often, yoongi wonders why he decided to go into medicine. after taking not one but two gap years to work, mostly trying to make something out of his childhood hopes and dreams, he learned that the world is not so forgiving to eighteen-year-old boys with stars in their eyes. his mother once told him that he could do anything he set his mind to, but maybe that wasn’t so true after all. he couldn’t make music. he could get into the undergraduate medicine program at king’s college london, however, so—that’s what he did.
now. now. he regrets it, with only one leg left of the race. the marathon, namjoon often reminds him—this isn’t a sprint, yoongi-hyung, he says. you can’t sail on a river of coffee all the way to the finish line. the problem isn’t the sleepless nights spent studying for anatomy exams or the hectic rotations spent in hospitals meant to give him just a taste of what life as a doctor will be like. yoongi does hate those—has gotten used to them, though.
it’s the fucking summer classes.
“what’s the point,” says yoongi as he flops onto his back and stares up at the blue sky, “of even having a summer if they’re just going to take it away from us? i never thought i’d be jealous of nutrition students, and yet…” he only knows one or two nutrition students, but he does know that the whole department likes to throw wild summer parties and ruin everything they’ve learned about health by drowning themselves in alcohol. it’s a friday afternoon and he knows there’s yet another nutrition party happening at someone’s house somewhere.
and yoongi is here, at school—doing homework.
“just think,” says namjoon from where he’s sitting on the grass beside yoongi, cross-legged and copying notes from their textbook. “we may have to spend about eight more years in school, but we’re going to be the ones who can afford to go on exotic vacations every year.”
“as if we’d ever get the chance,” retorts yoongi. “we spend all of this time in university hell only to start working in hospitals where we’ll be on our feet for twelve hours a day and sleeping for four.”
“what happens during the other eight?”
“fuck if i know. probably crying in the corner and knowing we can’t quit because we’ve invested too much time and money into it.”
namjoon laughs—he always laughs when yoongi complains about school. the worst part is that, although they’ll be heading into their fourth year of the program, they’ll still have so much more to go. this is just undergraduate studies; there’s the graduate studies and the residence studies and everything else. the future is bleak.
yoongi takes a moment to squint up at the brick building looming over them—guy’s campus on king’s college, probably one of the nicer ones in yoongi’s opinion. not that he’s seen the others, after being confined to this building for the past three years.
“look, i’ve finished the assignment for barton’s class,” says namjoon, drawing yoongi out of his thoughts. the other man holds out the sheets of paper to him, and yoongi is once again grateful that he has a friend and classmate who is actually organized, at least when it comes to school. yoongi always partners with namjoon solely for that.
taking the sheets, he looks over them briefly. “oh, you fuckwad,” says yoongi. “you’ve got the wrong date.”
“isn’t it the twenty-third?”
“yeah, of seventy-four,” replies yoongi, pointing to the date in the upper left-hand corner. “it’s june and you’re still writing 1973 on your assignments.” he reaches over for one of namjoon’s pens, scratching out the date and correcting it even though barton won’t like the imperfection; it’s impossible to find another way to fix it now, and besides, yoongi doesn’t really care about that class. barton is a terrible professor, anyway.
he hands the sheets back to namjoon, taking a moment to look out across the lawn in front of the building. there are a handful of other students, some from the medical program—most he recognizes—and some from other programs who are stuck in summer classes as well. he pities all of them, so long as he pities himself. he should be working on his own assignments, but yoongi figures it’s time for a break, and anyway, his gaze catches on a younger boy across the lawn, nose buried in a familiar textbook.
yoongi tilts his head slightly, watching the boy, and it’s only when something collides with his arm that he startles, muttering an, “ouch,” as he turns back to namjoon.
“i said,” namjoon gives him a glare, “did you start on raimis’ yet? the one about the spread of infectious disease?”
“jesus, no,” says yoongi, rubbing at his arm. “you’re supposed to be the one helping me with that.”
“who were you staring at?” asks namjoon instantly, and yoongi scowls before he looks back to the boy on the other side of the lawn; he’s got those massive square sunglasses on, the kind that has been popular recently—not that yoongi really pays attention to fashion.
yoongi purses his lips. “that’s that jeon kid, right?” he asks.
“going into his second year, yeah,” agrees namjoon. “he’s wicked smart, so i’ve heard. not surprised he’s taking advantage of the summer classes, too.”
“i want to tell him that he’s made a terrible mistake. all of his friends are out partying and he’s stuck at school like a washed up piece of shit.”
“we’re stuck at school, too.”
yoongi turns his gaze to namjoon and shrugs. “we’re washed up pieces of shit too, then, i s’pose.”
namjoon smacks him again, this time with a textbook—hurts more, although yoongi just laughs and shoves namjoon back. “go talk to him, then,” says namjoon.
“fuck off,” says yoongi. “i’m not going to talk to some first year. if he wants to ruin his life with a medical degree that means having no sleep and living on coffee, he can go right ahead.” still, he looks over at the boy again—jeongguk, he thinks. they’ve had a few conversations here and there, although they’re hardly friends considering they’re so far apart in the program. he does kind of want to tell jeongguk that he’s made a terrible mistake, but maybe most of him just wants to ask the kid if he wants some help. yoongi remembers having to learn that shit—the basics of hospital administration, as though that should really matter for a medical student—and he might just have some notes he can fob off on the kid.
he doesn’t get a chance.
yoongi is still looking at jeongguk when he sees it—and he only sees it because it happens behind jeongguk, further into the courtyard of the school. something seems to appear out of thin air, a black streak that forms into a figure that stands where nothing had been before. yoongi blinks, focus shifting from jeongguk and his textbook to the dark figure in the courtyard.
his first thought is that—it’s odd. his second is that—it doesn’t matter. he’s probably sleep deprived, imagining things appearing out of nowhere when there’s a clear explanation for such things. so yoongi turns back to his textbook, already having missed the first half of namjoon’s next stream of thoughts about their classes.
that’s when the bomb goes off. or—yoongi assumes it’s a bomb, because there’s a massive explosion that sets the corner of the brick building of guy’s campus flying through the air. there are screams instantly, and although the blow wasn’t near yoongi, the force of it still sends he and namjoon tipping off.
“what the fuck,” yells yoongi as he gets to his feet, staring at where the corner of the building has been blown up—bricks lay on the ground, dust already swirling in the air, and then there’s a streak of light and a different corner of the building explodes too.
“hyung—” namjoon begins, aborted, and yoongi darts forward to grab at the other’s wrist, turning and running in the other direction as screams fill the air and the students on the lawn run. “where are we going?”
“away,” shouts yoongi, tucking as there’s a loud bang—he doesn’t know from what, although it doesn’t sound like a gun, maybe a firework instead? “c’mon!”
yoongi pulls namjoon across the lawn toward the street, but he looks up and there’s suddenly another figure in black standing on the sidewalk. their face is covered with a mask, something that looks straight out of a bad halloween costume party, but yoongi comes to a halt. it’s not the costume that worries him, or the mask.
it’s what the figure is holding—it’s a stick. that’s all: a thin piece of wood, maybe a foot long. and the figure is pointing it at a girl on the ground, who is screaming in agony, writhing and writhing even though it appears that there should be no reason for it. yoongi stares and stares, trying to comprehend it—she’s not bleeding, has no broken bones that are visible. but she’s still screaming bloody murder.
“hyung,” says namjoon again, quieter this time even as the cacophony around them comes to a screaming crescendo—yoongi almost forgot that he isn’t alone, that he’s still clinging onto namjoon’s wrist, and inexplicably, yoongi feels the urge to run in the other direction.
“we need to get out of here, joon,” says yoongi, and there’s another scream from somewhere else—just like the first, just like girl on the ground. he turns, almost running into someone running the other way and tries to see through the haze of dust that has settled on the lawn; there might be other bombs, and if this is a sort of targeted attack, then they need to get out now.
“this way!” says namjoon, and he shakes his wrist out of yoongi’s grasp before turning and taking off toward the courtyard.
“joon, wait!” calls yoongi, because that’s where the first figure was and what if they’re still there—but namjoon is already running, and yoongi growls as he goes after him, trying to ignore the panic that rises in his throat. it’s pure chaos as he smacks into other students running, and he loses sight of namjoon in it all, he’s losing him, he’s losing him—
yoongi feels himself collide with another person so hard that he gets knocked to the ground, a pained oof leaving him as he lands.
“oh my god,” says someone above him, and the screaming is so loud, there’s another booming explosion from farther down the street, and what is happening, what’s happening—
“we need to get out of here,” says yoongi, repeats it as he rolls over and gets to his feet and he doesn’t care who bumped into him, just knows that he needs to get them out—needs to find namjoon, and yoongi feels panic spike and spike in him, there are tears in his eyes; where is he?
“go that way,” someone says, the person he bumped into and—it’s jeongguk. yoongi turns to look at him, wide-eyed as jeongguk points somewhere, but he’s already turning in a different direction—
“hey, what about you?” asks yoongi, and he’s thinking about namjoon and safety and home and needing something, someone; jeongguk is already taking a step in the other direction, toward the figures, toward the screaming. there’s another flash of light overhead, lighting up the dust and debris, and they’re like fireworks and maybe that’s what caused the explosion in the first place.
“i’m fine,” says jeongguk, and yoongi lunges for him, grabbing onto his wrist.
“jeongguk, you have to get out of here,” says yoongi, so certain of it—he doesn’t know this kid, just knows he needs to get out.
“it’s fine,” says jeongguk, trying to shake yoongi off of him, and there’s a pop beside them but yoongi just flinches, cowers, it just be something more—“yoongi, let go of me—”
“jeongguk,” someone calls, and oh god, he has other friends here—
“yoongi, you have to let go,” says jeongguk, but yoongi tightens his hold because he doesn’t get it, only knows that this is the only familiar thing in this situation and he has no idea where namjoon is but everything is so loud, loud, jeongguk tries to let go of him and yoongi holds on tighter when he sees someone else approach, reaching for jeongguk with a stick of wood in his hand—
“look out!” shouts yoongi, lunging forward with his hand still on jeongguk’s wrist, and the newcomer’s hand latches onto jeongguk’s other arm, and then—
or maybe—that’s not quite right. everything here—the dust and debris and screaming—is suctioned in within a single moment as yoongi feels himself being physically launched somewhere, into something, and then squeezed just like that. it feels like he’s being pushed and pulled through a pin hole, a camel through an eye of a needle. there are sounds and colours and yelling and pressure, and he lets out a scream at it all before, in the next instant, he finds himself on solid ground again.
he lands on two feet and stumbles, something popping in his ears as he doubles over and breathes and then just as quickly, his stomach heaves and yoongi—throws up everything in him directly onto the floor.
the floor, which—is not the lawn of guy’s campus, not the debris riddled grass with figures and screams and namjoon running off into the crowd. yoongi jerks upward when he sees hardwood flooring beneath his feet. the panic doubles, triples, over and over as he focuses long enough to see that he’s inside a house. he wasn’t inside a house just a moment ago, but now he is, and jeongguk is standing in front of him, arguing with someone. the someone who appeared with the stick, the someone who grabbed him.
“it was them, i know it,” jeongguk is saying. “i saw the masks!”
“they didn’t have the mark in the sky,” the other man argues.
“because they weren’t done yet! they only do it once they finish, you know that. we were in the middle of it when you showed up so just watch, ten minutes from now when they’ve had their fun, the stupid skull and snake will be right over the campus.”
“what the fuck,” yoongi finally says, breathing hard as he stares at the pair. both of their heads snap over to look at him, staring like they’ve never seen him before in his life. there’s vomit on yoongi’s shoes. and he’s standing in a house where there was no house before, and there’s no screaming, except in his ears.
“jeongguk,” says the older man, and it sounds like he’s scolding the other. “you brought a fucking muggle?”
“i didn’t mean to!” snaps jeongguk, turning back to the other man. “he wouldn’t let go of me!”
“what the fuck are we supposed to do about him, huh? we can’t let dad know or he’ll have our heads.”
“i don’t know, hyung,” frowns jeongguk. “how was i supposed to know you were going to apparate right then—”
“excuse me,” begins yoongi, holding up a finger to stop the two from arguing. the only explanation for this is that—he’s dead. he got hit by a flying brick from one of the explosions or one of those masked figures stuck him in the eye with his stick of wood. or he’s dreaming—dreaming that he’s far from school and the attack and now he can’t understand a fucking word anyone is saying. “do either of you happen to know if we’re dead?”
the older man sighs. “get rid of him, jeongguk,” he says. “now.” and then he turns and marches away.
yoongi watches him go. watches him long enough to note that this is the entrance of the house, probably, and there’s a staircase somewhere to the right and doors to the left. the man disappears through one of the doors, and then yoongi’s gaze falls on jeongguk instead.
“did someone say muggle?” he says—no, that’s not jeongguk, that’s not his voice and his mouth didn’t move—yoongi blinks, turning and looking for the source of the voice. there’s no one in the room with them, though—“jeon jeongguk, you know how our family feels about muggles.”
“i know, thank you,” mutters jeongguk, and yoongi finally sees—the portrait. it’s a painting hanging on the wall near the staircase, and the woman in it is moving. there’s no possible way the voice could be coming from there, but it is. yoongi tilts his head, trying to understand what kind of strange dream he’s having where paintings can talk and people use such strange words.
as the painting berates jeongguk, the younger boy turns to yoongi with a guilty expression. “sorry,” he says. “i’m not—sure what to say.”
“you could start with telling me if we’re dead,” says yoongi.
“no,” says jeongguk. “at least, i don’t think we are?”
“then—what’s all this?” yoongi gestures to the house. it’s a nice house, open with dark colours. he’s sure the other rooms are as nice as this entrance, like something he’d like to live in—and that would make sense, if he’s dreaming it.
“this is… my house,” replies jeongguk after a moment. he’s hesitant, cringing—yoongi frowns.
“why would i dream of your house?” he asks. “i’ve never even been to your house.”
“no, yoongi-ssi,” sighs jeongguk. “you’re not dreaming. this is my actual house.”
yoongi blinks once, twice. he stares up at the ceiling, at the ceiling fixture—if he looks close enough, he swears he can see some sort of firefly up there instead of a lightbulb. the painting is still talking down the hall, something about muggles and purebloods and disappointment.
he opens his mouth to say something and then—doesn’t. he turns around and finds the door, stained glass covering most of it. then he turns around again, facing jeongguk and this time, he says, “then how… we were just—did i get hit with a flying brink and pass out? why did you bring me to your house, then?”
he can tell the questions are too much for jeongguk; the younger boy sighs, running a hand through his hair, and then instead of saying anything, reaches out and grabs one of yoongi’s wrists. then jeongguk pulls him into the house, past the talking painting and up the stairs. there are other talking paintings lining the walls, all of them moving—so strange, like a movie embedded into the wall—but all yoongi can do is stare at them as they pass.
once the boys get to the second floor, he finds even stranger things. jeongguk hurriedly pulls him down the hallway but yoongi still sees the dog that walks by—it’s a jack russell terrier, except—“why does your dog have two tails?” he mumbles, staring as jeongguk just makes a groaning sound and doubles the pace.
the house is—massive. they keep walking and walking, turning down another hallway and yoongi tries to peer into different doors that are ajar. he swears he sees flowers growing out of the wall in one of them, sees a broom moving on its own, sees things he knows are just his eyes tricking him. he’s still dreaming, no matter what jeongguk says—because jeongguk is part of the dream, too. and of course he’ll just say anything.
finally, jeongguk leads yoongi into one of the rooms, shoving him inside before shutting the door behind him. and this room—is a bedroom. jeongguk’s bedroom, likely. there are textbooks all over the desk and floor, familiar medical ones that yoongi owns, too. there are no moving paintings in here, thankfully, but there are strange posters on the wall—“puddlemere united,” he mumbles, staring at the portrait of someone on a… broomstick.
he turns around, about to ask about it before jeongguk beats him to it.
“listen,” he says. “i should probably just tell my mum about this and have her deal with it, but i don’t like that idea. you’re my friend, right?”
yoongi blinks. “sure,” he says.
“cool,” says jeongguk, and he sinks down onto the bed, rubbing at his legs nervously. why is he nervous when yoongi is the one who might be dead or dreaming or both? “so i don’t feel bad about not kicking you out or sending you to the ministry.”
“the ministry of what?” asks yoongi.
jeongguk drops his head into his hands and groans. and yoongi is still confused, trying to understand what’s happening. after a moment, he decides to pinch himself; that’s what they do in the movies when they think they’re dreaming, right?
then—“i have to tell you something and it’s going to sound really crazy,” says jeongguk. “but you just have to believe me, okay?”
yoongi realizes, belatedly, that jeongguk is waiting for a response—so he nods. anything that jeongguk says can’t be weirder than whatever yoongi is already thinking.
“you’re not dreaming or dead,” says jeongguk. “and you didn’t pass out. we were at school a few seconds ago and now we’re here because we… teleported?” he says it like a question, like he’s not so sure himself, and yoongi—laughs.
“teleported?” he asks. “teleported? that’s the worst excuse i’ve ever heard in my life. nice try.”
“no, look, yoongi-ssi, it’s true—”
“teleportation isn’t real, jeongguk.”
“not for you,” says jeongguk. “but it is for me and for my family. because—” he sighs again, rubbing at his face before he drops his hands. “yoongi-ssi, we’re wizards. we can do magic and my brother seokjin is the one who… teleported us here. it’s not actually called teleporting—it’s called apparating. and i magically called him to come get us when the attack started and you happened to be touching me so you ended up coming too, and we magically showed up here. because we’re magical. and we do magic.”
“and…” jeongguk continues, “that’s why the painting was talking to us, because it’s magical too. and why my dog has two tails—she’s a crup. they’re a magical breed of dog that look exactly like a muggle one. and—muggle is a word for someone who can’t do magic. so, you.”
yoongi blinks again.
“and the people who attacked the school are wizards too. well, dark wizards, the kind you don’t want to get involved with. there’s this whole thing with this dark wizard he-who-must-not-be-named and they don’t like muggles so they’ve been attacking them recently, so i guess they decided to go for a muggle university.”
jeongguk stops talking after that, like he shouldn’t have said it in the first place. yoongi just stares at him, trying to comprehend it—trying to decide if any of this is actually real.
“can you…” says jeongguk, wringing his hands. “can you like, say something?”
finally, yoongi speaks—“are you fucking kidding me?” he asks. “are you being serious right now? you’re—magical. you expect me to just believe that?”
“it’s true,” sighs jeongguk. “i know it’s hard to believe and it’s weird, but it is true.”
“then prove it,” says yoongi, crossing his arms over his chest. “show me a magic trick.”
“i can’t,” grumbles jeongguk.
“and why not?”
“my—wand,” says jeongguk. “i accidentally snapped it the other day when seokjin-hyung and i were fighting over something stupid and i haven’t gotten a new one yet.” wand—he thinks of the stick that he saw the masked figure holding, and saw the man with jeongguk holding. seokjin, his brother.
“i still don’t believe you, then,” says yoongi with a shrug. “i’m just going to believe that you’re all super weird and i’m dreaming until you prove that you’re magical.”
jeongguk groans, rolling his eyes. and sure—magic could explain the teleportation and the talking painting and the weird dog. it could explain the objects moving on their own, the fireflies used as lightbulbs. but it’s so far out of the scope of reality for yoongi that he’ll choose not to believe it, at least until he’s confronted with evidence that he can’t explain in another way.
but he’ll wait. so yoongi waits. and then jeongguk gets off of his bed, grabs yoongi’s wrist, and pulls him back out of the door.
they go back the way they came—down the hallway, and down another hallway, and another, twisting and turning—it seems like it’s a completely different path than the first time, but eventually, they get to the staircase anyway. they pass the moving paintings and down to the entrance again, but this time, they head through one of the doors on the left.
yoongi sees instantly that it’s a kitchen, but—he grinds to a halt, tugging jeongguk with him. everything in the kitchen is moving on its own—the scrub brush in the sink, washing a few floating dishes. the food above the counter, making itself into dishes. even the radio is flicking between channels without anyone touching it, and it’s such a bustle of activity with no one there that yoongi thinks—maybe.
“c’mon, this isn’t it,” says jeongguk, grabbing yoongi’s wrist again and tugging him through the kitchen. yoongi can’t stop staring at the knife on the counter, slicing vegetables on its own. can’t stop thinking about slicing his finger off.
they go through the kitchen and into the dining room—with nothing moving on its own, thankfully—but the man from earlier is sitting at one of the tables with a book in hand. jeongguk had called him his brother, and yoongi stares as he slowly puts the book down and levels the two of them with an extremely unimpressed look.
“i told you to get rid of him,” says the man—seokjin.
“show him,” jeongguk replies.
“show him what?”
seokjin stares. it appears he and jeongguk are having a non-verbal conversation—although, if what jeongguk says is true and they are wizards, maybe it’s entirely possible that they actually are communicating with their minds. and shit, what if they can read minds? and what if they can read yoongi’s?
“we’re not supposed to expose our magic to muggles,” says seokjin carefully. “you know that.”
“he’s just going to be obliviated anyway,” says jeongguk. “what’s the harm in showing him a little bit? i’m just trying to explain what happened and he won’t listen to me because he doesn’t believe me when i say magic is real.”
with a sigh, seokjin sets his book down on the table. he looks from jeongguk to yoongi, and offers him an eye roll before he pulls out a stick—like the one from before. jeongguk called it a wand.
“alright, magic is real,” he says in a deadpan tone. with that, he flicks the stick and the book begins to float. yoongi’s eyes widen. with another flick of the stick, it starts on fire, and as yoongi watches, water shoots out of the end of the wand and douses the book to put out the flames. seokjin mutters something that has the slight burn marks disappearing entirely before the book lands back on the table. “ta-da.”
“so, wait,” he says after a moment. “if you… did that, then—did you actually teleport us here?”
“teleport?” snaps seokjin, but he’s glaring at jeongguk again.
“i couldn’t think of a better word!” complains jeongguk. “that’s what it is to muggles.”
“you make us sound like characters in a bad sitcom. it’s called apparation and yes, i did apparate with the two of you here. i got a message from jeongguk and came to the rescue.”
“how’d you send him a message from school that quickly?” asks yoongi.
“magic,” says jeongguk, and then holds up his hand—there’s a ring sitting on his middle finger, simple. “it’s a magical ring, meant to send out distress signals to the people who have matching ones. i just have to squeeze it in the right spot and it’ll send my location so they can come find me.”
“and then you… showed up,” says yoongi.
“i showed up,” agrees seokjin. “and saved your dumb asses. and now that we’ve told you enough, it’s time for you to leave.”
“no!” shouts jeongguk instantly, stepping in front of yoongi. “i’ll—do it, i mean.”
he takes yoongi back to his room, and yoongi is in more of a shell-shocked state than anything—he has to believe that some sort of magic is real. that people can control other objects with little pieces of wood, that jeongguk is a wizard and has been this whole time. and then the horror sets in—if this isn’t a dream and he isn’t dead, then he’s just left namjoon at the school with the masked figures and the explosions and the pain.
as soon as the door falls shut behind them in jeongguk’s room, yoongi turns to him and says, “we have to go back.”
“what?” asks jeongguk, halfway to the bed already.
“we have to go back. my friend is there, and all of those people—they were getting hurt!”
“there’s nothing we can do about it,” says jeongguk. “those people… i told you they were dark wizards, yeah? they call themselves death eaters. and they like to hurt muggles, kill them sometimes. but there’s nothing we can do about them. they’re too strong for us, especially me. whatever happened there… that’s it.”
yoongi swallows tightly. the idea of namjoon being there all alone, or injured, or killed—he runs a hand through his hair. he wants to believe that namjoon is alright, and if jeongguk wants to keep him here, then maybe—that’s the best decision. he has no idea what he’s supposed to do otherwise. what does a person do after they’ve been involved in some attack? after they’ve been scared like that?
he looks at jeongguk. maybe he doesn’t know either.
and although yoongi has never been one of the embrace opportunities or look for a silver lining—the more he thinks about it, the more interesting all of this becomes: magic. he’s always liked the idea. and now it appears to be real.
“so,” he says, “you’re a wizard, huh?”
and for the first time—jeongguk grins.
it’s this: now that yoongi is actually willing to listen, jeongguk explains things. explains that magic is real and there are millions of wizards and witches in the world, not to mention other creatures that most people only know in fantasy novels—goblins and trolls and vampires, unicorns and dragons. the wizarding world, as jeongguk calls it, is extraordinarily good at keeping themselves hidden thanks to magic itself, which is why yoongi has never had a clue that magic exists until now.
it’s this: yoongi still finds it hard to believe, but jeongguk tells him that he’ll show him as best as he can from within his house, which is magical in itself. they won’t see many of the creatures, but he’ll just have to blindly believe.
“puddlemere united is a quidditch team,” explains jeongguk as yoongi explores his room, staring at the poster of the man on a broomstick. “you fly around on brooms and it’s a bit like basketlball, i guess, in that you have to throw a ball through a hoop.”
“why would you ever want to fly around on a broomstick?” asks yoongi.
“wizards like the risk, i guess. besides, the risk isn’t so great—you can crack your skull open and have it mended within five minutes.”
yoongi turns to look at him, bewildered. “have you ever…”
“i’ve broken a few bones, yeah,” laughs jeongguk. “we have magical hospitals. my mum works at one, actually, in the maternity ward—less magic than the other things, but still important. you go there and you might see someone with tentacles coming out of their ears.”
it’s strange, really, that regular people—muggles, jeongguk keeps calling them (him)—spend so many years learning about medicine and so many illnesses take forever to diagnose. the healing process is large and terrifying and people die from things that these wizards can solve with a flick of a wand. yoongi can’t help feeling a twinge in his chest, something about selfishness.
still—“why are you in medicine, then?” he finds himself asking. “i mean, normal medicine, if you don’t need all of that training for magic.”
he swears he sees jeongguk flush, but he’ll blame it on the light. “magic isn’t everything,” says jeongguk. “admittedly, i’m quite fond of the muggle world. technology and movies and whatnot—we don’t have a lot of it in the magical world, because wizards are stuck in tradition. and lots of wizards don’t like muggles anyway. they think we’re… better than you.”
“what, because you can wave a fancy stick around and make things happen?”
jeongguk snorts. “something like that. that’s why those wizards attacked the school.”
it makes no sense, at least to yoongi. if normal people don’t know that magic even exists, what’s the point in all of the magical folk looking down on them? he’s fine living without magic, as he’s done so for the past twenty-three years of his life. the least those wizards could do is stick to their own bloody business.
“what does your dad do, then?” asks yoongi as he continues around the room, picking up random objects and trying to decide if they’re magical or not (clock: no; weird spinning top thing with the word danger! written across it: yes).
“he’s a counsellor for magical portraits,” says jeongguk. “you saw some of them earlier—not the ones he counsels, i mean. those are some of our relatives.”
“you mean… those are actual people?”
“i don’t really know how it works,” admits jeongguk. “it’s like their spirit or something. but they have feelings and thoughts and everything, so sometimes they have problems or crises and that’s where my dad comes in—he helps them through it like counsellors help actual people.”
yoongi snorts a little. it seems so silly to him—someone trying to help a painting through their personal problems. but it seems so much of the magical world, at least what he’s learning about, is that way: not quite what everyone has written about in their books. it’s not quite as glamorous.
he picks his way over to jeongguk’s desk, picking up a framed picture there—it’s of two boys on a beach, and this is moving too. not talking like the paintings, but moving nonetheless, running back and forth and laughing.
“who’s this?” he asks, turning and holding up the picture.
jeongguk grins—“me and seokjinnie-hyung,” he says. “he might seem like he’s got something stuck up his arse, but he’s actually really fun. just—wary of muggles. he’s right that we’re not supposed to reveal our magic and it can be a big problem, but i should still apologize for him.”
yoongi shrugs a little; he had been put off by seokjin’s response to seeing him, but he supposes he’s not there to make friends with anyone but jeongguk. “what does he do, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“he works for the ministry of magic. it’s our government—britain’s is located right here in london, and hyung works in the department of magical education.”
“oh yeah,” says jeongguk. yoongi puts down the picture and sits in the seat at the desk instead, watching jeongguk as he speaks; he lights up with it, like he can’t wait to tell someone about the magical world, like it’s been his little secret for so long. “there are magical schools all over the world. britain’s is hogwarts—”
“hogwarts?” repeats yoongi with a barking laugh. “who the fuck named it that?”
“i don’t know,” says jeongguk. “i’ve never thought it was very funny… although i guess i grew up always knowing that was the name. anyway, it’s in scotland and it’s a boarding school and every magical child in britain goes when they’re eleven. it’s good fun.”
“do you learn how to do magic tricks there?”
“they’re called spells,” says jeongguk. “and yes, among other things. you can learn about magical creatures, divination, even classes on muggle culture. i’ve heard those ones are always a bit wrong, though.” yoongi tries to imagine how wizards would teach each other about his world, all of the things they would get wrong. maybe it’s not so surprising that some wizards seem to have the wrong idea about normal people and think that they’re inferior.
“it’s so strange to me,” says yoongi, “that all of this is right here under my nose but i’d never know it. magical schools and people and animals… why do you go to a normal—sorry, muggle school if you’re magical, though?”
he sees it—the way jeongguk shifts a little, uncomfortable. yoongi is about to backtrack, to tell him that he doesn’t have to talk about it if he doesn’t want to, but jeongguk speaks anyway—“magical education isn’t everything,” he says. “and as someone who has one foot in the muggle world and one foot in the magical world, i figure it doesn’t hurt to go to muggle school.” it seems like a half-assed response at best, but yoongi doesn’t want to push it.
besides, jeongguk changes the subject anyway, says—“do you want to explore the rest of the house? i can show you some more of the magical stuff if you want.” and that’s that.
yoongi finds that the entire house is magical—he can practically feel it in the walls, in the floor. besides all of the objects moving on their own (jeongguk explains that some spells don’t need the caster to be there the whole time) and the weird things in the lights, they keep getting lost. the house is massive even though jeongguk says it’s actually an average sized house for london—it’s just been charmed on the inside. they take turn after turn after turn and new rooms pop up and then disappear, and the staircase seems to move even though it always leads to the same place.
it’s like a fun house, or a maze. jeongguk offers him a strange blue drink from the kitchen and he feels instantly calmer, not so worried about the attack, and it’s only ten minutes later that he wonders if that was magical, too. he meets jeongguk’s dog—the crup with two tails. they find the room with the flowers in the walls, and it’s a greenhouse with all sorts of magical plants. flowers that sing and some that jeongguk promises would swallow him whole if he gets too close, so he doesn’t.
and jeongguk explains more and more of the magical world, some of the nitty gritty details. yoongi finds that he cares less about the fantastic things that jeongguk loves talking about and more about the simple things—like the fact that wizards have the ability to summon any object and thus are allowed to be as lazy as they want, or the fact that quidditch makes no sense, because why would there need to be anyone scoring goals when catching the little golden ball gains them one hundred and fifty points and almost always guarantees a win?
they spend hours and hours exploring the house, talking and talking. yoongi realizes that he quite likes jeongguk outside of the magical things, too, realizes that he’s just… normal. he’s funny, has a good head on his shoulders. and he’s grateful that he saved yoongi from the attack, even if it meant leaving namjoon behind.
“i don’t know what will happen,” says jeongguk as they sit in one of the rooms on the ground floor, something with massive chairs and weird magical games on the shelves. yoongi stares out the window at the london street racing by, so normal even with magic hiding right here. how many people has he met that are actually magical? how would he ever know?
he turns his attention to jeongguk after a moment. “sorry, what will happen when?”
“when my parents get home from work,” says jeongguk. “they’re going to have a fit that you’re here. and… i mean. it’s obvious what we have to do—muggles can’t know about magic. you’ll have to be obliviated.”
“what on earth does that mean?” asks yoongi, because—it sounds scary. and awful.
“it’s when—” jeongguk begins, but he doesn’t get a chance to finish before there’s a loud pop and two people materialize right in front of them.
“jeongguk-ah!” says one of them—a man, kind of looks like seokjin, which means he can only be their father—“jeong—oh, there you are. we have to go now.” the man lurches forward, grabbing jeongguk and tugging him up. the other person who appeared, a woman, probably jeongguk’s mother, is already leaving the room, running out and calling for seokjin.
“what’s going on?” asks jeongguk as the man pulls him out of the room, and there’s thundering on the stairs and shouting, and for the second time that day, yoongi finds himself frozen, unsure what to do.
“we’re leaving,” says the man hurriedly. “we’re going to your grandmother’s now. pack just the essentials.”
“why?” asks jeongguk, shaking himself out of the man’s grasp just in the doorway.
“they know,” says the man. “and they’re coming.”
yoongi watches as jeongguk’s entire demeanour changes—the way he seems to curl into himself, horror dawning on his face as he understands what his father is saying. but yoongi doesn’t, and it’s clear that the jeons don’t have time to worry about him so he just—sits there, staring.
“let’s go!” someone shouts from further in the house, and then—“seokjin, do you have the portkey?”
“i’m getting it!” someone calls from deeper and deeper in the house, and yoongi is still staring, wide-eyed, as jeongguk finally glances over at him. it draws the attention of the man, too, whose eyes widen as he sees yoongi.
“who is this?” he asks, and yoongi panics.
“no one,” he says at the same time that jeongguk says, “a friend.”
seokjin passes by with a, “he’s a muggle.”
“a muggle?” snaps the man. “you brought a muggle into this house?”
“i didn’t mean to!” exclaims jeongguk for the second time, and it feels too much like the first time, and yoongi feels himself small and small, feeling so strange about being spoken about like an object or an animal. doesn’t like the way the man says muggle, like it’s filthy. he remembers jeongguk carefully explaining how some wizards view muggles and even wizards who are somehow born from two muggle parents. has to wonder if jeongguk’s father is one of them, no matter how jeongguk said that his parents are perfectly fine with muggles.
“we don’t have time for this,” says the man with a sigh. “we’ll drop him off at the ministry on the way.”
“no, dad,” says jeongguk. “you can’t.”
“rowena,” says the man. “we really don’t have time.”
“we need to go now,” jeongguk’s mother calls, and yoongi is still confused, has no idea what’s happening or why they’re leaving, but—jeongguk’s father looks at him. and yoongi looks back. he has no idea what they’re supposed to do with him, or what the ministry will do to him if he does. he can just see the pleading, the worry in jeongguk’s eyes and the scrutiny in jeongguk’s father’s.
somewhere deep in the house, a siren goes off.
“fine,” says the man. “they’re here already. he’s coming with us.”
this time, when yoongi lands, he doesn’t throw up. he does fall over, though, not able to find his balance as everything that was once swirling comes to rest. this is different from the teleportation—it’s not squeezing but spinning. jeongguk’s mother had called it a portkey, but it was just one of those traditional fans. but they’d touched it and now here they are—magic, again. all of yoongi’s direct experiences with it have been terrible, and he keeps his eyes closed where he’s tumbled to the ground.
what will he see this time? no one had said where they were going, so—will it be another part of england? another house?
yoongi opens his eyes only when he feels something nudging his foot. there, standing above him, is seokjin—grim expression on his face. he holds out his hand, a rare show of companionship, but yoongi takes it gratefully, letting the wizard tug him to his feet. they’re not inside this time, but standing in what appears to be a tree orchard. he can see a house further away, maybe half a mile, and the sun is—almost on the horizon. it wasn’t even noon a few seconds ago.
“welcome to south korea,” says seokjin and then he turns and heads toward the house, where the rest of the jeons are already walking.
by the time they get to the house, yoongi has begun to wrap his mind around the possibility of this—of traveling halfway around the world in only a second. there’s magic here, too, must be. the trees seem to whisper to him as he walks by, although it’s not a nice sort of whispering. somehow, it’s as though they know he’s not one of them, and he trails behind the jeons as they walk, silent, quick. he still has no idea what’s happening or why they’re here, but he can tell that no one is pleased that he’s here, so he does his best not to make a fuss as he follows them.
it’s only jeongguk’s presence that seems to calm him somewhat, the only familiar thing in all of this—even though he’s just learned that jeongguk is not, in fact, familiar at all, because he’s someone else entirely from who yoongi originally thought he was. still. he walks a little closer to jeongguk than the others, resisting the urge to reach out and hook their pinkies together like that will somehow make him feel better. he’s always liked holding hands.
in any case—the house is smaller, too, on the outside. yoongi keeps silent as they enter, only staring, bewildered, at the little creature that opens the door for them and then tells them that he’ll fetch his master. the thing has pointed ears, skinny limbs—jeongguk leans over to him as they wait in the foyer and whispers, “they’re called house elves,” as though that’s supposed to help him understand anything.
then—she appears. an elderly woman, hair pulled up into a tight bun as she moves slowly out from one of the side doors and toward them. yoongi feels the inexplicable urge to hide, so he does, at least somewhat—behind jeongguk, watching the woman carefully.
she comes to a stop in front of them, seems to scrutinize them. her eyes land on yoongi for a moment, and he shivers—and then she looks away.
“i received your message,” she says. “and although i am not pleased about giving you refuge here, how can i refuse you? my only son.” yoongi swears he sees jeongguk’s father flinch. “two weeks. that’s all i can give you, and then you must find somewhere else to stay if the problem persists. do you understand?”
“yes, mother,” says jeongguk’s father.
“good,” says the woman. “you know the rules of this house. i expect each of you to do your part, even—” her eyes land on yoongi again—“unfamiliar persons. you won’t be found so long as you live under my roof, but i won’t hesitate to throw you out again if you disobey me.”
“thank you,” says jeongguk’s father.
“and jeongguk-ah,” says the woman, turning now to jeongguk. there’s something unreadable in her eyes. “don’t make me regret this.” with that, she turns and walks away again, disappearing into one of the doors with all of the mystery that she appeared with.
at first, no one says anything. and then seokjin heaves a sigh.
“i’ll take the second bedroom on the right,” he says, and takes off further into the house. jeongguk’s parents give the both of them a sidelong look, like they want to say something—probably something about yoongi not being magical but being dragged into this anyway, but jeongguk must give them a look back that tells them not to say anything, at least for now. they, too, disappear.
then it’s just yoongi and jeongguk left. a very confused yoongi.
“what the fuck is going on?” he sighs as jeongguk turns around to look at him. “why are we here? and where even is here?”
“my grandmother’s house,” says jeongguk with a frown. “in south korea. it’s been a safe haven for our family for generations because it’s so strongly protected by magic. you can’t even see it unless you’re invited, but the portkey—the fan we used to get here—is an invitation in itself, so that’s why you could get here.”
“and my other question?”
jeongguk is avoiding his gaze, yoongi realizes. looking over his shoulder, down at his feet. the other boy sighs. “remember the bad wizards i told you about?” he finally asks. “the ones who attacked the school? well, they have a lot of—followers, i guess you could call them. people who believe in the same thing but aren’t part of the inner circle of he-who-must-not-be-named. a lot of those people believe that muggles and muggle-borns are below other wizards, and… if you’re pureblood, like my family, and don’t agree with them, you’re considered a blood traitor. my family doesn’t adhere to what the wizarding world thinks it should and so people are always trying to ‘turn us in’ or whatever.”
“so that’s what your dad meant when he said they know? these people know that you guys don’t agree with them so they’re… what, trying to hunt you down?”
jeongguk shrugs. “i guess,” he mumbles.
the wizarding world, as amazing as it could be because of magic, doesn’t sound very inviting to yoongi at all. so many politics and idiots trying to hurt other people and innocent wizards having to run away from their own home in order to be safe. “so what do we do now?” asks yoongi.
“we wait,” says jeongguk. “until we think it’s safe to go back or my grandmother kicks us out.”
“she seems really intense.”
“she’s not a fan of us,” admits jeongguk. “my grandfather—well. they kicked my family out once, which is why we live in england now—we used to live here in korea, but because my parents don’t agree with my grandparents about some… magical things, we’re the outcasts.”
“that doesn’t make any sense,” says yoongi. “how could your own family dislike you just because you don’t believe that muggles are worse than wizards?”
the grin that jeongguk gives him is sad, sad, sad—“you’d be surprised at what families can do or say to each other because of that kind of thing.”
although yoongi is still immensely confused, he tries not to bombard jeongguk with more questions as they make their way through the house to the bedroom that they’ll be sharing. all he knows is that someone is after the jeons and so they’ve had to run and for some idiotic reason, yoongi is stuck with them in the middle of some magical battle in a magical house in a magical world, surrounded by magical people. and the knowledge that the rest of jeongguk’s extended family leans more toward the other side of things worries him—what if jeongguk’s grandmother finds out that he’s a muggle? or what if jeongguk’s parents decide to do something about it now rather than later, like leaving him out in the streets with no money or way to get home?
it’s for that reason that yoongi sticks close to jeongguk. he’s the only thing that makes yoongi feel safe. so they choose a bedroom to share together, one on the floor, one on the bed. they stay in that room as they wait for night to fall and yoongi finds himself wondering what happened to namjoon. surely he’s worried about where yoongi is, although there’s no way for them to contact to each other to check.
it’s as they’re preparing for bed that there’s a thundering down the hallway, loud voices calling names, and yoongi freezes where he’s just climbing into bed (jeongguk had insisted that he take it, although yoongi feels bad about it).
jeongguk groans, like he knows.
and then the door bursts open.
“jeon jeongguk!” someone yells—a boy who can’t be much younger than yoongi himself, all bright eyes and mischievous smiles. “why didn’t you tell me you were in town?”
“hoseok-hyung,” says jeongguk, voice guarded. yoongi watches, silent.
“gods, who’s this?” asks the boy—hoseok, making his way into the room and clapping a hand down on yoongi’s shoulder. “new boyfriend?”
“he’s just a friend,” says jeongguk. “leave us alone, we’d like to sleep.”
“what, no love for your favourite cousin?” asks hoseok. “you come into our home and can’t even bother to give me a simple hello. what an entitled little brat.”
“i said, leave us alone.”
“i know why you’re here, you know,” says hoseok, leaving yoongi’s side and instead sauntering around the bed until he can crouch beside the nest of blankets that jeongguk made, where he’s currently sitting. “news travels fast in the jeon family, doesn’t it?”
“how pathetic that you have to come crawling back to the family who keeps trying to cut ties with you. she doesn’t even want you here. no one wants you here.”
“you should have let them get you, you fucking squib. it’s what you deserve for being an utter disgrace to this family.” hoseok pauses, turning to look at yoongi, who can’t stop staring at jeongguk—jeongguk, with his hands in fists in his lap, jeongguk, with his eyes firmly trained on the floor. yoongi swears he sees tears forming, but he has no time to think about it before hoseok is speaking to him instead. “i don’t know how you can be a friend to someone like him,” says the other boy. “he’ll do nothing but disappoint you, just like he’s been doing to this family since he was born. might as well be a fucking muggle.”
yoongi—has no idea what he’s supposed to say. it feels like he’s constantly drowning here, not understanding what anyone to saying to him. all he knows is that he wants to throttle hoseok for making jeongguk look like that, speechless with anger and sorrow.
and then hoseok laughs. he laughs, cracking a wide smile as he stands up again. “well, anyway,” he says, making his way to the door. “have a nice night, boys. see you in the morning, squib.” and then he’s gone.
for long, long moments, they just sit there. yoongi stares at the door, trying to understand. finally, he looks down to jeongguk, who is still staring at his lap. this time, though, he can see tear drops on the blanket.
hesitantly, yoongi asks, “what’s a squib?”
he thinks, at first, that jeongguk isn’t going to answer him. that he’ll just lie down and pull the blankets over his head and say nothing, and yoongi will live the next two weeks always treading on thin ice. always trying not to reveal himself and wondering why jeongguk isn’t welcome here—but then jeongguk speaks.
what he says is, “i lied.”
it’s not the answer to his question, but yoongi takes it anyway. “about what?” he asks.
“magic,” replies jeongguk. his voice is quiet. angry. he rubs at his eyes at balled hands, sniffs against his own tears. “i lied about it. i said me and my family were wizards, but that’s not—that’s not right.” he takes a moment, and then looks up at yoongi. in the low lighting of the room, only illuminated by a magical lamp on the desk, he looks even worse than yoongi imagined.
“what do you mean?”
“my family are wizards,” says jeongguk. he drops his eyes again. “but i’m not. i’m a squib. and a squib is someone who is born to magical parents but—can’t actually do magic.”
yoongi feels his heart—squeeze. not because he understands what that means in the wizarding world, but because—maybe he and jeongguk are more alike than he originally thought.
jeongguk sniffs again, wiping at his eyes. “the magical world hates squibs,” he says. “they don’t know what to do with us, because we have everything but magic. we can live in the magical world, we can see magical things. we just… can’t do anything about it. that’s the real reason my parents and grandparents don’t get on—because my grandparents and all of my aunts and uncles and cousins hate me. but my parents refused to get rid of me when they found out i couldn’t do magic.”
“wait,” says yoongi. “they expected your parents to just… get rid of their own child just because you can’t cast some spells?”
“i told you it’s stupid,” says jeongguk. “my grandparents completely cut my parents off when i turned eleven and still hadn’t shown any magic, and when i wasn’t accepted into any of the magical boarding schools in asia. so we left, and it’s been like this ever since. they still hate me, but ever since my grandfather died, my grandmother has been a little more open to at least communicating.”
yoongi doesn’t know what to say. he falls into silence, trying to wrap his head around it—not the fact that jeongguk can’t do magic, because that makes no difference to him, but the fact that jeongguk’s family could have reacted to badly to it.
jeongguk speaks again, after a while. “actually, i lied about another thing,” he admits. “we’re not running from people who hate my family for being blood traitors. i mean—there are those people. but this time, it’s me.” he shakes his head. “someone has been harassing my dad a lot, asking about me. she’s a follower of he-who-must-not-be-named and… i dunno. i guess she thinks that if she does something to squibs, she’ll be accepted as a death eater. and she must have found out that i’m a squib. so she came after me.”
“you mean… she would try to hurt you because you can’t do magic? and that’s going to make some delusional idiot trying to take over the world like her?”
“oh, she’d kill me,” says jeongguk, like it’s casual. “without a doubt. i’m nothing to her—to them. it’s what hoseok said—i might as well be a muggle.”
“there’s nothing wrong with being a muggle,” says yoongi. suddenly, he feels it all welling up inside of him—this desire to protect jeongguk, this need to make things right. he slides off of the bed, padding over to the pile of blankets that surround jeongguk, and he sits down in front of the other boy. and then he reaches out and grabs jeongguk’s hands, compelled to do so by all of this compassion within him, the need to make it right.
“hey, jeongguk-ah,” he says, and jeongguk looks at him. “there’s nothing wrong with you. they can say what they want and they can believe what they want, but you are still you. and just because you can’t do magic doesn’t change the fact that you’re an amazing person. your world has some backwards ideas about what makes people good, but you don’t have to listen to them.”
jeongguk frowns a little. “that’s easy for you to say,” he replies.
“i know,” says yoongi. “and i know that i don’t understand your world at all and i don’t understand why not being magical is such a big deal to everyone, but… hey. i’m not magical either. and we’re still friends.”
“i kind of kidnapped you.”
“i always wanted to go to south korea,” says yoongi with a shrug. “i could use a vacation from homework anyway. and—it seems like you need someone in your corner, anyway. just… fuck what hoseok says. and fuck what your family thinks about you being a squid.”
“fuck being a squib,” he laughs, and jeongguk—giggles. good. “you’re just human. we’re all just human, and we’ll be the odd ones out together. i don’t give a shit what they think about you or me. i don’t have magic and i’m just fine. so you’re a little different, but that’s just… that’s how people are. that’s how we should be.”
jeongguk’s giggles quiet, and he purses his lips as he looks at yoongi again. yoongi only then realizes that they’re still holding hands, but he doesn’t let go—not yet. “your family sucks,” says yoongi. “and this situation sucks. but we’re gonna make the most of it. i can tell that you love magic, and just because you can’t wave a stick and make things fly doesn’t mean you’re not magical. you’re just magical in other ways. and i, for one, am very interested in learning about all of the magical things that you want to show me. and i’m very interested in just… becoming your friend, properly. even if you kidnapped me. because you also saved my life, and now i want to save yours, just in a different way.”
jeongguk blinks at him a little, eyes going round and wide and—for the first time, yoongi realizes that the younger boy is kind of cute. or really cute, especially when he looks like that, even with red-rimmed eyes from crying. they didn’t quite get off on the right foot, but all yoongi knows is that the afternoon they spent together was fun. and he’s never going to judge jeongguk for not being magical, because magic makes no difference to him.
finally, jeongguk nods. “okay,” he says.
“okay,” says yoongi. “and if hoseok comes back and tries to bully you again, i’ll kick his fucking ass. the muggle way, with fists and everything.”
“i don’t think you’d be very good at that, yoongi-ssi,” giggles jeongguk.
“hyung,” says yoongi. “call me hyung. now that it’s you and me against the world—quite literally—i think we’ve gotten to that point.”
jeongguk’s cheeks glow red, red, red. “yeah,” he says. “can we sleep now?”
later, when they’ve brushed their teeth and said their goodnights and turned out the lights and yoongi is about to drift off to sleep, he hears jeongguk speak softly into the darkness—“thank you, hyung,” he whispers. “you’re the first person to find out i’m a squib and not look at me like i deserve to be hated for it.”
yoongi makes a noise. “you and me, jeonggukkie,” he mumbles. “s’just you and me.”
“you and me,” jeongguk repeats quietly. “me and you, hyung. i like that.”
in the morning, yoongi realizes something has changed, just a little—just something about the way jeongguk looks at him, like they’re no longer different. like they’re in this together, which they are. yoongi thinks of sleep deprived things, of being terrified in this world he knows he doesn’t belong in, and maybe that’s how jeongguk feels, too. they’ve ostracized him for not fitting in, for being like them but not like them, and yoongi feels the fierce need to do something about it. to make it right.
but his hands are empty. here, it means more than back at home.
they spend the beginning of the day exploring the house quietly, making sure to keep away from the others—yoongi keeps an eye out for hoseok, prepared for the nasty comments he’ll make. they run into jeongguk’s grandmother, who gives them both a very long, very careful glance. yoongi realizes, belatedly, that they’ve given no explanation for who he is, wonders if he can pass off as a squib too—he knows only the basics of the magical world, but revealing himself as a muggle would be disastrous.
hoseok shows up anyway.
“if it isn’t the family fuck-up,” calls the other boy from across the backyard—a long expanse of green, green grass, a small garden of flowers in the center. jeongguk and yoongi had mistakenly thought themselves safe here.
“what do you want, hoseok?” asks jeongguk. yoongi feels himself tense where he’s sitting beside the other, both of them having been discussing medical school.
“i can’t just come to chat?” asks hoseok, stopping in front of them and placing his hands on his hips.
yoongi considers it, then says, “if you’re here to bully him, you can feel free to leave now.”
“oh, so he does speak?” asks hoseok. “i was beginning to think there was something wrong with you too. well, you know how it goes—birds of a feather flock together.”
“then i suppose you’ll be needing to meet with all of the other assholes in the area soon?” says yoongi. “really, if you’d excuse us, we have places to be.”
“really?” asks hoseok, and yoongi gets to his feet, pulling a confused jeongguk with him. “you’re supposed to be in hiding so the big scary wizards don’t find you and lock you up like you deserve.”
“sounds to me like you don’t know how magic works,” shrugs yoongi, latching onto jeongguk’s wrist and tugging him past the other wizard.
hoseok blanches for a moment, then calls after them—“he can’t even do magic!”
“you don’t need a fucking wand to do magic, idiot!” yoongi calls back. which he doesn’t actually know for sure is the truth, but he remembers jeongguk’s magical ring. he can use that and he can’t do magic, so there has to be something else. and he’s bluffing, sure, but hoseok doesn’t come after them as yoongi speed walks them around the side of the house and to the front drive and then away.
“where are we going?” jeongguk whispers hurriedly, glancing over his shoulder.
“i don’t know,” yoongi whispers back. “i just thought it would be best to get out of there entirely so that he doesn’t bully you anymore. or the rest of your family—that house is suffocating me.”
jeongguk doesn’t argue, which yoongi takes as a sign that he’s doing the right thing, so he keeps walking. there has to be something more to do around here—and if the people after jeongguk don’t know that they’re in korea, there’s no reason to be worried that they’ll be caught. besides, even with those people being able to use magic, yoongi knows a thing or two about normal people disguises, about hiding, about keeping safe. wizards rely so much on their magic, but they forget that there’s usually a simple solution to everything that doesn’t need to involve such fancy stick-waving.
when they’re halfway down the drive, heading into town—jeongguk explained that his grandmother lives on the outskirts of a small city on the southern coast of south korea, one with a thriving magical community and less of a thriving muggle community, which works for their attitudes toward non-magical folk—yoongi finally feels himself begin to relax. he realizes that he’s still holding into jeongguk’s wrist, but he doesn’t let it; it feels better this way, like he can protect jeongguk if he’s just holding onto him. and maybe jeongguk doesn’t need his protection, but it’s probably better than anything else he’s gotten for nineteen years.
“i have something i want to show you,” jeongguk says finally, taking the lead. “you know how i used to live here, too, when i was a kid? i didn’t have a lot of friends.”
“was it because of—”
“they didn’t know i was a squib when i was younger,” admits jeongguk. “but most magical kids will show signs of their magic ability when they’re quite young. anything later than seven or eight is a cause for worry, so when i hit that age and i still wasn’t showing any magic, people got worried. or—they stopped letting their kids talk to me.”
yoongi is hit with it, suddenly—a sort of sorrow he’s never experienced, as he thinks about a young jeongguk just wanting to be loved, wanting to be accepted. and having everyone turn their backs on him because of something he can’t even control, as though he chose a life without magic. he pushes it down, swallows it whole. now isn’t the time.
“that sucks,” he ends up saying.
“yeah,” says jeongguk, but he shrugs. “it doesn’t bother me so much anymore, especially because we moved and i found good muggle friends who don’t even know i’m not magical because they don’t even know magic exists. but—anyway.” yoongi catches sight of the first buildings of the city, the trees giving way to pavement and concrete. “i used to hang out by myself a lot, but i found lots of cool places that entertained me. i want to show you one of my favourite childhood memories.”
it’s a magical library, jeongguk explains as he leads yoongi into the city. the books re-shelve themselves and some of the novels do what they talk about—spitting water at you or releasing tiny creatures into the library that disappear after a few minutes. that’s not the magical part, though, not to jeongguk.
“it was the librarian,” says the boy, a wistful smile on his face. “she was this elderly lady who was always busy helping people and running programs and making sure everything was done correctly, but she always had time for me when i showed up. i think she could tell that i was lonely and didn’t have other friends. she would sit and talk with me about the books i read for hours, or make sure that there were enough day programs for me to take part in other the summers when i wasn’t in school. i don’t think she’s alive anymore, but she made that library what it is for me.”
yoongi finds himself grinning as he listens to jeongguk speak. there’s something about the way he says it, about the way it’s clear he loves it. and it’s a sad sort of love, something that he had to leave behind when his family moved to england. a sad sort of necessity, knowing that he didn’t have anything else to do but to go a library and read and talk to an old librarian.
but maybe that’s why jeongguk is good at being on his own now—he knows that he can find friends and family in the most unlikely of people. his own family abandoned him, so he’ll latch onto anything else.
it doesn’t take long to get to the library, and jeongguk turns down one of the streets lined with massive trees before letting out a sigh. “there it is,” he says, gesturing to the end of the street. “isn’t it beautiful?”
and yoongi—stops. “where?” he asks.
“right there,” says jeongguk, pointing to an empty spot at the end of the street. “it’s got the coolest dome on it, you should see it from the inside.”
“jeongguk,” says yoongi, eyebrows furrowing as he cautiously follows after the other. “there’s nothing there. it’s just a half-demolished building. are you sure that’s the library?”
“what are you talking about?” asks jeongguk, looking back at him with confusion. “it’s right there.”
what’s right there is indeed a half-demolished building—it could have been a library at one point, or maybe just a house. yoongi can’t tell. it looks like someone started construction and then gave up halfway through, letting it go to waste and rot before people stated scavenging from it. it’s certainly not the beautiful library that jeongguk has been waxing poetic about for half an hour.
“are you seeing things?” asks yoongi.
“are you not seeing—oh.” jeongguk stops and yoongi seems him visibly deflate. “i forgot.”
“sometimes magical buildings have spells on them so that muggles can’t see them,” says jeongguk. he’s frowning, looks uncomfortable. he’s staring out at the library, or what yoongi is sure is a library—and for the first time, he feels a sort of disappointment in himself, for something he can’t have. “it’s for protection. the library is magical, so you can’t see it or go in. otherwise, it would be too dangerous. that’s how magical schools are, too—you’d just see ruins.”
yoongi stares out at the wreckage. he imagines what jeongguk might see—something beautiful, something that was such a huge part of his childhood. something that he wanted to share with yoongi, because now yoongi is part of his life, too, the one person who isn’t going to try to hurt him for not being magical.
and the fact that yoongi isn’t magical is ruining that.
“oh,” he says. “well… yeah. that makes sense.”
there’s a moment. and then jeongguk lets out a frustrated groan and kicks at the sidewalk. “this is fucking stupid,” he says. “i just want something to work out for me for once.”
“no, it’s just,” says the boy, shoving his hands in his jean pockets. “it’s so unfair that i’m halfway in between everything. i know everything about the magical world and i can see magical things and use magical objects, but i can’t do it myself. so i’m part of the muggle world, too, but i can’t even show my muggle friends who i really am because they’re not allowed to know and even if they find out, it doesn’t work because by definition, they can’t even see fucking magical things. i don’t want to hide anymore, hyung.”
it seems like—the sort of conversation they shouldn’t be having in the middle of the sidewalk. jeongguk just sits down on the concrete, pulling his knees up and crossing his arms over them. sulking, like a child. yoongi stares at him.
thinks—you don’t have to hide with me. thinks—i want to see it, too, but what i see is you.
thinks—i like what i see, and isn’t that enough?
says, “you don’t have to hide from me.”
jeongguk looks up at him—and yoongi sees all of that openness, all of that vulnerability. all of that fear.
“i’m sure there’s some magical thing you can show me that i can actually see,” says yoongi. “and i’ll be halfway between everything with you.”
“imposters,” says jeongguk.
“imposters,” agrees yoongi.
they go to the zoo.
although there’s a chance that yoongi won’t be able to see that either, they have to go by what jeongguk calls the floo—or the flu, yoongi doesn’t really know. it’s the strangest thing he’s ever done when he follows jeongguk into a massive fireplace with a handful of sand and says the name of the zoo. it’s stranger to watch jeongguk go first, to see him go up in green flames, but he has to believe that he isn’t going to get burned alive. in any case, he stumbles out into what appears to be the entrance of some park—or a zoo, if the posters have anything to say. he finds that the fireplace was the most pleasant magical travelling experience thus far, and hopes they can go back to england that way, too.
“there are a lot of weird magical creatures,” jeongguk explains as they get their tickets and make their way inside the zoo. “so don’t get freaked out. i think they’re pretty cool.”
jeongguk starts them off slow, with the petting zoo portion—it looks like a regular petting zoo, at least until he looks closer. and he sees that the cats have very pointed ears and look a little off.
“kneazles,” explains jeongguk quietly as yoongi crouches down and pets one of the smaller ones. “they’re cats, but they’re highly intelligent.”
“kind of like your dog?” asks yoongi. “like a regular animal but with some magical qualities?”
“yeah, it’s like wizards decided that they needed to make improvements on muggle animals, so they added all of this magic.”
“of course,” sighs yoongi, but he’s grinning as he pets at the cats that come to him, rubbing up against his shins. he’s too busy with them that he doesn’t even notice that jeongguk has moved on from where the kneazles are and is instead on the other side of the pen, playing with a creature that looks like a large ferret.
standing up, yoongi makes his way over only to hear the creature say, “so short. looks like a goblin. is he a goblin?”
yoongi freezes, eyebrows furrowing. “did that ferret just call me a goblin?”
jeongguk giggles, picking up the creature. “yes,” he says.
“smells too,” says the creature. “needs a shower. take a shower, goblin!”
and even though jeongguk is giggling, yoongi is staring at the animal with wide eyes. he’s never seen an animal that could talk, but it makes sense, doesn’t it, that the magical world would have talking creatures only for those talking creatures to be extremely rude anyway.
“he’s a jarvey,” explains jeongguk.
“what an idiot! doesn’t know what a jarvey is?”
“they only speak in rude statements.”
“i can tell.”
“wow, he can think! put me down. don’t want to be near an idiot like that.”
“i don’t want to be near you either,” snaps yoongi, frowning. “who would want a pet that only talks to them like that?”
jeongguk is still giggling even as the sets down the animal and watches it run off. “hyung, don’t be rude back,” he scolds.
“he started it!”
“he can’t help it,” says jeongguk, but he hooks his arm through yoongi’s and tugs him away from the rest of the jarvies, off toward a different pen in the petting zoo. there are plenty of other smaller creatures running around, some of them that look just like regular animals, although yoongi is sure that there’s something magical about them, too. some of them do look strange—flying things, like bugs but larger, and he shies away from some that get a little too close. he has no idea what they might do to him, after all.
jeongguk keeps giggling, like he’s endeared by yoongi’s fear of magical creatures, but—who can blame him?
“here,” says jeongguk when they get to a new pen, grabbing a few items from a bucket hanging on the outside of it. the sign says, use these to play with our nifflers! they’ll love you forever.
jeongguk hands him a few gold coins and a shiny bracelet. yoongi’s eyebrows furrow. “what’s a niffler?” he asks.
“you’ll see,” says jeongguk with a little wink, and then leads yoongi into the pen. at first, there’s nothing in there, and yoongi wonders if the creature is invisible—that seems like something this world would have, too—but then jeongguk shakes the coins in his hand so that they make a clinking noise and all at once, four little black creatures run out from where they were hiding behind rocks and boxes before.
they’re… almost like a furry platypus. that’s the first thing that comes to yoongi’s mind as he stares at the little things approaching them, and he stares with bewilderment before jeongguk crouches down and holds out one of the coins. one of the creatures runs right up to him and snatches it out of his hand, stuffing the coin into what appears to be a pouch on his stomach.
“what the shit,” mutters yoongi, and then looks over to see the other three staring at him. yoongi looks down to the bracelet in his hand, half of it hanging out and glinting in the sunlight. the creatures appear to have bloody murder in their eyes.
all three of them come at him at once, rapidly. he lets out a shriek as the first one jumps onto his leg and goes scampering up, heading for his arm, and yoongi stumbles backwards as another one jumps on his other leg. and jeongguk is giggling as yoongi’s foot catches on a smaller rock in the pen and he goes tumbling backwards only to find all four of the creatures pouncing him. they manage to make it to his hand, prying the shiny objects out of them as yoongi screeches and cowers and jeongguk laughs and laughs and laughs.
“help me, you asshole!” yoongi yells at him as he finally opens his hands and lets the creatures take the coins and jewellry. they scamper away, leaving yoongi in an awkward ball on the floor.
“i’ve never seen anyone react to a niffler like that,” giggles jeongguk as he comes into yoongi’s view, standing over him with his hand outstretched. “they weren’t going to hurt you.”
“they bloody well looked like it,” protests yoongi as he takes jeongguk’s hand and lets the younger boy haul him upward. hurriedly dusting himself off, yoongi sends a glare toward the creatures stuffing his coins into their pouches and running off into hiding. “they’re menaces.”
“they’re cute if you don’t have anything shiny on you,” admits jeongguk. “my brother tried to have one as a pet for a time, but that ended when all of my mum’s jewellery went missing and she called the police thinking she’d been robbed.”
yoongi grumbles as he tugs jeongguk out of the pen, not wanting anything more to do with nifflers. he’d much rather have some distance between he and the magical creatures, and jeongguk is all too willing to take him to see some of the others, the creatures that they don’t get to pet.
they see all sorts of strange creatures, and yoongi forces jeongguk to hold his hand—out of pure fear, because even though there’s glass and metal between he and the creatures, he still finds himself getting anxious just knowing that they’re magical. and magic could mean anything. jeongguk doesn’t complain, though, just quietly explains things about the creatures to him, practically pressed against his side so he can keep his voice down. to make sure no one else hears and grows suspicious that a grown man doesn’t know anything about magical creatures, jeongguk explains.
but his cheeks are pink. yoongi ignores the swooping in his stomach every time jeongguk’s breath tickles his ear.
there are creatures that look fluffy birds, ones that can apparently scream so loud and long that it’ll drive someone insane. some that look like horses, some that look like crosses between other creatures—one that’s like a horse and a bird all in one. jeongguk explains that some of the empty enclosures do have creatures in them, just ones that don’t come out all the time—mooncalves, which only come out during full moons, or occamies, which are kept in such small places because they’ll grow or shrink to fit the available space.
they’re massive and beautiful and terrifying, but yoongi finds that he’s mesmerized by it all. this is the part of the magical world that he could find himself falling in love with—he cares less about the grand things, like being able to travel across the world in a few seconds, or the power of being able to blow up a building with a single word.
it’s this: the nature of it, the very fabric and being. these animals that are by their very existence magical and have magical properties—parts of them that can be used in potions to save lives, or have such brilliant ways of defending themselves. these creatures that have been here the whole time, but yoongi has never known.
and he sees it, too, the way jeongguk looks at them, talks about them. it’s this part that he loves, too, and yoongi imagines it’s because this is the part of the magical world that jeongguk can be a part of without having to do magic. he doesn’t need to be able to use a wand in order to enjoy magical creatures, to love them. for them to love him back.
and there’s something more—
“demiguise,” says jeongguk when they stop beside an enclosure near the back of the zoo. it’s quiet here, almost no other people. yoongi peers into the enclosure and sees nothing.
“they’re invisible,” continues jeongguk. “well—they have the ability to turn visible if they want, but they prefer to be invisible most of the time, i think. and they have the ability to see the future, in a way. to predict the most likely outcome and thus make their decisions accordingly.”
there’s something sad about the way jeongguk talks about the creature, pulling yoongi to sit on the little bench in front of the glass. yoongi wishes that if he just looked hard enough, he could see it.
“how’d they catch it, then?” asks yoongi. “if it could predict what would happen?”
“there are ways of being unpredictable,” says jeongguk. “it’s still sad, though. i mean—zoos in general are sad. all of these creatures should be out in the wild, but there’s something worse about a demiguise. wizards want their pelts so badly because you can make invisibility cloaks out of them. they don’t deserve that. they’re gentle creatures, you know. but… lonely ones, i think. that’s what happens when no one can see you, and the ones who can don’t care about you.”
somehow, yoongi doesn’t think he’s talking about the demiguise anymore.
“it can be seen if it wants,” says yoongi carefully. “it just has to make the choice, right? for the right people. the ones who won’t hurt it.”
jeongguk looks over at him. their arms are still hooked together, still sitting pressed thigh to thigh. there’s another swooping deep in yoongi’s gut, like anticipation—like another need to do something, to make it better. to take care of jeongguk, and maybe this was never about protecting yoongi from the bad wizards. maybe it was always the other way around.
when yoongi looks back to the enclosure, he swears he sees a flash of grey, a flash of big brown eyes staring back at him—but he brushes it off as nothing, as a trick of the light. jeongguk holds his hand all the way back to his grandmother’s house.
the next five days are spent in various ways, all boiling down to yoongi and jeongguk fortifying themselves against the rest of the jeons and the world around them. they slip off early in the morning to find ways to occupy themselves that don’t involve the rest of the family and come back late, slipping past unimpressed parents who remind them that they’re supposed to be in hiding. no one brings up the fact that there is a muggle among them, although yoongi overhears the jeons discussing ways to deal with him once they return to england. he doesn’t stick around to hear the verdict.
hoseok doesn’t come back after the second day, presumably spending time with his own family—all of jeongguk’s aunts and uncles live nearby, he explains, which means hoseok will likely be back again. but yoongi likes to think that not giving into the other boy’s bullying managed to deter him, at least for now.
in the meantime, it’s jeongguk’s grandmother who takes the reins as the terrifying one. on the third day, she shows up in yoongi and jeongguk’s room at seven in the morning with cleaning supplies and demands that they do their duties as guests of the house by dusting. it gives them something to do, away from the others, at least—although yoongi realizes how much easier this would be with magic, now that he knows magic is real.
they dust parts of the house that appear not to have been touched in years. jeongguk warns him about doxies and even pixies and other pests that might be hiding in the curtains or drawers that have never been opened. old portraits bully them instead of actual family members, but at this point, yoongi no longer finds it surprising when a painting points out that he missed a spot.
at one point, the family house elf shows up as well. yoongi is still surprised to see that, bolting right to jeongguk on the other side of the hall when the ugly creature appears out of nowhere; jeongguk grumbles about house elves having magic but not him, although he does laugh at yoongi’s reaction to the thing. it only gives them another list of cleaning that they ought to do before disappearing again, presumably to do its own chores.
and they talk—that’s all they can do, whiling away the days with conversation about both of their lives. yoongi actually gets a chance to talk about his own life and family, admitting that he has a much nicer living home situation than jeongguk. they talk about school, about their lives. he’s more interested in knowing what it was like for jeongguk to grow up in the magical world and then almost get kicked out of it, to choose to go to muggle school and try to assimilate himself with the people he can only pretend to belong with.
it’s always a bit sad to hear jeongguk talk about it. he tries, yoongi knows, to seem enthusiastic and accepting of his fate, but there’s something missing in his eyes when he talks about it. it’s clear that he loves the magical world, but he’ll never truly have it in his grasp because of the fact that he himself can’t do magic, no matter how he can play at it. he has magical objects, can use potions, can see and experience the magical world in the same way other wizards can.
but he’ll never own a wand, and he’ll never be able to do his chores with magic, and he’ll never have what his brother has, what hoseok has, what his parents have.
and even if yoongi is doing his best to keep jeongguk distracted from the fact that the reason they’re here is because someone is after him because of that, and even if yoongi is trying to cheer him up and keep him occupied—there’s really nothing he can do about it in the end, other than try to be a good friend.
yoongi doesn’t understand what he’s hearing at first—places it as another noise that the house makes, as he’s found that it makes noises all of the time. working magic, talking portraits, the house elf. it could be anything, even at this time of night. but—the noise comes again, so much closer than anything that could be in the walls or in another room. he turns his head, peering into the darkness toward the window, where moonlight streams in. it might be one in the morning, or two; he’s learned that wizards don’t use anything electronic, which means no fancy digital clocks that the muggle world is using, so he can’t see anything without turning on a light.
and anyway. the harder he listens, the more he realizes that the noise sounds like crying.
“jeongguk-ah?” he asks quietly, already cringing into the silence and darkness. he doesn’t want jeongguk to be embarrassed if he’s crying, but. he has to do something about it.
eventually, jeongguk’s voice comes—quiet, thick: “what?”
yoongi licks his lips. “are you okay?”
there’s a sniff—it’s what he heard before, just a little louder this time, like he’s not trying to hide it. but jeongguk doesn’t reply, which is an answer in itself. yoongi thinks about taking a leap, thinks about refusing to let go of jeongguk when they ran into each other only five days ago in the school. they didn’t know each other back then, not really. but now they’ve spent five days together, just the two of them against the world.
it’s a test, maybe.
and then jeongguk says, “the floor is really uncomfortable.”
yoongi can’t help it—he muffles a giggle into his hand. “is that why you’re crying?”
“sorry,” says yoongi. it might be something much worse, probably is. but he can’t help resorting to humour in an attempt to lighten the situation. then—he realizes there’s something left unsaid in jeongguk’s words. there’s an asking there, a want. something timid and vulnerable.
the giggles die.
“do you…” he begins. “do you want the bed?”
“i’d feel bad kicking you out.”
yoongi licks his lips again. “you wouldn’t have to,” he says, and then cringes again, at how it sounds. he hates not being able to see jeongguk in the darkness, to not know how his words are coming across.
he begins to think that it was the wrong thing to say only to hear the rustling of blankets, and then there’s a figure blocking out his view of the window. “shove over,” mumbles jeongguk, sniffing again, and yoongi does, trying to ignore the sudden warmth in his cheeks when he shuffles over to the side of the bed to allow jeongguk room.
the other boy slides in, keeping a few inches between them. yoongi stares at the ceiling for a few seconds before looking over at jeongguk instead; his eyes have adjusted to the darkness by now, and he can just make out the shape of jeongguk in the darkness—the slope of his noise, the messiness of his hair. the wetness on his cheeks.
“do you want to talk about it?” yoongi ventures carefully. “i mean—you don’t have to. we can just sleep, if you want. but i’m a good listener, if you do want to say anything.”
he hears jeongguk breathe out slowly, like he’s thinking about it. there’s so much that yoongi could never understand about jeongguk and his life, about his hardships. but he is a good listener, and he’s been feeling this protectiveness for days now. the only thing he needs is an excuse to let it out.
quietly—“i miss this. i miss… what i had here. i lived in this town for eleven years and i was part of this family and they loved me. i had the library and friends and magic. and then i lost it, just because i was born with something missing. and we haven’t been back here since then, not really.” jeongguk sniffs again. yoongi finds himself staring at jeongguk rather than the ceiling, hand slowly sliding across the expanse of bed between them until his pinkie bumps against the side of jeongguk’s thigh.
“when my grandfather died,” continues jeongguk, “we came here for the funeral. we stood by his graveside and i thought maybe—it would be okay again? he was the one who wanted to cut us off in the first place. his family were purists when he was growing up and my grandmother cared less about it, so i was hopeful, you know? that we could come home. but my grandmother just looked at us and handed us a portkey back home, told us that she’d already arranged it all. she wouldn’t even look me in the eye, like i was some great disappointment. and i am, i guess.”
“no, hyung, you don’t get it.” jeongguk turns his head to look at him, through the darkness. yoongi can’t see much, but he can see that sorrow again. “you’ll never get it. and that’s okay, i think. i wouldn’t want you to like me less because i can’t do magic. it just sucks being back here again for the first time, properly, to see everything that i used to have and know that no matter what i do or how hard i try, i’ll never get it back.”
the truth is, yoongi doesn’t get it. so he bumps his hand against jeongguk’s thigh again, a silent show of support despite not having the words.
jeongguk goes on anyway—“you know why i went into medicine?” he asks. “i mean, i wanted to. i want to help people, but i think most of it me just wanted to do it because i wanted to prove to my family that just because i can’t do magic doesn’t mean i’m useless. i’m smart enough to go to medical school, to be a doctor. my mum works in a hospital and i can be just like her, just without the magic. and… they don’t care. they don’t care about my grades or how many friends i have or what i do, because everything will always be tainted by the fact that i’m a squib.”
“that’s not fair,” whispers yoongi. gingerly, he lifts his hand, hesitating with it an inch from jeongguk’s face; the boy is still crying slowly, tears curving over the bridge of his nose. “i’m sorry they don’t see you the way you are, jeongguk-ah.”
it’s jeongguk who moves, tilting his head so that it knocks into yoongi’s hand. and yoongi takes it as an invitation, letting his palm rest on the other’s cheek as he wipes away the tears there.
“i’ve gotten used to it,” admits jeongguk. “it’s just hard. and i try to ignore it most of the time because i do have a good life. and there are so many parts of the magical world that i can enjoy, and i know i’m lucky to have even that. i just hate the way the magical world treats me. us.”
yoongi thinks of jeongguk admitting to him that he couldn’t do magic, and how scared he must have been. and how he had latched onto yoongi immediately after yoongi had accepted him for it as he was—and yoongi realizes that he’s probably the first person jeongguk has ever shown himself to and actually accepted him. yoongi is the first person who has loved him the way he is, not been disappointed in him, not tried to push him away.
and here: he is holding something very vulnerable. he is holding something very fragile.
he is afraid of breaking it.
“i will never understand the way they look at you,” whispers yoongi. “and it makes me angry to see how they treat you, because you don’t deserve it. i haven’t known you for very long, but i don’t have to know you very well to see that you’re… beautiful, jeongguk-ah. and smart and brave and kind. i want you to know that. i want you to know that not being able to do magic doesn’t make you any less than who you are.”
“i’m trying very hard to believe that,” says jeongguk.
“i know.” yoongi wipes at another tear that escapes him, trying to read something in jeongguk’s eyes—the way he looks back, the way he’s yearning for it all. yoongi feels that deep rooted protectiveness again, but something else, something more—“you’re doing well. but when all of this shit is over and we go back to london… i’ll take care of you. okay?”
jeongguk sniffs. his face crumples, just for a moment—and yoongi isn’t sure why, just hopes it’s a happy sort of cry. what jeongguk says is, “you don’t even know me.”
“but i want to,” replies yoongi. “i want to show you everything that i’ve been trying to tell you. all of this is just proving to me that you need a friend, jeongguk. a real friend, someone who won’t make you compromise, someone who won’t make you feel like shit for who you are. i want to be that person. we’re in this together, remember?”
“why are you being so nice to me?” asks jeongguk; suddenly, it feels like the place he’s holding jeongguk’s face is too hot, too much. yoongi drops his hand to the bed between them, watching, watching. “i kidnapped you by accident and brought you to a world where people hate you, too, and you’re probably still worried about your friend and i don’t know when this is going to end.”
“i dunno, i guess…” yoongi purses his lips. “it’s ended up being more of a happy thing. yeah, it sucks that i don’t know what happened to namjoon and i miss home and we have to be careful, but it feels like a weird sort of dream. magic in itself is… amazing. and getting a peek into that world is nothing that i could have imagined. and—” he flushes, thankful for the cover of darkness as he adds, “i really like getting to become your friend, properly. that probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise.”
he feels jeongguk’s hand on his, suddenly, wrapping his fingers around yoongi’s thumb. “yeah,” he says.
“i know you don’t need me to protect you,” yoongi adds, “and i know you can take care of yourself. but i’m here anyway, if you need a little more back-up.”
the way jeongguk looks at him makes his heart do something funny in his chest, stomach swooping again—and maybe it’s just a trick of the light. maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but maybe. maybe. this protectiveness is more than just friendship, more than just wanting to help someone who is being mistreated and doesn’t deserve it.
“thank you,” whispers jeongguk. “i feel a lot better now.”
“good,” says yoongi. “now go to sleep before i kick you out of bed so i can hog it.”
“hyung,” jeongguk giggles, and he kicks yoongi under the blankets. “the floor really is uncomfortable and i’m going to have a bad back by the time we go home.”
“just get magic to fix it,” he huffs. “since it can do literally anything.”
jeongguk giggles again, but yoongi giggles along with him this time, rolling over onto his back and trying to get comfortable, but—jeongguk is still holding onto his thumb and doesn’t look to be letting go anytime soon. which is fine, although yoongi’s cheeks flush again. but he lets it happen. he has to let it happen.
after some silence, jeongguk’s voice comes quiet again: “goodnight, yoongi-hyung.”
for long, long minutes, yoongi doesn’t fall asleep, too focused on the way jeongguk is still clinging onto his thumb. his heart pounds in his ears, too loud for him to sleep. when he does, it’s to the sound of jeongguk’s deep breathing beside him and thoughts of home, home, home.
when he wakes—it’s to a numb arm and a groggy head. yoongi is vaguely aware of something beside him, solid, heavy—he smacks his lips a few times, mouth dry. and then he lifts his head from the pillow, trying to blink away the sleep as he looks over and sees that—oh. he can’t move his arm because jeongguk is lying on top of it, using it as his pillow. he’s practically nestled into yoongi, back to chest, and yoongi blinks down at the younger boy for a long moment as he tries to decide something.
protection, comfort. whatever seed was planted last night begins to bloom here in this morning sunlight, in this quiet moment. there’s cotton in his head, maybe.
he stares down at jeongguk, at the softness of his sleeping face. oddly enough, the first coherent thought that yoongi has is that jeongguk has really nice eyelashes.
“wake up, lover boys!”
yoongi startles, ripping his arm out from under jeongguk’s head as his attention snaps to the door. there, none other than hoseok pushes the door open and makes his way inside, trailed by another unfamiliar boy.
“what the fuck do you want?” snaps yoongi, shaking the last of the sleep from his head as he’s confronted by the wizard invading his personal territory. hoseok pays him no mind, heading right for the bed and pulling out—a wand. “hey, what are you doing?”
hoseok laughs—so does the other boy—as he pokes jeongguk with the stick. jeongguk makes a noise of discomfort, curling further into his own pillow as he refuses to wake up, and yoongi leans over in an attempt to snatch the wand from hoseok.
“leave him alone,” says yoongi.
“or what?” asks hoseok with another laugh, pointing his wand at yoongi now, who—panics. he has no idea what hoseok might be capable of with that thing, and he glares at the other boy. “taehyung-ah, come here.”
the other boy, taehyung, does as he’s told, and yoongi looks over to see that he has his wand out, too, twirling it around his fingers. of course there’s two of them now—probably a friend, or maybe another cousin. either way, jeongguk makes another noise in his sleep and yoongi casts a glance toward him, panicking. he doesn’t know how to deal with these two on their own, especially if they have their wands out and feel like doing something idiotic with magic.
“get his wand,” says hoseok, and yoongi doesn’t know what he means until taehyung stalks around the side of the bed where yoongi is sitting, beginning to rifle through his few belongings on the side table. hoseok turns back to jeongguk, tapping his wand against the boy’s cheek. “now, let’s see… what kind of wake-up call should we give the squib today? water on the head? starting his bed on fire? a fur hex?”
yoongi clenches his teeth. “i said, leave him alone.”
“or what? gonna hex me, yoongi?”
“just because he can’t do magic doesn’t make him deserve what you do to him. having or not having magic doesn’t determine the worth of a person. in fact, i’d say he’s twice the person you’ll ever be even without magic.”
hoseok cackles—actually cackles, like the villain in a fairytale. “oh, you are in love with him,” he says. “or you’re just a blood traitor, like his family. haven’t you learned by now that magic is everything?”
“uh, hobi-hyung,” says taehyung from behind him. yoongi almost forgot about him, forgot about what he was doing back there.
“not now, taehyung-ah,” says hoseok. “i’m too busy trying to provoke this idiot into doing something about it. which he can’t, because he won’t have a wand.”
“he doesn’t have a wand,” says taehyung.
“i know, because you’re stealing it, idiot,” says hoseok.
“no, i mean—he doesn’t have one in the first place.”
yoongi freezes, feeling himself go cold. hoseok stares at him, that mischief still shining in his eyes, and all of them go silent. he’s hoping that maybe hoseok will just think that he’s misplaced his wand, or didn’t bring it, or something equally as stupid, as though they all haven’t proved that a wand is one of the most essential parts of being a wizard. he can see hoseok’s mind turning.
then jeongguk finally wakes up, shifting in the sheets. “hyung?” he asks groggily.
“of course. it all makes sense,” says hoseok, no longer focusing on jeongguk. “you keep defending him, keep trying to convince me that having magic doesn’t really matter in the end. because… you’re one of them, too, aren’t you? you’re like him.” yoongi isn’t breathing, not really, not when hoseok says—“you’re a squib.”
which—is almost relieving to hear. being a squib is still better than being a muggle, surely, and he swallows tightly anyway. the way that hoseok said it, the way he’s looking at him isn’t anything to be relieved about.
“hyung?” jeongguk asks again, rolling over toward yoongi, and his fingers enclose around yoongi’s wrist.
“hold on, gukkie,” says yoongi, still staring hard, hard at hoseok.
“disgusting,” mutters the wizard. “having one in this house is bad enough, but now you’ve gone and disgraced everything this family stands for by bringing two squibs here. do his parents know? do those people after him know? they want one squib, but—two would be better.”
yoongi swallows tightly. “get out,” he says. “both of you. now.”
jeongguk tugs on his wrist, just gently. and yoongi doesn’t know why he’s trembling, just knows that there’s something in hoseok’s tone that is dangerous, that makes him fear whatever might be coming next. the other’s wand is still in his hand, and it’s a weapon, yoongi realizes. magic is a weapon when it’s in the hands of the wrong people.
but hoseok doesn’t do anything. he doesn’t cast a spell on them, even if he promised. he just spends another long moment staring at yoongi and then his eyes flicker past him, saying, “you heard him, tae. let’s go.”
after they leave, closing the door behind them, and jeongguk keeps tugging at him, yoongi realizes that his hands are balled into fists, that he’s breathing hard and rough. the thing is, they’re unpredictable. all of them—it’s the magic that makes them unpredictable, that gives them the ability to do something horribly wrong in only a moment.
and even as he reassures jeongguk that everything is fine, he finds himself waiting for hoseok to come back, to finish what he started. finds himself staying a little closer to jeongguk, all of that need bleeding out into something tangible in his hands—a different kind of weapon, but a weapon nonetheless.
a day later, with still no word of whether or not it’s safe for them to go back home, jeongguk corners him after dinner with a poster held in his hand, all bright eyes and wide smiles. “look at this, hyung,” he says, holding the poster up for yoongi to see. he blinks a few times at the slowly moving picture on it, some ink drawing of fireworks and music notes and more. 374th annual tongyeong summer festival, it reads.
“it starts tomorrow!” exclaims jeongguk. “this used to be one of my favourite parts of living here. they have the festival every year and there are musical performers, games, food, shopping, and a bunch of other stuff to do. it’s both muggle and magical, if you know where to look.”
yoongi examines the poster before looking up to jeongguk, at his puppy eyes. he’s practically bouncing in the spot.
“you wanna go?” asks yoongi.
“can we? can we please, hyung?”
“i don’t think i’m the one you have to ask.”
jeongguk grins knowingly. “i already asked my parents,” he says, “and they said we can, as long as we don’t talk to a lot other people or make it obvious that you’re not magical. which is easy, since we can hang out in the muggle parts of the festival, too.”
the truth is, yoongi has gotten bored with trying to explore a house he’s been exploring for almost a week, and there are only so many places they can go in the city without proper transportation. with hoseok and taehyung’s threatening presence, too, yoongi knows it’ll be a good idea to get out and do something else, to get distracted. so he agrees.
the next afternoon comes quickly enough, with jeongguk excitedly pulling yoongi out of the door and down the long, long drive to the city. he recounts stories of the festival from when he was a child as they walk and yoongi keeps silent, grinning as he listens to all of the memories that the other boy has this place he came to love. wild stories, too—the year the festival allowed campfires and jeongguk accidentally started seokjin’s shoes on fire. the year they managed to book one of the most popular singers in the wizarding world and they had to cancel the last day of the festival because so many people travelled to the city that the organizers were wholly unprepared.
he’s sharing this with yoongi, too—not only the old memories, but the new ones that they’ll make here. jeongguk is constantly assimilating yoongi into these parts of his life, the ones that he had to let go of but now has just a taste of. yoongi tries not to read into it, tries not to think about what it means that jeongguk isn’t afraid of sharing it, of letting yoongi into a place that has been kept private for so long.
in any case, this is it—the new memory. the new thing that jeongguk can love about this place: yoongi trying and failing to play magical games.
they should be easily, realistically—they’re all like regular carnival games, just with a magical twist, and yoongi is sure that even though he isn’t magical, he can ace them. there’s the game that’s much like darts, except the player is given a fake wand and just has to flick it at the balloons in order to pop them.
yoongi’s aim, to put it lightly, leaves something to be desired.
“hyung, you didn’t even hit the board that time!” complains jeongguk beside him, giggling as yoongi grits his teeth and flicks the wand at the big pink balloon on the side of the game, only to watch one above it pop. useless.
“give me a break,” he huffs. “i’ve never used one of these before.”
“literal children can do this game,” says jeongguk, “and they’ve never used one either.”
yoongi tries again, flicking the wand at the balloon and popping one below it. at least he’s popping any of them, but he’ll be far from getting the grand prize with how terrible his aim is.
he sighs as he tries one last time and doesn’t pop any of the balloons, the worker giving him a bored look before handing over a tiny stuffed animal, some magical creature that he doesn’t remember seeing at the zoo. in any case, he shoves it at jeongguk as the other boy giggles at him.
“if it’s so easy, why don’t you try it,” yoongi complains.
“i’ll try the next one,” says jeongguk, “and if i win, you have to get your face painted with a picture of my choosing.” yoongi looks over at the face painting booth, frowning when he sees all of the kids in line. to be honest, the face painting is quite impressive, especially with some magical additives to it, but that doesn’t mean he wants to walk around looking like a hippogriff or whatever jeongguk is going to choose for him.
he turns back to jeongguk, sees the look on his face, and knows—there’s no way he’s letting jeongguk go down without a fight.
“fine,” he agrees. “but i choose the game. and we keep a tally until we go through all of them and whoever does better in the end gets to choose what the loser gets painted on their face. got it?”
“it’s on, muggle,” says jeongguk.
“bring it, witchy.”
it goes like this: yoongi picks the ring toss for jeongguk, because ring tosses are hard as fuck to begin with, but even harder when you have to wait for the bottles for the ring toss to appear before trying to get the rings on them in only a few seconds before they disappear again.
jeongguk, despite yoongi’s confidence that he’ll fail, manages to get ten rings on the bottles, out of fifteen chances, and wins a medium sized plushie of a kneazle, which he happily shoves into yoongi’s arms.
“how did you do that?” yoongi asks, still staring at the ring toss even as jeongguk giggles and tugs him away from the booth.
“i told you i used to do this every year,” he says. “besides, i’m pretty athletic myself.”
“but these things are rigged!”
“maybe it’s my magical blood,” shrugs jeongguk. “it just likes me more.”
it might actually make sense, but yoongi just scowls at him before grumbling that he has to choose the next game. jeongguk chooses the whack-a-mole—or whack-a-niffler as it’s called here—and yoongi happily hands over the coins so that he can play the game. he’s been known to do well on this game back at home.
except—of course, it’s magical. and as yoongi tries whacking at the nifflers, he’s surprised to find the first one pop out of the hole in the game and grab hold of the little hammer that he’s using. he gasps as the niffler tries tugging it out of his hand, delaying him as the time ticks down.
“what the fuck?” he asks as he desperately tries pulling the hammer out of the niffler’s grasp, but the little thing has an extraordinarily string grip, and jeongguk is laughing his head off beside him. “don’t laugh at me! how was i supposed to know he was going to grab it?”
“you’re supposed to hit them when they’re not looking at you,” says jeongguk, pointing at a niffler that pops up looking the other way, distracted by something shiny in the distance. meantime, yoongi finally manages to get the hammer back to himself and angrily bops the first niffler on the head.
“this is bullshit,” he pouts, waiting for another niffler to pop up and get distracted before hitting that one, too. unfortunately, by the time that happens, the time has already run out, and with only two hits, yoongi doesn’t even get a single prize from it. the worker just shrugs and wishes him better luck next time, much to yoongi’s chagrin and jeongguk’s amusement.
“c’mon, hyung,” jeongguk giggles as he pulls yoongi away from the booth. “you’ll do better next time, i’m sure.”
“this is totally unfair,” pouts yoongi. “you already know all of the tricks because you’re magical but i don’t know any of this because i only know the muggle side of things. and i can’t even get the best of you in the muggle part of the festival because you know that stuff too!’’
“oh, it’s not that big of a deal,” giggles jeongguk. “i’m just trying to think up ideas for what i’ll get painted on your face.”
yoongi scowls. he can’t even enjoy jeongguk being all giggly and smiley because it’s at his expense, and the last thing he needs is to look like a fool with his face painted. and they’ve only done a few games, sure, but this is looking dire.
“duck pond,” he says in response.
“streeler pond, you mean,” says jeongguk, leading the way to another game. streelers, as it turns out, are just massive snails, and although jeongguk explains that they’re poisonous, these aren’t real ones so there’s nothing to be worried about. in any case, they take one look at the game before jeongguk adds, “wait… this is a game of chance and not skill. that’s not fair!”
“we agreed that we’d choose the games for each other,” says yoongi, proud of himself for thinking of it. of course, jeongguk could pull a duck—streeler—that gives him the biggest prize, but he odds are stacked against him.
jeongguk doesn’t pull the streeler with the grand prize, anyway, but a small one that gives them a tiny, fluffy ball.
“it’s a puffskein,” explains jeongguk. “lots of little kids have them as pets because they’re remarkably easy to take care of and fun to cuddle with.” it’s not a real one, of course, but it moves like one anyway and yoongi shrugs, setting the little thing on his shoulder where it’ll perch for the rest of the day. at the moment, jeongguk is still winning, so there’s business to attend to.
the rest of the afternoon passes in the same way. yoongi plays the dunk tank and manages to dunk the person inside in two throws, so they count it as a medium prize. jeongguk plays the water gun game (with a wand, of course) and gets another small prize. yoongi plays a weight guessing game and doesn’t get anything at all, but jeongguk plays the plate breaking game and doesn’t get anything either. by the time they manage to work through a bunch of them, they have more plushies than they know what to do with and, in all honesty, yoongi kind of forgets that they were competing anyway, too busy cheering jeongguk on or teasing him when he messes something up.
“one more,” jeongguk giggles after they’ve run away from the booth where they were meant to bet on simulated dragon fights and then realized they didn’t actually have any money to bet only after their dragon had lost the battle.
yoongi tucks a few of the larger prizes under his arm, grinning as he follows after jeongguk toward some of the other carnival games. “whose turn is it anyway?” he asks.
“maybe yours? since i’m technically the one who started, it would only be fair if you finished.”
“right, then,” says yoongi. “pick a game for me.”
there aren’t many left that they haven’t tried—they’ve done all of the hard ones or the chance ones, trying to best the other into losing, and he sees the gears turning in jeongguk’s mind before his entire face lights up.
“i know,” he says. “we haven’t done the quaffle toss.”
“the what?” asks yoongi, but jeongguk is already latching onto his arm and pulling him away, off to whatever game he has in mind. quaffle sounds like a vaguely familiar word, probably one that jeongguk used to explain something in the magical world. at this point, he’s forgotten half of what the other has said, too much information at once, but then jeongguk stops in front of a booth with big red balls lined up and three golden hoops on the other end, and he thinks—he knows what this is.
“quidditch,” beams jeongguk. “you score with the quaffle. and since you were so bad with all of the other aiming games, i’d love to see this.”
it’s funny—yoongi hands jeongguk the small pile of prizes they’ve accumulated and then picks up one of the balls. weighs in his hands, scrutinizes the hoops on the other end. it won’t be quite like shooting baskets, but what jeongguk doesn’t know is that yoongi is quite good at basketball. his aim when throwing a ball is much better than his aim with some silly wand, and there’s a little smirk on his face as the worker starts the timer.
yoongi sinks all but two of the quaffles through the hoops, hearing jeongguk’s giggles die as time goes on. and when they’re done and the worker hands him a plushie of a cartoon dragon that’s almost as tall as he is, yoongi turns to jeongguk with the biggest shit-eating grin on his face.
“i’ll carry this for you,” he says. “i’m not sure you have room with all of those piddly prizes you won.”
jeongguk stares at him, mouth open.
“i mean, you can still keep it,” says yoongi. “since i won it for you and all. but… should we eat? it’ll give me time to decide what you should get painted on your face.”
jeongguk keeps staring at him. so yoongi just walks away, laughing as he goes and eventually hears jeongguk following him, muttering about not understanding how someone who has never even heard of quidditch could do so well in a quaffle toss game.
in the end, they get lamb skewers, taking up an entire table to themselves as they set their prizes on the chairs beside them. then yoongi decides to go easy on jeongguk and asks the painter to make him pretty. he blushes as he adds, “not that he isn’t already pretty,” but the woman just gives him a look and jeongguk ends up with some fairy-esque sort of thing, swirls of colours around his eyes that move when he turns his head and glitter that dots the entire thing.
yoongi tries to keep his comments to himself about it. now isn’t the time to realize that maybe jeongguk is a lot prettier than he originally thought.
“you went soft on me,” says jeongguk as he admires the paint in a mirror near the booth. “i was expecting you to make me look like a lion or something.”
yoongi scratches behind his ear, and in lieu of replying, just nudges him with the massive dragon plushie he’s holding. “i wanna go check out some of the other stuff,” he says. “coming?”
that night, jeongguk asks if he minds sleeping in the same bed again, citing the uncomfortable floor. yoongi catches himself wishing that the floor was just a cover-up, but brushes it off, telling jeongguk that he has to cuddle with the dragon so that they don’t end up how they did the first time, with yoongi’s numb arm as jeongguk’s pillow. the spike of discomfort he feels when jeongguk does so happily is something he brushes off, too, telling himself that he’s been fine sleeping alone in this bed for a week, so it’s nothing new now that jeongguk is right there.
the second day of the festival sees jeongguk excitedly dragging yoongi into one of the parks used as concert area. chairs and picnic benches litter the area, and a wooden stage has been set up on one end for the musical acts to perform. it looks strange without speakers and lights, but yoongi imagines wizards have a way of projecting their voices and music without needing electricity, and although he doubts any bands playing here are up to par with the popular muggle bands like the rolling stones or elton john, jeongguk is still all smiles and bouncing feet as they stand near the back of the gathering crowd.
“i think you’d love wizard rock,” jeongguk is saying. “it’s like muggle rock, but they mostly just sing about magical things. there’s a whole other world to explore with lyrics about love potions and spells gone wrong and forbidden love with veela or vampires.”
there’s a grin on yoongi’s face as he muses about it; he cares less about what band is performing or what they sing about, more about the look on jeongguk’s face when the mc gets up and introduces the band. magic is lovely, the festival is lovely—but watching jeongguk watch all of it is better than experiencing it himself. knowing that this is what jeongguk has been missing for eight years, knowing that he’s willingly opening up for yoongi to see. for yoongi to hold.
the band isn’t half-bad, in the end. yoongi and jeongguk stay at the back of the ground but jeongguk still hops around as he sings the songs along with the band, giggling when he accidentally bumps into yoongi once in a while. and yoongi laughs at him, enjoying the very sight as he nods his head with the music, in time with the beat.
there’s not much to watch otherwise. so he watches jeongguk as jeongguk watches the stage, and yoongi finds that he likes what he sees, no matter the distance. it’s not about that, maybe. two worlds colliding.
“how do you like them?” jeongguk asks when the band takes a short break, and jeongguk is kind of sweaty, hair sticking to his forehead. it’s a good look, like he’s glowing.
“yeah, they’re good,” says yoongi, forcing himself to focus on what jeongguk is saying. “i haven’t really been paying attention to the lyrics, though.”
“you like the actual music part of it better than the singing?”
“i do that with a lot of songs.”
jeongguk hums. “they have some nice ballads, too,” he says. “i hope they play some of them. the crowd is looking a little older than people who might want to listen to rock all the time.”
that’s what happens, in the end—the band plays a few more loud and fast songs and jeongguk stops jumping, just singing along with his eyes closed, and he’s good at it. good at singing. yoongi is surprised to find what comes out of the other boy’s mouth, but he likes listening to that, closes his eyes too and sways along with it as jeongguk harmonizes with the singer on stage. it’s these little things: learning, growing.
then, suddenly, the band is playing a slow song. and the crowd dissipates a little, but they’re still at the back, near the street. yoongi opens his eyes and looks out at the stage, at the chairs that are filled with people sitting and listening. his fingers itch for something, and he glances over to see jeongguk staring at him.
and—“do you want to dance?” asks jeongguk suddenly.
“do you… want to dance? i’ve always wanted to dance to this song.”
and it’s not a familiar one—of course not, not to yoongi. he tries to think of songs that he likes dancing to, even if it’s just in the privacy of his own home or only when namjoon accidentally lets him drink too much and he can’t help it. thinks of all of the interests and hobbies and wants that jeongguk has that yoongi can’t understand because he’s not a part of that world.
but he doesn’t need to know the song or the band or magic to know this: the desire to be closer. to have, to hold.
“okay,” he says, turning toward jeongguk fully now. “although i warn you that i’m not a very good dancer.”
“you can step on my feet, hyung,” says jeongguk with a grin, and even though yoongi really isn’t a good dancer, has maybe slow danced only a few times and that was always with his mother at some cousin’s wedding when she forced him onto the dance floor—the way he and jeongguk come together is natural. like they fit there, like they should have been there all along.
one of yoongi’s hands settles on jeongguk’s waist as jeongguk places his own hand on yoongi’s shoulder, their other hands slotting together beside them, and this close, yoongi has to look up at him a bit—tries not to scowl at that, knowing that jeongguk is thinking about it, too. might want to tease him.
he doesn’t, though. instead, jeongguk says, “are you going to move?” and yoongi realizes he’s just been standing there staring at jeongguk for a little long. he flushes, and then moves.
it’s not much of dancing, really—just a gentle sway back and forth, trying not to step on toes or bump into anyone else. in any case, he steps side to side and jeongguk follows him and they spin in slow circles and the band plays on behind them, crooning about love or something. isn’t that what all the songs are about, anyway?
and this close—yoongi can see so much more. the little moles on jeongguk’s face, the one right below his bottom lip. and the little scar on his cheek. and the look in his eyes as he stares back.
“where’d you get that?” he asks, nodding his head slightly toward the scar. the first question in mind, not wanting to address the fact that his hands are trembling a little and he doesn’t know why. it’s just dancing.
“seokjin-hyung,” says jeongguk. “it was accidental magic when we were kids, actually. i was only four and we were fighting about something and he got so mad that his magic just… kind of freaked out. it was some decoration in the house, i think. something pointy anyway.”
yoongi can’t help it—his lifts his hand from jeongguk’s waist and thumbs over the scar, examining it. and would it be weird to think it pretty, too, just like the rest of him?
“i like it,” he admits.
“you like… me getting hurt?”
“brat,” huffs yoongi. “i like the scar because it’s part of you. and i like you.” he swears he sees jeongguk’s cheeks redden, or it might just be from yoongi brushing his thumb over the scar—either way, he drops his hand again, tugs the other boy a little closer by the waist.
“you’ve stopped moving again,” jeongguk points out, and yoongi is aware; they’re barely moving side to side. it’s not quite fun and games.
“the music has stopped too, you know,” he points out.
he sees jeongguk glance sideways toward the stage, where the band has indeed stopped playing—has gotten off the stage entirely, actually, probably waiting for someone else to get on. but either of them move, and maybe this was less of an excuse to dance and more of an excuse to be this close. yoongi thinks of their shared bed, of jeongguk cuddling the goddamn dragon plushie and how jealousy is an ugly thing.
jeongguk looks down at him, and then over at their joined hands. he opens his mouth, and yoongi expects him to say something about dancing or leaving or maybe, maybe something about getting closer still.
what he does say is, “my ring.”
“what?” yoongi blanches.
“hyung, my ring,” and jeongguk snatches his hand back, staring down at his fingers. which are all empty. “the ring that allows me to contact my family in an emergency—it’s gone.”
“i need that,” says jeongguk, and the moment is broken now by the panic in his voice, eyes wide as he looks up to yoongi. “hyung, i really need it. that’s my only lifeline if i get in trouble.”
“okay,” says yoongi, and he grasps at the other’s wrist. “we’ll find it, okay?”
they don’t find it. the two of them scour the park, where they’ve been for the past few hours, but there’s no sign of the ring in the grass or on the chairs or picnic tables. they retrace their steps from earlier, in the food tents that they ate at, even back a few blocks toward the jeon house. but there’s no ring, and yoongi can see jeongguk’s panic flaring the longer they go without finding it.
“there has to be a lost and found here or something,” yoongi says hurriedly. “or someone who can help us look for it? like—security?”
“security,” repeats jeongguk. “right. they can do magic; maybe they can just accio it.” and oh, that’s where magic might come in handy—losing something, or needing to contact someone in the first place. yoongi tries to imagine what would have happened to jeongguk, even to him, if he hadn’t had the ring to contact seokjin with when the attack on the school happened.
they find the first security guard they can, some blonde man standing on the outskirts of the park watching the stage. his badge says park jimin all proud and shiny, and he does look like he could be in the police force, at least from his outfit.
and anyway—“excuse me,” says yoongi, figuring it’s best if he speaks because jeongguk is still on the verge of a small breakdown. “we seem to have lost my friend’s ring. it’s really important.”
“oh dear,” says the guard. “where did you last see it?”
“um,” begins jeongguk. “i think i had it earlier today, when we were eating, but then we came here for the concerts and i didn’t have it. i don’t know how it could have fallen off.”
“so it’s likely here in the park,” says jimin. “have you tried accio-ing it?”
yoongi sees the way jeongguk flinches—but it seems to say enough about the situation, and yoongi turns back to jimin ready to defend the fact that jeongguk is a squib, ready to say that he’s allowed to enjoy magical festivals all he wants. but jimin just nods and grins and pulls out his own wand.
“that’s alright,” he says. “do you mind telling me your name? i can try doing it and it’s anywhere in the area, it should turn up.”
“jeongguk,” supplies yoongi. “his name is jeongguk.”
with a nod, jimin points his wand out toward the park and says, “accio jeongguk’s ring.” it’s one of the first times that yoongi has seen anyone actually use magic, at least with an incantation with it, and he holds his breath as he waits for the little piece of metal to come flying toward them from the grass. but nothing happens.
jimin frowns, and then tries the spell again, but nothing happens that time, either. jeongguk groans from beside yoongi.
“can’t we just get you a new one?” asks yoongi quietly, and jeongguk shakes his head.
“that’s not the point. they’ll be mad i lost it in the first place.”
“it might still be here,” says jimin. “there’s a lot of magic going on so maybe it’s just not quite getting it, especially since i’m not you. how about… i give you my card as a way to contact each other if i find it and i’ll keep looking for it once everyone has gone home? and if someone brings it into security, i can let you know.” the wizard pulls out a little card from his pocket, muttering something and tapping it with his wand before he hands it over to yoongi. “now you just have to say my name into the card and whatever you want to tell me and it’ll show up on my card. okay?”
in a way, it’s almost a good replacement for the ring itself, although yoongi isn’t sure how being able to contact some random security guard is going to do anything.
“thanks,” says yoongi when he realizes jeongguk isn’t going to speak. “hopefully you can find it. and maybe he just left it at home, so… if that happens, we’ll let you know.” he holds up the card, giving the man a nod before he turns and tugs jeongguk away from the guard.
“they’re going to be so upset,” mutters jeongguk.
“just don’t tell them yet,” suggests yoongi. “i’m sure it’ll turn up. magic and all that, right?”
jeongguk looks at him, pout in place—and then yoongi knocks their shoulders together. “it was fun with the dancing and stuff, though. wanna check out the other bands?” he asks, and it takes a moment, but jeongguk nods anyway, and they do.
that night, jeongguk doesn’t even ask before crawling into bed with yoongi, and yoongi doesn’t even let the plushie in with them, just in case. it pays off.
the third night—the last night—is softer. yoongi can feel jeongguk’s sadness at the festival ending, at losing another part of his childhood even though they’ve spent the past three days high on laughter and good food and music, always music. they spend the day exploring the shops, trying out various games they didn’t get a chance to in their competition. they sit in courtyards and laugh at children playing before them, and it’s ending, but yoongi thinks it’s a beginning instead.
although they normally head back home before sunset, jeongguk carefully curls his hand into yoongi’s and keeps him here with a knowing grin. when yoongi throws him a questioning glance, the boy just says, “the last night is the best part. you don’t want to miss it.”
they follow the crowds once the other parts of the festival end—the music in the park quiets and the games pull down their prizes. the people line the streets instead and suddenly it’s dark, dark, no streetlamps to light their way. yoongi, despite knowing that there’s nothing to be afraid of, tightens his hold on jeongguk’s hand and shuffles a little closer, staring up at the star-studded sky. he holds his breath, waiting. for a moment, he thinks he feels jeongguk pressing his face into yoongi’s hair, but it could be wind. it’s probably the wind.
then—the first light.
yoongi gasps as he spots it—a floating lantern that drifts up from farther down the street, in the crowd. he can’t decide if it’s magical or not, or just the wind and flame and something else, something that is magical but in an entirely normal way. the way that jeongguk is magical, the way that everything they’ve together is magical despite not being able to control magic themselves.
the first lantern is joined by a second, and then a third. and then suddenly, all around them: light. the entire street is cast in an orange and yellow glow as lanterns are lit and released into the air, swirling above them into the sky. yoongi is mesmerized, eyes wide and wanting as he watches the lanterns. the night is alive.
and then he feels jeongguk nudging him and he looks over to see—an unlit lantern in his free hand, and a crooked little grin on his lips as he holds it out to yoongi.
“what’s this?” he asks, taking the lantern carefully in his other hand, refusing to let go of jeongguk for even a moment.
“i thought you’d want to participate,” says jeongguk. he digs in his pocket, taking out a little lighter, and yoongi laughs as jeongguk lights the bottom of the lantern, watching as the little flames illuminate it like the others. and then yoongi pushes it into the air, watching as it floats up and up to join the others, lighting the sky and the streets below.
“it’s supposed to be good luck,” says jeongguk suddenly, right into his ear; his voice is soft, husky, and yoongi flushes as he keeps his eyes upward even with the other pressed against him. “letting go of what has happened in the first part of the year—all of the bad. sometimes even the good, because we can’t hold onto that forever or we’ll never have room for what more is to come. then the second half of the year can be even better than the first.”
what yoongi thinks of is: a harsh semester at school, sleepless nights, uncertainty about his future. he never knows if he’s making the right decision, heading in the right direction. what yoongi thinks of is this: family troubles, loneliness that bites during the night and sometimes during the day, convincing himself that not having friends in favour of having good grades is worth it.
what yoongi thinks of is this: meeting jeongguk. learning and understanding magic, and then learning and understanding that magic is not always something tangible, not always what wizards think it is. spending these days here with him and finally seeing, really seeing—and understanding and knowing.
yoongi turns his head just slightly, until he can see jeongguk standing closer closer, his face turned up to the sky as well, illuminated by the lanterns and something more. and in that moment, there’s nothing but clarity. there’s nothing but understanding.
jeongguk is his own special brand of magic. there’s magic in his eyes, when he’s gotten a bright idea or is trying to tease yoongi. there’s magic in his smile, whether it’s one with full bunny teeth on display or a little one, a secret one just for yoongi. there’s magic in his voice, when he sings or speaks or even cries. there’s magic in his hands—the way he holds yoongi’s so gently, so carefully, in the way that he writes and thinks and wants and wants and wants.
yoongi did not know that magic truly existed until wizards showed up at his school and he was swept up in this life, in this whirlwind adventure, but—he doesn’t care about that magic. he cares about this: jeongguk at his side, lighting up with something else. this world has rejected him over and over, but it’s only because they fail to see the truth of who jeongguk is.
but yoongi—yoongi sees it. he can’t stop seeing it. and he can’t stop feeling it, the way his heart skips in his chest, the way every part of him wants it all and more. they understand each other with something more, something fierce, but it’s more than just wanting to protect jeongguk and show him who he is. it’s wanting to do it every day and wanting jeongguk to be able to protect himself.
it’s wanting jeongguk to protect him, too.
too busy staring at jeongguk, yoongi doesn’t even notice when the lanterns burst into thousands of magnificent fireflies, all magic and hope, swirling through the air around them. he does notice, however, the way jeongguk’s smile widens into something even brighter than before, eyes wide and wondering as he looks at the display.
“why aren’t you looking?” murmurs jeongguk, still looking up.
and yoongi says—“i am.”
jeongguk turns his head, their noses brushing together with the proximity, and yoongi stays right where he is. their hands are still clasped tightly between them, fireflies like stars above them, and it’s all so clear. yoongi doesn’t know how he didn’t see it before.
“you’re supposed to make a wish,” whispers jeongguk. “of what you want for the rest of the year.”
he thinks—this. he thinks—he doesn’t know what will happen when they go home, but he’s always been good at clinging to things he refuses to lose, and jeongguk is one of them now. they’ve become wrapped up in each other’s lives, a part of each other in inexplicable ways, and maybe he’ll never get this back. maybe he’ll always live with the vague memory of magic and light, but he’ll always have jeongguk, his own special piece of magic. his own special piece of the sky.
“you go first,” he decides, rocking up slightly on his heels to bump their noses together again, and jeongguk is grinning, might be flushing, but it might be the light—yoongi stops thinking it. there’s nothing to be unsure of here.
jeongguk turns his face to the sky again, looking up at the fireflies. “i wish,” he says, “for more magical days. the kind of magic that you can’t get with a wand or a potion or a ring. the kind of magic you have to make on your own. i wish we would never forget this.”
“i wish for you,” says yoongi. “i wish you would see that you’re magical, too, and that magic doesn’t have to mean anything, anyway, not when you don’t want it to.”
“you’re supposed to wish for yourself, hyung,” says jeongguk.
“that is wishing for myself, in a way. because i don’t have to wish that we’ll go home and stick together and i won’t be afraid to ask you out on coffee dates in between classes; i’m certain of it already. i’m leaving nothing up to chance.”
there’s that spark again, that twist—it feels like magic, if he knew what magic felt like, deep in his gut. the chance of them meeting, the chance of this happening. it has to be magic. has to be fate, maybe, and yoongi is so, so certain of it. certain of his feelings, for the first time, and certain when jeongguk looks back to him—certain of what he sees there, too.
“you’re such a sap,” giggles jeongguk. the lights are fading, he realizes; the fireflies fleeing, the lanterns unlit. the festival is ending.
“i like you,” says yoongi. “in case that wasn’t clear. i really, really like you, and i think you’re magical in a way that none of these wizards or witches could ever understand and even though you kind of kidnapped me and everyone you know would hate me if they knew the truth, i am exponentially grateful that i’m here. we’re here.”
jeongguk does flush this time, he can tell; the streetlights are coming back on, people milling about, but they’re not moving. hands intertwined in the middle of the street, their own little bubble of silence and something more, something warm.
“i like you, too,” whispers jeongguk. “in case that wasn’t clear. you’re the only person who has ever made me feel proud of myself for what i have instead of disappointed for what i don’t have.”
“i’m sorry you’ve gone this long without feeling that.”
“i was just waiting for you.”
oh, he thinks. doesn’t that make sense?
he sees jeongguk leaning in closer, sees him tilting his head—yoongi’s breath stops entirely, realizing what is to come and how much he wants. how much it makes sense, this sort of quiet ending to so much magic. and this might be the most magical moment of it all, even without magic.
yoongi closes his eyes, waiting for it and waiting for it and wanting and wanting and—
jeongguk gasps, making yoongi’s eyes snap open again, pulling back slightly when he sees the surprise on the other’s face.
“my ring, hyung!” exclaims jeongguk. “i know what happened to it! i didn’t have it on when we were here yesterday. i caught hoseok-hyung snooping around my room in the morning and when i confronted him, he said something weird about magical objects. i think he stole it.”
yoongi, despite the happiness on jeongguk’s face, can only lean back and stare at him. “you… ruined our first kiss because of your fancy ring? and now the moment is gone just like that?”
and jeongguk, the little shit, just giggles, dipping forward to press a kiss to yoongi’s cheek instead. “yep,” he says, “but trust me, hyung, we’ll have plenty of opportunities to kiss later.” and then he’s rushing past yoongi, hands still attached, and tugging him down the street. “c’mon, let’s go home and make that bastard give it back.” yoongi really has no other choice.
the walk back to jeongguk’s grandmother’s house is long and slow and good. jeongguk holds his hand and swings it between them, grinning as they talk about the festival, about what they’ll do now that it’s over. what they’ll do when they get back to london. it’s been nine days since they left, and again, yoongi thinks of namjoon, wonders what he’s doing and how he’s coping with a missing best friend. he has no idea how he’ll explain his absence.
somehow, though, it’s not something he’s worried about. he’s never worried about anything with jeongguk, not anymore.
he swears he can still see fireflies when he looks up into the sky, some remnant of what happened at the festival, but maybe it’s just his imagination. part of him wishes, for the first time, that he could do magic, if only so he could recreate everything—the lights, the glow. so he could kiss jeongguk the way he wants, the way he deserves. but jeongguk is right, in the end—the first doesn’t have to be the best, because they’ll have so many after. he’s sure of it.
“the festival was really nice,” says yoongi, bumping their shoulders together as they walk. he can see the house ahead of them, lit up with trees surrounding it, but he wants to stay out here forever, on the long dirt road to it.
“i’m glad we happened to be here when it was on,” agrees jeongguk. “it was just like i remembered it as a kid, but… better. because you were with me.”
“now who’s the sap?”
“you’ve rubbed off on me.”
“ah, not yet, jeongukkie,” teases yoongi. “but maybe soon.”
he waits a beat, and then jeongguk lets out a groan and shoves him away, their hands slipping apart. “that’s gross,” he complains.
“you’re the one who said it!”
“i was trying to be cute.”
yoongi is giggling, turning back to him and reaching out for his hands, but jeongguk skirts around him, dodging all of his advances as he tries to keep his hands away. and he’s giggling, too, as yoongi starts chasing him down the road, zig-zagging and turning and twisting, and their laughter fills the night air and it’s good, it’s good. it’s so fucking good.
“c’mere,” complains yoongi, reaching out for him again, and jeongguk narrowly twists out of his grasp, giggling.
“you have to catch me first.”
“that’s not fair, you have longer legs than me!”
“it’s not my fault that you were born that way,” says jeongguk, sticking out his tongue and then turning and dashing toward the house and—“oh,” he lets out as he collides with something solid and yoongi stops three feet behind him, only now noticing the dark figure standing in the middle of the road. jeongguk stumbles backwards, and yoongi automatically reaches out for him, curling his hand into the back of the other’s coat as they press into each other.
the figure doesn’t move for a time. doesn’t speak, only cast in light by the moon, and yoongi swallows nervously as he glances toward the house—it’s a good quarter of a mile away yet, too far for safety.
yoongi can feel jeongguk breathing against him, back to yoongi’s chest. it’s erratic.
“hello?” calls out yoongi, trying to keep his voice even. something about this seems—wrong. “what are you doing in the middle of the road? we’d… like to pass.”
but neither of them moves, and neither does the figure.
then, from behind them—a pop, a noise that yoongi has now begun to associate with that teleporting thing, and he whips around in time to see—
“hello, boys,” says hoseok, and there’s that fucking smirk on his lips again. taehyung saunters along beside him, both of their wands held loosely in their hands. “how charming to run into you tonight.”
“what do you want?” asks jeongguk, voice hard. “and who is this?”
“oh, just a little friend,” says hoseok. they reach yoongi and jeongguk and then move past them, coming to rest beside the figure. “isn’t that right?”
there’s a nervous thrum to yoongi’s heart, and he can’t help thinking of the last time he saw hoseok. he’d seemed so thrilled to think that yoongi was a squib, too, and he knows that those wands are dangerous now. his hand tightens in jeongguk’s coat.
“what do you want?” asks jeongguk, voice trembling just slightly.
“why don’t you tell them, taehyung?” asks hoseok. “since it was your idea and all.”
taehyung smirks, matching hoseok’s; he taps his wand against his chin, says, “hoseok-hyung told me all about your little troubles, jeongguk-ah. running from someone who wants to hurt you because you’re a squib, hm? and i thought—that’s a bit sad. not for you, of course, but for them, since they probably didn’t know where you ran off to. but it was only after your friend here turned out to be a filthy little squib too that i thought… why shouldn’t they know?”
yoongi’s eyes flicker to the figure, the pieces finally fitting together—and his heart plummets as he realizes what’s about to happen the moment before it does, and he’s already lunging sideways with his grip still in jeongguk’s coat to drag him along before hoseok says, “they’re all yours,” and the figure flings its hood off.
yoongi doesn’t see—just bolts for the cover of the trees lining the path because he knows. he knows that this can’t mean anything good and he has to do everything to protect himself and jeongguk. he pulls jeongguk into his side as he ducks behind the first tree; something hits the ground beside them, causing the area to explode into a shower of dirt and rocks.
“what the fuck,” jeongguk breathes but yoongi keeps running—the next tree and the next, further and further into the orchard. with the cover of night, whoever is attacking them can’t see, but that also means that yoongi can’t see where they are. there’s another explosion directly behind them and jeongguk lets out a shriek, nearly colliding with yoongi as he takes off faster than the other, bolting further into the trees.
footsteps echo behind them and yoongi is breathing hard, heart pounding in his ears as jeongguk’s hand finds his, their fingers tangling together as the other pulls him in a different direction, toward the house.
“c’mon, squibs!” calls someone behind them—hoseok. “don’t you want to play?”
the fear spikes in yoongi—they think this is a game. they think this is funny, knowing that whoever they brought here wants to hurt them or take them somewhere, and the possibility of where that could be has bile filling yoongi’s throat.
“they ratted you out?” breathes yoongi as jeongguk runs, pulling him through the trees. he tugs yoongi behind one with a thick trunk, breathing heavily as they listen to the sounds behind them. yoongi squeezes his eyes shut, trying to keep himself from getting sick.
“that’s why they stole my ring,” jeongguk whispers. “they were planning this and they stole my ring because they know it’s the only way i can communicate with my family. and now they’re just—hunting us like animals—”
the tree behind them bursts open, throwing yoongi and jeongguk forward with the force of the magic. yoongi can’t help letting out a shriek as he hits the ground, pain blossoming in his shoulder as he rolls and tries to get up again. jeongguk still hasn’t let go of his hand, not even as laughter fills the air too close behind them, and yoongi mutters a, “c’mon,” before he’s running again, pulling jeongguk with him.
the truth is, he has no idea what’s happening, he has to idea if jeongguk is right—if the person chasing them is indeed the person who was chasing jeongguk in the beginning, the reason that they ran from england in the first place. and how vindictive, how horrifying that hoseok and taehyung decided to bring them here, if that’s the case. and here they are, laughing and laughing as yoongi and jeongguk run for their lives.
what will happen if they are caught?
suddenly, jeongguk lets out a cry—he stumbles, taking yoongi down with him, and yoongi gasps as he turns and sees that there’s a rope around the other’s ankle, tying him back to the witch or wizard further back in the trees.
“fuck,” breathes yoongi, panicking as he lunges for the rope, terrified. he tries to drag jeongguk with him, but it’s not working, ends up desperately trying to find a way to undo somehow even if it’s magical—it’s not so hard after all, not so difficult when he’s using his muggle mind. this person is relying on magic alone, and yoongi is certain that there’s a solution to it that they’re not thinking of.
he sees it—he grabs jeongguk’s ankle even with the high pitched whining noise that the other is making, panicking; yoongi tears off jeongguk’s shoe, slipping his foot through the noose of the rope before he’s off running again. the house looms closer, closer, but not close enough—
“you can’t run forever!” taehyung yells. they’re closer than they were last time, and yoongi knows he’s right. they can’t run forever. they have to use their minds, have to figure out how to best magic with muggle means.
they don’t have jeongguk’s ring, so they can’t contact his family. and then—yoongi remembers.
“the card,” he gasps, pulling jeongguk back against another tree, pressing his back against it as his hands tremble into his coat pocket, trying to find what he’s looking for. he’d taken it yesterday, put it in here—
“what?” breathes jeongguk, peering around the tree.
yoongi finds it, pulling out the card and holding it up between them. jeongguk stares for a moment, and then recognition flashes in his eyes.
“jimin,” he whispers. “park jimin.”
the card glows a cool blue.
“help us!” yoongi shouts to the card—too loud, a distance there! behind them—“help us, oh my god, we’re being attacked.”
“by the jeon house,” jeongguk adds quickly. “we’re not the ones with wands.”
there’s a whistling behind them, like a missile, and yoongi takes off again, fumbling with the card and dropping it as they get out of the way of the next explosion that rocks the area near the tree they were hiding behind. he has to believe that jimin will get the message as they take off for the house again, swooping between trees in an attempt to lose the three that are following them. he can still hear laughter, hoseok and taehyung enjoying every bit of this, and they narrowly escape spell after spell as yoongi begins to lose hope, and they’re going to get caught, and something awful is going to happen to them.
and then there’s a loud pop that rings out in the night air and yoongi’s heart seizes into his chest.
“here!” shouts yoongi as he dashes into the road again, moonlight finally casting over him. he can see the newcomer in the road, looks like the man they met only briefly yesterday—“jimin-ssi! they’re—there!”
he sees two figures beyond jimin in the road, probably taehyung and hoseok, and jimin turns toward them with his wand out. hope flutters within him, although it’s three against one and he knows they need more. still—there’s a crackling sound and one of the boys shouts something about his wand and then jimin is taking off the other way, toward yoongi and jeongguk.
“what’s happening?” he calls, and yoongi skirts toward the edge of the road, into shadow.
“i’m a squib,” says jeongguk, and yoongi can feel how hard he’s trembling. “they want to hurt me. please—don’t let them.”
jimin isn’t close enough for yoongi to gauge his reaction to the news, but the words are enough—“i won’t.” then—“how many?”
“three,” breathes yoongi. “can you contact the jeons to let them know?”
jimin nods, and then he’s flicking his wand and a little transparent dog bursts out of the end of the wood, bounding onto the ground beside them. vaguely, yoongi can hear shouting down the road, but he pays no mind to it, too busy staring at the little dog that circles around jimin’s feet.
“go,” says jimin, pointing to the house. “tell them that their son is in danger and they must come at once.” the dog takes off, bounding down the road with frightening speed, and then jimin turns to them.
“thank you,” says jeongguk.
“it’s my pleasure,” says the other man. “now—hide. i can take care of these idiots until help arrives.”
yoongi isn’t sure he’s ever felt so grateful—or so worried for another person. he doesn’t want jimin to get hurt, but he has to remember that the wizard has probably been trained in this sort of thing considering his job. and injuries don’t last so long in the wizarding world, thanks to magic itself. besides, jeongguk doesn’t bother to hesitate, just pulls yoongi into the trees again, heading for the house with the darkened path to lead them.
soon enough, shouts and explosions ring out behind them, strange whistling sounds and other noises that keep yoongi glancing backwards. it’s like a strange light show as spells light up the night sky, jimin defending himself against three. he hears an unfamiliar cry, tightens his hold on jeongguk’s hand as they duck through the trees.
and then—more popping fills the air. relief floods yoongi as he pulls jeongguk to a stop, peering out into the path to see two more figures in the road: reinforcements. they’re going to be okay.
“i can’t believe this,” says jeongguk after a moment, the both of them standing and watching as the duel begins—three against three this time, light and spells flying between the pairs. “i can’t believe my own family could betray me like this. i want to go down there and kick his fucking ass myself—”
“hey, that’s not a good idea,” says yoongi. “your parents can deal with it. and they’re not going to get you, so it’s fine.”
still, he can feel the anger radiating off of jeongguk—they’re both still breathing hard from running, the panic and fear not having disappeared from yoongi’s chest either. he knows they’ll be fine now but he’s still worried, not wanting the others to get hurt. and what will happen now that the confrontation has happened? where will they go?
they watch for a few more moments, and then yoongi can’t take the uneasy feeling in his gut.
“c’mon,” he breathes. “let’s get to the house.”
yoongi turns and pulls jeongguk down the path, and the other lets go of his hand to jog ahead, too eager to get going, and yoongi—pauses, hears something strange. like a twig snapping underfoot, or a rustling in the trees. he stops walking, watching as jeongguk goes on ahead, and it’s only because he’s looking that he sees it: the figure in the trees.
all at once, it’s like time slows down and he thinks—of course. their attackers wouldn’t show up without reinforcements too, wouldn’t come all this way just to leave without their kill. and with hoseok, taehyung, and the first attacker locked in battle, yoongi and jeongguk have been lured into a false sense of security.
“hyung,” says jeongguk, turning back to look at him, but yoongi is already running again, heading straight for the figure in the trees with their wand out, pointed straight at jeongguk—it’s all yoongi can see, suddenly: jeongguk bleeding, injured, tied up and carried back to england as a sort of sacrifice for some fanatic determined to prove themselves to an insane wizard who thinks he can take over the world.
and yoongi told himself that he would protect jeongguk. but it’s more than that, he realizes, as he runs headlong toward a wizard without any plan of action other than this thump thump thump of his heart—he’s going to put jeongguk before himself. because that’s what you do when you love someone.
yoongi does the first thing he can think of as he sprints through the trees, drawing closer and closer; the figure turns to him, wand still pointed toward jeongguk, and he just—throws himself forward, tackling the figure to the ground. because a body is always going to work against magic, a force that can’t quite be reckoned with.
he grunts as they hit the ground, a solid body beneath him, and he scrambles to grab the figure’s wand, knocking it out of their hand with desperation.
“you fucking—” he hears; it’s a woman’s voice, angry as she claws at him, and jeongguk is yelling something at him but he tries to hold onto the woman, to keep her here so that she can’t do any damage.
he doesn’t anticipate her punching him in the face, though, and yoongi cries out as he’s knocked backwards, pain blooming in his cheek where he cradles it. jeongguk yells his name, but he’s too busy to hear it and respond, letting go of the woman as his hands fly to his face, and then he’s vaguely aware of her scrambling up, grabbing her wand.
when yoongi looks up next, it’s pointed at him.
she says, “two birds, one stone.” she says,”crucio.”
and everything goes—white.
at first, that’s all it is: white. white noise, white sky, a sort of blinding where he can’t feel anything but he knows it’s loud. he feels himself arching off of the ground for just a moment—a moment of confusion, wondering, and then. then. it hits him: the pain. not just pain, but something screaming through him, ripping over every inch of his body. yoongi can’t breathe, suddenly, as it takes over him, pain and pain and pain and it won’t stop. he can’t even scream as everything is knocked out of him, and all he knows is this: something white hot, something immeasurable.
yoongi doesn’t know what dying feels like, but this—is worse. vaguely, he’s aware that he’s writhing on the ground, noises leaving his mouth, but he can’t feel it, can only feel the pain, like knives and blades and more and more. he can hear someone screaming. he can hear—something. something. yoongi wants it to end, can’t form a coherent enough thought to make it stop, to beg for it.
the pain stretches on and on. it’s all white, all red, all black, all something and it hurts, it hurts. he wants to die, he thinks. he would rather die than feel this, the pain taking over his entire body as it seems to take hours, years—a lifetime, a lifetime.
he hears his name—it sounds like jeongguk. the pain crescendos in his body, breaking him over and over and then—
sweet, blessed nothing.
for seconds that seem to stretch into forever, yoongi stares up at the dark canopy of the night sky above him. and he breathes, and he feels it—the rise and fall of his chest, the pain gone so suddenly that he doesn’t know what to do with its absence. he can hear again: screaming, yelling. there are thundering footsteps, and his name again, maybe jeongguk, but—all he can remember is this pain, and the numbness that has come in its wake.
he can’t focus on it. the sound of the duel rages on around him, and scuffling, and shouting. there’s a sudden flash of light that takes over the entire sky, and—nothing. is it over? someone is at his side, patting his body, holding his face and looking into it; yoongi makes his eyes move, trying to focus in something other than the memory of the pain as he sees: seokjin.
“yoongi!” he shouts, and everything snaps into place, suddenly. “yoongi, are you okay?”
yoongi blinks. he hears jeongguk’s grandmother’s voice. it’s scolding, almost—hears jimin’s voice, talking to something and telling it to bring the officers. maybe it’s the dog again. and yoongi is still staring at seokjin as he hears the struggle only a few feet away, more swearing, threats—like someone has been captured, waiting for arrest. it must be over. it must be must be must be needs to be has to be.
“did they hurt you?” asks seokjin, and how does yoongi say yes but no, how can he describe what he felt as he suddenly feels the absence greater than ever, but it’s not the absence of pain, it’s the absence of—something more.
“yoongi-hyung?” he hears and—oh. that. the something more.
suddenly, he’s sitting upright, hauled there by seokjin, and yoongi sees someone through the trees, out on the path. he blinks again, and it comes to him, this clarity: it’s jeongguk. his jeongguk, and it’s like. all of the fear and panic and worry bubbles up in him at once, and it comes to a head as need. a need for comfort, a need for more, a need to make sure that everything is in its proper place. he thinks of the pain. he thinks of the fear.
they almost almost almost lost each other, didn’t they?
yoongi clambers to his feet, and his legs remember to walk, miraculously—he darts out of the trees as he sees jeongguk run toward him, and it’s there, it’s all there. they meet in the middle, colliding like these two worlds of theirs, from the very beginning.
this time, they stick. yoongi clings to jeongguk, feels hands digging into his back so tightly that it hurts, but it’s a good pain for once, what he needs and wants and he can’t stop it, can’t stop the tears that form and then spill over onto his cheeks as he presses his face into jeongguk’s neck and lets go, lets himself sob.
they’re safe. they’re safe and he’s crying for the fear and the pain, but for this, too, for knowing that it didn’t happen. they’re here.
“hyung,” says jeongguk, and it’s broken, he’s crying, too; yoongi sobs loudly into his neck, holding him even tighter. “hyung.” he feels a hand in the back of his hair, stroking down his neck and he cries and he cries and he doesn’t want to let go, can’t let go. this is it, he thinks. this is what he has, what he almost lost, and how could he almost lose it? how could he come this close and how could anyone think that taking jeongguk away would make the world a better place?
and worse—the pain of it. the pain of the magic, the pain that still reverberates through him even though it’s just the ghost of it, just a memory. he needs jeongguk closer still, heart pounding in his chest as he lets all of it bleed out of him.
“hyung, are you okay?” whispers jeongguk and yoongi just—shakes his head, pressing himself closer closer closer. the absolute trauma of it keeps him shaking, trembling. he holds jeongguk like this and he cries like this.
jeongguk kisses the side of his temple first, just gentle—then the side of his face, then his cheek, pulling back and forcing yoongi away so that he can grab his face. and yoongi keeps his eyes closed, tears running hot and heavy down his cheeks as he feels it. but he can’t look, can’t see what it is. doesn’t want to.
he feels it, though: a kiss on his forehead, first, then each of his eyes. his nose. yoongi gasps, feels like he’s drowning in it and maybe it’s because jeongguk grew up around magic that it isn’t so terrifying for him. almost being caught, maybe, but—he can’t know what it feels like, to believe that magic could be beautiful and then be crushed by it, tortured.
yoongi tries to find the words to say. in the end, he just opens his eyes and blinks away more tears that form there, and he looks at jeongguk and he tilts his head up and it’s enough, it’s enough.
jeongguk finally kisses him.
briefly, he wonders what it would have been like otherwise. maybe here, on this very moonlit path, with the stars looking down on them and nothing more. and it would have been gentle like this, too, soft and careful. it still would have been a kiss. and this, too, is a kiss: one of comfort, perhaps, and reassurance. but a kiss nonetheless.
jeongguk kisses him better. kisses him whole, kisses him painless. it’s just a gentle press of their lips together and yoongi parts his mouth for it, lets jeongguk pull back just slightly until he kisses him again and again—top lip, bottom lip. lets him take away everything that has frightened him, hurt him. yoongi’s hands are still curled into the back of jeongguk’s coat, desperate.
but jeongguk is here—kissing him. yoongi keeps his eyes closed when jeongguk pulls back for the last time and leans their foreheads together, breathing into each other’s space.
he says, “hyung.” he says, “i’ve got you.”
he says, “we’re okay.”
what yoongi says is, “i almost lost you.”
and jeongguk says, “you didn’t.”
and that’s it.
an hour later, yoongi is sitting against one of the trees, a blanket wrapped around his shoulders. everything is still a little hazy, painful. he’s shaken both by the attack and by the spell; someone explains to him that it’s called an unforgiveable curse, that the woman who used it on him will spend a lifetime in prison for using it. a handful of magical policemen litter the area, dealing with the aftermath of the duel—arresting who needs to be arrested, trying to sort out what happened.
yoongi doesn’t know either. all he knows is that jeongguk’s grandmother showed up and it ended just like that: old, powerful magic—their saviour. and jeongguk sits next to him, his head on yoongi’s shoulder as they wait and wait.
what happens is this: someone tells the policemen that yoongi is a muggle. they have to, for safety reasons. yoongi is too busy staring into the darkness of the trees to notice the reaction, but he doubts it’s a kind one. jeongguk squeezes his hand beneath the blanket, and he thinks—jeongguk’s opinion is the only one that matters. jeongguk loves him anyway. (jeongguk was the one who stopped the witch from hurting him, too—took a note from yoongi’s book and just tackled her. snapped her wand. yoongi will be grateful for it later, he’s sure, when he’s not so shaken by everything else.)
what happens is this: the policemen decide that it isn’t within their jurisdiction to deal with yoongi, since he’s a british citizen. they can deal with taehyung and hoseok and the other two who attacked them, considering the crime happened on korean soil, but the british ministry will need to deal with the muggle.
what happens is this: jeongguk carefully leads yoongi back into the house, up the stairs, into the bedroom that they’ve shared for over a week. he tucks yoongi into bed, kisses his forehead, and then disappears for an hour. yoongi can imagine what he’s doing—discussing with his parents what will happen now. they’re safe to go back home, but going back home means dealing with yoongi, and even with haziness that finally begins to wear off, yoongi is well aware that dealing with him can’t have a good ending.
still. when jeongguk comes back, creeping into the dark room, yoongi finds himself holding his breath.
“hyung,” whispers jeongguk. “are you awake?”
yoongi makes a grunting noise, turning over and turning on the lamp. he sees jeongguk—red-rimmed eyes, even in the faint light of the lamp. he’s afraid to hear the rest of it, but knows he must.
“c’mere,” says yoongi, shifting in the bed. he pulls back the covers, letting jeongguk slide in beside him, and they sit against the headboard together, and yoongi thinks about—trauma. thinks about the procedure for medical students, thinks about the classes that he’s taken about how shock can change everything. how the body reacts to things like this, the mind. he never thought he’d experience it himself, even if there’s a lack of injury to show for it. despite all of the pain, there’s not a mark on his body.
when jeongguk doesn’t say anything, just loops their arms together and lets his head fall against yoongi’s shoulder again, yoongi knows: it’s nothing good. nothing hopeful. still, he has to ask, so he does—“what’s going to happen to me?”
“i tried arguing with them,” replies jeongguk. “but there’s only one option for muggles that are exposed to the magical world, especially at such a degree as you.” he hears jeongguk sniff, just gently. despite not knowing what that option is, yoongi feels his own eyes begin to grow wet. and he waits and waits but the words don’t come, and jeongguk turns his face into yoongi’s shoulder and lets out a quiet sort of cry, which is worse than knowing.
yoongi turns his head, too, so he press a kiss to the top of jeongguk’s head. it’s his turn to comfort. “what is it, baby?” he asks.
“you’re going to be obliviated.”
first: yoongi searches his memories of the past week. tries to remember if jeongguk ever spoke about it, ever explained it. there’s so much he’s forgotten about the magical world already, but he doesn’t know this one, he thinks. jeongguk is crying into his shoulder, though, and he’s afraid to ask but he has to—“what does that mean?”
he hears jeongguk try to stop crying. hears him take a deep breath, and he looks up to yoongi with those red eyes, wet cheeks.
“it means,” says jeongguk, “that they’re going to take your memories. of all of this—it’s going to be like the past nine days haven’t happened at all. they’ll make you forget about the magical world and what happened here, and it’ll be like hitting a reset button up until the day of the attack on the school. you won’t remember any of this.”
it’s like—time freezes, for just a second.
“i won’t… remember this?” he asks quietly.
jeongguk shakes his head. another tear escapes him, running down his pretty face, and he adds, “or me.”
yoongi thinks about… the orchard. the spell that caused him to feel so much pain, the white nothingness of it. he thinks about the only coherent thought he had—nothing could be worse, nothing could be worse. not even death. now, he thinks—he was wrong. there is something that could be worse.
“they’ll erase your memories of magic,” continues jeongguk quietly. “and they’ll modify your memories of the attack on the school so that there’s no magical explanation for it. you’ll wake up the next morning and you won’t remember coming here or the zoo or the festival or…” there’s a hitch in his breath, a sniff—kissing you, yoongi thinks.
“you’ll wake up,” says jeongguk, “and you won’t know the magical world exists. you won’t know i’m a squib and you won’t know that you—you like me.” love, yoongi thinks. that’s what it is. it’s what it has to be. “i’ll just be… a stranger.”
he’s trying to remember the jeongguk from that morning at school, when he and namjoon were discussing first years throwing their lives away. jeon jeongguk was just another student, some kid that he’d seen around once or twice. someone he didn’t have much of an interest in, and—magic was how they learned to become friends and then more. this solidarity, this understanding of each other and their struggles. yoongi tries to imagine not feeling this fierce compassion and protectiveness over jeongguk, tries to imagine looking at him and just seeing a face and not everything he wants for the future.
it’s impossible. impossible, but it’ll have to do. it will.
it’s only then that yoongi begins to cry, that he feels the tears welling in his eyes just like the first time. and he lets his head fall back against the headboard with a thunk, closing his eyes and trying to swallow down whatever might come up—the sobs of it. this heart wrenching sort of agony and sorrow. it’s not fair. it’s not fair.
“how can they just take away feelings like that?” he whispers wetly. “how can they just turn you into a stranger?”
“you were never supposed to know,” replies jeongguk. “you were never supposed to be here. they don’t care about feelings, hyung, they just want to get rid of you because y-you’re a danger now.”
yoongi can’t help but laugh. logically, he understands—the magical world wants to remain a secret, too afraid of what would happen otherwise, and now that he knows, he knows too much. knowledge, like magic, is a weapon. he could tell others, he could rat them out, he could start a revolution. but the irony of it all is that yoongi likes secrets and would keep this one, too.
all he wants is the knowledge of jeongguk. fuck the rest of the magical world—the spells and creatures and politics. all he wants is this—jeongguk resting against him, holding onto him so tightly. the ability to do more, have more. this connection that he’s found, two lonely people colliding in the middle of it all. and they’re going to take that away, too.
he wipes at his cheeks, even though it doesn’t stem the flow of tears. it’s silent this time—and maybe that’s worse.
“what do we do?” yoongi finally whispers. there has to be something. there’s always something.
“we can’t do anything,” jeongguk says. he presses his cheek to yoongi’s shoulder, melding and melding. “it’s the government. tomorrow, we have to bring you to them and that’s it.”
“but what about—” yoongi opens his eyes, realization dawning on him. “what about you?”
jeongguk laughs, just a little. “i’ll remember,” he says. “they don’t care about my memories because i already know everything. you’ll look at me and see no one but i’ll look at you and see… everything.”
and maybe that’s the worse part. the idea that jeongguk will have to suffer through it—remembering the days they spent here, remembering the way they fell together and then fell into something more. the kisses, the duel. this. he’ll remember yoongi’s resistance. he’ll remember saying goodbye. and yoongi will only have blankness in his eyes when he looks back, and that’s not fair, that jeongguk will have to bear the burden alone.
“i’m sorry,” whispers yoongi. “i’m sorry, i’m sorry—”
“what if i don’t like you?” asks yoongi. “what if we can’t be friends again, what if i don’t fall in love with you, what if you just walk around for the rest of your life knowing this is what we could have had but we don’t because our entire relationship was built on something i can no longer know?” and—he has more faith in them than that. but it’s the only thing he can think of, suddenly.
jeongguk shifts beside him, and yoongi dares to look over at him. both of their faces are wet, and neither of them moves to fix that. they just look at each other, and yoongi sees all the sorrow, all the desperation.
but he sees that fierceness, too, the one so typical of jeongguk.
“do you believe in fate, hyung?” asks jeongguk. “i do. i really, really do. and i believe that all of this happened for a reason, even if you’re not going to remember it. and it’ll hurt for me to remember it, but i think i’m supposed to, so that i can strive for something like this. what we have after this won’t—won’t be the same. it can never be the same, because you’re right, this relationship was built on the fact that i’m a squib and you’re a muggle. but we’ll have another relationship. and i’ll make sure that it happens and it’ll be built on something else, but that doesn’t mean it’s any worse. it’s just—different.”
it’s childish, yoongi knows, to say that he doesn’t want a different relationship with jeongguk. he likes this one, likes how it makes him feel. likes thinking that even though they nearly died or something similar, they’re closer now. and when he wakes up in two days, three, and every day after that, it’ll be uncharted territory. and yoongi is afraid of that: the unknown.
“we’re going to be okay, hyung,” whispers jeongguk. “i promise. if we can do this once, we can do it again. we can do it as many times as it takes.”
“i’m sorry you have to do it alone,” says yoongi. “i’m sorry i won’t remember that we have to try.”
“it’s okay,” says jeongguk, even though it’s not. “i already know you like me. and i know who you are and i know what you like, so maybe i can manipulate it a bit. i believe in second chances.”
maybe that’s what he likes about jeongguk—his optimism. they’re staring in the face of something horrifying and wrong and awful, but he still believes in the best. still believes that they’ll find a way to make it work, no matter what yoongi is trying to say. and he doesn’t want to forget this, but he will. that won’t stop him from trying to memorize every part of jeongguk’s face, to try to store all of this somewhere so far in his memory that even magic can’t touch it.
he’ll keep this for himself: the way jeongguk’s lips curl at the corners when he’s thinking of something. and this: the tuft of hair at the back of his head that won’t lay down properly when he’s woken up, and how he complained about it for nine days straight until he found the right product for it hidden away in the bathroom. and this: how jeongguk held his hand, shyly at first, and then with confidence, their fingers fitting together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
the magic will take it all from him, but they can’t take this: this beating of his heart, this yearning for something more. and how he reaches out, finally, fingers trembling as he slides his hand over jeongguk’s neck and pulls him in until he can rest their foreheads together, brush their noses.
“bunny kisses,” whispers jeongguk, and yoongi—can’t help the gasping cry that leaves him. it can’t take this, he tells himself. it can’t take this.
maybe if he tries hard enough—
“please kiss me,” whispers yoongi, and jeongguk does—so like the first time, slotting their mouths together gently and carefully. there’s a hand curled in the front of his shirt, pulling him closer, but there’s some sort of desperation behind it, behind his own actions. this is the only night they have. the only time they have together, and he wants more. he’ll get more, but not here. not in this way, and jeongguk is right; yoongi is certain that they’ll have a second chance.
but what he wants is the first one. what he wants is this—in this universe, this timeline. he wants the magic and the aching and the memory of every bad thing that has pushed them together and how they turned it good. so he kisses jeongguk like they have no time, because they have no time.
it’s heated then, and yoongi tugs jeongguk into his lap. he kisses slow and deep, mouth opening for yoongi to taste, and yoongi thinks he can taste the salt there, the sadness. it’s not what he wants but he needs it, will take it anyway.
he kisses jeongguk and it’s harsh, it’s unfair. then—the smallest movement of jeongguk’s hips against his, slow and deliberate and yoongi pulls back just a bit, lets jeongguk chase after him and plant another kiss against his bottom lip.
says, “i won’t remember this.”
jeongguk kisses him again. “i will,” he says.
and—that’s enough, isn’t it?
here, they make their own sort of magic. it’s quiet and desperate and wanting, wanting, wanting. yoongi tells himself that they can’t take this either: the feeling of jeongguk’s body against his, all skin and warmth and heat. they can’t take the noises that jeongguk makes, high in his throat, or the feeling of their limbs wrapped together. they can’t take this belonging, this knowledge that he’ll never get anything better.
they can’t take jeongguk wrapping himself so carefully around yoongi, whispering in his ear. can’t take the hand in his hair, the sweat-slick desperation of it. they can’t take the utter ecstasy, either, and yoongi is certain, so certain that they can’t take the look on jeongguk’s face when it’s all over, this sort of lazy resignation. this hopeful ending. something to look forward to, yoongi thinks. that’s all he has now: the memory, and the thought that maybe it’ll be something like this. maybe it’ll be worse.
maybe it’ll be better.
jeongguk kisses him to sleep. heavy limbs, heavy hearts—they fall asleep wrapped up in each other, the last night. it’s better than magic. it will be again.
yoongi isn’t sure what he was expecting. it’s not this, though—a red phone booth on a street corner, completely non-descript. still, there’s a certain eeriness to it, but maybe it has more to do with what it means for him. it’s seokjin who is taking him inside, considering he’s the one who works at the ministry. now the older man stands beside him, and despite the hostility between them from the very beginning, he says, “i’ll, uh… give you two a moment.”
briefly, yoongi watches seokjin go. he doesn’t go far, just down the street, like he’s looking for something. and then yoongi takes a short breath and turns around and—there’s jeongguk. there’s that bravery he’s had on since they woke up, when they packed up the few belongings they had along and met the rest of the family for their portkey back to england.
it looks a bit like jeongguk is smelling something he doesn’t like, but yoongi won’t tell him that. he knows—knows jeongguk is trying to be brave for him, because yoongi is terrified. not only of losing the memories, but of what it’ll be like—if it’ll hurt, if they’ll take more than they should. if he’ll forget jeongguk entirely, somehow, even though that’s not supposed to happen.
more than that, though, jeongguk is trying to be brave for himself. last night, he was comforting yoongi, but now it’s different—not he’s being faced with the fact that he will be the only one to remember, and it might be harder than he thought to get back what they once had. and so yoongi pushes down his own fears, reaching out for jeongguk’s hands and pulling him closer.
“hey,” he whispers. there are already tears shining in jeongguk’s eyes despite his bravery. and yoongi grins at it, squeezing his eyes.
“hi,” whispers jeongguk.
jeongguk lets out a wet laugh.
“okay, wrong thing to ask,” says yoongi, but he’s grinning a little, too. somehow, he woke up hopeful—he woke up believing in everything jeongguk said last night, about finding each other again. about fate. “it’s like you said. we’re gonna be fine and you might have to work a little at it, but it’s just… it’s me. you know me. we were friends once, so we can do it again.”
the other boy nods, just a little. “what if we’re just friends, though? what if you don’t love me again?”
“impossible,” says yoongi. “it’s impossible not to fall in love with you. i didn’t love you because of magic, jeongguk-ah. and i’m sorry that you have to hide part of yourself from me again, but you are still all of you even if i don’t know that you’re a squib. okay?”
jeongguk nods. “okay,” he whispers back.
there’s the sound of someone clearing their throat near them and yoongi looks over to see seokjin has returned, impatient. something seizes yoongi’s heart, suddenly—this is it. this is goodbye, but only for so long. and he won’t remember it, but he’s telling himself it now, that things will be okay. they have to be. if magic could bring them together and then rip them apart, they’ll do without it.
“i have to go,” he whispers as he turns back to jeongguk. “love you, guk-ah.”
“love you, too, hyung,” jeongguk says, and his cheeks are pink—they’d said it last night, caught in the heat of the moment, but this is different. it’s new, and it’ll be new again. yoongi glances both ways, makes sure that no one is watching before he tugs jeongguk into him and kisses him on the lips, soft and quick and so, so good. his lips can’t forget it. his hands won’t forget how jeongguk fits in them. he’s sure of it.
and then. he lets go.
“find me,” says yoongi. “it’ll work out.”
“bye, hyung,” whispers jeongguk, and there are tears in his eyes again, heavier this time. yoongi swallows tightly, keeping himself from returning as seokjin opens the door to the phone booth and gestures for him to get in. yoongi takes a deep breath and then does, turning to peer at jeongguk from inside.
the other boy gives him a little wave. seokjin punches in a few numbers on the phone, and the last thing yoongi sees of jeongguk is that brave face again, that determination still bright and loud—they’ll make it work. they will.
and then—it’s like yoongi was never really there.
often, yoongi wonders why he decided to go into medicine. he knows he likes helping people, wants to make them better, but it’s times like these when he debates whether it’s all worth it: the sleepless nights, the studying, the knowledge that he’ll likely never have a real life once he gets into the workforce and into a hospital. worst of all: the summer classes. he wants a real summer for once, but instead, he’s sitting on the lawn of guy’s campus in king’s college, staring down at a textbook that is beginning to make no sense.
“i was really hoping they would have cancelled classes for longer than a week after the side of the building crumbled,” sighs yoongi, looking over to the brick of the building that has since been repaired. it was a freak accident, something about water damage or bad foundation. yoongi didn’t know that a brick building could crumble like that, but he’s not going to question it.
“we would have just had to have worked twice as hard to make up for it,” says namjoon, sitting next to him. unfortunately, it’s a good point.
still—yoongi sighs again. leaning back against his hands as he gives up staring at the textbook for now. he can hardly remember what they were working on. “only a month left, innit?” he asks. “we should go somewhere as a celebration. like… south korea.”
namjoon looks at him, raising an eyebrow. “why south korea?”
“for our roots, joon-ah,” says yoongi. “haven’t you ever wanted to go to south korea?”
namjoon just shrugs—he’s probably been before. yoongi doesn’t think he ever has, although he can feel the need to, this sort of connection he has to the country beyond his heritage. in any case, he puts it out of his mind, instead casting a glance around the lawn in search of something more interesting to pay attention to. the homework will remain and he can do more of it later.
yoongi looks at the other students, some medical and some otherwise, where they’re lounging on the grass with their textbooks or their lunch. all of them are paying attention to their own lives, except—
“isn’t that that jeon kid?” asks yoongi, nudging namjoon with his foot. the younger boy is sitting across the lawn, looking at him. or—maybe he’s looking at him. maybe he’s just looking in their general direction.
“yeah,” says namjoon with a shrug. “he’s going into his second year, i think.”
“poor bastard,” sighs yoongi. “i feel like we ought to warn him, tell him that it’s not too late to switch majors. also… i swear i’ve caught him staring at us every day for the past week. bit creepy.”
“you do look stupid most of the time, though,” says namjoon. “i’d stare at you, too.”
yoongi aims a kick toward the other student, grumbling when namjoon just laughs at him and turns back to his textbook. jeongguk isn’t looking at them anymore, and yoongi sighs, turning back to his work.
“you could just go talk to him,” says namjoon. “if you’re going to awkwardly stare at each other from across the lawn the whole time.”
and it’s—weird, maybe, that yoongi feels something about that. he doesn’t know jeongguk very well, only ever having had a few conversations here and there that never really led anywhere. but he feels like he knows jeongguk on a different level, feels like there’s something that connects them. he doesn’t know why, but he does want to know him, like there’s some part of his mind that has locked away another life where they were something more.
or—maybe that’s just the sleep deprivation talking.
“i’m busy,” grumbles yoongi, picking up his textbook again.
“you’re lazy and afraid that he won’t like you,” says namjoon, which is not correct, at all.
yoongi makes another grumbling noise, one meant to disagree with namjoon, and focuses on the words of the text in front of him. he has an assignment due tomorrow, but he’s done that one, and there’s another due on monday, but it’s a group project so of course he’s paired himself with namjoon and they’ll work on it over the weekend and namjoon will make sure it’s perfect so it doesn’t really need to worry about that one and then there’s—
yoongi’s head snaps upward, blinking as he sees someone blocking out the sun, just a dark figure for a moment. and then—he blinks, eyes adjusting.
he swears he can hear namjoon snickering beside him, but yoongi just clears his throat, blinking again before he says, “hello?”
jeongguk looks vaguely nervous, rubbing at the back of his neck before he says, “i know this is kind of weird, but uh—i was wondering if you would be able to give me some help with this assignment i’m doing? since you’ve already done all of the classes i’m taking before, i was hoping that you might be able to lead me in the right direction.”
“me?” asks yoongi after a moment. “why not namjoon?”
“no offense,” says jeongguk, “but i think you’ll be able to help me more.”
“none taken,” remarks namjoon, and yoongi is still. confused. he’s a good student, of course, but namjoon is the one that actually tutors younger medical students, so it makes no sense that jeongguk would want to talk to him. then again—jeongguk has been looking at him for a week straight, and there’s something in his eyes now. something like nerves or desperation. and something more, something yoongi can’t quite put his finger on—
“sure,” he says, chewing at his lip as he scoots away from namjoon just slightly, leaving room for jeongguk. “i might not be able to help you that much, but i’ll certainly try.”
jeongguk beams, all teeth on display—it’s kind of cute, yoongi thinks vaguely—and takes a seat beside him, dropping his textbook on the ground. “thanks so much,” he says. “i’ve been stuck on this for a few days. i’m beginning to regret wanting to be a doctor with all of the work and sleepless nights and everything.”
“oh my god, i know,” groans yoongi. “seriously, i’m two years ahead of you in the program and i’ve been wondering that question myself since day once. and yet, here we are…”
jeongguk giggles. it sounds—familiar, almost, even though he can’t place it. and yoongi realizes he wants to hear it again and again, wants to engrave it in his memory. it’s strange. he feels like he knows jeongguk already, but that can’t be right because they’ve only met once or twice. and still—it’s easy to fall into this, to joke and laugh with him. it feels right.