sunlight than it is in the dark, bright beams piercing through the glass, yellow honeysuckle tumbling down the doors, the top of the roof, across the windowpane. Of Magic and Maladies is printed  at the top in solid block letters, the petals weaved in there a muted cream, elegant against the gold.

 

Yoongi takes in a deep breath before quietly pushing open the double doors, startling when he finds himself alone. 

 

Jeongguk isn’t here.

 

The shop is dim, not quite yet awake. Yoongi knocks against the door a few times, a smart tap-tap-tap of his knuckles that echoes in the room, bouncing off the corners and back again.

 

There are a number of thoughts plodding through his head, none of them the least bit helpful. Should I leave? I have an appointment at ten… I shouldn’t leave then, right? What if he’s fallen around here somewhere, what if-

 

“Hello.”

 

Yoongi startles. The shop is still dim, empty and eerily quiet, not yet open. “Hello?” he calls hesitantly.

 

Over here.”

 

It’s a tiny voice, high pitched, sort of quiet.

 

“Um. Could You a be a bit more clear please?”

 

The counter, where the stool is.”

 

And so Yoongi walks to the counter, looking around until he sees a tiny, soft ball of a creature, a puff of feathers.

 

An owl.

 

Yoongi’s found an owl.

 

“Was that you?” asks Yoongi, uncertain. “That couldn’t have been you, could it?”

 

And why not?” the owl has his chest puffed out haughtily, feathers all in a ruffle. Upon closer inspection, Yoongi can see a pair of specs balanced delicately on his beak, round, silver frames. “Why couldn’t it have been me?”

 

“You’re an owl.” Yoongi answers, confused and a little amused.  

 

“And you’re a human.” the owl deadpans.

 

Yoongi considers him for a moment, impressed. “Touche.”

 

The owl heaves a sigh (owls can sigh?) before hopping off the stool and onto the counter, eyeing Yoongi distastefully. “ Come with  me, please. Jeongguk is waiting for you upstairs.”

 

Yoongi nods, carefully following the owl up and around the winding staircase back to the little flat. The door is already open, a hint of peppermint tea in the air, the shimmer of Jeongguk’s robes catching under the sunlight, mica stones on a summer day.

 

Hello.” Yoongi calls softly, because even in the daylight Jeongguk seems delicate, meant for quiet words and kind touches.

 

Jeongguk turns, a tea cup held in one hand. There’s a grin on his face, all of his features crinkled, a happy wave dancing on his fingertips. “Hyung! Come in, come in, I see you’ve met Koo.”

 

“Koo?”

 

“My familiar,” Jeongguk explains cheerfully, the little owl fluttering over to perch on his shoulder. “He was nice, I hope? He’s a bit prickly sometimes, but we’re working on that.”

 

“He was nice.” Yoongi assures, because Koo is glaring at him now, as if  daring Yoongi to say different. “Very… helpful.”

 

Jeongguk beams, stroking Koo’s tiny head fondly, little pets at the base of his ears. “Good! Look at that, Koo, we’ve made progress!”

 

Koo hoots in reply, unamused.  

 

“Oh, hush.” Jeongguk tells him, waving a hand airly. His robes are slightly different today, rocks under a sunlit river, slate grey and glittering with mica, sort of satiny. It brings out the flecks of mercury in his eyes, his silver piercings and his winking collarbones.

 

Pretty. Jeongguk looks pretty.

 

He looks pretty in blue and he looks pretty in grey, and Yoongi is sure he would look pretty in every colour under the sky because Jeongguk is a pretty witch with a pretty laugh and a pretty grin.

 

(pretty, pretty, pretty.)

 

“Hyung,” Jeongguk peers at him curiously, inky hair falling into his eyes. Yoongi has the oddest urge to reach over and fix it, part the strands and arrange them neatly. “Did you hear me, hyung? I asked for you to go sit down, I’ll be over in a minute. We’re getting straight to work today, okay?”

 

“Okay.” Jeongguk is grinning at him still, far too bright for how early it is. “I’ll um, be here.” whispers Yoongi, because he still feels sort of odd, Jeongguk makes him feel sort of odd , and all of this, every single bit of it, is odd.

 

Yoongi can’t say he really minds.

 

Jeongguk gives him a shy grin. He ushers Yoongi into the living room with gentle hands, the sofa still sagging comfortably in the corner, the afghan draped over the armrest soft to the touch, blue and wrinkled and faded.

 

There’s something comforting about Jeongguk’s flat - it feels like a veritable piece of himself , warm to the touch, a hint of fresh salt water and honeysuckle, cluttered to the very brim but still endearingly aesthetic. Jars and pots of odd things are hanging from hooks on the wall, wildflowers sitting in a vase on a side table, all sorts of whimsical. Even the coffee table with the little forest trapped inside seems to be twinkling, blinking with strains of magic.

 

It’s an intricate piece table, but just as Yoongi leans forward to study it, Jeongguk putters out, whistling cheerfully under his breath. Two steaming cups of tea are held carefully in his hand and he gives one to Yoongi with a shy smile, a hint of pink in his cheeks.

 

“Peppermint tea again? asks Yoongi, surprised when Jeongguk shakes his head no, a different sort of grin playing at his lips now. “What is it, then?”

 

“You’ll see.” Jeongguk wiggles his eyebrows curiously, grinning a little at the look Yoongi throws him.

 

“Should I be scared?”

 

“That depends.” says Jeongguk, suddenly serious now. “Do you have anything to be scared of inside that head of yours?”

 

Jeongguk’s voice is curious, his robes spread around him in a puddle of mica and rainwater, eyes glimmering dark, sapphire and flecks of mercury, intense.

 

“I’m not sure.” says Yoongi uncertainly, because he’s not sure, not at all. For some reason, he’d assumed today wouldn’t be so different from a few hours ago but Jeongguk is looking at him seriously, silver-wrapped fingers threaded together. “Probably.”

 

Jeongguk grins. “Drink your tea, hyung.” he whispers, not unkindly.

 

Yoongi takes the cup from the coffee table carefully, the tea inside black, bitter and a little underwhelming. It doesn’t taste of much, hints of rosemary and milk thistle and chamomile, but when Yoongi  sits back, his head is dizzy, limbs sodden.

 

“What is this?” Yoongi asks, breathing through his nose, a hand pressed against his heart. “Jeongguk-ah, what did you give me?”

 

“I need to get inside your head.” Yoongi can hear Jeongguk moving around, can imagine his rainwater robes, the mica grey satin sparking under the sun. “Can I touch you, hyung?”

 

Jeongguk’s breath plays across Yoongi’s skin, warm and sweet. “I need to be able to touch you for this to work, hyung. Please?”

 

His voice is soft, tender. “Okay.” Yoongi breathes, eyes too heavy to open, all of him spread out, loose limbed and easy. “Okay, Jeongguk-ah.”

 

Jeongguk’s touch is cool, his fingertips brimming with an odd sort of chill, winter wind and iced raspberries. “I need you to be still for me.” he whispers, quiet, quiet, quiet, fingers trailing just shy of Yoongi’s eyes, pressing gently into the skin there. “Can you do that for me, hyung? Can you be still?”

 

Yoongi breathes out a yes , soft under Jeongguk’s hands. He feels odd, tired with sleep but still half-awake, head pressed back against the sofa. Jeongguk works quietly, touching Yoongi here and there, glancing fingertips over his collarbones, the bridge of his nose, the soft curve of his cupid’s bow, murmuring assurances under his breath.

 

“There we go.” he whispers, voice honey sweet and tender. “Just like that, hyung. I didn’t get a chance to explain before, but what I’m doing now is sort of like a diagnosis? I do this with all my patients, but I’ve found that telling them beforehand leads to unnecessary anxiety. This is okay though, right? If you feel uncomfortable at any moment, feel free to lift your left pinkie for me and I’ll stop. Nod if you understand, please.”

 

Yoongi nods, feeling sort of boneless, as if he’s floating, trapped in a dream. “Good.” Jeongguk murmurs, sounding pleased. “It’s difficult for you to talk right now, hyung, but again, lift your left pinkie if you feel uncomfortable. This shouldn’t take too long, okay? I’ll be done in less than ten minutes.”

 

He turns quiet then, lets his fingers run loose, leaving fleeting touches over Yoongi’s pulse points, his features, the sharp jut of his collarbones. It feels like an odd sort of massage, haphazard but still relaxing, all of Yoongi’s limbs sleep-heavy and boneless.

 

“Done.” Jeongguk whispers just a few minutes later, voice strangely far away. “You’ll feel odd for a few moments hyung, but  I need you to focus on my voice, okay? Follow it with your thoughts, trace it back to where you were.”

 

It takes a few minutes. Jeongguk murmurs quietly all the while, all of his words soft, his pretty features coming into view gradually.

 

“Welcome back.” he greets, whispers kind of, delicate strands of sunlight falling across him from the open window. “How do you feel, hyung?”

 

“Odd.” Yoongi admits, shaking his limbs, some of the heaviness still there. “What did you do to me, exactly?”

 

Jeongguk takes a careful sip of his tea, clasping his hands together before spreading his robes around himself, glittering mica and puddles of rain water. “I went looking inside your head.”  

 

“Did you find anything?”

 

Jeongguk looks at Yoongi carefully before letting out a quiet breath. “You’re lonely.” he says simply.

 

Yoongi takes in a deep breath. “And?”

 

“And nothing.” Jeongguk tilts his head to the side, sapphire eyes glimmering. “You have a lot of walls up, hyung. Some of which even I can’t get through.”

 

“Okay.” there’s a sinking feeling in Yoongi’s chest, heavy with disappointment. “So what you’re saying is that you can’t help me.”

 

“Not at all.” says Jeongguk. “On the contrary, I can help you very, very much.”

 

Yoongi looks at him sharply. “What does that mean?”

 

“It means,” Jeongguk leans forward, eyes glinting mischievously under the warm sunlight, mica rocks and rainwater and cloudy days. “We’re going to go on an adventure, hyung.”

Chapter Text

“An adventure?” asks Yoongi uncertainly.

 

Jeongguk nods, setting his tea cup down with a startling clatter. His eyes are bright, twinkling, flecks of mercury gimmering in the distance. “I haven’t even been able to diagnose you properly.” he explains, thoughtful. “If I can’t do that, then - then quite frankly, I can’t do much of anything for you.”

 

“But I thought - I thought - Hoseok said you helped him immediately, he said -”

 

“Hoseok?”

 

“He gave me your card.” Yoongi tells Jeongguk, panicking a little, confused and unsure and anxious. “He said you fixed him some odd sort of potion, said he was better in 20 minutes.”

 

“Yoongi hyung.” Jeongguk sounds quiet, apologetic. “I’m sorry but - who is Hoseok exactly?”

 

“You don’t remember him?”

 

Jeongguk blinks at Yoongi, seems a little lost. “I do a lot.” he whispers, sort of feeble, “and I don’t have the best memory, hyung. Could you tell me what he looks like, maybe?”

 

“Tall, kind of lean.” Yoongi mutters. “Heart shaped smile. He came with his boyfriend, Namjoon-”

 

“Oh!” Jeongguk claps his hands together, bouncing where he sits, robes puffling around him endearingly. “You mean Seokie hyung!”

 

Taken aback, Yoongi nods. “Yeah, um. Seokie hyung.”

 

“Namjoon hyung would always call him Seokie,” Jeongguk explains cheerfully, his hands clasped in his lap again. “ They’re very cute together, aren’t they?”

 

“They are.” Yoongi agrees, sort of quietly. He doesn’t want to get into this now. “But Jeongguk,  Hoseok said you would be able to help me.”

 

“And I can.” Jeongguk assures. “But hyung you have to understand - you and Hoseok are two very different people with two very different problems.”

 

Not that different , Yoongi wants to say. Not that different at all.

 

Instead, he lets out a tired sigh, quiet. “Could you clarify, please?”

 

“Hoseok hyung suffered from anxiety, right? He was having panic attacks every other day and throwing up before his dance classes?” Jeongguk hesitates for a second before padding over to where Yoongi is, curling into himself to fit comfortably on the loveseat. “May I?” he asks, hands hovering in the air, timid.

 

“Sure.”

 

“Thank you.” Jeongguk murmurs, fingers brushing against Yoongi’s temples briefly. “Tell me, hyung. Do you feel that?”

 

Yoongi shakes his head. “No.”

 

“That’s okay.” Jeongguk’s fingers are fleeting, brimming with winter wind when they skip along the edge of Yoongi’s jaw, trailing down until they find his heart, beating gently beneath Yoongi’s sweater. “And what about now?”

 

“It… burns.” Yoongi looks at Jeongguk curiously, their knees touching, mica rich robes glittering between them.

 

Jeongguk’s smile is a little sad. “That’s what I thought, hyung.”

 

Yoongi catches Jeongguk’s hand before he can slip away, keeping it pressed against his heart, warmth burning through him gently. “What does that mean?” he asks, anxious. “Jeongguk-ah, tell hyung what that means, please.”

 

Jeongguk looks at him carefully, thoughtfully, sincerely. “There are matters of the mind.” he explains, his hand still against Yoongi’s heart, voice whispering to the beat. “And then there are matters of the heart. One is much more painful than the other, hyung.”

 

“Jeongguk-”

 

“Hoseok hyung’s problem was up here.” Jeongguk presses his fingers to Yoongi’s temples again, gentle, chilled skin. “But yours is here, hyung.” he whispers, palms flat against Yoongi’s chest, fingers splayed evenly. “And the mind is intricate, of course it is. But it is much more forgiving than the heart, much less rigid and willing to listen to reason.”

 

“I don’t understand.” Yoongi mumbles. “Jeongguk, I don’t, I don’t understand.”

 

“Yoongi hyung.” Jeongguk’s smile is still sad, a little empty at the edges. “It’s not your head I’m having trouble getting into. It’s your heart.”

 

His voice is quiet, filtered out, leaking sorrow. Yoongi looks at Jeongguk looking at him and finds a pair of dark dark eyes, filled to the brim with sympathy, warm and apologetic but not -

 

Not hopeless.

 

“But you can help me?” Yoongi asks, just to be sure. He needs to be sure this time around.

 

“Hyung.” and Jeongguk’s voice is so soft, his vowels so gentle,, a litany of melodies in just one word. “I can help you, hyung. You have my word.”

 

“Okay.” Yoongi breathes, quiet. “Okay, Jeongguk-ah.”



 

Jeongguk sends Yoongi back to the train station with a few words and a delicate wave. “Come back tonight at 8 in the evening, hyung, okay? We need to be on time for this to work properly.”

 

“For what to work properly?”

 

“You’ll see.”  Jeongguk presses his fingers against the thin skin of Yoongi’s wrist, feels his pulse, the gentle stutter. He grins, a shy, quiet thing. “Wear comfortable clothing, please. Stuff that you can go hiking in.”

 

“Jeongguk, what exactly are we doing?”

 

“You’ll see.” Jeongguk repeats, letting the heavy wooden door creak open, Yoongi rocking forward on his heels, still skeptical. “It’s a secret, hyung, but it’s a good one I promise.”

 

“Alright.” Yoongi huffs out an unsure breath, teetering on the threshold. His hands are in his pockets, scarf wound cutely around his neck, silver-blonde hair glimmering dimly under the sunlight. “Okay then, I’ll see you in a few hours, Jeongguk-ah.”

 

“Of course.” Jeongguk agrees, taking a deep breath before pressing his fingers against Yoongi’s heart, a timid, fragile touch. “May the moon be with you, hyung.”

 

And before Yoongi can ask him what he means  Jeongguk lets the door fall forward, a gentle click echoing in the still quiet. He can imagine Yoongi on the other end, face pink, ears red, soft  lips parted in surprise.

 

A puff of breath escapes Jeongguk’s lips, relieved. “I touched him.” Jeongguk whispers, pressing his hands to his cheeks, giddy. “Oh my god, I touched him.”

 

Koo hoots softly from somewhere in the apartment and Jeongguk scrambles, tripping over his robes before he flops onto his bed, warm all over, from his head to the tips of his toes. “Koo.”

 

Yes?”

 

“Koo, I touched him.” Jeongguk whispers, clutching a pillow to his chest happily. “He let me touch him.

 

But you touch all of your patients.”

 

“That’s besides the point.” Koo flicks his ears forward skeptically but Jeongguk waves him off, unbothered. “He’s so soft, Koo. So pretty and soft and, and, and kitten-like.”

 

“If you say so.”

 

“A kitten.” Jeongguk sighs happily. “A small and delicate kitten.”

 

Koo is quiet, and Jeongguk can feel his soft glare, his laconic disapproval. “ I would be careful if I were you, Gukkie. Just because he isn’t born of magic doesn’t mean he can’t do you any harm.”

 

Jeongguk turns, wriggling until Koo lets out a sigh, fluttering over to perch on Jeongguk’s belly. All of his feathers are ruffled, tufts of red and brown sticking up haphazardly. “I am being careful.” Jeongguk mutters petulantly.

 

“May the moon be with you. ” Koo mocks and Jeongguk flushes, flicking one of Koo’s ears in embarrassment.

 

“He doesn’t know what it means!” Jeongguk insists, robes rucked up around him, mica and rainwater and cloudy days (he’d taken out one of the prettier sets because he knew Yoongi was coming.) “If he knew what it meant I wouldn’t have said it.”

 

Gukkie, sweetie. He’s a human and you’re a witch, a very odd, hermit sort of witch who keeps blurting out strange sayings. He’s bound to get curious.”

 

Koo hops from Jeongguk’s belly to his chest, pressing his tiny head into the hollow of Jeongguk’s throat. Jeongguk huffs, however half hearted it is, and presses his fingers between Koo’s ears, gentle scratches and soft pats.  “It’ll be okay.” he mumbles, half to assure himself, half to assure Koo. “It - it’s an old saying, I doubt anyone would remember it anyway.”

 

There’s a soft, unimpressed hoot from Koo’s end but it’s okay because Jeongguk pets him again, until Koo is purring beneath him, quiet, pleased little sounds escaping his beak. They stay like that for a while, Jeongguk on his back in his bed, Koo tucked into his chest, the two of them warm and content and a little too unbothered to do much of anything.

 

The hours pass gradually, in a haze of sunlit blankets and fluffy pillows. But eventually, Jeongguk realises he has things to do and not nearly enough time to do them, not with how much he’s already spent in bed. Koo is still sleeping soundly on Jeongguk’s chest, round glasses slipped halfway down his beak, and Jeongguk takes them off carefully, placing them on the nightstand before tucking Koo in again, between two of his pillows.

 

It’s quiet like this, with no Koo around, just Jeongguk with himself and his head. The clock ticks in the corner, a soft, rhythmic tuk-tuk-tuk, an odd sort of harmony to accompany Jeongguk’s thoughts. It’s been awhile since he’s done this, but it feels good, as if he’s back in Busan, floating in the sea, skipping in the waves.

 

Busan is prettiest in the winter; it smells like salt water  and sea shells and fresh air, all of Jeongguk’s childhood bundled up in one, a merry little package of sorts. Seoul is a lot different, a lot of too much, not enough, a lot of I have somewhere to be, things to do, people to see, and Jeongguk likes it well enough, but -

 

But he misses the sea. He misses the sea and he misses walking on the beach and he misses singing , he misses Seokjin and guppies and bonfire night. The air did him better there, not as thick as the foggy, heavy stuff they have in Seoul, Jeongguk’s heart aching something fierce when he remembers it, the gentle waves lapping at his feet and the warm sand sifting between his toes.

 

It’s okay though; Jeongguk misses it all because of course he does, but it’s not so bad; he can sing here just as well (as long as the windows are shut and the door locked), and all he needs is a hot bath and a few of Jimin’s hand made salts to feel better. Jeongguk sings quietly under his breath as he draws the bath, puttering back and forth to get the towels and the soap and his speakers, water burbling happily in the tub.

 

It’s already salty, a special kind of spell he had to use before he moved, but the water is directly from the yellow sea, pale blue and fresh, licking gently at the sides of the tub. Sometimes, if he’s lucky Jeongguk will even get a few of the smooth, off white stones from the shore, tumbling through the tap and against the marble in sharp clacks.

 

Today is one of those days. Rocks are sitting happily at the bottom of the tub when Jeongguk checks and he fishes them out, pleased. They’re placed with the rest of the collection, some of them blue, pale pink, faded lavender, but all them water hardened and smooth to the touch. Jeongguk sets the wicker basket off to the side before shucking his robes off, a puddle of mica glittering against the floor.

 

The water is chilly, small pinpricks of ice biting at Jeongguk’s skin but it’s okay because Jeongguk is used to it; it’s winter where Busan is, winter where home is, and winter water is best when there’s golden sunlight streaming in through the glass windows. It’s pretty, a warm, marble made bathroom, taps glimmering and rocks glittering, a little sea within his house.

 

Jeongguk adores it.

 

He tucks himself into one corner of the tub, floating in the water happily. There’s a high, breathy sound coming from his throat, one he doesn’t have much control over, but the door is closed and koo is asleep and Jeongguk doesn’t have to worry at all.

 

Instead, he falls asleep in the too-big tub, warm under the sunlit water.



 

A few hours later and Jeongguk jerks awake, saltwater splashing around him in bursts of blue.

 

The sun has already long since set, the water around him warm, twilight waving from a distance. Jeongguk feels a little panicked, can hear a knock from outside his door, can hear Koo screeching, a faint gurgle of Jeon Jeongguk! Jeon Jeongguk you absolute buffoon-

 

But it’s fine. Jeongguk huffs and drains the water, watching as it swirls away in a delicate trickle, leaving him shivering in the tub, goosebumps popping up along his skin. Koo is still screeching, a little louder now, and Jeongguk’s fairly sure Yoongi is here. A glance at the clock shows it’s already 8:03, a few minutes past the hour Yoongi was supposed to come back.

 

Jeongguk sort of wants to scream.

 

Instead, he wraps a towel around his waist (and another around his neck, because fuck it yes he has sensitive nipples) and shuffles out, an apologetic grin already twitching his lips. The apartment is dark but Koo appears in puff of ruffled feathers, pecking at Jeongguk’s ear sharply.

 

“He’s been knocking for the last ten minutes you idiot. Answer the door, I’ll go turn on the lights.”

 

“Why didn’t you wake me?” Jeongguk hisses, already moving towards the entrance, a hand clutching the towel around his waist.

 

And have Yoongi walk in on you singing? I didn’t know you had a death wish.”

 

Jeongguk considers him for a moment, impressed. “Point taken.” he mutters, twisting the door knob just as the lights flicker on, washing the walls in warm golden light.

 

Yoongi blinks at him. His hand is still raised, knuckles poised to knock, lips parted in surprise. “Hello.” says Jeongguk pleasantly. “Welcome back, hyung!”

 

“Hello.” Yoongi’s voice is gruff, sort of raspy. “You - um. You’re in a towel.”

 

Jeongguk glances down at himself before grinning. “That I am.” he agrees cheerfully, pushing the door open wider, inviting Yoongi in. “Have you been waiting for long?”

 

“No.” Yoongi shakes his head shortly, still seems sort of disoriented. Jeongguk wants to pet his hair and coo, but he curls his fingers and moves aside instead. “I was early, so it’s like. It was my fault, you know, don’t bother yourself about it.”

 

“If you’re sure.” Jeongguk offers, shutting the door before sauntering after Yoongi, using the towel around his neck to dry his hair, a mess of inky black.

 

He can feel Yoongi staring at him, eyes wandering over the curves of Jeongguk’s body, lingering on his shoulders, his twinkling collarbones. Jeongguk flushes from head to toe, keeps a small grin in place as he tightens his grip on his towel, shy and oddly pleased but still hesitant.

 

“I’ll just, um - I’ll go change, hyung, okay? And then we can get started.”

 

Yoongi nods, twiddling his thumbs before he sends a small smile Jeongguk’s way. “Take your time.” and it’s a whisper, quiet and soft, not sure but not unsure, either.

 

Jeongguk grins before disappearing to his room, searching through the drawers with an amusing sort of ferocity. He can hear Koo making small talk with Yoongi in the living room, curious pecks of Lovely day we’re having, isn’t it? and it’s funny, the kind of thing that would have Jeongguk laughing if it weren’t for how flustered he is.

 

It’s probably why he grabs what he does - a pair of faded, blue jean dungarees, buttons winking prettily against the straps. They’re the kind of clothes he wears when he’s having an off day, the kind where he can prance around in his kitchen with tens of spellbooks on his counter, the kind meant for comfort. It’s a far cry from Jeongguk’s usual style (at least, the style Yoongi’s seen), but Jeongguk doesn’t have time to worry about it, not with how late he already is.

 

The dungarees are a struggle to get into. Jeongguk hops from foot to foot, struggling to fit his legs into the jeans without tripping over himself. His undershirt isn’t much better, sleeves falling well past his wrists, soft and baggy, but all in all it’s not too bad. Jeongguk may look like a kid, but he’s a cute kid.

 

Yoongi can deal.

 

(and even if he can’t - even if he wrinkles his nose and turns away, it’s fine. Jeongguk doesn’t need someone in his life like that anyway.Not that Jeongguk thinks Yoongi would do that but- but it’s happened before, with other, less kind people and Jeongguk’s learned it’s better to be prepared than it is to be hopeful.)

 

Koo is still talking to Yoongi when Jeongguk wanders out, chattering away happily. “ The mice this winter aren’t the best to be frank with you...they get stringy around this time of year, you know? Personally, I blame the -

 

“That’s quiet alright, Koo.” Jeongguk says lightly. Yoongi looks a bit queasy sitting there but he shoots Jeongguk a grateful grin, petal pink lips parted to reveal a hint of gums. “Stop bothering Yoongi hyung, he has better things to do than listen to you complain.”

 

Koo makes an odd sound, somewhere between a snort and a scoff before fluttering over to perch on Jeongguk’s shoulder. “ Nice outfit, maestro.”

 

Jeongguk flushes, can hear Yoongi muffle a snort into his shoulder. “We’re going hiking.” he says primly, to no one in particular. “Excuse me for wanting to be comfortable.”

 

And before Koo can retort (because surely he will), Jeongguk turns, flashing Yoongi a bright grin. “Anyway. I see you took my advice, hyung.”

 

Yoongi is dressed comfortably, all dark colors and floppy material. His sweater is black, hanging to his thighs, knees peeking through the rips in his jeans, all of his hair pushed under a snapback. Jeongguk sort of wants to hug him, but he also sort of wants to sit in his lap. It’s a difficult decision.

 

But they’re late as it is, so all Jeongguk does is tell Yoongi he’s cute (he gets a blush for his troubles. Adorable) and that he has a few things to explain before they leave, if you please.

 

“Sure.” Yoongi mutters, crossing his legs, all soft and small tucked into Jeongguk’s loveseat. “I’m all ears, Jeongguk-ah.”

 

“Thank you.” Jeongguk turns, pushing his hair back from his forehead before he kneels in front of his coffee table, glass winking prettily under the fairy lights.

 

This close, the forest is twinkling with lanterns, alive under the glass. Jeongguk can see a little lake in the corner, a weeping willow shading the water, lotuses balanced delicately along the rim. A little farther and there’s a cottage, his cottage, the one Taehyung gifted him for whenever he wanted to stay a little longer.

 

But for now, Jeongguk is focused on Yoongi, his dark, narrow eyes and his pouty lips. He’s the prettiest thing Jeongguk’s seen in a while, soft at the corners, faded at the edges, whispered words and kind touches.

 

Jeongguk sort of wants to touch him again, press his fingers against Yoongi’s temples, glancing fingertips across his features, the soft slope of his nose and the narrow curve of his eyes.  The quiet between them is delicate and Jeongguk can feel Yoongi’s eyes wandering over him, his curious gaze lingering, lingering, lingering, soft, crushed velvet.

 

“Jeongguk?”

 

“Sorry.” Jeongguk mutters, suddenly aware of how odd he must seem. He’s always been a bit spacey, quick to bore and quick to forget, but Yoongi is so pretty , so warm and nice and kind, and Jeongguk’s just a little bit in love.

 

(But just a little bit.)

 

“Sorry.” Jeongguk repeats, letting his lips quirk into a smile, soft at the edges. “I just sort of got lost there for a second, but I’m back now.”

 

“That’s alright.” says Yoongi, not unkindly. “As long as you’re okay.”

 

“I’m okay.” Jeongguk offers, timid smile unfurling into a grin at Yoongi’s hesitance, his shy care. “But hyung, I really do need to tell you what it is we’re doing. Could you come here, please?”

 

There’s a quiet thud as Yoongi’s knees hit the floor, his arm brushing sweetly against Jeongguk’s. “Go ahead.”

 

“Okay.” Jeongguk takes a deep breath before gently lifting the glass lid off of the coffee table, the deep, cylinder of forest twinking happily up at them.

 

There’s a layer on top, shimmery and calm, sort of like lake water. Jeongguk brushes his fingers across the top, the tips left glittering, hues of silver and pink and lavender. “Have you heard of faeries before, hyung?”

 

“Of course. They went into hiding a few centuries ago though, didn’t they?”

 

“They did.” Jeongguk confirms. “But they’re still here. You just have to know where to look.”

 

“Okay.” Yoongi sounds puzzled, sort of confused. “But Jeongguk-ah, what does this have to anything?”

 

“Tell me, hyung. Can you keep a secret?”

 

“That depends -”

 

“Can you keep a secret?” Jeongguk repeats, tilting his head to the side, picking Yoongi’s intentions apart. “Yes or no, hyung. I’m not going to ask you again.”

 

“Yes.” Yoongi breathes, and it’s soft, sure, but it’s firm too. It’s a promise.

 

“Good.” Jeongguk grins and takes Yoongi by the hand, fingertips still glistening. “This is going to feel odd, okay? But I need you to focus on my hand, on my fingers in between yours.”

 

“Jeongguk.” Yoongi sounds nervous, a little scared. “Jeongguk, is this safe?”

 

“Of course.” Jeongguk assures, Yoongi’s hand warm in his, a little big, palm smooth. “But whatever you do, don’t let go, hyung. You’ll thank me later.”

 

Yoongi’s features are uncertain, narrow eyes dark with worry, but he listens, however half hearted it is.

 

“Don’t panic.” Jeongguk whispers, and before Yoongi can ask him what he means, Jeongguk tips the coffee table onto its side.

 

There’s an odd, sort of still moment before the shimmer in the table spills out, puddling against the floor, leaving bits of forest wherever it touches. Vines pop up from between the floorboards to wind their way around the apartment, ivy clinging to the walls, the ceiling, even creeping towards the kitchen. The spaces around them shift, wood giving way to earth, wildflowers and weeping willows sprouting from the ground, and within a few seconds Jeongguk’s flat is full-fledged forest, a carbon copy of the one inside the coffee table.

 

“Oh my god.” Yoongi mumbles. “Oh my god, am I dreaming?”

 

“Of course not.” Jeongguk says mildly. He squeezes Yoongi’s hand, a gentle, comforting assurance. “C’mon hyung, up you get.”

 

Yoongi seems wobbly on his feet, shaking a little as he stands. “Jeongguk.” his voice is soft, uneven. “Where are we?”

 

“Welcome to Canaltai.” whispers Jeongguk, sort of hushed, sort of serene. “The realm of the fae.”



Chapter Text

They’re not actually in Canaltai yet. Instead, Yoongi learns  that they’re in the very outskirts of the city, a bit of a walk away from where they need to be.

 

“How far?”

 

“Well.” Jeongguk says. “Let’s find out, hyung.”

 

It’s not an answer - but Jeongguk looks pleased with himself, has a cheeky grin twitching his lips, and Yoongi, for all of his puffing and muttering, is fond.

 

“I’ll make you carry me.” Yoongi threatens, trudging up the hill with his hands on his knees. He already feels winded and it’s been little more than half an hour. He’s not sure he’ll make it. “Seriously. I’ll collapse and then you’ll have to carry my sad, sedentary  little body back to earth. I hope you’re happy.”

 

Jeongguk turns, moving a branch out of the way for Yoongi. His dungarees are baggy, but in an endearing, floppy sort of way, and Yoongi kind of wants to tell him he looks pretty but he also kind of wants to keep his dignity. It’s a difficult decision.

 

“First of all,” Jeongguk looks unimpressed, nose crinkled, “You’re short. And also kind of light. I don’t think carrying you would be much of a problem.”

 

Yoongi squints at him.

 

“Second of all,” Jeongguk continues, unbothered, “I wouldn’t have to carry you very far. I have a cottage a few miles away, there’s a coffee table there too.”

 

Yoongi huffs, ducking under Jeongguk’s arm, another branch held carefully out of his way. “Thank you.” he mutters, turning his nose up in the air, ignoring the warm feeling of his chest. “And what do you mean you have a cottage? I thought you said the fae were very private with outsiders?”

 

Jeongguk tilts his head to the side, pretty eyes twinkling. “I have Taehyung.” he says simply.

 

His words are warm, a little fond. “Who?” Yoongi asks, because he’s not quite sure how to feel about this Taehyung.

 

“Taehyung.” Jeongguk repeats, as if that explains anything. He waves a hand around lazily, but his grin is bright, bottom lip caught cutely between his teeth. “He’s a prince.”

 

Yoongi blinks at him. “The fae have a prince?”

 

“They have several.” Jeongguk corrects. “A lot of nobility, but it’s still all very modern. The royal family have been reigning for years, but Taehyung is one of the youngest sons. He’s not much involved with the politics.”

 

“You’re friends with a prince.” Yoongi says carefully. His head hurts. “A faery prince.”

 

“Yes.” Jeongguk says cheerfully. “Best friends, actually. I like to spend the summers here when I can, or if I’m not in Busan. The fae are very accommodating if they know you’re a friend.”

 

“I see.” says Yoongi, even though he doesn’t, not at all. “How’d you become friends then?”

 

Jeongguk hums a little tune under his breath, syllables knocking into one another.

 

Yoongi squints. “What was that?”

 

“Tit for tat.” Jeongguk says, slightly louder this time. His cheeks are red, hands stuffed into his dungarees as they trudge along. “In other the words, the fae believe in returning favors when they can.”

 

It’s still not an answer, but Jeongguk’s hunched his shoulders a bit, eyes skimming the ground. Yoongi has enough sense to tell when he should and shouldn’t ask questions.

 

“Okay.” he says easily. Jeongguk raises his head, lips parted, seems sort of surprised. Yoongi feels warm.

 

The rest of the walk is quiet, not much more than Jeongguk walking ahead of Yoongi and pushing the branches out of his way, the smallest, shyest smile gracing his lips whenever Yoongi thanks him. The forest around them is dark, but the air is fresh, the kind of stuff you can breathe in for days, let fill your lungs, tuck  away for safekeeping. It’s only been an hour, but it’s been a nice hour, full of kind words and fleeting touches. It’s lovely.

 

(Jeongguk is lovely)

 

A few minutes away from where Yoongi thinks the city is, Jeongguk pauses, turning around to let his lips quirk up into a grin. “Hyung.” he says, hooking his thumbs under the straps of his dungarees, looking a little nervous. “Can you - I mean, it’s not a big deal - but couldImaybeholdyourhand?”

 

Yoongi blinks at him.

 

“Please?” Jeongguk adds, as though it’s an afterthought. He looks sheepish, kind of shy, and Yoongi wants to hug him but he doesn’t. Self control at its finest, he supposes.

 

“Okay.” he says again, and Jeongguk flushes, from the tips his very ears.

 

“Not because I want to!” Jeongguk yells, a little panicked it seems. “I mean, like, I don’t mind , but it just - it just-”

 

“Yes?” Yoongi prompts, not unkindly.

 

Jeongguk deflates. “There are guards at the gates.” he whispers, mortified. “They won’t ask you for identification if I tell them we’re together, they’re very strong believers in that kind of stuff.”

 

Yoongi folds his laugh into the back of his throat to keep it from bubbling out. Jeongguk looks embarrassed enough as it is.

 

“That’s quite alright.” he says. “You can hold my hand, Jeongguk-ah, it’s not a problem.”

 

Jeongguk looks at him gratefully, worrying the edges of his sleeves between his hands. “Thanks.” he whispers, as if Yoongi needed to be thanked.

 

(as if he wouldn’t hold Jeongguk’s hand anyway.)

 

It’s shy, the way Jeongguk lets his hand slip into Yoongi’s, fingers warm and soft, palms kissing. They make their way up one last hill, trees giving way to glimmering splotches of light, the moon waving down at them from its place in the sky, and all of it is gentle, a sweet goodbye from their little walk.

 

“We’ll be back.” Jeongguk whispers, but this time he isn’t talking to Yoongi. Instead, he’s facing the trees, bowing slightly at the waist, a sign of respect. “Thank you for letting us pass.”

 

And Yoongi doesn’t quite under what he’s doing - doesn’t quite understand Jeongguk in general, but it’s nice. Jeongguk is nice.

 

“That was nice.” Yoongi says, Jeongguk’s hand still warm in his, fingers threaded together tightly. Jeongguk is wearing rings, onyx and sapphires and opals glittering prettily against his skin,  an oddly perfect match against the colour of the sky.

 

“Thank you.” Jeongguk flushes again. He seems to do that a lot, Yoongi notes. “The world here...it’s very different from ours, hyung. The fae are very careful with what they love. They ask that we show the same respect.”

 

“Of course.” Yoongi nods, tucks the information away in the back of his head. He’s quiet as Jeongguk finishes paying his respects, studying the curve of his spine, the broad line of his shoulders.

 

Jeongguk is quiet too, sends a small smile Yoongi’s way before folding out of his bow, giving his hand a brief, gentle squeeze. “Shall we?” he asks, nodding towards a gap in the trees, silver spilling through to stain the ground.

 

“We shall.” Yoongi says dramatically, and Jeongguk giggles, a high, breathy sound falling from his lips before he pulls Yoongi along, hand warm.

 

A pair of tall, glimmering gates come into view,  delicate strands of silver woven into intricate designs. Canaltai glitters overhead, tall towers and modern bridges, silver and warm, thrumming with energy. Yoongi can hardly breathe.

 

“Cathair na réaltaí,” Jeongguk mumbles from behind him, giving Yoongi’s hand a gentle squeeze. “The City of Stars.”

 

“It’s… “

 

“Ethereal.” Jeongguk finishes, his voice warm, a little breathy, “It’s been years but even then I can’t quite fathom it, hyung.”

 

The guards let them in without much fuss, just a few looks here and there. Jeongguk grins, waves one of his ring-wrapped hands in the air before taking  Yoongi in through the gates, tripping over himself with how quick he’s going.

 

Inside, the city glitters. Tall, overarching buildings beam under the dark sky, all of them bright, throbbing with energy. The streets are full of faeries, slim, gorgeous creatures with jewel-toned eyes and silken hair. They push past Jeongguk and Yoongi, only a few odd glances their way, all long limbs and slender bones, sharp features soft in the dark.

 

“Where are they going?” Yoongi asks, quickening his pace a little, Jeongguk a few strides ahead of him. “They seem - busy -”

 

Jeongguk takes his hand again, shooting Yoongi a quick grin. “You know how we have jobs and school and shit to deal with?”

 

“Sadly.”

 

“They don’t.”

 

Yoongi stops. He jerks Jeongguk’s hand a little, tilting his head to the side, confused. “What do you mean?”

 

There’s a laugh, high and endeared and soft, escaping Jeongguk’s lips. “Exactly what I said. Imagine a never ending party, hyung. Imagine being rich, without having to work a single day, not ever.  Imagine living in a dream.”

 

“That’s - how is that possible, how does the government function -

 

“They’re faeries.” Jeongguk says simply, half his mouth twisting into a smile. “They’re magic.”

 

You’re magic , Yoongi wants to tell him. You’re magic. You’re warm and kind and good and you fit in like a puzzle piece. You’re magic.

 

Yoongi could tell him that. But he could also look away, mumble an agreement under his breath, steadily ignoring his feelings. Funnily enough, he chooses the latter.

 

“Must be nice.” he mutters, shaking his hair out of eyes as they amble up the glittering streets.

 

“Quite.” Jeongguk adds, and then he’s taking Yoongi’s hand again, turning them around a corner, onto a road spilling over with people.

 

There’s a sleek, dark club sitting before them, a long line of faeries wrapped around the corner they’d just passed. It’s dancing with shadows, the music from inside echoing along the streets, loud, heavy beats weaved inbetween the sounds.

 

Singularity is written along the edge silver letters. A pair of bouncers are at the very front and they look at Jeongguk for a second, eyes skimming his outfit with curiosity, stance defensive.

 

“Hello!” Jeongguk says cheerfully. He’s skipped the line entirely and the fae are eyeing him, not quite hostile, but not quite friendly, either. Yoongi can feel his hackles rising.

 

The guards glance at each other in confusion. “Hello.” one of them offers, hesitant.

 

Jeongguk grins, face scrunching up, eyes crinkled. “I have a pass.” he  whispers conspiratorially, waving his hand around, rings catching under the flashing lights to glitter. “You think you could let me in?”

 

They eye his rings with interest before stepping aside, each of the guards dropping into a polite bow. “Of course.” one of them says, beckoning for the other to remove the velvet rope. “A friend of the prince is a friend of ours.”

 

Jeongguk beams. “Thank you.” he quips, and then he pulls Yoongi along with him, weaving in and between the glass doors.

 

Inside, the walls shake. Fae are everywhere, packed tightly together, smooth, silken skin glittering under the changing lights, bodies bending to the beat. The music is loud, heavy  and seductive, melodies clinging to the air, following along with a natural rhythm. Yoongi can’t quite believe it.

 

“Jeongguk-”

 

“There!” Jeongguk shouts, and he’s wriggling his way through the mass of bodies, somehow managing to take Yoongi with him.

 

A little farther along and there’s a stage, showering  light on a pair of figures. They’re graceful, slinking around each other, leaving fleeting touches in their wake, moving to the beat with familiar ease, and it’s odd, how captivating they are, how aware. Yoongi catches flashes of them in the dark, a pair of warm, shadowed eyes and pale pink hair, sharp hip bones and fluid movements.

 

“Oh, wow.” says Yoongi. His throat feels dry. “Is that - is that legal? Are they legally allowed to do that?”

 

“Probably not.” Jeongguk sounds offhanded, as if he’s used to this. Is he? “But Jimin and Taehyung have always been…”

 

“Exhibitionists.” Yoongi says, pressing into Jeongguk a little, body warm against his. “They seem like exhibitionists.”

 

“You know,” Jeongguk presses back, breath hot against Yoongi’s skin. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they were. You catch on fast, hyung.”

 

Yoongi doesn’t quite have it in him to answer. Instead, he focuses on Jimin and Taehyung, their graceful movements, the fleeting burn of their gazes, the way they prowl around each other, glancing teasing fingertips across glimmering skin.

 

Jimin is quick, snaps his body back and forth to the beat, wrapping himself around Taehyung with a lazy grin. It’s odd, how attuned to one another they are, and Yoongi can hardly tell them apart from here, but Taehyung is broad, his movements languid, whereas Jimin is all fluid water, limbs loose with ease.

 

They’re captivating.

 

Yoongi can feel the tension in the air, can feel Jeongguk pressed against him, and all of it is heavy , bordering on the edge of too much. The fae around them are whispering, straining to catch a glimpse,  and Yoongi can hardly breathe now, feels closed in and trapped, feels-

 

“Hyung?”

 

Jeongguk. With his round eyes, blinking at him in worry, silver framed glasses and dungarees so out of place under all of this darkness. “Hyung, are you okay? You don’t-”

 

“Crowds.” Yoongi gasps. He latches onto Jeongguk’s hand, doesn’t have enough in him to feel embarrassed, full of marrow deep panic instead. “I’m not - I’m not the best with crowds, I don’t, I don’t like them-”

 

“That’s okay.” Jeongguk has to lean close, lips brushing against the shell of Yoongi’s ear, gentle. “That’s okay, hyung, yeah? C’mon, take a deep breath for me and we can get out of here. In and out, hyung. In and out.”

 

And Jeongguk is a witch - a very pretty, very odd witch, with a familiar as an owl and a shop far too well hidden - but he’s also a human. He has warm hands and a kind smile and the loveliest eyes, and Yoongi isn’t too sure, but he thinks he could be falling in like. Not love, because it’s a little too soon to say that, a little too soon for anything so concrete, but.

 

Yoongi kind of feels like he’s falling.

 

“Okay.” he breathes, and he’s not sure Jeongguk can hear him because Yoongi can barely hear himself, but Jeongguk nods, takes Yoongi by the hand again, weaving in and between the crowds with an odd sort of grace.

 

“Hyung.” Jeongguk whispers, and they’re out of the crowd now, lingering back behind the bar, just the two of them. “Are you okay? I was worried there for a bit, you seemed kind of - panicked.”

 

His voice is warm, brimming with concern, and Yoongi can feel the knot in his chest unfurling a little, wanting.

 

“Sorry.” Yoongi whispers, pressing back against the counter, dark marble digging into his spine.He feels a little embarrassed now, a little ashamed. “It’s just - I’ve never been the best with crowds, and, and it’s been a while since I’ve had to deal with them so. Yeah.”

 

Jeongguk still seems concerned, not entirely convinced. He holds Yoongi at arms length, inspecting him over with keen eyes, clucking under his tongue like a mother hen. “Are you sure you’re alright?” he frets, and Yoongi can feel a certain kind of warmth filling his chest, almost like summer sun. “You should’ve told me before hyung, I wouldn’t have taken you up there with me if I knew-”

 

“Not your fault.” Yoongi mumbles, pulling the sleeves of his sweater over his hands, still embarrassed but - fond. “Not your fault, Guk-ah.” he repeats, a little firmer this time. “I wanted to go up there, too.”

 

Jeongguk blinks at him. His eyes are round, twin pools of warmth, glimmering sapphires under the dim lights. “I like it when you call me that.” he says suddenly, voice shy.

 

“What?”

 

“When - when you say my name like that.” Jeongguk has his eyes on the floor, all curled into himself. “It sounds really nice, hyung. You should do it more often.”

 

“Oh.”

 

Jeongguk wrinkles his nose. “Was that weird?” he asks, and his voice sounds off, unsure. “Is it weird that I said that? I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable-”

 

“JEONGUKKIE!!”

 

Jeongguk staggers, a  pair of arms draping themselves over his  shoulders, sun stained skin glimmering dimly under the violet lights. Yoongi blinks at them.

 

“Hyung,” Jeongguk lets out a breath of relief  before leaning into this stranger’s warmth, familiar with the dips and curves of his body. “Hyung, this is Taehyung. Taehyung, this is Yoongi hyung.”

 

“Hello.” Yoongi says stiffly. He doesn’t mean to sound as off as he does, but Taehyung is wrapped around Jeongguk like some sort of gangly koala, and Yoongi’s not quite sure he likes it. “Nice to met you, Taehyung. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

 

Taehyung dips his head to the side, emerald eyes twinkling mischievously. “Likewise.” his voice is deep, all warm honey and crushed velvet, and his chin is balanced in the dip of Jeongguk’s shoulder, far too familiar. “I’ve heard a lot about you, hyung.”

“Only good things, I hope.” Yoongi says wryly.

 

“Oh, for sure.” Taehyung wraps his arms around Jeongguk’s middle, pressing into him tightly, cheshire grin palpable. “He said you were the prettie-”

 

“Taehyung!”

 

“What?” Taehyung chokes when Jeongguk stomps on his foot, falling backwards with a little oof. “You didn’t say I couldn’t tell him that! I thought-”

 

“Ignore him.” Jeongguk says sweetly, turning towards Yoongi timidly, a blush high on his cheeks. “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about half the time, the doctors say it’s his lack of common sense-”

 

Hey-”

 

“But personally, I think it’s just him in general, you know? Like why even try to blame it on anything but what it really is-”

 

“Are you talking about Taehyungie?”

 

Jeongguk pauses. Yoongi can see his eyes widening, soft pink flooding his cheeks all over again. “Jimin hyung!” he squeaks, tucking his thumbs under the straps of his dungarees, round glasses catching on the light to glimmer. “No, no, I was just -”

 

“Minnie.” and Taehyung is back again, creeping forwards to drape his body around Jimin, all long limbs and loose movements. “Minnie, Jeongguk is being mean to me. Is this how we raised him? Where did we go wrong? Isn’t he supposed to respect his elders?”

 

Jimin giggles, a high, breathless sound, body falling back into Taehyung’s with familiar ease. He looks comfortable there, wrapped in and around Taehyung, small body fitting perfectly into the dips and curves of his chest, head thrown back in laughter.

 

(He looks in love.)

 

Jeongguk squawks in protest. “Firstable, you didn’t raise  me-

 

Taehyung narrows his eyes at the ceiling. “Who taught him that.” he asks, voice rough with desperation. “Who said that around him, I just wanna talk to them about  influencing my son like this-”

 

I am not your son-”

 

“Is this what they mean when they say kids are ungrateful? Minnie, I fed him, I gave him shelter, and he does me like this . I want a fucking refund.”

 

Jeongguk lets out a noise, oddly similar to a deflating balloon. “I’m sorry.” he whispers, turning to Yoongi with his hands covering half of his face, mortified. In the back, Taehyung continues, unbothered. “I would say he’s not usually like this but. He is.”

 

Yoongi has to press his lips together to keep from laughing. “They’re cute.” he offers, because Jeongguk sort of looks like he wants to die, shoulders sagging sadly. “They clearly love you-”

 

“Heck yeah we do.” Taehyung interrupts, eyeing Yoongi with sudden interest. He seems to have finished his tangent and is now cuddling Jimin instead, demeanor oddly aggressive. “And I’m letting you know right now that if you hurt him, I will hurt you. I will hunt you down and pin you to the floor and fucking sit on you.”

 

“Kinky.” Jimin mutters.

 

“Oh my god.” Jeongguk says faintly.

 

“You will want to die.” says Taehyung. “I will make you crave death, Min Yoongi. Do you hear me? Death.”

 

Yoongi squints at him.

 

“Please.” whispers Jeongguk. “Please, I just want nice friends. For once in my goddamn life, I just want to be able to take you out without having to apologize.

 

“I resent that.” Taehyung says cheerfully. “And besides,” he pinches Jeongguk’s cheek before turning his startlingly bright eyes on Yoongi, lips pushed into a grin. “I can already tell Yoongi hyung is okay with my conditions. Aren’t you?”

 

“Sure.” Yoongi nods immediately, a laugh still sitting folded up in his belly. “It’s perfectly normal for friends to be overprotective when it comes to strangers, Jeongguk.”

 

“He thinks it’s because he’s a stranger. ” Taehyung says delightedly. “Oh my god Gukkie, you’ve really outdone yourself with this one.”

 

“Please,” Jeongguk chokes. “Please, for the love of Merlin, shut up.”

 

“Where did you find him?” Taehyung asks. “I want one too, he’s so pure-

 

“Taehyung.”

 

“Minmin-ah.” Taehyung coos, a boxy grin tickling his lips.

 

“That’s enough.” Jimin says sternly. He turns to Yoongi then, face crumpling into delicate smile. “I’m Jimin. You must be Yoongi-ssi?”

 

If Taehyung is ethereal, then Jimin is otherworldly. He’s dressed in tight black trousers, a red shirt fitting loosely around  his shoulders, skin milky under the dim lights. His features are pretty, dark dark eyes and a sardonic grin, silver bracelets glittering against his wrists, inky fringe damp against his forehead, and he -

 

He’s lovely. Jimin and Taehyung are lovely, two of the most gorgeous creatures Yoongi’s ever seen. It’s an odd feeling, to be so out of sorts like this, but Jeongguk gives him a little nudge, shaking  him out his reverie.

 

Yoongi coughs, a dry, quiet sound, feels a little embarrassed. “It’s nice to meet you, Jimin-ssi. And you can call me hyung, you don’t need to need to be so formal .” he tacks on awkwardly.

 

Jimin’s grin is warm. “Hyung.” he says happily, grin wide, cheeks bunched up. “It’s nice to meet you too! I hear you and Jeonggukkie are here for business?”

 

“Yes.” Jeongguk interrupts, expression relieved. “Yoongi hyung is having trouble sleeping.”

 

“I see.” Jimin says thoughtfully. He glows under the lights, black hair flipped back, a few stray strands falling lazily across his forehead. “Would you like to come up to the office for a bit of tea? We can discuss it there better than we can here.”

 

“Please.” Jeongguk nods, body sagging back against the bar counter at the giggle Jimin lets out.

 

“Wonderful!” Jimin claps his hands excitedly and  turns to Taehyung, threading their fingers together with a soft grin. Taehyung ducks his head, but Yoongi can see a flush rising on his cheeks, his shy grin, the tips of his ears stained red. “Follow me, please.”

 

They amble up the stairs two at a time, Jimin and Taehyung in the front, Yoongi and Jeongguk at the back. It’s quieter up here, the din of the club tucked far below them, and like this Jimin and Taehyung don’t seem magical so much as they seem… in love.

 

(Although, Yoongi thinks love has its own sort of magic too.)

 

The office is small but rich, full of dark wood and velvet drapes and glittering chandeliers. Jimin ushers them all in, pointing towards the overstuffed armchairs before bringing a tray of tea out from the back, ceramic cups balanced delicately in his hands.

 

“Help yourselves.” he says cheerfully, and then promptly sits himself  in Taehyung’s lap. Yoongi chokes.

 

Jeongguk doesn’t seem to notice, happily leaning forward to fix himself tea. He adds sugar and cream and Yoongi thinks that’s it, but then-

 

“Hyung.” Jeongguk’s nose is wrinkled. “Where do you keep the salt?”

 

“Oh shit, I forgot about that. It should be in the back, I can go get it-”

 

“Nah, I got it.” Jeongguk sends Jimin a grateful grin before he hops up, ambling off towards the back.

 

“Why does he need salt?” Yoongi asks, looking around in confusion. “Who puts salt in their tea?”

 

Taehyung, who’s been relatively quiet since Jimin hushed him, pipes up. “Personal preference.” he waves a hand lazily with his face still buried in Jimin’s shoulder, hands resting against his waist. “You get used to it after a while.”

 

It’s not really an answer but Yoongi doesn’t have time to push it any further, not when  Jeongguk comes wandering back out, blowing gently on his tea. He sits himself down next to Yoongi carefully, tucking his feet under himself before crossing his legs, folding up all small.

 

(It’s adorable.)

 

“So, where were we?” asks Jeongguk, looking around curiously.

 

“Yoongi hyung has trouble sleeping.” Jimin echos, brushing his fingers through Taehyung’s hair absentmindedly, looking pensive. “I assume you need help?”

 

“Quite.” Jeongguk adds wryly.

 

“Are you a Healer too then?” Yoongi asks, turning to Jimin, one eyebrow raised in question. “Jeongguk didn’t say.”

 

“Oh goodness no,” Jimin grins at him from where he’s still tucked into Taehyung’s lap, teeth flashing brightly. “I’m a Botanist!”

 

“A… Botanist? Faeries can be Botanists?”

 

“No, but witches can be Botanists.” Jimin corrects, “and lucky for you, I’m a witch! Now let’s get this sorted, shall we?”

 

Chapter Text

Jeongguk can feel his eyes drooping as Jimin talks, tired with the late hour. Time passes differently in Canaltai, doesn’t pass at all really because faeries are young and mischievous and can bend magic whichever way they want, and it’s odd but not bad. Just - exhausting.

 

“You said you were having trouble sleeping?” Jimin asks, and Jeongguk can feel Yoongi shift next to him, shoulders brushing.

 

“Yeah.” Yoongi mumbles. His voice is soft, a little hesitant. “It’s been close to… five months, I think? The usual meds aren’t working, or even if they do work I just - I feel awful.It’s not something I want to resort to unless I have to.”

 

Jeongguk blinks awake. His vision is fuzzy but he can still see the exhaustion lining Yoongi’s face, the delicate crinkles by his eyes.

 

“You didn’t tell me they made you feel like that.” he accuses, poking a finger into Yoongi’s arm none-too gently. There’s a layer of muscle beneath, not soft like Jeongguk thought it would be, and that’s sort of surprising, but also sort of not.

 

(Yoongi is an enigma, Jeongguk’s learning. A very pretty, very layered enigma, wrapped in a merry little package.)

 

Yoongi doesn’t look at him. “I didn’t want you to worry.” he says, a quiet kind of mumble.

 

“Still,” Jeongguk leans into him a bit, feels Yoongi jerk in surprise and then settle back, body turning loose. “I would’ve liked to know. I thought you just wanted a permanent solution, not that the human medicines weren’t made you feel  bad.

 

“I didn't want you to worry.” Yoongi repeats, softer this time. “You were already upset over not being able to give me a proper diagnosis, I just - I didn’t think it was necessary for you to know.”

 

“But I want to know.” Jeongguk mutters petulantly. “I could’ve made you a potion for a few days, or, or given you a tea, it’s not fair.

 

Yoongi seems surprised by the outburst, as does Jimin. But Jeongguk is running on too little sleep to care, and he stares at Yoongi accusingly, tapping his foot impatiently against the ground. “Well?”

 

“I’m sorry.” Yoongi sounds apologetic, sort of endeared. “It was just one night Jeongguk-ah, I didn’t think you would care.”

 

“Well I do.” Jeongguk settles back into the couch, glaring at Yoongi a little from where he sits. “Next time I would like to know.”

 

The quiet that follows is heavy, stilted. Jeongguk nods towards Jimin, feels a little embarrassed now that he’s more awake. “Carry on.” he says primly, crossing his ankles in an attempt to look calmer than he feels.

 

Jimin raises an eyebrow at him. He’s still sitting in Taehyung’s lap, but Taehyung is asleep against him, face pressed into his chest, hands resting on his waist. Jeongguk feels oddly jealous.

 

“Okay then.” Jimin clears his throat, amused. “Anyway, hyung, you said the meds weren’t working for you?Do you have any idea as to why that might be?”

 

“Ah,” Yoongi rubs a hand through his hair, folding his legs under himself in thought. He looks small, all curled into himself like this, soft and sleepy and sweet. “Jeongguk-ah said it was a matter of the heart, not the mind? So I think - I think it could have something to do with that.”

 

Jimin lets out a noise of surprise, soft enough to keep from waking Taehyung. “Those are rare.” he comments, and Jeongguk can see Yoongi’s cheeks flushing red.

 

“But it’s manageable, right? You can help me?”

 

And Jeongguk is reminded of  of Yoongi asking him the same thing, his dark eyes full of panic, voice rough and uneven. He’s not fond of the memory.

 

“It’s manageable.” Jeongguk interrupts kindly, placing a gentle hand against Yoongi’s shoulder,  a slight shiver under his touch. “Right, Jimin hyung?”

 

Jimin seems to catch onto the mood fast, looking between them for a second before nodding. “Of course it is,” he murmurs, sending a gentle smile their way. “And I think I have just the thing, too.”



 

As it turns out, Jimin is talking about a flower. “They only bloom during the full moon.” he explains quietly, brushing his fingers through Taehyung’s hair with gentle fingers, an unconscious smile twisting his features.

 

“And how long is that?” Yoongi asks, a feeling on unease bubbling through him. He doesn’t have time to blunder around, has deadlines and projects and and songs to finish, needs to sleep to do any of this.

 

Jeongguk seems to sense his discomfort, fingers pressing gently into Yoongi’s shoulder again, a sweet, fleeting touch. “Hyung,” and it’s a whisper, because Jeongguk is groggy, tethered to sleep. “Hyung, it’s okay, time doesn’t - it’s weird here, not like, like back home-”

 

“What he means,” Jimin interrupts, careful to keep his voice low, Taehyung’s head still resting against his chest. “Is that time is a human conception. It doesn’t exist here.”

 

Yoongi blinks at him. “What?” he asks dumbly.

 

Jimin laughs, a high, giggly thing. “Time isn’t really a thing here.” he repeats,  looking fond when Taehyung mumbles something incoherent into his chest. “When you go back, no time will have passed at all . You’ll end up exactly where you were, suspended within the second. It’s the least of your worries, hyung.”

 

“How is that possible?” Yoongi asks, because he can’t quite fathom what Jimin is telling him. “You - you’re saying I could stay here for years and face no consequences? You’re saying I wouldn’t age a day in all that time?”

 

Jimin nods. “It’s an odd concept to process.” he muses, a soft smile twisting his lips. “But a very, very convenient one.”

 

“Jimin.” Yoongi says suddenly. “How old are you?”

 

Jimin smiles again but this time it’s softer, sadder.  It doesn’t reach his eyes. “Too old.” he says wryly, threading his fingers together with Taehyung’s tightly, almost like an anchor. “Old enough that my world no longer exists.”

 

“But you said - you said -”

 

“My circumstances are different.” Jimin interrupts quietly. He’s not looking at Yoongi, has his eyes on Taehyung instead. “At some point, you have to learn to let go. And if you can’t let go, then you can’t move on - but that doesn’t mean the world can’t move on without you.”

 

“Jimin.” Jeongguk’s voice is soft, unsure. “You don’t need to-”

 

“It’s fine.” Jimin’s smile is genuine again, cheeks bunching up prettily. He turns to Yoongi, gently covering Taehyung’s ears with his hands. “My world moved on when I didn’t,” he murmurs, words full of a quiet ache. “ But I realized - I realized that some things are worth staying for.”

 

And as Yoongi looks at him looking at Taehyung, he thinks he understands what Jimin means. Thinks that he would like to find whatever it is they have, thinks he would be okay leaving his world behind if it meant he could have this . He thinks a lot of things and then he looks at Jeongguk, and thinks some more.

 

(Thinks maybe if it’s with you, it could be okay. Thinks maybe if it’s with you,  it could be worth it )

 

“Hyung?” Jimin asks, and Yoongi has to blink at him for a bit, takes a few seconds to remember where he is.

 

“Sorry,” Yoongi mutters. Jeongguk seems to have fallen asleep, arms crossed, chin nodding against his chest. Carefully, Yoongi leans Jeongguk’s head onto his shoulder, movements gentle, hands fleeting. “Go ahead,” he whispers, keeping his voice quiet, low.

 

Jimin smiles. “The Sitharas bloom during the twelfth hour of a full moon. That’s in about four days, hyung. Are you okay with staying here for that long?”

 

“I wouldn’t want to intrude.” Yoongi mutters, careful not to jostle Jeongguk as he speaks. “But if it’s not a problem… “

 

“It’s not a problem at all.” Jimin assures. “We have an extra room upstairs, if you don’t mind sharing?”

 

“That’s fine.” Yoongi whispers, shivering a little when he feels Jeongguk’s lips move against his skin in a wordless sound, fingers curling into the hem of Yoongi’s shirt. “I’ll just - I’ll wake him up and then we can go?”

 

Jimin tilts his head towards Taehyung, lips quirking up fondly. “Likewise.”

 

He’s soft around Taehyung, voice barely above a whisper. “Taehyung? Tae, baby, hey you need to get up.”

 

Taehyung makes a noise in the back of his throat, hand twitching until Jimin threads their fingers together, gentle. “C’mon,” and it’s just as quiet as before, just as careful.”C’mon, you’ll wake up sore if you sleep like this, baby. Please?”

 

Yoongi feels oddly like an intruder, as if he’s out of place, looking in from a window. It’s a private moment, a quiet, lovely one, full of a bone deep ache, warm reds and soft pink, a touch of creme and hues of violet.

 

Jimin places a kiss against Taehyung’s temple, just the barest brush of his lips. He whispers a few words, trails his fingers down Taehyung’s arm, walks them up his chest and around his wrist until their palms are kissing again, fingers linked together.

 

Yoongi is -

 

Warm.

 

(and so, so hurt. It’s a deep kind of hurt, the sort that burrows its way into your bones, tells  you of what you’re missing, shows you what you could have had, what you should have had. Yoongi is full of this hurt, can feel it from the tips of his fingers down to his very toes, can feel it brimming in his veins, wanting. Aching.)

 

“Hyung?” and now Taehyung is awake too, but just barely. Jimin is keeping him up with a hand on his waist, fingers threaded together, Taehyung’s eyes sleepy, his features soft.

 

“I’m going to take him up, okay? Jeongguk-ah knows where the guest bedroom is, you shouldn’t have a problem getting there.”

 

Yoongi nods, feels a soft, hollow spot in his chest ache at the way Taehyung burrows into the curve of JImin’s body, loose-limbed and easy. They leave the room hand in hand, footsteps dragging, voices quiet, and it’s lovely, just how well they fit together.

 

(Yoongi looks at Jeongguk and thinks, maybe if it’s with you, I could fit somewhere too.)

 

“Hey,” it’s a whisper still, because Jeongguk’s face is soft with sleep, petal pink lips parted. “Jeongguk?”

 

Jeongguk doesn’t stir. Instead, he reaches out, much like Taehyung had, palm open and fingers curling. Carefully, Yoongi takes his hand, rubs his thumb across Jeongguk’s veins in a gentle pattern. “Jeongguk-ah, can you hear me?”

 

“ ‘mmph.”

 

Yoongi feels a breath get caught in his chest. Jeongguk is snuffling quietly into the curve of his throat, making tiny, anxious noises, one of his hands still threaded with Yoongi’s, the other curled into a tight fist. “Jeongguk?”

 

“Don’t wanna.” Jeongguk mutters, eyes still firmly shut. “A few more minutes, please, I’ll sing to the guppies then.”

 

And that’s -

 

0dd.

 

Jeongguk’s lips are pursed, and the words are muffled into the skin of Yoongi’s throat. “Guppies?” Yoongi  asks, because he’s not quite sure what he just heard.

 

Later.” Jeongguk mumbles sleepily, squeezing Yoongi’s hand a little tighter. “I jus’, jus’ want to sleep for a bit, please.

 

This time, Yoongi gives him a gentle nudge, once, twice, then three times. Jeongguk squints blearily up  at him. “Hyung?”

 

And Yoongi wants to coo a little, maybe brush his fingers through Jeongguk’s hair to fix the knots, but he doesn’t because he has better self control than that.

 

(or at least he hopes he does.)

 

Instead, he tilts his head to the side, curious. “Who’re the guppies?”

 

Jeongguk pauses. “Pardon?” his voice is startled, unsure.

 

“The guppies.” Yoongi repeats thoughtfully. “You said you would sing to them later?”

 

“Well.” Jeongguk begins, bringing a sweater paw up to rub at his eyes. “The guppies… are what we call the children. In Busan. Where I’m from.” he adds nervously.

 

“I’ve never heard of that.” Yoongi comments, “is is  something the magic folk do?”

 

“Uh huh.” Jeongguk nods vigorously, fingers still unconsciously curled into the hem of Yoongi’s shirt. “All the witches do it! It’s like, a thing.”

 

Yoongi blinks at him dubiously. “If you say so.” he answers mildly.

 

“I do.” Jeongguk sounds proud, tugging the sleeves of his shirt over his hands in a smug fashion. “Moving on. Where did Jimin hyung and Taehyung go?’

 

“Ah.” Yoongi rubs the back of his neck awkwardly. “Jimin went to put Taehyung to bed. He said you knew where the guest bedroom was?”

 

“Oh!” Jeongguk claps his hands together, seems excited. “Oh, I love that room! Yes, of course I know where it is.”

 

Yoongi unfurls himself lazily, stretching his limbs and cracking his neck before he stands, one arm extended grandly. “Then by all means, lead the way.”

 

Jeongguk’s grin is shy, a hint of like blooming at the corners. “With pleasure.” he says happily, and then he’s taking Yoongi by the hand again, fingers fitting together tightly.

 

“You really like that, don’t you?” asks Yoongi conversationally.

 

“Hmm?”

 

“Holding hands.” Yoongi clarifies. “You seem to do it a lot.”

 

“Is that a bad thing?” asks Jeongguk, turning to him, confused and a little unsure. “Do you not like holding hands, hyung? I can stop if you want, it’s not a big deal-”

 

Yoongi squeezes his hand tightly before Jeongguk  can let go. “I love holding hands.” he says firmly. “In fact, I love holding your hand specifically. Is that okay with you, or do we need to sit and talk out our feelings for a bit?”

 

“No,” Jeongguk says quietly, flashing a small, grateful smile Yoongi’s way. “I think I’m okay, hyung.”

 

And his words are so soft, so pretty. Yoongi can hear the music in his voice again, can pull apart the individual notes and tie them into a melody, can see the harmonies floating behind each syllable. It’s nice, a gentle sort of lullaby.

 

(Jeongguk is nice.)

 

The walk is short, only a flight of stairs and a left turn. They stand in front of a silver - filigree door, a small, elegant seashell placed in the middle, sea glass glittering dimly at a certain angle.

 

“Ready?” Jeongguk’s smile could rival the moon, Yoongi thinks. Bright, soft at the edges, full of a sweet kind of warmth, prettier than the stars.

 

“Only if you are.” Yoongi whispers, and it’s not meant to be a whisper, not really. But Jeongguk is a gentle creature, entire galaxies glittering behind his sapphire eyes, and Yoongi is realizing, gradually and uncertainly, that Jeongguk is -

 

Magic. And of course he is, because he’s a witch and he has a shop hidden in the middle of city center and he’s friends with a faery , but there’s a different kind of magic in him, too. A warm one, filled with uncertainties, but inviting nonetheless.

 

“Of course I am.” and Jeongguk is whispering now too, seems to have caught the mood Yoongi is in. His hand is warm, rings still chilly to the touch but less than before, and Yoongi is endeared and in like.

 

(A good way to be.)

 

Jeongguk pushes the door open gently. His voice is quiet, hopeful. “Do you like it?”

 

For a few seconds, all Yoongi can do is blink. Inside, there’s a beach - sand between his toes, a sea breeze unfurling sweetly through the air, a dim echo of waves lapping against the shore. The water is pale blue, and rocks are clumped together by the shore, off white, smooth to the touch. In the middle is a bed, big enough for two, cream sheets and a lavender comforter, cherry blossoms sprinkling the pillows.

 

It’s lovely.

 

Yoongi tells Jeongguk as much. “It’s lovely.” he murmurs, not taking his eyes off the waves. They’re gentle, licking against the hills of sand, leaving behind a soft sound but not much else.

 

The sky is dark, wispy clouds drifting across lazily.Half-hearted wind tumbles over them, flicking at their skin, knotting through their hair, wrapping around their ankles. Yoongi shivers, just a little.

 

And then arms - strong, corded with muscle, find their way around his waist, fingers threading over his belly.

 

“You’re so tiny,” Jeongguk says happily. He’s pressed against Yoongi, and he feels so, so warm. So solid and real and gentle, his words  rumbling through Yoongi quietly. “Better?”

 

Yoongi can barely breathe. “Yeah.” and he doesn’t mean to sound as flustered as he does, but Jeongguk has that sort of effect on him, he’s learning. “Thank you.”

 

They stand there for a few minutes, wrapped around one another. The air feels less cold now, feels inviting even, and Yoongi could be drowning but he’s not sure. He’s not sure at all.

 

“Hyung?”

 

Yoongi leans back a little, feels Jeongguk press into him. “ ‘mm?”

 

“I know you don’t sleep too often.” Jeongguk begins shyly, “But we have a long day tomorrow. Do you think - do you think we could -”

 

Yoongi turns, burying his face into Jeongguk’s chest. The quiet that falls over them is sudden, but Jeongguk is warm, smells like washed cotton and the sea, and Yoongi doesn’t quite have it in him to care.

 

“We can sleep, Guk-ah.” Yoongi mumbles easily. Jeongguk is warm around him, feels strong and broad and sturdy, and Yoongi doesn’t want to let go, not today, not ever. “Do you think we could ask Jimin for another blanket though? I’m fine with the sand, but I get cold easily.”

 

Jeongguk steps back, just a little. “What?”

 

“A blanket.” Yoongi mumbles. He feels tired now too, because this room is nice and the beach is lovely, waves weaving  a quiet lullaby.

 

“Hyung,” Jeongguk whispers, and he presses back into Yoongi again, words a gentle rumble. “You don’t want to share with me?”

 

In the distance, a whale sings.

 

Yoongi can barely breathe. “Huh?”

 

“I wanted to share with you.” Jeongguk mumbles, rocking against Yoongi tiredly. “Won’t you share with me, hyung?”

 

And it’s unfair, Yoongi thinks. Jeongguk is pressed into him, soft and sweet and sleepy, dark eyes hopeful. “Please?” he whispers, words getting lost in the cotton of Yoongi’s sweater. “Please, hyung?”

 

“If you’re okay with it.” Yoongi mumbles. “If you don’t mind, then - then yeah.”

 

“Thank you,”  Jeongguk whispers gratefully. His smile is sure, eyes sleepy but full of warmth.

 

(Yoongi thinks, maybe if it’s with you-)

 

Jeongguk threads their fingers together again and they shuffle through the sand until they reach the bed. Yoongi is still in his sweater and his too-tight trousers, but he falls into the covers anyway, blinks through tired eyes as Jeongguk shucks off his dungarees. He’s left in his embarrassingly big shirt, sweater paws trailing well over his wrists.

 

“Okay?” Jeongguk whispers, and Yoongi nods, smiles a sleepy smile.

 

“Okay.” he echos, curling into himself a little when Jeongguk falls into bed next to him.

 

The quiet between them is careful, tender. It’s brimming with questions, and hesitantly, Yoongi leans forward, just a bit. “Jeongguk-ah?”

 

“ ‘mm?”

 

They’re not touching. They’re not touching and Yoongi’s okay with that but Jeongguk presses closer, their shoulders brushing, and they could be touching a little more, and Yoongi thinks he would be okay with that, too.

 

(he thinks he would be okay with a lot of things, if it was with Jeongguk.)

 

“That thing you say,” Yoongi mumbles, tucking his knees into his chest, his chin into his knees. “What do you mean?”

 

“What thing?”

 

“May the moon be with you,” Yoongi whispers, whispers, whispers.

 

Jeongguk sounds muffled, and Yoongi can barely see him like this, face all pressed into the pillow, body buried under the blankets. “That’s a story for later, hyung.” he mumbles. “When I’m not about to fall asleep on you.”

 

Yoongi nods, just a little. In the darkness, the whales are still singing and Yoongi is tired but not sleepy. Instead, he studies Jeongguk; under the pale moonlight, his features are softer, shadows playing gently across his face, the tip of his nose less round, the bones of his cheeks less sharp.

 

Jeongguk is warm, his hands warmer still.“Can you hear that?” he whispers, and Yoongi jerks a little, startled.

 

“The whales?”

 

Jeongguk lets out a breath, a puff of warmth. “Yeah.”

 

“I can hear them.” Yoongi tells him, burrowing a little further under the blankets. Jeongguk’s eyes are still shut, but his lips are parted, and he’s listening. “Why?”

 

“Have you heard of the loneliest creature in the world, hyung?”

 

Yoongi feels himself wilt a little.

 

“It’s a whale,” Jeongguk whispers, pressing a little closer, fingers searching. Yoongi gives in easily, threads their fingers together without a second thought, focused instead on Jeongguk’s words, the delicate way he parts his lips around satoori stained syllables. “One whale, hyung. Singing at a frequency too high for any of the other whales to hear.”

 

“That’s… awful.”

 

Jeongguk nods, tangling their legs together under the covers. “You seem kind of like that too.” he mumbles, and Yoongi stills, feels a shudder pass through him when Jeongguk’s  arms find around his waist.

 

“What?”

 

“You seem like you’re on a different frequency, hyung. Like you’ve been singing for years but no one can hear you.”

 

“Jeongguk-”

 

“Like you’re lonely.” Jeongguk whispers, and Yoongi can’t see him at all now, not with how he’s tucked into himself under the blankets, face pressed into Yoongi’s chest, every single bit of them touching. “You seem like you’re lonely, hyung.”

 

Then he’s quiet. Yoongi can feel Jeongguk against him, the gentle dips and curves of his body, can tell he’s asleep now, fingers curled into the hem of Yoongi’s shirt.

 

And Yoongi looks at him and thinks -

 

( maybe if it was with you, I wouldn’t be so lonely anymore.)

 

Chapter Text

Jeongguk blinks awake with a body curled into his.

 

Yoongi is sleeping, tucked into himself with his hands between his knees, face pressed tightly against Jeongguk’s chest, letting out these quiet, huffy  noises every so often. His hair is spread around the pillow in a mess of silver-blonde, and one of Jeongguk’s arms is thrown carelessly over his waist, limbs tangled together under the blankets.

 

In sleep, all of Yoongi looks softer, faded out, worn smooth. His heartbeat echoes in Jeongguk’s ears and it’s gentle, an  even thud-thud-thud, and Jeongguk can already feel a melody taking place in his head, andante.

 

(The only issue here is that he isn’t allowed to sing in front of others, not now, not ever . But still, he likes to think his melodies are nice ones. They’re gentle usually, a little soft, a little sad, full of a sweet, sweet ache.)

 

Against him, Yoongi lets out a quiet sound. “Joon. Joonie, no-”

 

Carefully, Jeongguk trails his fingers along Yoongi’s arm, threads their fingers together tightly, squeezing just a little. Yoongi sounded sort of panicked, but his hand is warm in Jeongguk’s, faint pinpricks of magic dancing between them, from Jeongguk to Yoongi and back again, sparking dimly.

 

“Hyung,” Jeongguk whispers, Yoongi’s lips still shaped around that word. Joon. “Hyung, can you hear me?”

 

And then a pair of dark eyes are blinking up at Jeongguk in confusion, a little wild, almost hurt. “J - Jeongguk?”

 

Carefully, Jeongguk taps his fingers against the curve of Yoongi’s back, once, twice, three times. “Morning, hyung.” he smiles hesitantly, knocks his forehead against Yoongi’s without much force. “How did you sleep?”

 

“Not badly,” Yoongi whispers, pressing his face further into Jeongguk’s chest, and Jeongguk can feel warmth all around him, from his fingers to the very tips of his toes. “I only caught about an hour, but that’s better than I could ask for. The whales were a nice touch, I think.”

 

“Yeah?” asks Jeongguk, suppressing a shiver when Yoongi drags a hand along the curve of his waist, innocent and a  little tender. “I like them, too. My favorite is Brunhilda.”

 

“Brunhilda?”

 

“The one with the higher voice,” Jeongguk explains, Yoongi’s eyes sparking with what looks a little like amusement. “She sets the entire mood, honestly.”

 

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Yoongi tells him, and then, a few seconds later, “You can tell them apart?”

 

“The perks of being a witch, I suppose.” Jeongguk says quietly, shares a smile with Yoongi when he looks up.

 

Waves crash over the shore, delicate and fleeting. Yoongi’s eyes glimmer under the early morning sunlight, flashing between honey and amber and ocher, warm, bright things pressed into the back of Jeongguk’s mouth, sugary sweet and syrupy.

 

(Jeongguk thinks that if Yoongi were a colour, he would be yellow. Sweet and soft and a little dreamy, honeysuckle and summer warm days and the evening sunset glimmering off a blue ocean; Yoongi is warm, unwaveringly kind, bleeds gentle affection from the very tips of his fingers.

 

If Yoongi were a colour he would be yellow, Jeongguk decides. Yellow fits best.)

 

“Penny for your thoughts?” asks Yoongi, fingers curled into the hem of Jeongguk’s shirt. He’s looking up at him curiously, has his lips twisted into half a pout, and it’s adorable, the kind that fills Jeongguk’s heart with a quiet ache.

 

“I was just thinking that we should get up,” Jeongguk murmurs, sends Yoongi a tiny grin, just a little curl of his lips. “Taehyung and Jimin are probably waiting for us.”

 

Yoongi lets out this noise, unfairly wounded. “But it’s warm in here,” he tugs on the hem of Jeongguk’s shirt again, scrunches his nose, whining. “Please, just give me a few more minutes, Guk-ah.”

 

Jeongguk looks at him carefully, gently knocks their foreheads together again just because he can . “Only if you tell me who Joon is.” he says, keeps his voice light, even.

 

For a few seconds, it’s quiet. Yoongi’s fingers fall away and Jeongguk misses the warmth immediately, lips parting in hesitance. “You were mumbling in your sleep,” he adds on, a little unsure because Yoongi still hasn’t said anything, has his face turned to the ocean now, distant. “You just said his name a few times, it wasn’t anything-”

 

“Joon is my roommate,” Yoongi interrupts, sounds tired suddenly, knocked off his axis. “One of them, anyway. Namjoon and Hoseok, remember? The ones who recommended you to me?”

 

Jeongguk lets out a noise of understanding. Namjoon and Hoseok were kind, he remembers, playful and sassy and thankful; even now, he sometimes gets a tin of saltwater taffy in the mail, addressed to him with a little note.

 

Thank you , It’ll usually say. Hope-ah is doing a lot better these days. Take care and please enjoy !

 

“I remember,” Jeongguk says, because he does, because he thinks of them often, their love sitting in his memory sweetly. “They’re doing well?”

 

“Yeah,” Yoongi says, a little gruff. He’s thrown the covers back, has his feet in the sand, strands of bleached hair knotted into a bedhead. “Still as in love as ever, I suppose.”

 

“That’s nice,” Jeongguk says, and means it. Their love was kind, from what Jeongguk remembers, the sort that you don’t find very often at all, these days. “What’re you doing up though? I thought you said you wanted to sleep in for a bit?”

 

“Can’t sleep,” Yoongi mutters under his breath, and it’s odd, how uncomfortable he suddenly is . “That’s what we’re here for, isn’t it? So you can fix me and I can be on my merry way?”

 

“Hyung,” Jeongguk begins, feels small and a little hurt. “You don’t have to be short with me-”

 

“I know.” Yoongi interrupts, and he sounds tired again, familiar exhaustion seeping into his voice. He sends Jeongguk an apologetic look, his limbs all folded into himself, regretful and sincere and little less angry, maybe. “Sorry, Guk-ah, it’s just -

 

“I get it,” Jeongguk says, whispers it really, because Yoongi looks a little in need of quiet things right now, the curve of his shoulder cut all wrong. “You’re upset, and you haven’t been sleeping well, and I shouldn’t have been asking so many questions early in the day.”

 

“But hopefully,” he adds, sits up in the too-big bed, a little less warm without Yoongi there, “we can fix you and you, um - you can be on your merry way, hyung.”

 

“Jeongguk-ah,” Yoongi’s voice is soft, troubled. “I didn’t mean it like that-”

 

“I know you didn’t,” Jeongguk says, because he does know. “I’m going to go take a bath, okay? You can go downstairs though, Jimin and Taehyung should already be there.”

 

Wordlessly, Yoongi nods. He’s still standing, has his toes curled into the sand, but Jeongguk yawns, stretches his limbs and pads to the door, letting it click shut quietly behind him, pretending his heart isn’t aching all the while.

 

(He has to remind himself, sometimes. That this is temporary, that Yoongi is a patient , that he has trouble sleeping and even if he’s nice, even if he touches Jeongguk like he’s made of sea glass, he’s still a human.  

 

Yoongi is a human, but he’s a lovely one. He wears his sweaters too big, fingers barely peeking past the sleeves, and his jeans are torn at the knees, the slight curve of his bone gentle, endearing.

 

He’s kind, glances fingers across Jeongguk’s skin with fleeting touches, talks to him quietly, his laugh raspy, this odd-growly sort of thing that spills from him like a flood of ink, staining Jeongguk’s heart, everywhere it touches.

 

But still, Jeongguk tells himself, Yoongi is a human. And humans, kind though this one may be, have never really liked him much. )





Yoongi lets out a breath when Jeongguk leaves, feels odd, unsure. The sand is soft against his skin, and there’s a wind ruffling through his hair, but the places where Jeongguk had been wrapped around him are aching suddenly, empty and oddly hollow.

 

Joon. He shapes his lips around the syllable carefully, thinks of Namjoon’s burnt umber eyes and his shy little grin, his deep dimples and the graceful slope of his body, and feels a little sad, maybe. He shouldn’t because it’s been years, it’s been years , but he does and it’s awful.

 

(It’s terrifying, actually. It’s been years , Yoongi tells himself again, hunches his shoulders, pretends it’s to keep warm from the breeze. It’s been years and you need to move on, please move on-

 

He thinks he has, in some ways. His chest doesn’t ache nearly as much as it used to, and when he sees Hoseok with Namjoon, sees their fingers threaded together, their dimpled grins and their tender touches, he doesn’t particularly care.

 

But it hurts, a little. A discordant thought of oh, that could’ve been me, echoes through his head sometimes, and Yoongi has to look away then, take in a breath and then another, until it isn’t as awful, as mocking.

 

It hurts, a little.

 

But then again, what kind of love doesn’t?)

 

Yoongi yawns, leans back into the breeze, stares out at the ocean with distant eyes. In his head, he hears Jeongguk’s voice, the gentle lilt of his satoori echoing between his thoughts; we can fix you and you can be on your merry way, hyung.

 

It sounded sad, a little offbeat with the way he’d said it. Jeongguk hadn’t been looking at him, had his legs folded up all small with the blankets pulled to his chin instead, eyes searching his lap.

 

Like a little kid, almost. It made Yoongi’s heart ache, sing this quiet, quiet melody, like a brush of fingers against the curve of a cheek, through strands of hair, gentle all along. Please, don’t go.

 

He hadn’t said it outright, hadn’t needed to. There is music everywhere, Yoongi’s learned, music in a single breath, in a huff of laughter, in the ocean ink of Jeongguk’s glimmering eyes, and there was music in his words then, too.

 

A weeping melody of sorts, a drifting harmony, flutes and violins and just a hint of piano. This soft, lilting thing, full of bruised hurt, the kind that looks at you with troubled eyes, trails fingers down your arm, and asks, so quietly that you can barely hear, stay? Please, will you stay?

 

There is music everywhere, Yoongi’s learned; and Jeongguk’s music is sad, written in minor keys, sung just before dawn breaks, when streaks of pink bleed across the sky, curling into dark wisps of pretty colours, scared to stay for too long.

 

Jeongguk’s music is a lot, for Yoongi. Jeongguk’s music is, for lack of better word, magical , and it flutters around Yoongi, pulls gently at his skin, asking these quiet, quiet questions, a whisper of a touch, full of hurt and troubled words and disquiet loneliness.

 

Yoongi sighs and tips his head back again, feels the phantom of Jeongguk’s touch, the warmth of his pretty eyes. A haunting melody is taking place in his head now, words twisted with blue, heavy creme and inky black and just a hint of pale pink, all of the colours that make up Jeongguk, Yoongi thinks.

 

He’s not sure if he’s imagining it, but it’s in the air, sort of. The wind curls around him, swells along with the gentle beat of his heart, and there are notes too, caught in the furl of the ocean, the whistle of wind piercing his ears, measures dripping from the sky in sunstained sparks.

 

Yoongi listens to it carefully, quietly; he listens to it as he pads to the door, listens to it as he wanders down the stairs, catches the sweet melody and tucks it into his memory for safe keeping. It’s still there, even when he sits at the round table, Jimin and Taehyung looking at him curiously.

 

“Did you sleep well?” asks Jimin, kindly. He’s in a robe, but unlike Jeongguk’s his are tailored to perfection, fit tightly around his waist, the hem fluttering neatly at his ankles.

 

Yoongi drums his fingers on the table, distracted. “Not really, no.” he mutters, and the melody is faded now, muffled, just a faint echo, hardly anything to be worrying about. “Can you guys hear that?”

 

Taehyung sets a mug in front of him gently, steam curling up from the rim. It’s tea, and it smells floral, lavender and hibiscus and maybe even chamomile, sweet all around, a pool of honey glimmering at the very bottom.

 

(Still, Yoongi craves peppermint.)

 

“Hear what?” Taehyung asks, looking at him curiously. “Minnie, can you hear anything?”

“Not a thing, Taehyungie.” Jimin says cheerfully. He hands Yoongi a plate, full to the brim with rice and a fried egg and even some kaktugi, it seems.

 

“Huh,” Yoongi says. The melody is gone now, even the wisps of it having fled from the room, and Yoongi is left with his breakfast and a bit of lukewarm tea. “Never mind, then. Lack of sleep really does do things to you, I guess.”

 

Jimin gives him a sympathetic nod, and all too late Yoongi notices the fluffy thing curled up in his arms, purring gently, these sweet, quiet little sounds echoing all around the kitchen. “Is that-”

 

“This is Lucy,” Jimin tells him, pressing a kiss to the top of Lucy’s head. Her ears twitch a little, and she purrs louder, the flick of her tail lazy, content. “She’s a sweetheart, here.”

 

And then suddenly Yoongi has a cat in his lap, this black, fluffy little thing with the greenest eyes he’s ever seen, blinking up at him innocently. She stares at him, seems curious when she noses into the soft of his stomach, and Yoongi’s not quite sure what to do, is on the verge of giving her back to Jimin when suddenly, she butts her head into his hand, insistent.

 

“Go on, pet her,” Taehyung urges, and so Yoongi does.

 

Lucy is soft, softer than any blanket Yoongi’s ever touched, prettier too. He lets his fingers sink into the black of her fur, and there she goes again, purring so deeply that Yoongi can feel it in his skin, the very center of his heart.

 

“Hi sweetie,” Yoongi whispers to her, a little in awe. And then, a few seconds later, “Is she your familiar, Jimin?”

 

Jimin smiles at him, but it’s the one from last night, not quite as full as it should be, and Yoongi gets the distinct impression he’s asked a question he wasn’t supposed to have.

 

“No,” Jimin murmurs, Taehyung’s hand held tight in his. “No, she’s just -”

 

“She’s a stray,” Taehyung says, when it seems Jimin can’t quite find his words right. “Jimin picked her up when he visited Seoul last, didn’t you?”

 

Jimin nods, sends Taehyung a lonely grin, achingly sweet in the bright light of day. “Lucy was wandering around Jeongguk’s shop, the poor thing. She’s attuned to magic for some reason, and she could feel the shop but she couldn’t see it, and I just couldn’t leave her there alone, could I?”

 

“Of course you couldn’t,” whispers Taehyung, before Yoongi can say anything at all. He picks up his plate, and then Yoongi’s, and then drops a kiss on Jimin’s head before padding  over to the sink, quieter than Yoongi’s ever heard him.

 

Jimin waits until Taehyung’s disappeared around the corner before leaning forward, his mouth curled into a halfhearted grin. “My familiar passed a while ago,” he whispers, and Yoongi pauses, hand caught gently in Lucy’s fur. “They’re magic, but even magical beings aren’t meant to live for so long, you know? Taehyung cried more than I did, I think. She was a cat too, and she didn’t like very many people, but Taehyung-”

 

And he smiles now, eyes crinkling into half moons. “She loved Taehyung just as much as she loved me. He blames himself for it, sort of, and he wasn’t okay for a while but he is now, and part of that is because of Lucy.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Yoongi says, because he is , because he means it. Jimin, he’s learning, has sacrificed a lot to be with Taehyung, and it breaks Yoongi’s heart a little, that sort of love.

 

“Don’t be,” Jimin says quietly, kindly. He coos when Lucy purrs again, and Yoongi hands her over without complaint, feels like Jimin needs to be with her right now, the dark of his eyes full of a bone deep ache.  “Lucy’s a sweetling, and I’m glad we took her in.”

 

Yoongi nods, tea cup clutched in his hands. The quiet returns, but Taehyung doesn’t and soon enough Jimin murmurs an excuse, sends Yoongi an apologetic glance before setting Lucy down, the sleeves of his robes brushing her ears.

 

“I’ll just go see if he’s okay,” Jimin says, and Yoongi can hear the worry in his voice, the kind of quiet care that only a few people have dripping steady from his words.

 

“Of course.”

 

And then it’s just him and Lucy, alone in the suddenly too-big kitchen. Yoongi picks her up again and she comes easily enough, curls into his lap and nudges into his hand until he pets her again, the shimmer of her eyes changing colour under the sunlight.

 

“You’re so sweet,” Yoongi tells her, and she looks up at him, flicking her ears, a soft little meow spilling out of her when he scritches her neck, the graceful  curve of her body. “They’re lucky to have you, you know?”

 

“Oh, she knows.”

 

The remark comes wryly, if not a little amused. Yoongi glances up to find Jeongguk staring at him, the blue in his eyes oddly bright, caught between moonstone and azurite, gems under a backlit sunset. His hair is wet still, and the piercings in his ears stutter bright, the twin sparks in his collarbones just barely visible from where Yoongi is.

 

(Still, Yoongi wants to ask. He remembers them sometimes, all of the piercings Jeongguk’s has, but especially the ones embedded between the sharp of his bone, a place where hurt gathers easily.)

 

“Hi, Jeongguk-ah,” Yoongi says, keeps his voice quiet, not quite sure where they stand. “Taehyung and Jimin were here, they just-”

 

“I know,” says Jeongguk, just as quiet, just as carefully. He leans over to pet Lucy, and Yoongi has to tuck into himself a little to pretend he isn’t as affected as he really is, a shiver running through him anyway. “But Jimin is good at taking care of Taehyung, and  Taehyung is just as good at taking care of him. You needn’t worry, least of all about them.”

 

“No?” Yoongi asks, and Lucy lets out another meow , blinking up at the two of them balefully.

 

“No,” Jeongguk whispers, running his fingers through Lucy’s fur one last time before taking a seati, the silver in his ears catching under the light to spark brightly.

 

He’s wearing a loose sweater now, the kind that catches on his bone, material falling forward to reveal just a hint of skin, too much. The neck is wet from his hair too, and just the tips of his fingers peek out from beneath the sleeves, and Yoongi feels a little faint, at best.

 

“Hyung?”

 

Yoongi jerks, stares into his tea cup with the tips of his ears all red. “ ‘mm?”

 

“Could you pass the salt, please?” Jeongguk  asks, and his voice is so sweet, dripping a thousand melodies all at once. Yoongi wants to ask him sometimes, if he does it on purpose, if he strings notes together in his head, if he lets them loose into the air without meaning to, if it really is as effortless as it seems.

 

Wordlessly, Yoongi passes him the salt.

 

“Thank you,” Jeongguk says happily, and Yoongi stares at him in utter confusion when he shakes not one, not two, but three helpings of salt in his tea.

 

“Why d’you do that?” Yoongi asks, leaning forward unconsciously.

 

Jeongguk blinks at him. “Pardon?”

 

“The salt,” Yoongi says. “Why do you take your tea with salt instead of sugar?”

 

“Ah,” and Jeongguk smiles now, this gentle thing full of private humor, soft amusement. “I’m from Busan, remember?”

 

“Yes,” Yoongi says, because he does remember, doesn’t think he could forget if he tried. “But that doesn’t explain - I mean that doesn’t really-”

 

“It’s a witch thing,” Jeongguk says lightly, a grin gracing his lips. “Missing the sea and all that, you know?”

 

“No.” Yoongi says bluntly.

 

And then there’s a laugh, lilting  and utterly delighted, flooding the kitchen.

 

Suddenly, it is all so very, very clear; Yoongi hears summer in the clear notes of his humor, catches, the low tenor of whales singing into a balmy evening, the crush and stutter of waves dampening sand. he sees the moon, hung in the sky as if from a thread; he feels the water, the cold shock of it heavy against his skin; and in the back of his throat, he tastes salt, a sharp sting sweet on his tongue.

 

Yoongi sits there, stunned. Jeongguk’s laughter curls around him gracefully, breathes warmth into his heart, and Yoongi’s thoughts are caught in a fog now, slipping through his fingers like water. A hand touches his, bright sparks catching between them, and Jeongguk is suddenly inches away from him, the tips of their noses not quite yet brushing, but close.

 

“What about now?” asks Jeongguk, quiet, quiet, quiet. Yoongi feels his heart stutter in his chest, the touch of Jeongguk’s fingers against his skin a gentle chill. “Do you understand now?”

 

Yoongi’s head is spinning. “That was - that was you? Your memories?”

 

“Some of my favorite ones,” Jeongguk tells him, and he leans forward now, the curl of his lips intimate. “Could you feel my heart, hyung?”

 

“I’m not sure,” Yoongi breathes, whale song still echoing dimly in his ears. “Would you - can you show me again, Jeongguk-ah?”

 

Gently, Jeongguk threads their fingers together. He guides Yoongi’s hand to his chest, just where his heart is, the beat of it even beneath Yoongi’s touch, calm.

 

“Of course. I would think it only fair,” Jeongguk whispers, letting his eyes flutter shut, Yoongi’s hand flat against his chest, “that because I’ve felt yours, you should feel mine.”

 

And the scenes  are back now, haunting; Yoongi can feel Jeongguk’s heart in hands, this living, breathing thing, each beat bringing with it an entire symphony of memories. They’re sunk into the very centre of Yoongi’s thoughts, sun-bright and summer-sweet, and Yoongi shivers, the places where Jeongguk is touching him so very, very warm.

 

“And now?” asks Jeongguk, eyes full of liquid moonstone. “Can you feel my heart now, hyung?”

 

“Yes,” Yoongi whispers, because he can , because it’s near terrifying, to feel like this. “I suppose understand now, what you mean.”

 

“I’m glad,” Jeongguk says. His hand against Yoongi’s wrist is a gentle pressure, the tips of his fingers crackling with energy. “And Yoongi hyung?”

 

“ mm?”

 

“You can let go now,” says Jeongguk kindly, eyes sparking between blue and silver, impish.

 

Vaguely, Yoongi realizes he’s still touching Jeongguk. He flushes, the tips of his ears burning red, and lets his hand fall away, back into the black of Lucy’s fur, the curve of her spine. She’s been sitting in his lap quietly all the while, and even now she barely stirs, only blinks one eye open to give him a mildly reproachful look.

 

“Sorry,” Yoongi whispers, mortified. “Sorry, I just, I got caught up there-”

 

“You’re fine, hyung.” Jeongguk interrupts, and his grin is gentle now, sweeter than summer peach. “I didn’t mind.”

 

He goes back to sipping his tea then, and Yoongi pretends he only sort of wants to die, keeps petting Lucy and craving death, at least until -

 

“Oh? You’re still not changed?”

 

Jimin is staring at him curiously, Taehyung’s arms wrapped around his waist, just as affectionate as Yoongi is used to seeing them. “Was I supposed to have?” he asks, confused.

 

“I mean,” and Jimin rounds on Jeongguk now, who shrinks back just a little. “Jeongguk said he would tell you to, but I guess not, huh?”

 

“Sorry,” Jeongguk sends Jimin an award winning smile, but even Yoongi can tell it’s not enough in the face of what seems to be Park Jimin’s Supreme Annoyance. “I get a bit spacey sometimes, you know-”

 

“I do.” Jimin interrupts, letting out a sigh before turning to Yoongi, Taehyung still clinging tightly to his waist. “Go change, please. I’ve left some of my clothes out for you in the guest bedroom that I think should fit properly.”

 

Yoongi blinks up at him curiously. “Does this mean we’re going somewhere?”

 

Taehyung gives him an incredulous look before Jimin can do anything at all. “You didn’t really think we were just going to waste the four days you two are here for, did you?”

 

“Yes.” Yoongi says blankly. “That’s exactly what I thought.”

 

“Yoongi hyung,” Jimin says, dangerously calm. Yoongi is, quite honestly, terrified. “I’m going to tell you one last time, okay? Please, for the love of merlin, go get changed. It’s important that we pick the dreamwood before noon!”

 

And before Yoongi can ask what on earth dreamwood is and why exactly it needs to be picked before noon, he’s being ushered up the stairs by a haphazard Jimin, Lucy still asleep in his arms.



Chapter Text

Dreamwood, as Yoongi learns, is  made of gentle violets and quiet blues and twisting strands of black. It feels like sun warmed glass in his hands, heavy to the touch but fragile still, twinkling brightly under the summer sky.

 

“Hyung?”

 

Yoongi blinks. Jeongguk takes the dreamwood from him, fingers bleeding warmth wherever they touch, and when he leans back, he does so kindly.

 

“You have to be careful with this stuff,” he warns, but  his smile is gentle, crafted with sincerity. “A lot of the time, it gives you visions - dreams, you know.”

 

“I see,” Yoongi says. He doesn’t, not really, but his head is still spinning with Jeongguk’s memories, and the dreamwood had him sinking back into his own, of days stained with youth and bitter sweet remembrances.

 

(Dreams, Yoongi thinks. The dreamwood plucked at his thoughts, sparked bright under the sharp of the sun, and then Yoongi was falling into a scene, a blur of colours and hushed whispers and what could’ve been, but what inevitably wasn’t.

 

And then Jeongguk took the dreamwood out of his hands - his touch grounding, his eyes an anchor - and Yoongi was back.

 

Dreams, Yoongi thinks. Terrifyingly wonderful things. )

 

“Hyung?”

 

Yoongi blinks, snaps out of his daze. Jeongguk is looking at him carefully, quietly, curiously. His robes flutter in the breeze and they’re  a deep plum colour today , the fabric catching under the summer sun to twinkle, a glimmer of rice wine and softened twilight.

 

“Sorry,” Yoongi  says, whispers really. “ you um - you look pretty today.” He lets out a breath, this little puff of air that has Jeongguk’s fingers flitting to Yoongi’s chin, tipping his head up up up, eyes sparking ocean ink blue under the sun.

 

“Thank you,” says Jeongguk, and his fingers are warm against Yoongi’s skin, a fleeting pressure that’s felt long after the touch has faded. “And you don’t need to be so shy, hyung.” he adds, letting his hand drop, the corner of his mouth curling up just a little. “We did share a bed last night, you know.”

 

Yoongi flushes. He can feel the heat flooding his cheeks, the tips of his ears burning, and Jeongguk is looking at him still, eyes alight with mischief.

 

“Did we? I don't recall,” Yoongi says as evenly as he can, which really isn’t very even at all, given the circumstances.

 

Jeongguk leans in, as if he’s preparing to share a secret. “We did,” he whispers, lips brushing skin. Yoongi shivers, can hardly keep from leaping away when it happens again. “You didn’t fall asleep until well into morning and when you did, you curled up all small, tucked your hands between your knees. It was very cute, hyung.”

 

“Not true.” Yoongi says automatically.

 

(On the contrary, it’s very true. Namjoon teases him about it at least once a week, coos under his breath when he  finds Yoongi curled into his favorite armchair, knees tucked under his chin, face tucked into his knees, snug under the faded afghan he keeps  buried behind the cushions.

 

“It’s comfortable,” Yoongi argues. “A small space meant for a small person .”

 

“A goblin, you mean.” Namjoon says wryly,  lets out a laugh at the scowl he gets in return.

 

Yoongi sniffs. I prefer the term gremlin.” but he’s giggling too, and Namjoon is looking at him so fondly, dimples twitching in his cheeks, and Yoongi- )

 

Jeongguk laughs, this sharp thing rippling with a hundred different arpeggios, strains of woodwinds woven together. “If you say so,” he turns then, and his robes catch under the sun again, deep plum rippling behind him in pools of shimmering fabric. “I guess we’ll just have to see again tonight, won’t we?”

 

Yoongi turns his nose up in the air. “Of course,” he says primly. “Now c’mon, we still have to pluck rani petals for Jimin.

 

Jeongguk lets out a noise of agreement, and they set off, heading towards the sea of blood red flowers glimmering in the distance. They spark brightly under the sun, and now Yoongi can tell that they’re not quite red, not really. Instead, they flash different colours, switching between pale oranges, barely- there yellows, faded creams.

 

“Do you...do you see them like that too, Guk-ah?” Yoongi asks, kneeling in the dirt to touch. The petals look delicate, and Yoongi finds that they are, the stems bending under his touch, leaves curving to get away.

 

“See them like what, hyung?” Jeonguk isn’t looking at him. Instead, he’s stroking the head of one of the flowers, cooing a little under his breath, and Yoongi stares at him, curious.

 

“They’re switching colours,” he says, just a little hesitantly. “Are they supposed to be doing that?”

 

Jeongguk doesn’t turn around, but his voice is quiet, thoughtful. “Rani flowers change colour depending on the angle at which the sun is hitting them,” he explains, and the flowers are twisting towards him now, seem anxious for his attention. “So yes, they should be.”

 

Yoongi nods, folds his legs and  copies Jeongguk, letting the flowers come to him instead. A few of them shy away still, but a couple bend his way, flutter their leaves and stand up a little taller, and tentatively, ever so tentatively, Yoongi strokes one.

 

It’s a little nerve wracking, but one of them in particular lets out a noise, not unlike a purr. Yoongi feels oddly triumphant, half his mouth twisting into a grin as a petal unfurls, wrapping its velvety self around his wrist.

 

“You’re doing well, hyung.” Jeongguk murmurs, voice carrying over the flowers between them. “They’re shy little things, but they like you, I think.”

 

Yoongi stares at the petal wrapped around his wrist, the red of it stark against his skin. “Well I think,” he whispers, hushed and a little in awe, “that I like them, too.”

 

And he does. They’re sweet, and the longer he sits there, strokes their leaves and tells them encouraging things, they twist towards him, seeking attention, wrapping around his wrists, some of them his ankles, too.

 

“Jeongguk-ah,” Yoongi calls, and he can hardly keep from giggling, the petals ticklish against his skin. “Jeongguk-ah, how do we pluck them?”

 

“You don’t,” Jeongguk rubs a petal between his finger, gentle,  “You have to let them come to you, it’s a-”

 

“Magic thing, I know.” Yoongi finishes ruefully.

 

And soon enough, the petals twisted around his wrists tighten, weave together and then fall away, leaving in its wake two blood red bracelets, perfectly bell shaped blooms stiff against the breeze.

 

“Take them,” Jeongguk encourages, and Yoongi looks at him, can hardly breathe when he does, because Jeongguk is pretty , always has been but like this-

 

Like this, he’s terrifyingly ethereal. Whereas Yoongi’s flowers settled with red, Jeongguk’s have taken on a gentle cream, a crown of petals adorning his hair. It matches the bracelets wrapped around his wrists, and even his ankles have been taken care of, the graceful curve of his bone hidden behind a sheaf of petals.

 

“Hyung?” Jeongguk asks, and his hands suddenly have Yoongi’s in them, the skin of his fingers bursting with warmth. “Did you need help putting them on?”

 

It takes Yoongi a few seconds to realize Jeongguk is asking about the bracelets, the twin circlets hanging neatly off his finger. “Yeah,” Yoongi breathes, because he’s still staring at Jeongguk’s flower crown, lily white against the ink of his hair. “Please.”

 

And Jeongguk’s grin is so gentle, Yoongi thinks. This quiet thing curling his mouth, prettier than the petals dripping from his wrists, it stains Yoongi’s heart, catches in the very deep of his belly, a pool of honey sweet warmth.

 

Yoongi can hardly breathe as Jeongguk fastens the bracelets, feels dizzy with his sweet scent, the touch of his fleeting hands. “There we go,” Jeongguk murmurs, steps back and sends Yoongi that smile again, sugar in the back of his mouth.

 

Yoongi’s wrists feel heavy with the weight of the flowers, but Jeongguk’s fingers threading through his helps, he thinks. “Thanks, Jeongguk-ah,” he whispers, still reeling a little from just how pretty Jeongguk is.

 

“Of course.” Jeongguk says, quiet and sure. “Jimin said to meet him and Taehyung at the waterfall when we finished. We should  leave, right?”

 

“Probably,” says Yoongi, but he doesn’t move, doesn’t quite know if he can.

 

It feels precarious, this second does. Jeongguk is still looking at him, his fingers threaded through Yoongi’s, eyes searching, searching, searching, and Yoongi’s heart stutters in his chest, shakes and shivers and bends as it so very often does, these days.

 

“Hyung,” Jeongguk whispers, moves closer, robes rustling in the gentle breeze. “About this morning - I really am sorry, you know. I didn’t mean to push.”

 

Yoongi’s chest hurts, sort of. “You didn’t,” he says, squeezes Jeongguk’s hand in his, palms kissing. “You didn’t, Jeongguk-ah, and - and hyung is sorry too, I shouldn’t have snapped, didn’t mean to snap at you, I was just-”

 

“You were tired,” Jeongguk tells him, curls in a little, rests his head in the bend of Yoongi’s neck. His voice is quiet, the warmth of it hitting Yoongi’s skin, softer than the petals wrapped around his wrists. “You are tired. I meant it when I said I would fix you, hyung. I’m sorry if I ever implied otherwise, that wasn’t my intention.”

 

“You didn’t,” Yoongi repeats, rubbing his back, pressing him closer still. “I was on edge, that’s all. You’re really fine, Jeongguk-ah, okay?”

 

“Okay,” Jeongguk whispers eventually. He still hasn’t moved, has his face tucked into Yoongi’s shoulder, sounds achingly afraid. “I’m - you’re sure?”

 

His voice is so small, Yoongi thinks. Apologetic and uncertain and terribly troubled, his voice is so small, this awful sound full of grating violins, strings plucked too wrong, out of sorts.

 

“I’m sure,” Yoongi tells him, presses a gentle kiss to his temple. “Are you listening to me,  Jeongguk-ah? I’m so very, very sure.”

 

Jeongguk breathes against him, long and quiet and fearful, and it cuts through Yoongi so sharp, stings the back of his throat like cheap vodka. “Okay,” Jeongguk repeats, and he finally steps away, rubs his eyes with his too-long sleeves.

 

“I’m fine,” he lets out a watery laugh when he catches Yoongi looking at him, waves his concern off with a ring adorned hand. “I’m fine, it’s just - I really didn’t like the way we left things this morning, and it felt like I’d disappointed you-”

 

“You didn’t,” Yoongi interrupts, closes the distance between them, curls his fingers into the fabric of Jeongguk’s robes. “You didn’t, Jeongguk, I swear.”

( You could never, he wants to say.)

 

“I understand that now, I think,” Jeongguk tells him, leans down and presses against Yoongi tight. “Thank you for forgiving me.”

 

(There was nothing to forgive , Yoongi wants to argue. There was nothing to forgive, you didn’t do anything wrong, I just-)

 

“ ‘s alright.” Yoongi says, can barely hear himself over the stutter of his heart, folded  tight against Jeongguk as he is. “Really, Jeongguk-ah.”

 

“I know,” Jeongguk says. “But it’s nice to hear, sometimes.”

 

And it is, Yoongi thinks. He should’ve said it earlier, should’ve said it this morning before they left for the woods, and maybe then Jeongguk wouldn’t have had to ask for reassurance like this, voice awfully hesitant, words achingly uncertain.

 

Yoongi really, really doesn’t like himself sometimes.

 

Carefully, cautiously, he untangles himself from Jeongguk and steps back, levels him with an equally careful look. “Jimin is probably waiting for us,” he murmurs. “We should get going.”

 

“I suppose we should,” Jeongguk says under his breath, and he offers Yoongi a hand then, the pretty pink of his mouth curling upwards halfheartedly. “Shall we?”

 

“We shall,” Yoongi says grandly.

 

They link hands, fingers threading together with familiar ease, the warmth of Jeongguk’s palm a gentle comfort against Yoongi’s own. It’s quiet between them but not a bad quiet, Yoongi doesn’t think. A sweet, unobtrusive one, kind and forgiving and just a bit tender, a day-old bruise on the very cusp of healing.

 

It’s nice, Yoongi decides. Jeongguk seems to think so too, shares a smile with him every now and then, swings their hands together and presses into Yoongi’s side, fit into the gentle curve of his body so very carefully.

 

The road to the waterfall winds them through hidden corners, strange little things  tucked away from view. They wander through a meadow of pale yellow lilies, the scent of them too sweet, dizzying; a cluster of wild mushrooms, ones that try to twist around their ankles, yearning for attention; a peaceful lake, swirls of different greens  threading together, glimmering like jade under the sunlight.

 

Yoongi only  tears his eyes away when Jeongguk squeezes his hand, a warm touch.

 

 “Look,” he says quietly, and Yoongi turns, feels himself gape a little at what he sees.

 

Taehyung. With his head thrown back in laughter, shoulders shaking, a pair of wings fluttering gently with the rhythm of his mirth. They glint bright under the glare of the sun, pale blue with veins of lavender threaded through, glimmering like glass, and Yoongi can’t help but stare, take a step forward because he wants to touch-

 

Hyung ,” Jeongguk hisses, curls his fingers into the hem of Yoongi’s shirt to keep him there.

 

( Somewhere, in the very back of his head, Yoongi remembers suddenly that he isn’t allowed to see Taehyung like this, that he could be in trouble if he does. It’s sort of a tradition now, for faery wings to be kept hidden from view; decades before faeries disappeared from earth, they were hunted for their wings, made a mockery of and beaten to death if they resisted. Fae wings were rare and terribly useful things, said to bring the bearer good luck and eternal wealth.

 

They  were expensive, too; the kind of beauty you could hardly put a price on, but worth hundreds of thousands still. Yoongi remembers reading about them in history textbooks, remembers tracing the fine lines of a diagram with the very tips of his fingers, afraid even though it was only ink and paper.)

 

Here, now, Yoongi thinks the diagrams pale in comparison to the real thing. Taehyung’s wings are still fluttering gently in the wind behind him, the ends of them just barely touching the earth. They flicker between shades of iridescence, terribly thin and translucent, threads of beryl creeping shyly into the middle.

 

Yoongi lets out a breath, keeps as quiet as he can when he turns around. “I didn’t see anything,” he whispers, takes one of Jeongguk’s hands in his, presses it to his eyes. “I swear.”

 

Jeongguk murmurs a quiet thanks in his ear, adjusting his hand a little so that he’s blocking Yoongi’s view properly. “Taehyung-ah?” he calls out, voice carrying over the distance breathily. “Taehyung-ah, put those away please, I have hyung with me and he-”

 

“Sorry, sorry,” yoongi hears, and he can feel Jeongguk relax against him, the curve of his hand over Yoongi’s eyes loosening. “It’s been so long since we’ve had anyone like him around that I forgot I’m not supposed to have them out, here - I’m decent, Jeongguk-ah, he’s fine.”

 

Taehyung sounds vaguely amused and Yoongi blinks once, twice, three times before Jeongguk’s hand falls away to reveal a boxy grin and a pair of dark eyes staring at him curiously. “Alright there, hyung?”

 

“I think so,” Yoongi answers honestly. Taehyung lets out a laugh, tens of bells ringing through the air in a heavy harmony before he whisks around, flouncing back towards the waterfall.

 

“Glad to hear it,” he sings, loudly and offkey. “It’s lucky Gukkie was there to keep you from seeing my wings, dear - I like you too much to kill you.”

 

Yoongi stumbles. “Pardon?”

 

“Didn’t you know?” Taehyung asks without turning around, oblivious. “I’m royalty, love. My wings are too valuable to be hunted by a human, the Council would have your head in a second if they thought you’d seen them .”

 

“But - But even if I’d seen them, I wouldn’t want to steal them-”

 

“Doesn’t matter,” Jeongguk interrupts softly, placing a gentle hand against Yoongi’s back to steady him. “Taehyung’s been caught in one too many sticky situations for the Council to feel comfortable with him near a human. There was a reason we had to trick the guards into letting us in, hyung. They don’t like humans very much.”

 

Yoongi nods, understanding. “I see,” he says, and he does, sort of. He doesn’t think he would like humans very much either, if they tried to steal from him.



Jimin is already there when they arrive, sitting at the very edge of the waterfall with his robes spread around him in pools of violet silk. His face is tilted towards the sky, eyelashes fanning gently against his cheeks, looking as if he could be asleep, almost.

 

“Minnie?” Taehyung calls out, voice tender in the sudden quiet.

 

Jimin raises a hand, but he doesn’t look at them, fingers curling forward in a wordless beckon.

 

“Is he okay?” Yoongi whispers, curious and a little concerned.

 

Jeongguk snorts, waving a hand in clear dismissal. “He’s just soaking up the magic in this place. Because he’s a Botanist, he draws energy from this kind of stuff - its sort of like a vitamin for him?”

 

“I see,” says Yoongi, unconsciously leaning forward to get a better look.  

 

Taehyung is next to Jimin now, fingers pressing into his shoulders in a gentle massage, kneading the muscles carefully. “Minnie’ll be back with us soon, I think.” he tells them, chin resting in the dip of Jimin’s neck, arms wrapped around his waist.

 

Jimin lets out a quiet laugh at that, leaning back into Taehyung easily . “I can still hear you, you know,” he murmurs, lips curving upwards in a small smile, the lines by his eyes crinkling in what Yoongi’s sure is a familiar expression. “I’m perfectly conscious, thank you very much.”

 

“I know,” Taehyung hums, snuggling closer, pressing a kiss where Jimin’s pulse is. “I just thought you wouldn’t want to be disturbed, ‘s all.”

 

“That’s very sweet of you,” Jimin says, wriggling out of Taehyung’s hands so he can stretch his limbs, grinning a little when he sees Yoongi and Jeongguk staring at them in disgust. “But I’m just about done, love.”

 

Taehyung pouts but gets up, threading his fingers together with Jimin’s. “If you say so.”

 

“I do,” Jimin grins, pecks Taehyung’s lips in what Yoongi can tell is pure fondness. He turns to Yoongi then, beckons him and Jeongguk forward again. “Come here, come here, the quicker we do this the better.”

 

He hands Yoongi an empty glass vial, just half the size of his thumb. “You’ve gathered the Rani petals and the Dreamwood?”

 

Jeongguk shows Jimin their bracelets, the pouch where they’ve kept the dreamwood.  “Yes?”

 

Jimin lets out a sound of satisfaction and points Yoongi towards the edge of the waterfall, where the surface glitters under the sun, serene and clear and pristine. “Good. Hyung, I need you to take that vial and dip it in the water - but before you can take it out, you need to make a wish.”

 

“A wish?”

 

“A wish.” Jimin repeats, giving Yoongi a little push towards the water. “And because this is a matter of the heart, you need to wish with your heart, hyung. If you do it with your head, this will all have been for nothing.”

 

“That really makes me feel so much better, thanks.” Yoongi doesn’t bother trying to keep the sarcasm out of his voice when he kneels next to the waterfall’s edge, hands not quite as steady as he would like. “Uh. what exactly am I supposed to be wishing for here?”

 

Yoongi is proud to admit he doesn’t startle nearly as much as he could’ve when he feels Jeongguk’s lips brush against his ear, voice quiet quiet quiet. “Whatever you like, hyung. But it has to be with your heart and it has to be with love - it’s about   how you wish it, not what.”

 

“I see.” Yoongi says, but he doesn’t, not really. “Well, I guess I’ll just - um -”

 

“Go on,” Jeongguk sends  him a gentle smile, steps back a little to give him room. “Good luck, hyung.”

 

“Thanks.” Yoongi lets his eyes flutter shut then, dipping his hands under the water carefully.

 

It’s chilly, sort of. He feels a shiver run through him, an odd experience with the sun still  warming his back, and the glass vial is slippery in his hand, could float away easy-easy if he let it.

 

Yoongi thinks -

 

(He thinks a lot of things, in that moment.

 

He thinks:  how long do I have, they didn’t say, what if it’s already too late and I’ve gone and fucked it up-

 

He thinks: they said to wish with my heart, how the fuck am I supposed to wish with my heart, what the fuck does that even mean-

 

He thinks: if there is a person I love, a person I would like to help-)

 

Yoongi thinks, Even if it’s not with me, he deserves to be happy. wherever he is, whoever he’s with,  I would like for him to be happy. I wish - I wish he can be happy.

 

He lets the words echo in his head for a few seconds, fills the little vial to the brim before bringing it out, fingers slippery wet and dripping. “Here,” he says, thrusts it at Jimin and gets to his knees, an odd sort of ache heavy in his chest. “Here, I finished, take it -”

 

“Hyung-”

 

“Just give me a minute, please.” Yoongi asks, is terrified when his voice shakes, shivers, breaks. “Just - just need a second, Guk-ah, just need to be left alone for a little while, yeah?”

 

“Yeah.” Jeongguk says, whispers it really. “You’re fine, hyung, take as long as you like.”

 

Yoongi nods. He doesn’t have the energy to do much else than that, doesn’t even have enough in him to apologize to Jimin and Taehyung before he’s off, wandering through the forest until he’s found a place to sit, a little shelter under a weeping willow, leafy threads hanging around him as if in protection.

 

It’s sort of funny, to Yoongi. He’s spent years being in a quiet, unrequited love, spent just as many telling himself that that wasn’t healthy, that he needs to fall out of it, please for the love of fuck let me fall out of it -

 

But it doesn’t work like that, he’s learned. Rarely does it ever work like that, and Yoongi doesn’t particularly care if it does, is okay as he is. He’s okay being in that kind of love; he’s okay with letting it out like this, quietly and carefully because this is a tender thing, a gentle thing, a thing to be treated with kindness.

 

(it’s bruised, too. A little scratched up, the edges terribly worn, because Yoongi wasn’t as careful with it as he should’ve been, is doing his best to make up for that now.

 

he‘s tired of hurting, he thinks. He’s been hurting for a long, long time.)

 

Jeongguk finds him a while later, just when the sun is finally giving in, violet swirls creeping shyly through the sky. “Hyung?”

 

He looks worried, a little. “Hi, Jeongguk-ah,” Yoongi says quietly, pokes one hand out of his sweater in a tentative wave.

 

“Hi,” Jeongguk is just as quiet, has a knack for recognizing these things, Yoongi’s learning. “Can I sit?”

 

“Of course.”

 

So Jeongguk sits, and he doesn’t say much, doesn’t have to. Instead, he takes one of Yoongi’s hands in his, threads their fingers together carefully, quietly, gives Yoongi a chance to pull away.

 

(as if Yoongi would even want to.)

 

It’s twilight, now. Jeongguk doesn’t let go of Yoongi’s hand and Yoongi doesn’t ask him to, clings to his touch as tightly as he can, warm with Jeongguk’s palm kissing his.

 

“Hyung?”

 

Yoongi lets out a noise, squeezes Jeongguk’s hand a little to show he’s listening.

 

Jeongguk’s voice is soft, hesitant under the fading light of day. “Do you think your wish will work the way its meant to?”

 

Two hours ago, when Yoongi was kneeling at the edge of the waterfall, he’s not sure what he would’ve said. But now -

 

“Yeah,” Yoongi whispers, tucks his knees into his chest, his chin into his knees, folds up as small as possible. “I did it with my heart.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Yeah,” Yoongi repeats, pretends his throat isn’t as tight as it is, pretends his chest isn't aching, aching, aching. “I don’t think I’ve ever used my heart more, Jeongguk-ah.”