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Magic in Aredrinnor

Chapter Text

A scream of agony pierced the night.

“Once more, you’re doing a good job” the man encouraged. “Hold on now, you can do it.”

Another scream, more desperate this time, then silence.

“It’s a boy” The man’s voice came again, filled with nothing but love and warmth. He moved to wrap him in a shawl but came to a sudden stop when something caught his eye.

Fear flooded through his body and his breath caught in his throat as he stared at the tiny birthmark on the inside of the boy’s wrist.

“Magic” was the last word he uttered before the boy let out a cry and the tiny stone hut and the people inside were engulfed in vivid green flames.

*

Our story begins in a small town, located in the western region of the kingdom of Aredrinnor. A picturesque town surrounded by fields and mountains, with a sun that seems to shine eternally. At first glance it appears to be a perfectly normal dwelling. Farmers sow their fields and children play by the stream, mothers tuck their children in at night and families gather to eat hearty meals, but upon taking a closer look, at one little boy in particular, proves that not everything is as it seems.

At 5 years old, Myungjun heard the whispers of the trees for the first time. He couldn’t make out what they were saying, but somehow, he knew they were content. How he knew that, he wasn’t entirely sure, but he whispered back kind words and patted their trunks with his tiny hands. He stayed there, losing track of time, until a group of boys found him and chased him away, throwing insults for his weird behaviour. Myungjun was too young to understand their words but he didn’t care anyway. All he cared about was walking the short distance home to tell his mother of his new friends.

When he reached the small cottage, he ran inside and relayed his whole story excitedly, deciding to leave out the insults the boys had spoken. Halfway through, his mother had frozen in place and didn’t appear to move until he had finished. She swiftly crouched down to his level and gripped his arms tight.

“You are not to talk to the trees again, do you understand?” his mother exclaimed with a hint of fear. Her grip on his arms tightened and he winced in pain, trying to wriggle out of her grasp but she held tight.

“Do not talk to any plants at all” she continued. “The trees, the flowers, the shrubbery, NONE OF THEM or you will be in serious trouble. Now tell me you understand what I’m saying.”

He nodded his head automatically but remained confused and a little frightened at her sudden aggressiveness.

Later that night, after being tucked into bed, Myungjun thought back to what she had said. A small smile bloomed across his face.

“I can talk to flowers too?” He whispered to the stars through the tiny square window. He promised himself he would attempt that tomorrow and that no one would catch him doing so.

On the day of his eight birthday, Myungjun was running through a field on his way home with the eggs he had bought from the market for his birthday cake, when he heard a cry beneath his feet. He looked down to see a little flower, crumpled and broken. He dropped the eggs he was carrying and collapsed to the floor with a sob.

“I’m so sorry little flower” He managed to say through his tears. He closed his eyes and prayed to the deity to forgive him and bring the little flower back to life. When he opened his eyes, he was surrounded by flowers that hadn’t been there before. They withered just as quickly as they came, and he stared around himself in awe. He felt a tingle on the inside of his wrist, so he rolled up the sleeve of his cotton shirt and noticed there was a faint glow coming from his oddly shaped birthmark. As he went to touch it, he felt a tingle across his palms. As if by instinct he placed his hands onto the grass and visualized the flowers he had just seen. The tingle spread across his palms to the tips of his fingers and a single delicate flower sprouted through the earth into full bloom. He cried out in astonishment at what he had just done as he watched it wither, just as quickly as the others. Had he really just done that? He grinned brightly and stood up, full of excitement and staring down in wonder at his glowing mark. He heard voices coming his way and swiftly rolled down his sleeves before hurrying away.

On his way home, eggs long forgotten, he started to wonder if that was why his mother made him wear long sleeves even on a hot day like today. She always played it off as not wanting him to get burned from the summer sun, but he was beginning to suspect otherwise. Was it bad? It certainly wasn’t normal he guessed. He was eight, not stupid, and he’d never seen anyone else with a glowing birthmark that’s for sure.

He debated risking it and telling his mother what he had done. He usually got a smack on the back of the head when he was caught doing things he shouldn’t be doing. However, if she made him hide his birthmark it must be for a good reason…right? He could just leave out the part where he magically made flowers appear, seemingly out of nowhere. Then he wouldn’t technically be lying.

After deciding it was too important to keep from her, he wrung his little hands together and set off home. As he walked down the weathered path to the door, he tried to calm his nerves. He knocked three times and waited, scratching absently at the birthmark through his shirt until she opened the door expectantly.

“Junnie where are the eggs?” She asked, after realising he wasn’t carrying anything.

“Mother I need to talk to you.” He said in a small voice, walking past her into the house. He felt like he was going to be sick from the anxiousness.

His mother eyed him warily before leading him to sit down at the old rickety table in the kitchen. He thought it would be best to just get it over and done with, so he took a deep breath and blurted everything out. He cursed at himself internally for being weak when he realised he’d literally told her EVERYTHING. So much for leaving stuff out.

His mother grabbed his wrist and forced the sleeve up to look at his birthmark. It looked completely normal.

“I can show you” Myungjun said, before letting the tingling feeling spread through his palms again.

The birthmark began to glow faintly, and his mother dropped his hand to clutch at her heart.

“It’s happening.” she whispered shakily to herself.

He didn’t get a chance to ask for an explanation before she was up and dragging him towards her bedroom. She told him to wait as she pulled a carved wooden box out from underneath her bed. She had a determined glint in her eyes, but her hands still shook as she opened the lid. Myungjun automatically took a step back but the look she shot him made him freeze in place.

“This was going to happen sooner or later” she said, more to herself than him.

Myungjun finally opened his mouth to speak. “What’s happening to me? And what’s in that box?”

She ignored his questions and pulled out a vial filled with small white pellets. After shaking a few out onto her palm, she looked at him and held out her hand.

“Do not ask me any questions, just take this or you will have to leave this home, do you want that?” she threatened.

Myungjun didn’t understand but he didn’t want to leave, so he swallowed thickly before shaking his head and he took the pills from her hand. He looked them over carefully and not noticing anything too strange he swallowed them down. His mother smiled at him in relief and ruffled his fluffy hair.

“Good boy. Now you must come to me every morning to take your new medicine okay?”

“Yes mother.”

He excused himself and went to his room to sit on his bed. He focused on making his birthmark glow and his palms began to tingle more strongly this time, before it quickly receded and completely disappeared. He tried again but nothing happened. He tried a few more times, panicking before giving up completely. It was strange, he felt numb, as if a part of him had be ripped away leaving behind a hollow shell.

*

He continued to take his ‘medicine’ everyday for the next 5 years and never felt that part of him come back. He closed in on himself and became broody and dark. If his mother noticed, she never said a thing. He tried so desperately for weeks after the first dosage to talk to the trees and the flowers, but it was like the whole world had gone silent. It was deafening.

The teachers at his school and his fellow classmates realised his change of attitude. Gone was the bright, bubbly ray of sunshine that laughed loudly and cracked jokes. Instead the teachers had to deal with him staring out of the windows during lessons and disappearing at lunchtime so he wouldn’t have to be near the other students. His mother was called in, but she just brushed it off as adolescence and promised to talk to him. She never did, there was nothing to say. She knew why he was acting so different and chose to keep it that way.

On his thirteenth birthday he returned to the field he had been in on the day his happiness was ripped away. He laid back on the grass and watched the clouds pass overhead. He threaded his fingers through the grass, and all too soon felt the familiar lump forming in the back of his throat as he blinked back tears. What would be the point of crying again? Nothing would change. He still had to wake up and take his medicine to make his mother happy. Could he even call it medicine? What sort of medicine makes a person so sad? He cursed her and rolled over onto his stomach. Smelling the earth up close like this always comforted him slightly but it was short lived. The sound of laughter in the distance broke through the silence and he tensed upon recognising who exactly it had come from. He thought about making a break for it, but it was too late. They’d already spotted him, and he wasn’t as fast as they were, if he did decide to run. So, he stood up, set his face into a stony expression and faced them boldly as they made their way over.

“Beautiful day isn’t it Myungjun?” asked Jung-hoon gleefully. “Want to know what we’ve been doing huh?”

Not particularly.

Jung-hoon took his silence as a cue to continue and stepped closer as he opened his mouth to speak. His next words made Myungjun’s blood run cold.

“We’ve just been down to the river and stumbled across your little…project” He said with a smirk. “We’ve been watching you, watching how you went down there every day at lunchtime to plant your stupid little flowers and talk to them like they’re people, when you’re too stuck up to talk to any of us at school.” His tone took a bitter turn towards the end.

“What do you want?” Myungjun asked through gritted teeth.

“I want you to roll up your sleeves” said Jung-hoon casually.

Myungjun paused. Roll up his sleeves? Why would he want him to do that? Unless…

“Ahh look he’s catching on boys” said Jung-hoon with a chuckle to his two friends that flanked him on either side.

“I don’t have to do what you say” said Myungjun, sounding a lot braver than he felt.

“Why? Got something to hide?” asked Jung-hoon cockily.

“I..I... I don’t know what you mean” Myungjun stumbled. Great. Why did he have to sound weak now?

Jung-hoon laughed manically. “Sure you do, you know exactly what you are, you filthy magic user.”

The words cut deep and Myungjun flinched and took a step back. He’d tossed and turned every night in bed for years trying to come up with an explanation as to why he could talk to plants and why his birthmark used to glow. The only two reasons he could think of were either he was crazy and had imagined everything, which is why his mother gave him medicine, or he had some sort of magical powers. Either way the self-hatred he grew for being different in one way or another, to all the normal kids in town, felt confirmed with those harsh words from Jung-hoon. After all, he was just a freak who only found happiness in the mutterings of nature. But how did Jung-hoon know?

Jung-hoon didn’t give him a chance to talk before he was speaking again.

“You’re a filthy magic user who talks to plants because you have no friends. My mother told me that all magic users should die, and I agree,” He cracked his knuckles and stepped forward before lowering his voice. “but it wouldn’t be any fun if we killed you straight away. So, I thought to myself, how could I make you suffer? And that’s how I suddenly found myself down at the lake ripping out all of your little friends.”

Myungjun gasped and covered his mouth with his hands as tears sprung to his eyes. It felt like his heart had been ripped out. They didn’t need to kill him, it didn’t matter if they did because he was sure this was worse than death. His mind raced as he recalled all the time he had spent lovingly caring and nurturing those flowers, trying to find some form of happiness in his bleak life and even though it wasn’t the same as before when he could converse with them, it kept him sane. However, now that very sanity was slipping away as fast as the river water where they grew. He knew the flowers would have suffered being cruelly torn apart and he saw red. Gasps rose from the other boys as they pointed at the ground beneath his feet. He looked down to see flowers blooming and only allowed himself a second to smile.

With an anguished cry he flew at Jung-hoon and punched him in the jaw. Jung-hoon staggered back, and with a growl, he launched and bowled Myungjun over. They rolled around on the grass fighting and cursing until Myungjun got the upper hand and rained punch after angry punch onto the demon below him. He was swiftly pulled off by Jung-hoons lackeys and restrained, as they held his arms behind his back. Jung-hoon got up and rubbed at his bloody mouth with the back of his hand.

“You and your whore mother are going to rot in hell” He spat before punching Myungjun square in the face.

Myungjun felt his nose burst and his legs buckled. He felt the overwhelming urge to be sick as his head spun from the pain. Their laughter rang in his ears as he received punch after punch, kick after kick as he slowly slipped away from consciousness.

Chapter Text

He woke up exactly two and a half days later, to the feel of a wet cloth being carefully rubbed over his face. His mother quietly gasped when she realised he was opening his eyes and she swiftly removed the cloth and set it inside the bowl on the floor.

“Sweetheart can you hear me?” She asked worryingly as she gripped at his small hands.

Myungjun groaned in response and tried to sit up. She stopped him gently with a hand on his shoulder and he looked down groggily to see his right arm in a cast.

“I was so worried.” She cried as her eyes swam with fresh tears. “I couldn’t believe it when you were brought here looking like you...” She choked on the last words and pushed his hair back delicately. “I called the best doctor in town and he came right away.”

“What happened?” asked Myungjun. “Why does my whole body hurt?”

“You don’t remember?” his mother questioned worriedly. “A nice man called Mr Choi found you in the field behind the church and brought you here.”

“I don’t remember anything.” Myungjuns lack of memory was starting to panic him. “Did someone hurt me? Why would anyone hurt me? Are they going to come back for me?”

His mother leaned forward shushing him comfortingly and went back to running her fingers through his hair. After a while he calmed down and mumbled an embarrassed apology.

“I do not want to hear any apologies; I just need you to get better.” she said. “Do you need anything?”

Myungjun thought for a moment then croaked out “Water.”

She bustled out of the room and left Myungjun to survey the damage. He tried again to sit up, and after a struggle, managed to prop himself up on the pillows. The hem of his shirt had risen slightly when he moved, and he saw a bruise blooming across his hip bone. He lifted his shirt and inhaled sharply. His chest and stomach were littered with cuts and bruises and he could only imagine the damage to the rest of his body. He felt the panic rising in his chest again, so he pulled his shirt down and took deep breathes as he waited for his mother to come back.

“Your water Prince Junnie.” She said, trying to cheer him up.

It worked. He giggled and drank it down in a few gulps.

“Now lay back down and get some rest.” She instructed.

Myungjun did as he was told and, with some help, was snug under the covers again. Just as his mother was about to leave, he called out to her.

“Mother how long have I been here?”

“Around two to three days now I think, why?” she asked.

“I have to take my medicine soon don’t I?” he said with a pout.

“Oh, don’t worry about that you won’t be needing it anymore.” she answered calmly, as if that wasn’t the best news he had received in a long time. She wouldn’t explain further after being questioned and left the room after demanding he go to sleep. He lay back down feeling thoroughly confused at her sudden change of attitude about something that had ruled his life for years. Despite that, he felt excitement well up inside of his heart, but he had to do as his mother said and sleep.

He awoke sometime that night to the sound of his mother rummaging through his room and sobbing quietly to herself.

“Mother what’s wrong?” He called out groggily on the edge of sleep.

“Nothing sweetheart, I’m just cleaning up a little bit, go back to sleep.” She left sometime after and Myungjun fell back into his dreams.

The next morning, he woke up feeling sore but full to the brim with energy. He slowly climbed out of bed and shuffled to the bathroom to wash up and relieve his aching bladder. He couldn’t recognise himself when he looked in the mirror. His bottom lip was split and covered in dried blood and medical tape had been placed over the bridge of his nose, which was very clearly broken. He sighed and went to look around for his comb to brush out the tangles in his hair but couldn’t find it. Maybe his mother had moved it elsewhere whilst she was cleaning last night. He didn’t dwell on it for long, as he had more important matters to attend to. He shuffled out into the garden where he could feel the grass under his feet and located his favourite patch of flowers. He sat down in front of them and moved a shaking hand towards the petals.

He hesitated, what if it didn’t work anymore? What if his medicine had permanently changed him? He tried to push the doubts as far away as he could, there was only one way to find out and he had to try. He held his breath and touched the petals of the rose delicately, with a shaking hand, and was instantly overwhelmed by the whispers. He cried out in joy and greeted them all individually with a heart full of love and a feeling of pure euphoria. He was worried for nothing; everything was back to normal. Well, as normal as a magical 13-year-old could be.

Someone cleared their throat behind him, and he jolted in surprise, whipping around at a speed that shocked his aching body. Myungjun groaned in pain before looking up at the person before him.

“Sorry I didn’t mean to scare you.” The man apologised with a warm smile. “Are you Myungjun?”

Myungjun didn’t know why but he felt as if he could completely trust this man, so he nodded quickly and without hesitation asked him for his name in return. In the back of his mind he was shocked at his own behaviour. He had avoided human interaction (except his mother of course) for the past five years, which warranted a certain amount of social anxiety and here he was holding a conversation with a stranger. But he didn’t have more time to think about it as the man was talking again.

“My name is Mr Choi; I was the one who found you in the field and brought you back here” he said as if it was an everyday event.

Myungjun moved to stand up to greet him formally but Mr Choi stopped him and sat down next to him instead.

“Thankyou so much for helping me” said Myungjun quietly. “I don’t really remember what happened though, did you see anything?”

Mr Choi shook his head sadly. “If I knew anything I would have told your mother. I’m not here to talk about that though. I’m here to talk about your magic.”

His bluntness shocked Myungjun and he readied his defence, but Mr Choi held up his hand and spoke again.

“I’m not here to hurt you or say it is bad. You don’t believe me, do you? No? Well let me show you something.”

He opened his hands, palms up and closed his eyes. After a second a small ball of light appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, and proceeded to roll across his palms before being absorbed back into his skin.

“See? I’m magic like you” he said simply.

“H…how did you do that? Can I do that too? Will you teach me?” He started to fire off questions after getting over the initial shock and the man just chuckled.

“I can’t teach you, but I can take you somewhere you will be able to learn.”

Myungjuns excitement died down slightly. “Where is that?”

“The Academy in the city of Voredan” My Choi explained. “It’s a special school for magic users like us. Students go to learn how to control and develop the powers residing inside of them.”

Myungjun sat quietly in thought. He’d heard of Voredan before but never the Academy. He also had never seen another magic user before but here one was sitting right in front of him discussing magic as calmly as one would discuss the weather.

“You’re not safe here anymore Myungjun.” said Mr Choi sadly. “Your mother told me of how she made you hide your magic from the people of this town because they would never accept it and my guess is: someone found out and made you pay for it.”

Myungjun shivered at the thought and went back to looking at the flowers.

“That also means they could tell and get others involved. That not only puts you in a great amount of danger but your mother too.” He said softly.

Myungjun thought about his mother. Despite everything she had done to suppress and hide his magic he knew she still loved him very much. She was still the woman who cooked him meals and helped him with his homework, who ran her fingers through his hair when he was feeling overwhelmed and smiled brightly when he tried to act cute. Finding out she had done it all to protect him made his heart swell and he knew he had to do everything he could to protect her too.

With the help of Mr Choi, he stood up and shuffled inside. His mother was already waiting inside with his bag packed, knowing he would be convinced. He felt tears well up in his eyes as he made his way over to hug her, being careful of his cast.

“I packed for you last night” she whispered fearing her voice might break if she spoke any louder. “I hope you don’t mind.”

He shook his head and buried himself further into her embrace. They stayed like that for some time until Mr Choi cleared his throat behind them.

“I don’t mean to be rude, but I have more children to collect and I’m running a bit late.”

Myungjun looked up into his mother’s face and blinked back his tears so he could speak. “I’m going to protect you now okay?” He said with a watery smile.

She laughed lightly and kissed the top of his head. “Okay my prince, I know you’ll do a good job. Now I want you to go and live freely, learn all you can about your magic, make lots of friends and most importantly enjoy yourself. We’ll be back together before you know it.”

She ruffled his hair and stepped back. He reluctantly let her go and picked up his bag with his good hand and walked with her to the bottom of the garden path. No matter what happened he would be back, he promised himself. He knew this was the best thing for both of them, but it didn’t make it any easier. The thought of his mother being harmed steeled his determination however. So, with one last good bye to his mother and a quick wave to the flowers in the garden he departed from his old life.

“You’ll see each other again one day I’m sure” said Mr Choi brightly before grabbing Myungjuns bag and leading him towards whatever adventures await.

Chapter Text

Myungjun was silent for most of the journey. He was warring with his emotions and it was a tiring battle. He missed his mother, but he was excited to have his magic back. He was nervous about going somewhere he had never even heard of, but he knew he could trust his mother’s words.

As Mr Choi had said, he had to pick up two other children on the way.

When they stopped to pick up the first child, Myungjun couldn’t help but look up curiously. It was a boy, he climbed into the carriage carefully and sat directly opposite Myungjun, causing their knees to knock together. The boy apologised quietly and tried to pull his legs back. His eyes widened slightly as he looked at Myungjuns battered face but didn’t comment on it. Instead he introduced himself as Chae Hyungwon, then proceeded to look out the window and didn’t talk again. Myungjun didn’t press for information. He felt too self-conscious about his appearance. So, he also looked out of the window as the carriage started to move again. However, after a time he got bored and his curiosity got the better of him. He let his eyes drift towards the boy’s face. He was very handsome and seemed quite tall, Myungjun automatically sat up straighter in response. Hyungwon sighed quietly and closed his eyes, falling asleep within minutes.

The journey went on for a few hours with only the sounds of Hyungwons soft snores filling the carriage. It eventually came to an abrupt stop and Mr Choi called out that he would be back soon. Myungjun needed to stretch his legs, so after shaking Hyungwon awake and telling him of the latest development, they both got out to look around. They were on a dirt path in the middle of a forest and the sun was setting through the trees.

Myungjun shivered slightly in the chilly evening air and went to go find his bag to find something to cover himself. He didn’t get far as Hyungwon stepped in front of him and placed his cardigan over his shoulders being gentle to avoid hurting his arm. Myungjun tried to protest.

“You can’t give me this you’ll get cold too.” He said with a pout.

Hyungwon gave him a small smile for the first time that day and shrugged his shoulders.

“It’s impossible for me to get cold.” He explained and held a hand out in front of him turning his palm downwards. After a few seconds it started to snow, tiny snowflakes fell from his palm and disappeared before hitting the ground.

Myungjun stared in amazement and Hyungwon laughed at the look on his face.

“I’m still not very good yet, I can’t make the snow stick to the ground.” He scratched the back of his neck awkwardly.

“That’s AMAZING” squealed Myungjun in excitement. “Can I do that too?” He held out the palm of his left hand, like he had seen Hyungwon do, and pictured little snowflakes. He felt the familiar tingle spread to his fingers, but nothing happened. He frowned and looked to Hyungwon for help.

Hyungwon thought about it for a second then asked, “What type of elemental magic do you have?”

Myungjun paused. He didn’t understand what Hyungwon was asking.

“I didn’t realise there was different types” he admitted feeling stupid.

“Didn’t your parents teach you about it?” Hyungwon asked disbelieving.

Before Myungjun could reply, a loud laugh rang through the forest. Mr Choi was back with another boy who was wearing the weirdest assortment of clothes Myungjun had ever seen. The outfit consisted of a knit jumper, sewn together with different coloured fabric, a pair of bright red shorts, a long green coat with the sleeves cut off which reached all the way down to…his bare feet. Myungjun couldn’t help but stare as they made their way over.

“…and then I fell into the lake.” the boy finished his story with another loud laugh and Mr Choi shook his head but was smiling too.

The boy finally noticed the presence of Myungjun and Hyungwon and he hurried over to greet them.

“Hi!” he said cheerfully, bowing slightly. “My names Jung Hoseok, its nice to meet you! What’s your name? Wow what happened to your face?” He spoke quickly, full of energy and Myungjun struggled to keep up.

Hyungwon cleared his throat and stepped forward “My name is Chae Hyungwon, what happened to your shoes?” He interjected swiftly, staring pointedly at his bare feet.

Hoseok looked down at his feet and wiggled his toes. “Hmm good question, where ARE my shoes?” He thought about it for a second before shrugging his shoulders and looking at Myungjun.

Myungjun stared back before realising he hadn’t introduced himself and he quickly bowed, forgetting about the condition of his body, and winched in pain. “My name is Kim Myungjun, its nice to meet you.” He managed to say through gritted teeth.

Hoseok stepped forward with concern in his eyes and asked him if he was okay. When Myungjun confirmed that, yes, he was, Hoseok helped him back into the carriage anyway and took the seat right next to him. Hyungwon climbed in after and took his original position looking back out of the window. The next few hours passed a lot quicker and a lot louder as they conversed and got to know each other. Hyungwon interjected a few more times here and there but mostly slept. Myungjun found out many things about Hoseok, including the fact that his favourite colour was green, and he had an older sister who wasn’t magic and worked in the tailor’s shop in his town.

“She doesn’t like me visiting her at work, can you believe that?” Hoseok exclaimed looking offended.

Myungjun looked at his clothes and didn’t say a word.

Mr Choi stopped the carriage after night had fallen and came around to open the door to let them out.

“We’re stopping here for the night” he explained, gesturing to the small inn up ahead. “I’m going to stable the horses, so take this money and get us a place to sleep.” He handed the pouch of coins over to Hoseok who set off out of the carriage at once. Hyungwon opened his eyes and climbed out of the carriage sleepily before helping Myungjun down the steps. He wordlessly took their bags and set off to the inn too without looking back.

Myungjun wasn’t ready to go inside yet so he looked around and spotted a large oak tree that was planted to the side of the weathered building. He went and sat down beneath it placing his hands on the rough bark of its trunk to hear the whispers. He still couldn’t make out what the whispers meant but the sound comforted him. He stayed there until he felt tired enough to go inside. After standing up he brushed the dirt from his trousers and shuffled to the door. He was greeted by a little old lady who immediately started to fuss over his beaten appearance.

“Come with me dear, your friends are eating some supper right now and would like you to join them. Then after that you can take a nice long soak in the bath upstairs”

Myungjun thanked her and followed her to the table where Hyungwon and Hoseok were eating their food. He sat down opposite them, and the little old lady bustled off to get him some food. Hyungwon was picking his food apart and not eating much of it, which was quite the opposite to Hoseok who was shovelling his down like there was no tomorrow. Hyungwon looked over to him and silently offered the rest of his meal which Hoseok took happily.

After Myungjun had finished his meal, wincing every bite he took from his split lip, he asked Hoseok where his room was. When he got no reply, he looked up to see the other boy had fallen asleep. He looked peaceful like this and very young. Hyungwon looked up when Myungjun giggled and followed his eyes to look at Hoseoks sleeping form.

“I’ll go and find Mr Choi. I doubt we could wake Hoseok now and I’m not strong enough to carry him.”

Myungjun opened his mouth to offer before remembering his cast and let the words die in his throat. He watched Hyungwon leave and smiled to himself. He decided he liked the two boys he had gotten to know so far.

*
Myungjun awoke with a groan and sat up in bed, gently stretching his aching limbs. Hyungwon was snoring in the bed next to his and Myungjun wondered how someone could possibly sleep so much. He heard the birds chirping outside and carefully slid out of bed to look at the view past the window. He heard Hyungwon roll over and ask in a gravelly voice, “What time is it?”

“Just after daybreak.” answered Myungjun brightly before asking if he wanted to go get some breakfast.

Hyungwon confirmed that he was hungry and sat up. Myungjun laughed when he saw Hyungwons bedhead. His hair with sticking up in all directions and was only made worse as Hyungwon run his hands through it trying to tame the wild strands.

“I don’t know why you’re laughing,” Hyungwon grumbled. “Your hair is just as bad.”

Myungjun lifted his hands to his hair with a dramatic gasp and hurried to raid his bag for his comb. He found it and quickly brushed out the tangles before passing it to Hyungwon. Hyungwon cared much less about his hair and only ran the comb through a few times before handing it back. After getting changed they made their way downstairs.

A while later they were sat at the table eating and wondering where Mr Choi and Hoseok were. Myungjun realised that Hyungwon wasn’t eating much again and voiced his opinion that he should eat more because he was too skinny.

Hyungwon scowled and pushed his plate away. “Yah watch what you say, I’m older then you and taller then you, you should be calling me Hyung.”

Myungjun pouted. “You’re only older then me by 2 months! And that fact that your taller definitely means you need to eat more.” He finished smartly.

“You sound like my mother.” said Hyungwon huffily.

“Well I couldn’t possibly be you mother because you’re older than me, HYUNG” Myungjun retorted cheekily.

Hyungwon rolled his eyes but grinned and shoved a whole egg in his mouth. “Happy?” he said with yolk running down his chin.

Myungjun giggled and pretended to think about it. “Hmmmm…..” He dodged the fork that Hyungwon threw his way and made a dash for the door. They ran outside giggling and collapsed under the large oak tree.

After catching his breath Myungjun touched the tree and whispered a soft hello. Hyungwon looked over and upon noticing what he was doing told Myungjun he had earth elemental magic.

“Earth magic?” asked Myungjun. He placed his left palm on the ground and tried to read the earths thoughts, but nothing happened.

“Earth magic comes in two forms, plant manipulation and ground manipulation.” Explained Hyungwon. “You’re clearly a plant manipulator.”

Myungjun looked up at the clouds and let that sink in. It certainly explained a lot. He decided to ask more questions later. For now, he wanted to enjoy the early morning sun on his face. They stayed like that, getting drowsy, until an ungodly screech yanked them back to reality. They both looked up fast to see Hoseok running towards them yelling about snakes.

It took a long time to calm him down after that and as they made their way back to the inn to get packed and ready to leave, Hoseok clung to them both, jumping at every noise. Right before they got inside Myungjun screamed SNAKE pointing at the grass near Hoseoks feet. Hoseok jumped away from them and nearly passed out from shock.

“Stop it.” Hoseok snapped. “You’ll scare the baby!”

“Where’s the baby?” said Hyungwon looking around.

“Me, I’m the baby.” said Hoseok giving them both his best puppy dog eyes and pout.

Myungjun cooed at him and apologised, whilst Hyungwon headed inside making noises of disgust.

Mr Choi greeted them at the carriage when they were finished packing and helped them load their bags inside.

“This is the last stretch of the road boys. We’ll be at Voredan by noon and I’ll be taking you straight to the Academy.”

The boys looked at each other excitedly and began to chatter about what they thought it would be like.

“I heard that the Academy was founded by the Deity of Eden herself” said Hoseok looking up to the sky in awe.

“That makes sense, I heard it’s the oldest building in Aredrinnor.” Hyungwon added.

Myungjun didn’t have anything to add to the conversation considering he knew nothing of the place, other than he was supposed to be taught about his magic there.

“Do you think we could share a room?” he asked instead. “It would be nice if we could stay together.”

Hyungwon frowned. “No, we get split up depending on our element.”

Earlier that day Hoseok had revealed that he had water magic, but the water manipulation type compared to Hyungwons ice manipulation.

“Will you two be together?” Myungjun asked.

“Probably” said Hyungwon with a shrug.

Myungjun made a noise of acknowledgement and tried to act like that didn’t affect him. Hyungwon saw through him and sighed. “We’ll come see you often and we’ll probably have classes together anyway.” Hoseok agreed with him.

Myungjun felt comforted a little but stayed silent looking down at his hands. It wasn’t until Hoseok poked him in the side and he shrieked out a giggle that he started to cheer up. The rest of the morning flew by and before long they could see the sprawling city in the distance.

Chapter Text

“Nearly there boys.” Mr Chois bright voice floated in through the open window.

Hoseok clung onto Myungjuns good arm excitedly as Hyungwon bumped their knees together grinning at him. Myungjun felt excitement and anticipation well up inside of him. Soon enough they were being waved through the city gates by a smartly dressed guard.

Myungjun couldn’t keep his eyes off the people they rode past. He was shocked, some of them were openly practicing magic on the streets. It was a stark opposite to the way he had lived his life. He shook his head to clear away the memories and looked closer at the magic the people were performing. One man was moulding a sword out of metal with his bare hands. He then passed the finished product to a woman who held it as gently as one would hold a new-born. Her mouth was moving, and the sword began to glow. Myungjun tore his eyes away to look into the window of a shop named ‘Tailorre’ where a woman was waving her hands over a sheet of material and it was shaping itself into a pair of trousers. The carriage swiftly took them further down the street, to where a man was creating bubbles that flowed from his fingertips, to the amusement of a crowd of young children. Nothing could prepare Myungjun for what he saw next, however.

As they turned the street corner the view opened up to expose the biggest castle he had ever seen. He gasped audibly and tried to take in every detail. The thick stone walls were pearly white and appeared to be glowing in the light. Giant stained-glass windows were reflecting the sun, painting some of the walls varying shades of the rainbow. The windows themselves depicted tales of the eternal battle between the Deity of Eden and the Prince of Darkness. Myungjun knew the story well as his mother used to relay it to him often. The castle walls themselves were so tall Myungjun wondered if they ever really ended. The castle had multiple towers that reached even closer to the sky and Myungjun wanted to climb them and touch the clouds. The gates that lead to the castle looked to be made of solid gold and it matched the accents on the uniforms of the men that guarded them.

“It’s beautiful.” He whispered to himself.

Soon they turned down another street and the castle was blocked from view by high rising buildings on either side. There were people hanging their washing out of the windows and children rushing in and out of the open doors. The houses were packed tightly together but the people seemed happy.

“A lot of people must live here.” said Myungjun to no one in particular.

Hoseok answered him though. “Big cities always attract lots of people and this is the safest of them all.” He carried on rambling but Myungjuns mind drifted.

He liked that word. Safe. He wanted to feel safe here.

“You will.” Hyungwon muttered softly.

Myungjun looked up quickly to see Hyungwon giving him a small smile. He blushed and looked away. He hadn’t meant to say that out loud. He didn’t get a chance to feel embarrassed for long as Mr Chois voice drifted into the carriage.

“It’s just up past these trees now.”

Myungjun used this as an excuse to avoid eye contact with Hyungwon as he opened the window the whole way and stuck his head out to look ahead.

The Academy wasn’t as big as the castle, but it was no less grand. It had the same structure and colouring and a huge expanse of land to go with it. In the distance Myungjun could make out a lake that seemed to go on endlessly. On top of that lake, large objects were seemingly floating, but it was too far away to tell. The Academy was flanked on all sides, by forests made of tall, beautiful trees. He couldn’t wait to hear their whispers and see if they were happy here. He expected them to go straight up to the giant doors entering the building, but Mr Choi took them down a smaller path. When the trees opened up, they could see a large house. Very cosy looking with a big greenhouse to one side and a small children’s playground to the other.

Finally, they stopped, and Mr Choi called them out. So, this was it, thought Myungjun. He’s really doing this; he really just left his mother behind to start a new life in a place he’d never even heard of before. He climbed out of the carriage shakily and looked around. He saw faces peering at him from the windows and he felt like an animal in a cage being ogled at, despite being the one outside. He felt panic rise in his throat and turned around to get back inside the carriage and away from curious eyes. He promptly bumped straight into Hyungwon who was caught off guard. They stumbled back into Hoseok who was just coming down the carriage steps and with an almighty screech fell back onto his bottom.

After making sure Hoseok wasn’t hurt, Hyungwon turned to Myungjun, about to scold him, but softened when he saw his face. He crouched down to his level and made him look up.

“Yah Myungjun-ah, you’ll be okay.” He said comfortingly. When he saw Myungjuns eyes swimming with fresh tears he sighed and pulled him into a soft hug. He remembered seeing Myungjun running his hands through his hair a lot when he was overwhelmed and thought no one was looking, so he started to do that now. Running his hands through Myungjuns soft hair appeared to be the right thing to do as he felt him relax.

“I’m sorry.” Myungjun sniffled.

Myungjun felt a new warmth as Hoseok latched onto his back. “Don’t be sorry Junnie, when you get scared we’ll be here to look after you. That’s what friends are for.”

Myungjun felt a warmth spread across his chest as he realised he really did have friends now. Hyungwon pulled away first and looked down at something that caught his eye. Flowers littered the floor around them, bright and vibrant in full bloom and he smiled. Hoseok noticed next and released Myungjun in order to get a closer look but the flowers withered quickly after and disappeared. Myungjun was staring in shock at where they had grown. Those flowers were different from the others he had grown before.

“Wow pretty!” Hoseok exclaimed. “Did you do that Junnie?”

Myungjun snapped out of his thoughts and nodded shyly. This time is was Hoseoks turn to coo at him.

The door to the house opened and a kind looking lady stepped out.

“Ah just in time.” said Mr Choi coming around the back of the carriage holding all their bags. “This is the house matron Mrs Ko.”

The boys hurried to stand in line and bow deeply to the woman before them. She bowed her head in response and told them to come inside. Hyungwon lead the way and Hoseok grabbed onto Myungjuns hand, rubbing soothing circles with his thumb. Myungjun felt grateful to have people who looked out for him, so he let himself feel a little braver and looked around the place when they stepped inside. The walls were covered in pictures the children had drawn and a few group photographs hung here and there. A small child ran past them and out of the door towards the playground. Mrs Ko tutted and muttered something about children running and no one listening to her. She led them into the kitchen and asked them all to sit down whilst she made drinks. After everyone’s thirst was quenched, she spoke.

“Welcome to the Academy guesthouse boys. You will be staying here for the next two weeks before the Academy opens officially for the start of term. We house students of all ages who are both ready,” she gestured to them all, “and…unready.” She gestured to the other end of the table where a baby was gurgling happily in her highchair.

“Where’s her mother?” Myungjun asked curiously.

“I wish we knew” said Mrs Ko sadly. “She was left here just last week, and no-one has been back to collect her. That’s what usually happens. A lot of the children you will see here do not have parents, they have either died or simply abandoned them. The Academy believes in education for all, so no child is turned away but sometimes we get a little full, so new beds are constantly being added. We have about 20 children here this year, not including you three.”

Myungjun made a sympathetic noise and counted himself lucky that he still had a mother.

“Before I show you to your rooms, you must undergo a simple test.” explained Mrs Ko. “Don’t look so worried its nothing hard. I will give you all a form to fill in and take you one at a time out into the garden. So, if you two take these,” she handed Myungjun and Hoseok the pieces of paper and some pens, “and you come with me.” Hyungwon rose from his seat and said goodbye to the others.

“Good luck!” called Myungjun to his receding figure. He exchanged worried looks with Hoseok before looking down at the form.

Full Name:
Easy enough. He filled in Kim Myung Jun and moved on.

Age:
13 and one week, he wrote proudly. Hoseok looked over and snorted.

“Is the week really necessary?”

“Very necessary.” said Myungjun seriously.

Hoseok rolled his eyes and went back to his own form. The questions continued asking him about his basic information, so it didn’t take long. He hesitated, however, at the box labelled ‘Father’. He didn’t know much about his father. His mother never spoke of him willingly and when he did ask, she simply said that he had left. He looked over at the baby gurgling away in her highchair and wrote down: Abandoned me.

After a few minutes Hyungwon came back into the room and told Myungjun to go out next. He grabbed his forms shakily and left to the sound of Hoseok bombarding Hyungwon with questions. He easily found his way out into the garden and saw Mrs Ko sitting in the middle of the grass with a pot of soil. Myungjun made his way over to her and she gestured for him to sit.

“I hope you don’t mind,” she started “but I asked your friend if he knew what type of magic you possess to hurry this process up. He told me earth magic of the plant variety, so I have a simple test. Make a flower grow in this pot.”

Myungjun felt confident as he leaned over and let the magic flood through his hand. He pictured a single flower and when he opened his eyes…nothing happened. He tried again and frowned as the soil stayed empty.

“I..I don’t understand!” he stammered as she tutted and wrote something down in a leather bound notebook. “I’ve done it before, loads of times before! Lots of flowers grow around me, and I even made one grow in the field by my house when I touched the soil.” He was speaking quickly, rushing to get it all out and prove he wasn’t lying.

“I believe you.” She said calmly. “but I can make an educated guess as to why that was.”

Myungjun instantly stopped his tirade and waited for her to speak.

“Tell me how you had been feeling whenever the flowers grew around you.”

Myungjun thought long and hard. The first time he had been so, so sad after trampling over that little flower and the flowers had grown and he had felt nothing but awe as he made the singular one appear. The second time he had felt pure happiness at the realisation that he had made friends and the flowers had bloomed brilliantly around him.

“I guess every time I was feeling very emotional.” He said slowly.

She nodded her head as if satisfied with his answer. “You lack self-control, like most children your age who haven’t had the chance to practice their magic freely. There is no need to worry as you will be taking classes at the Academy that can help you with that.”

Myungjun hadn’t realised how little he lacked self-control and suddenly everything made sense.

“To get into the academy there is an assessment, rather like this one, to see how much existing knowledge you have about your own magic. I would like you to remember what you have learned today and use these two weeks to practice controlling your emotions.” She instructed. “Losing control of your emotions with the amount of magic you have tapped into so far is harmless, but it becomes more dangerous the more magic you learn to release. Many have been known to kill those they love after letting their emotions get the better of them and I would not want you to carry that guilt. It is a heavy burden.” She added sadly. Myungjun sensed there was a hidden meaning behind her words, but he didn’t pry.

“Now please go and send Hoseok to me and ask him to bring a bowl of water. When he is finished, I will show you to your rooms.”

Myungjun thanked her and hurried inside. He relayed the instructions to Hoseok and sat down with a sigh. Hyungwon patted him gently on the back to comfort him and they sat in comfortable silence until Hoseok came back, grinning widely. True to her word, Mrs Ko lead them to where they would be sleeping.

“Each floor of the house has rooms for each type of elemental magic.” She explained. “Earth users have rooms on the first floor, Water users on the second, Air users on the third and fire users have rooms on the basement level.”

Myungjun thought it odd that they would have to sleep down in the basement but was too busy struggling up the stairs as his bruised legs were hurting with the strain. Mrs Ko noticed and helped him the rest of the way. Myungjun got taken to his room first and Hyungwon set his bag down on the bed for him.

“Need help unpacking?” he asked.

“No thanks.” said Myungjun with a grateful smile as he moved to sit next to his bag. When they left, he opened his bag and emptied all of his clothes haphazardly into the provided chest of drawers. He set his comb and his toothbrush down and went to pull the last few things from his bag. His mother had packed his favourite stuffed toy and a book she had slipped a note into.

Myungjunnie,
I did not want you to leave without your favourite toy. I know you probably think you are too old, but I hoped you would find comfort in having it.
If you get bored on your Journey, I packed you this book to read.
Remember to do your best and come back to me soon.
I love you.

The end of the note was smudged with tears and he felt himself well up. He rubbed furiously at his eyes and reminded himself that he needed to control his emotions better. He secretly rejoiced in not being separated from his little stuffed bird and hugged it tightly to his chest. Someone knocked on the door and he immediately shoved the letter, book and toy into his bag and under his bed.

“May I come in?” came Mrs Ko’s voice.

Myungjun opened the door to let her in. She looked him up and down before telling him to follow her. She led him downstairs and into a small corridor he hadn’t noticed before and she came to a stop in front of a door with a sign that read ‘Infirmary’.

“I can tell you had a non-magic doctor look you over and patch you up, so it will take a while for you to heal.” She said opening the door to reveal a small room with four beds lined up. One of the beds had the curtains drawn around it and Myungjun wondered who was inside. “However, I will be able to heal that nose and arm of yours right now so you can take that cast off, and I can also remove the aches and pains you have.”

Myungjun wondered if it was really possible and she must have seen the doubt on his face.

“I’ll have you fixed up in no time, just take off your shirt so I can get to the cast and see the damage to your torso.” she instructed kindly.

He unbuttoned it clumsily and dumped it onto the bed. Mrs Ko tutted as she walked around him inspecting his wounds. “What happened to you?” she asked coming round to face him again.

Myungjun decided to answer truthfully. “I don’t know.” was all he was able to say. “The last thing I remember was laying down in a field and the next thing I know I’m in bed with this.” He waved around his arm with the cast and gestured to his body.

“You must have been through something quite traumatic to have repressed your memories like this.” Mrs Ko said thoughtfully. “I’m sure in time the memories will come back so don’t worry.”

Myungjun wasn’t sure if he wanted to remember what happened but nodded at her words all the same. She started on his arm first, cutting away the cast carefully to reveal what was underneath. Myungjun couldn’t even look at it, he was sure he would be sick.

“This may hurt a little.” Mrs Ko said before placing her hands gently onto his arm. She murmured some words under her breath and he felt a warmth spreading across his skin. His bone started to vibrate as it fused itself back together. It didn’t particularly hurt but it made him feel even more nauseous to have his bone moving so unnaturally. She proceeded to do the same to his nose which healed almost instantly.

“All done.” She said after a few seconds and then proceeded to deal with the rest of his body. “I can’t do anything about the scarring or the bruises, but they will disappear naturally over time.” She explained.

Myungjun stretched and thanked her excitedly as he realised he no longer felt any pain.

Suddenly, a boy with curly red hair, burst in through the door sporting an impressive nosebleed. Myungjun took this as his chance to exit as Mrs Ko fussed around him.

“For goodness sakes Sanha, you need to be more careful! This is the second time this week!” scolded Mrs Ko.

“I can’t help it if my feet hate me and want to trip me on every little part of the floor.” The boy Sanha whined.

Myungjun closed the door behind him and set off to find Hyungwon and Hoseok to tell them the good news about his arm.

Chapter Text

It didn’t take him long to find out what room they were in as he heard Hoseoks loud voice from the top of the stairs. As he got closer to the open door, he realised they were arguing.

“But Hyungggg, I don’t want to sleep in the top bunk, I’m deathly scared of heights.” moaned Hoseok, looking up at the bed with fear in his eyes.

Hyungwon rolled his eyes. “Well I can’t sleep in the top bunk because I’m too tall and will hit my head on the ceiling every time I get up. Do you want to be the cause of my concussions?” he argued back.

Hoseok huffed in annoyance and threw his bag up on the top bunk. “Fine but if I die from falling off the bed in the middle of the night you’ll be responsible.”

Myungjun cleared his throat from the doorway and they turned to look at him. Hoseok was the first to comment on his new appearance.

“Wow you look so different without your nose all busted.” He said staring at it closely, only inches from his face. “you look better now, doesn’t he Hyung?”

Hyungwon cleared his throat awkwardly and said “Yeah, you look alright I guess.”

Myungjun giggled at his awkwardness and pushed Hoseok out of his personal space.

“I want to go practice my magic for the entrance test, wanna come with?” Myungjun asked the others.

They agreed, Hoseok more quickly so he could get away from his new bed and they raced each other down to the gardens.

They found a spot by a little pond where they could sit and Myungjun got to work trying to coax a flower out of the ground. He gave up after a few minutes and chose to watch Hoseok suspending little droplets of pond water with the palms of his hands. Hyungwon had curled up on the grass and fallen asleep in seconds so they didn’t talk much to avoid waking him up.

Myungjun looked up some time later to see the curly haired boy, Sanha, coming out of the house and walking in their direction looking at his feet. He didn’t look up until he was a couple of feet away and squeaked in surprise.

“Sorry I didn’t know anyone was out here.” He said quickly backing up.

Myungjun quickly spoke before he could run away, “You’re Sanha right?”

Sanha looked at him suspiciously. “How do you know? I haven’t seen you before.” He looked at Hoseok who was busy concentrating on moving the water, then down at Hyungwon who was snoring lightly. “I’ve never seen any of you before.”

“We arrived just today,” said Myungjun. “and I saw you come into the infirmary for a nose bleed. Mrs Ko had just finished fixing my broken nose, amongst other things.” He said the last part more to himself.

Sanha sighed dramatically and flopped down onto the grass. “It’s so unfair, she always scolds me even though its not my fault! If I don’t look down at my feet then I trip, but if I do look down at my feet, I’m always bumping into things!”

Myungjun thought Sanha was cute. He went from being suspicious and wanting to run away to completely trusting and sitting with them in a matter of seconds. He tried to comfort him but Sanha wasn’t listening, so he went back to trying to make the flowers appear. Sanha watched him quietly for a while.

“You suck at magic” he said bluntly.

“You suck at walking.” came Hyungwons sleepy voice as he sat up and stared at Sanha. “I heard your conversation earlier.” He explained when Myungjun looked at him curiously.

Sanha visibly gulped and muttered something about eavesdropping before excusing himself and rushing inside. Myungjun was proud of him for not tripping once on his way back.

“You scared him away.” Hoseok observed.

“I didn’t do anything.” Hyungwon snapped back before getting up. “I’m going to sleep inside.” He walked off with his hands in his pockets.

“What’s his deal?” said Hoseok.

Myungjun shrugged and asked Hoseok to go check on him. He left immediately, concerned about his friend and left Myungjun to lay back on the grass. He was on the verge of falling asleep himself when he heard a murmur of voices carried over by the wind. They didn’t sound happy so Myungjun got up to investigate. He tracked them down soon enough and saw a group of boys who had backed up another lone one against a tree.

“...shouldn’t spy on people its weird.” The one at the front of the group said.

The boy backed up against the tree looked uneasy but not scared.

“I wasn’t spying on anybody.” He said. “Now you should leave before you get into trouble.”

The boys laughed at him and the obvious ring leader stepped up into his face. Seeing them gang up on the other boy made Myungjun feel particularly unsettled for some reason, so he couldn’t just stand by and watch.

“Hey!” he called out, walking over to them. “I’ve called Mrs Ko and she’s coming to sort you out.”

The boys took one last look at their prey and scattered.

“Are you okay?” asked Myungjun as he approached the boy. He had a mop of light brown hair and sad eyes.

“I’m fine, you didn’t really call her, did you?” he asked sounding more nervous than he had before.

“You’re smarter than they are at least.” Myungjun laughed breezily.

The boy’s eyes widened, and a light blush dusted his cheeks.

“My names Myungjun.” he offered his hand for the other boy to shake but it went ignored as the boy bolted back through the trees. Myungjun stood there in shock. He looked down at his hand, he was sure it was clean so why had the boy run away? He’d just saved him too and didn’t even get a thank you. Slightly annoyed he made his way inside.

The next few days went by uneventfully. Myungjun got used to the routine of the house and liked to help wherever he could. He formed a friendship with Sanha after catching the boy as he tripped on the stairs. They had gone down to breakfast together after and bumped into the boy with the sad eyes as he made his way out of a bathroom. He darted again before Myungjun could open his mouth and he made a noise of irritation.

Sanha had flattened himself against the nearest wall with a dramatic gasp and Myungjun just rolled his eyes at him.

“What are you freaking about?” he asked making his was towards the kitchen.

“That boy, he’s dangerous!” Sanha said not losing any of his dramatic air.

“Dangerous my butt.” muttered Myungjun remembering how scared the boy had looked to see him.

“Hyung I’m being serious,” Sanha whined pulling on Myungjuns arm. “Apparently he’s killed people!”

Now Myungjun audibly laughed at that. “Yeah and I’m secretly a unicorn.” He said in a low whisper.

“That’s not very believable, unicorns are pretty and cool, you’re neither of tho- OW OW OKAY I’M SORRY” he screeched as Myungjun grabbed him in a headlock.

As they sat down to eat, with Sanha grumbling about his neck hurting, Myungjun promised himself that the next time he saw the boy he would ask him why he was so scared.

“Yah Sanha stop whining, you're giving me a headache.” said a very ruffled looking Hyungwon as he wandered into the kitchen having clearly just woken up.

Sanha jumped at the sound of his voice and shovelled the rest of his rice into his mouth before hurrying out of the room. Hyungwon took his seat opposite Myungjun.

“Stop scaring the poor boy away, I like him.” Myungjun pouted. “I didn’t even get to ask him if he knew that boys name.”

“What boy?” Hyungwon asked staring at him curiously whilst fixing himself some breakfast.

“The one who’s scared of me.” Myungjun said sulkily.

Hyungwon made a strangled noise as he choked on his rice. After a few hits on the back he choked out a laugh.

“No-one could be scared of you, you’re too small.” Hyungwon pointed out. He yelped in pain as Myungjun leaned over the table to smack his arm.

“Now boys I hope you’re not fighting.” Mrs Ko’s voice came from the doorway.

Hyungwon immediately retracted the hand he was moving towards Myungjun and they both mumbled out an apology.

“If you’re really sorry you’d help me do these dishes.” she said gesturing to the pile by the sink.

Hyungwon made an excuse about going back to sleep before slipping from the room. Myungjun sighed and got to work. He would definitely make Hyungwon pay for this traitorous behaviour.

*
The days seemed to fly by, and soon enough, it was the boys last night in the guest house. They had spent all afternoon setting up tables outside and making food to celebrate joining the academy tomorrow. Mrs Ko had dug out an old record player and music was tinkling lightly in the background. Myungjun made sure to set up a table with four chairs for him and the other boys. He folded the napkins carefully and placed a couple of half used candles in the centre. It wasn’t exactly the epitome of luxury, but he had to use what he could find. He realised he had nothing to light them with, so he hurried inside to look for matches. He gave up looking after a few minutes and resigned himself to the fact his candles would have to go. He pouted sulkily and wandered back outside. The other boys were seated at the table and someone had lit the candles for him. He ran over happily and plopped down into his seat next to Sanha.

“Who lit them? I couldn’t find the matches.” said Myungjun, gesturing to the candles in front of him.

“Thought you did.” Hyungwon answered. “They were already lit when we got here.”

Myungjun shrugged it off and started chatting away excitedly about what would happen when they woke up in the morning. Myungjun had practiced hard over the past couple of weeks, and with the help of the other boys, had finally had a break through and made a tiny flower sprout through the earth. It was the same flower as the ones that had grown around him upon arriving at the academy. He still hadn’t been sure as to why they had changed and when he voiced this to Hoseok he had just shrugged and said that maybe Myungjun was the one who had changed instead.

Food was served as the sun was setting and Myungjun looked around to see if he could spot the boy with the sad eyes. He had seen him a few more times since the bathroom incident but had never gotten close enough to talk. He was left disappointed as the boy was no where to be seen. He felt sad that he wasn’t including himself in the celebrations but couldn’t do anything about it, so he cleared him from his mind and focused on the food in front of him. It wasn’t until after dinner, when night had fallen, and everyone was slowly trailing back inside, that Myungjun saw the boy sneaking out of the house and into the trees. He automatically stood up and told the others he would see them tomorrow. They didn’t stop him and said their goodbyes before heading sleepily inside with the others. He hurried in the direction of the trees he had seen the boy disappearing into and looked around. It was dark but the moon was shining through the tree’s lighting his path. He walked further in, looking around at the various plants. A twig snapped behind him and he spun around expecting to see the boy but instead realised he had been followed by the gang who had bullied the boy by the trees before. He felt a weird feeling go through his body and automatically tensed up.

“Beautiful night isn’t it Myungjun?” the boy at the front asked.

Myungjun felt as if he’d had this conversation before and winced as a dull ringing began in the back of his head.

“What do you want?” he asked calmly. “You seem to know me, but I don’t recall your names.” He began stalling for time because they were stepping closer and he was beginning to feel increasingly uneasy.

“Our names aren’t important.” He answered smugly but his face changed in an instant. “What does matter however, is the fact you’re a snitch who nearly got us into trouble over that little creep who we found spying on you. You should have been thanking us for protecting you but instead you ran and got the matron.”

Myungjun laughed, “I never called for the matron, you were just stupid enough to believe me.” The ringing in his head got louder as the boy stepped forward cracking his knuckles.

“You’re the stupid one, provoking us when you’re outnumbered. You’re just asking for a beating.” He growled, causing Myungjun to back up a few steps bumping into the tree behind him. They had him cornered and he could almost laugh from the irony had it not been for the ringing in his head growing louder. He begun to panic, not understanding why he was feeling this pain.

“S…stay back!” he warned. “I’ve been practicing my magic!”

The boy laughed but stopped advancing looking a bit apprehensive. “Go on then pretty boy, show us what you got.” He challenged.

Myungjun focused all the energy he could through the pain in his head and a few measly flowers bloomed around him. The boy laughed manically at him and reached forward to tug the flowers from the soil. The pain in his head reached its peak as he was flooded with memories. Jung-hoon finding him in the field, asking what a beautiful day it was, Jung-hoon ripping up the flowers by the lake and the feeling of his nose breaking when he was punched in the face. He gasped and fell to his knees clutching his head. He groaned in pain and felt tears stream down his face.

“GET AWAY FROM HIM.” came a loud, angry voice from the branches of a nearby tree. Myungjun looked up through his tears to see a figure drop down to the ground and ascend on the bullies.

“Oh, look boys it’s the creep himself!” the other boy said gleefully. “Why don’t you get a good look at his face Myungjun.” He leaned down and grabbed a fistful of Myungjuns hair yanking his head up. Myungjun cried out in pain and opened his eyes to see the boy with the sad eyes looking at him. Except he didn’t look very sad right now, he looked PISSED. He took a step towards Myungjun but was forced to stop as the boy gripped his hair tighter and Myungjun burst into tears. His head was pounding, and he couldn’t find the energy to fight back. The boy with the angry eyes seemed torn between wanting to run away and staying to fight. He seemed to make up his mind as he held his hands out and muttered a few words before pitch black flames burst from his palms.

“Let him go.” He said, low and dangerous. That seemed to be all it took as the boy let go of his hair and dashed out of the forest followed closely by the others. Myungjun fell to the floor clutching his head and the boy ran forwards to crouch down beside him.

“Are you okay?” he asked, voice full of worry.

The ringing in Myungjuns head started to recede and he rolled over onto his back panting and crying. “Who are you?” was all Myungjun asked before passing out.

Chapter Text

He woke up some time later looking up at the trees, where the sun was beginning to rise, with his head resting on something soft. He moved his arm up to touch his sore head and winced before turning his head to see where he was. He had his head on the boy’s lap, who had fallen asleep with his back against the tree. Myungjun was surprised but didn’t have the energy to move just yet. So, he studied the boy’s face instead. He looked a lot better up close. He snored softly; his hair being stirred by a gentle breeze. The boy looked vulnerable like this, a stark difference from how he had looked last night. Myungjun hadn’t been able to believe Sanha when he declared this boy had killed people before, but had he heard that last night he might have believed it. He shivered and looked down. The boy had placed his jacket over Myungjun to keep him warm and his heart softened a little at the thought. Someone that nice couldn’t kill people, he thought, before hugging the jacket closer and looking up at the boys face again. He noticed the boy had a smudge of dirt on his cheek, so he reached up and gently wiped it away. The action caused the boy to stir and Myungjun quickly pulled his hand away, scared of being caught. The boy opened his eyes slowly, blinking hard to chase the sleep away. He looked down and stiffened as he saw Myungjun looking up at him owlishly.

“Your lap is very comfortable.” Myungjun said not moving. He didn’t have a choice however, as the boy quickly wriggled out from under him.

“What the hell was I thinking.” He sounded annoyed but there was a hint of fear there too.

“Probably thought you couldn’t leave me to freeze to death.” offered Myungjun hugging the boys jacket closer.

The boy stared at Myungjun for a few seconds before snapping out of it and holding out his hand for his jacket.

Myungjun pouted and held it closer. “It’s cold out here.” he whined.

The boy seemed to struggle internally before sighing and retracting his hand. Myungjun smiled brightly.

“Thankyou sad eyes.” He said standing up and shrugging the jacket on.

“What?” the boy asked confused.

“I don’t know your name,” explained Myungjun. “and you have sad eyes.”

The boy frowned as he looked at the floor lost in thought for a second. “Jinwoo.”

“No, my names Myungjun.”

“Not you dummy, me, I’m Jinwoo.” the boy said fidgeting uncomfortably. “My name is Jinwoo.”

Myungjun said his name a few times, letting the sounds roll off his tongue and decided he liked it. “well Jinwoo with sad eyes, I should thank you for helping me out last night, but you never thanked me the last time so lets just call it even.”

Jinwoo looked confused before realisation hit him. “Umm yeah sorry about running away like that.” He said sheepishly and didn’t meet Myungjuns eyes.

“You ran away every time after that too, have I done something to upset you?” Myungjun asked sadly.

Jinwoo quickly looked up and hesitated before taking a step forward. “No, you didn’t do anything, I’m just…”

“Shy?” Myungjun asked. “Not good with people?”

Jinwoo shrugged, “Something like that.”

“Me neither.” said Myungjun happily. “I didn’t speak to anyone for 5 years; it was very lonely.” He finished quietly.

Jinwoo seemed surprised. “But you have lots of friends now, the tall handsome one, and the loud one that dresses…strange? And that clumsy kid, Sanha.”

“Wow you really have been spying on me.” teased Myungjun.

“No, I haven’t!” Jinwoo denied fiercely making Myungjun laugh brightly. “You just always seem to be in my line of sight that’s all.” He finished awkwardly.

“Well Jinwoo with the sad eyes who always happens to ACCIDENTLY be staring in my direction, lets be friends!” Myungjun grinned widely and held out his hand. Jinwoo had run away from it before so it was almost a challenge to see if he ran again. However, he stepped up and took Myungjuns hand in his.

“I’ll only be friends if you stop calling me sad eyes and just call me Jinwoo.” He said.

“Deal!” Myungjun smiled shaking his hand vigorously. “Now let’s go back, I don’t want people to worry if they notice we’re missing.” He didn’t let go of Jinwoos hand as he dragged him back through the forest. Jinwoo followed along without complaint and only pulled away when they could see the house.

“I don’t want people to see you with me or they’ll avoid you too.” He said sadly and gestured for Myungjun to go first. Myungjun just rolled his eyes and linked his arm through Jinwoos pulling him along again.

“I don’t care, we’re friends now and I’m the clingy type so get used to it, the others have had too.” Myungjun said proudly. “Plus, I’m still wearing your jacket, which I’m pretty sure is your favourite because I see you wearing it all the time.”

Jinwoo didn’t say a word as they walked back inside. Myungjun realised it must have still been early because only Mrs Ko and the baby were awake and having breakfast in the kitchen. She looked up in surprise.

“Boy’s where have you been? I didn’t know you were friends.” She asked curiously.

“Out for a morning stroll.” said Myungjun happily. She eyed them suspiciously but chose not to comment.

“There’s some rice leftover if you want to eat and I’ve put some side dishes from last night into the fridge.” she stood up, finished with her meal. “I’m going to bath this little one, remember to get packed, the Academy opens soon.” she bustled out of the room and left them alone.

“Thank the deity, I am STARVING.” whined Myungjun dramatically, finally dropping Jinwoos arm and moving to the fridge. “Let’s eat.”

Jinwoo cleared his throat and stood around awkwardly. “I don’t usually eat out here, I just take my food to my room.”

“Should we eat in your room then?” Myungjun asked absentmindedly, rummaging around for the best food. He picked up a container and looked inside, he had liked the taste of that last night, so he put it out on the side. He realised Jinwoo hadn’t replied so he looked up to see him staring at the floor with a blush dusting his cheeks.

“Jinwoo?” he asked taking a step towards him.

Jinwoo snapped his head up and waved his hands around in front of him “No no, its fine I can eat up here.” To further enforce his point, he sat down heavily on one of the chairs and stared down at the table top.

Myungjun shrugged it off and went back to picking out food. After a couple of minutes, he had a simple meal set up at the table and handed a pair of chopsticks and a spoon to Jinwoo. He accepted them with a small thankyou and the boys dug in. They ate fast and soon enough all the food was gone. Myungjun groaned and sat back in his chair rubbing his stomach. Much to Myungjuns surprise, Hyungwon came stumbling into the kitchen, asking about coffee. The surprise didn’t last long as Hoseok followed straight after. There would be no way Hyungwon would get up so early but with a morning alarm like Hoseok it was entirely possible.

They both sat down at the table and Jinwoo visibly stiffened.

“Boys this is my new friend Jinwoo with the…nevermind just Jinwoo” He managed to correct himself.

“Hi just Jinwoo.” Hoseok said cheerfully. “When did you two become friends? I’ve never seen you before, you have a leaf in your hair by the way.” He leaned over the table to get it out of Jinwoos hair but Jinwoo shot from his chair and backed away looking overwhelmed.

“Uhhh..Uh..Ummmm I have to go.” He said before moving quickly from the room.

Myungjun sighed irritably. “Why do you two have a habit of scaring all my friends away?”

“Yah I didn’t even say anything you brat.” said Hyungwon. “I really need some damn coffee” He got up to search the cupboards. Hoseok just sat there looking perplexed. Myungjun sighed again and got up.

“I’m going to pack, see you soon.” He said leaving the kitchen and making his way upstairs. When he got into his room, he flopped down onto the bed and stared up at the ceiling. Today was finally the day he was joining the academy. He rolled over excitedly and grabbed his stuffed bird.

“I’m going to learn lots of new magic and make even more new friends!” he told it happily. The bird stared. “Don’t worry, you’re still my best friend.” Myungjun whispered to it before leaping out of bed to pack his bag. He didn’t have a lot of stuff so soon enough it was time for him to go and find the others. Hyungwon was already packed and watching a panicked Hoseok wriggling around under the bed muttering about a missing sock.

“Just meet us downstairs” Hyungwon said to him before grabbing Myungjuns free hand and dragging him out of the room. “He’s been doing my head in, I told him to start packing last night but he never listens.” He looked down at Myungjun. “I came to your room last night to find you, but you weren’t there.” He didn’t ask but the question was left hanging between them.

“I stayed the night outside with Jinwoo.” Myungjun answered, swinging his bag as they walked down the stairs.

“The boy at breakfast? Why?”

“I was trying to find him at dinner when I saw him going into the forest out back after we had finished eating, and some of the guys from dinner followed me.” Hyungwons hand tightened around Myungjuns but he let him continue. “I’d scared them away from Jinwoo before and they came to get me back I guess.” He laughed bitterly. “It wasn’t all bad, it helped me get my memories back, so now I know how I got beaten up the first time.”

Hyungwon made a noise of sympathy and asked what happened next.

“Jinwoo jumped out of a tree and chased them away with his black fire. He looked soooo cool Hyung.” Myungjun finished dreamily. “I wish I had fire magic.”

“I like you just the way you are, you don’t need fancy fire magic.” said Hyungwon leading them into the kitchen. “Those guys didn’t hurt you, did they?” he scanned Myungjun, looking for any signs of damage.

“Not really, don’t worry.” said Myungjun with a smile before gesturing to the table. “Let’s sit here until Hoseok is ready.”

It didn’t take long. Hoseok came into the kitchen looking defeated. “It’s gone.” was all he said.

“I’ll buy you another pair just stop sulking.” said Hyungwon, ruffling his hair.

Mrs Ko came through the kitchen door and told them all to collect on the lawn outside as she was taking them to the Academies main building. They hurried outside excited and ran into a frantic looking Sanha.

“What’s wrong?” Myungjun asked grabbing his arms to stop him from wearing the grass down with his constant pacing.

“This is my third year trying the entrance exam.” He explained pale and shaking. “I wasn’t ready the first time and screwed up the second. What if I mess up again?”

“You’ll be fine. You have us to support you this year!” Myungjun encouraged him. Sanha gave him a pained smile before jumping at Mrs Ko’s voice behind him doing a head count.

“…8..9…10…Who’s missing? Jinwoo? Where’s Jinwoo?” she asked looking around.

“HERE!” he called, running from the house with a heavy looking bag.

Mrs Ko sighed in relief and told them all to follow her. Myungjun told the others to go ahead and walked back towards Jinwoo.

“Hi friend.” He said, flashing a bright smile. “Need help? What do you have in there anyway? Bricks?” He laughed loudly at his lame joke and Jinwoo rolled his eyes but smiled all the same.

“Books, lots and lots of books. I like them more then people.” He opened the bag to let Myungjun see.

“More then me? I’m hurt Jinwoo” he said dramatically with a hand over his heart.

“Yeah, I like them a lot more then you, I’ve only known you for, what? Five minutes?” Jinwoo said back teasingly.

“Yet you let me sleep on your lap. Interesting…” Myungjun teased back.

When he looked up Jinwoo was blushing furiously. “Yah, forget that ever happened okay?”

Myungjun stopped to pull Jinwoos jacket from his bag. “I believe this belongs to you.” He handed it over and Jinwoo slung it over his shoulder as it wouldn’t have fit in his already bulging bag.

They looked ahead of them to see the Academy looming.

“Do you think the exam will be hard? Sanha said he already failed it twice.” Myungjun asked quietly, suddenly full of nerves.

“You’re not Sanha.” Jinwoo pointed out. “Just because Sanha failed before doesn’t mean you will too. Anyway, I’m sure Sanha will make it this year. I see him practising all the time and he’s gotten much better.”

“Oh, so It’s not just me you spy on?” Myungjun asked feeling better already.

Jinwoo rolled his eyes. “I do not spy on people. They just-”

“-walk into your line of sight. Yeah of course I believe you.” Myungjun finished sarcastically after cutting him off.

Jinwoo huffed and tried to walk on ahead but Myungjun hurried to catch up. It wasn’t long before they reached the others who had gathered around the steps that lead to the academies big, oak front doors. Mrs Ko cleared her throat and begun to speak.

“Other potential students will be arriving any minute now; I will be taking you to a room where you will be registered, and your birthmark will be revealed. From there you will wait to be called upon for the examination. It is just to test your knowledge about your magic and see if you are ready or not. If you pass you will be taken to your living quarters but if you fail, you will come back to the guesthouse with me. Good luck everyone, I hope you all succeed.” She finished with a glance at Sanha who looked positively green.

Mrs Ko led them through the giant doors into a wide-open lobby with a grand staircase leading to the upper levels and doors and archways leading off in every direction. Myungjun gaped up in awe at the giant glass chandelier dangling above their heads.

“So pretty.” He whispered.

“Yeah, sure is.” Jinwoo said. Myungjun could hear the smile in his voice without needing to look at him and chose to smile up at the chandelier instead.

They were moved through one of the archways and towards one of the doors, which was open, revealing an overly excited man and a very bored looking woman.

“Line up in front of this desk now children.” said the man cheerfully and they all moved to do so. Sanha was in the front looking determined and the man called him over first.

“Hello Sanha, nice to see you again. Let me check your birthmark and then you can go with Ms Yeo to the examination room.” said the man taking his wrist and waving his hand over it. Sanha got the all clear and was taken away.

An older looking girl was up next and waved through quickly. The process carried on fast and efficient and soon enough it was Myungjuns turn.

Chapter Text

He walked up to the smiling man and told him his name. The man wrote it down on a sheet of paper and asked to see his wrist. Myungjun was curious to see what would happen, as all he saw during this process were the backs of the other children, but some had let out little gasps and it had piqued his interest. The man took his wrist gently and waved his fingers over his birthmark. It had always been an oddly shaped blob so Myungjun was shocked to see it start to move and take shape. After a few seconds it morphed into the shape of a leaf.

“Earth elemental, plant manipulation variety.” stated the man as he wrote it down on the sheet. He folded the paper and with a flick of the wrist it was enveloped in flames and disappeared. “You’re free to go for your examination, good luck!”

Myungjun wondered what had happened to his form but didn’t dwell on it for long as he let his feet guide him to Ms Yeo. He looked down at his wrist and run his fingers over the changed mark. He loved it. She took him to a room on the other side of the corridor where a kind looking man was sitting next to a plant pot. Myungjun smelt burnt paper and looked down to see his form, slightly singed but mainly intact smoking at the man’s feet.

“I’m guessing its your first time seeing this way of communication.” The man chuckled looking at Myungjuns shocked expression.

“Will I be able to do that?” Myungjun asked.

“You will use your plants rather than fire like Mr Wang, but ultimately yes, you will be able to send messages this way, its very handy.” The man said before gesturing to the cushion in front of him. “Please sit so we can start the examination Myungjun.”

Myungjun sat down and breathed deeply in and out to calm his nerves. The man picked up the plant pot and set it gently in front of him.

“I’m sure you know what to do but let me tell you anyway.” The man begun. “Please make a flower bloom in this soil.”

Myungjun rotated his wrists and flexed his fingers to loosen up before placing his hands over the soil. He closed his eyes and calmed his thoughts. He could do this. He had practiced countless times with Hoseok, Hyungwon and Sanha cheering him on. The thought of them made him smile and his chest felt warm. He felt the energy rush through his fingers, and he opened his eyes to see multiple flowers blooming in the pot. The man clapped his hands.

“Excellent!” he said happily. “Its rare to see a student so in tune with their powers this early on. I can see you must have practiced hard. Also, you grow yellow roses which signify friendship and joy so you must be very happy right now.”

I’m not sure if I’m in tune with my powers just yet, thought Myungjun, I just have good friends. The smile didn’t leave his face as he left the room with a pass and instructions to wait in the courtyard through the door to his left. He walked outside and was attacked with a hug from a sobbing Sanha.

“I did it Hyung!” he cried. “I passed!”

“Congratulations Sanha, I’m so proud of you!” Myungjun said hugging him tight. “I knew you could do it.”

Sanha pulled back sniffling and rubbing his eyes. Myungjun ruffled his hair and led them to a stone bench to sit and wait on. Sanha shrieked as an insect flew towards him. He held up his hands and blasted it away with a small gust of air.

“Stop blasting all the bugs away.” Myungjun scolded him. “They’re not hurting you.”

“They’re DISGUSTING.” Sanha shuddered and curled up against Myungjun.

The time passed slowly as the courtyard began to fill up. Hyungwon and Hoseok came through smiling and exclaiming they had passed and Jinwoo came not long after. He was quiet and sat down on Myungjuns other side. Myungjun gave Hoseok a warning look as he looked like he was about to start firing more questions at Jinwoo and Myungjun didn’t want him to be scared off again. Soon other children started to come through the door who Myungjun had never seen before. A pretty girl with a round face and jet-black hair came through one of the doors and Myungjun couldn’t help but stare. She walked with confidence and flames were rippling across her fingers.

“She looks dangerous.” said Sanha lowly, cuddling further into Myungjun.

Jinwoo shifted uncomfortably and put his hands into his pockets. Myungjun realised Jinwoo probably felt uncomfortable as he possessed the same magic as the pretty girl, so he reached into the pocket closest to him and pulled out Jinwoos hand to hold it. He wanted Jinwoo to know that he didn’t think his fire magic was dangerous and the message appeared to have reached him as Jinwoo gave him a small smile.

Hoseok scoffed from his seat on the floor by Sanha’s feet. “If you’re that scared Sanha I’ll just go put out her fire with my magic.”

Now it was Sanha who was shifting uncomfortably. “No Hyung, that would be rude! And I’m not scared I was just observing.” He added with a pout.

The whole courtyard fell silent as a boy walked through the doors. Myungjun could have sworn he had ethereal blood as this boy didn’t look completely human. The boy looked annoyed, but it did nothing to dampen his image. Myungjun realised he was looking for a place to sit so he scooted close to Jinwoo, pulling the clingy Sanha with him. The ethereal boy looked over at them and gave a small nod of thanks before making his way over.

The boy stopped before Myungjun and bowed slightly in greeting. “My name is Dongmin, nice to meet you.” He was very well spoken and stood with an air just as confident as the fire girl.

Myungjun introduced himself less confidently and the others followed suit. Hyungwons voice suddenly spoke from behind Myungjun and made him jump. He hadn’t realised Hyungwon was behind him. When he turned to look Hyungwon was glaring coolly at Dongmin who looked confused.

“Do we know each other?” Dongmin asked politely.

Hyungwon laughed with no warmth. “Of course, you wouldn’t recognise me.” Was all he said before turning on his heel and walking off.

Myungjun turned back to look at Dongmin. “What was all that about?”

“No idea.” He replied shaking his head before taking the empty space next to Sanha. A silence fell over them and the air grew cooler as the hours passed.

Myungjun was falling asleep with his head tilting closer to Jinwoos shoulder when four people walked through the door calling for silence. He shot up in his seat, jostling a whining Sanha, and shook the sleepiness away.

“Congratulations to you all for passing the entrance exam and welcome to the academy.” said one of the men, his voice carrying across the courtyard. “I’m the fire leader here, you can call me Blaze. I will be escorting all fire users to their living quarters. You’ll have the chance to unpack and freshen up before the welcoming feast tonight. The other leaders are here to take the rest of you so listen up and wait to be called. Fire users follow me now.” He finished, clapping his hands loudly and people started to jostle their way through the crowd towards him.

Myungjun felt Jinwoo moving and squeezed his hand gently before letting it go. “See you later.” He said with a smile and Jinwoo smiled back with a small goodbye before picking up his bag and leaving, pushing his way to the front.

The process went quicker after that with each leader calling out their respective element. A tall slim man by the name of Grove called for all earth elementals so Myungjun wriggled out of Sanha’s grasp and made his way to the front. The man smiled warmly at them all before leading the way back through the castle. Myungjun looked around at the other students following him. Most looked excited whilst others just looked tired. Myungjun walked over to one of the tired looking boys and offered to carry his bag.

“You look like you could use some help, do you want me to take your things? I won’t run away with it I promise; we’re going to the same place after all.” He said kindly.

The boy yawned and shook his head. “No thanks, I just had a long journey here, but I can still carry my own stuff.”

“How long of a journey here?” asked Myungjun. He didn’t really know anywhere outside of his hometown, so he was curious how much more the world had to offer.

“About two weeks” he said casually.

“TWO WEEKS?” Myungjun shrieked. “That’s such a long time. Where did you come from? It only took me and my friends a few days.”

“I came in from Zepheholde with my friend Moonbin.” He said as if it explained everything. He carried on when he saw Myungjuns lost expression. “Zepheholde the city of trade?...Where the port is?...Where the lands biggest marketplace is?...I’m sorry, how do you not know this already? Did you live in the desert or something?”

“Desert?” asked Myungjun tilting his head. The boy looked exasperated.

“Seriously you must have lived away from civilisation to not know anything about Zepheholde. Everyone calls it the city of magic and adventure. People go to all the foreign lands using the port there and come back with so many exciting stories! I’d love to travel across the sea one day.” The boy said, eyes glazing over as he stared into the distance.

“I’ve never seen the sea, but my mother spoke about it sometimes.” Myungjun said quietly.

“You didn’t get out much I’m guessing.” The boy speculated.

“I didn’t know much about anything apparently.” Myungjun said sulkily. The boy smiled and patted him on the back.

“I’m Minhyuk by the way, Park Minhyuk, but everyone just calls me Rocky.”

“You can just call me Myungjun.” He replied brightening up. “Why do people call you Rocky?”

Rocky opened his bag and pulled out a rock about the size of a fist. “This is Rocky Jr. The first rock I ever made. I haven’t been able to make one since but he’s enough.”

Myungjun stared at the rock. Had this kid just named his rock? And why was he stroking and cooing at it like that? He didn’t want to ask and sound rude, so he chose the safest question.

“You make rocks?”

“Earth elemental, ground manipulation variety.” Rocky said proudly, showing off his birthmark.

Myungjun presented his birthmark in return, and they chatted all the way to the edge of the forest surrounding the Academy. They only stopped when Grove shouted for their attention.

“Welcome to your new home!” he called out, pushing aside a rock with his foot and placing his hand on the ground. His birthmark started to glow and the empty forest in front of them slowly came to life. The view of the empty forest disappeared and was replaced by hundreds of large trees with ladders hanging down the trunks. When Myungjun looked up he saw they led to huts nestled in the branches with sturdy looking bridges connecting all the trees. Students around him gasped in awe and started to mutter excitedly.

“Plant manipulators your home is here. Find your name on one of the plaques, at the base of the big tree here, to find your room. Ground manipulators follow me, you will be housed in the underground burrows through this cave entrance to my right. Quickly now, the feast begins in a few hours.”

Myungjun said a quick goodbye to Rocky and made his way to the plaques to find his name. After a few minutes of searching he found his name listed with two others.

Tree House #74
Kim Namjoon
Kim Myung Jun
Choi Young Jae

Chapter Text

He looked around at the signposts through the trees to find which way he needed to go. After locating the one he needed he set of with a spring in his step. His mother never let him have a treehouse. Probably because she thought he would never stop talking to the trees otherwise. He’d always wanted one for that very reason so he was elated to realise this would be his new home. Students ran past him, shouting happily and chasing each other. Myungjun stopped every now and then to say hello to the pretty flowers that littered the sides of the paths and came to a stop a short distance from the base of the tree labelled ‘#74’. There was a boy staring up the ladder visibly sweating. He was muttering to himself and wiping his sweaty palms on his shorts. Myungjun walked over to him.

“…just a short ladder, you can do this. You only fell off the last ladder because you weren’t careful. Just do it slowly and everything will be fine.” He hesitantly touched the ladder and immediately retracted his hand. “You’re going to die; this is the end.” He whined dramatically before turning around to leave. He jumped when he saw Myungjun and put his hand on his chest.

“You scared me.” He breathed. “You shouldn’t sneak up on people like that.”

“I’m sorry.” Myungjun apologised, feeling genuinely bad. “Are you scared of heights?” He gestured to the tree in front of them.

“Oh, not really.” The boy said sheepishly. “I just don’t like ladders much after I fell from one when I was younger and shattered my elbow. It’s all better now it just aches sometimes you know.”

Myungjun wiggled his mended arm and nodded. “Yeah I understand. Don’t be scared though, I’m here and I’ll catch you if you do fall.”

The boy laughed shakily. “Okay.” He stepped back up to the ladder. “So, you’re either Namjoon or Myungjun?”

“I’m Myungjun, which makes you Youngjae.” He smiled stepping up behind the boy. The boy nodded quickly before placing his hands on the rungs and placing his first foot on. He breathed shakily and pulled himself up. The first few steps were slow, but he sped up quickly enough until they were both standing on the wooden decking at the top. Youngjae sighed in relief and flashed Myungjun a blinding smile. Myungjun returned it with one of his own and stepped up to open the door. The other boy who could only be Namjoon was snoring loudly on one of the beds with a book in his hand and his glasses askew. The boys entered quietly and unpacked their bags, giggling with each other when Namjoon let out a particularly loud snort. When Myungjun had finished unpacking, he gently took the book from Namjoons hand and the glasses from his face, placing them carefully on the small cabinet beside his bed. He placed a cover over the top of the sleeping boy and signalled for Youngjae to step outside. They sat outside on the decking watching the sun set through the trees. They had been outside for a while when they heard a clatter and a sad cry from inside. They rushed back through the door to see Namjoon, kneeling on the floor, holding his glasses which he had clearly knocked off the cabinet. Myungjun got closer to see the glass had cracked in one of the lenses and the frame had split down the middle.

Namjoon looked up at them miserably. “These were my new glasses.” He said sadly, close to tears.

Myungjun crouched down on the floor in front of him and took the pieces gently from his hands. “Hello, I’m Myungjun and I put your glasses on the side so it’s my fault, I’m sorry.” He ran his finger over the cracks and tried to think about how to fix it.

Namjoon sighed. “It’s fine I would have broken them one way or another. Do you have any tape so I can at least put them back on?”

Youngjae rushed to his bedside cabinet and opened the drawer he had just unpacked some of his stuff into. He pulled out a reel of rainbow tape and handed it over embarrassed. “Sorry that’s all I have.”

Namjoon took it, seemingly unaffected by the bright colours and clumsily tore some pieces off for Myungjun. Myungjun taped the two pieces back together as best as he could and placed the glasses onto Namjoons face. The bumpy tape made the glasses sit funny on his nose and Myungjun giggled.

“You look cute now.” He said as Namjoon flushed.

A tinkling bell rang through the forest signalling the start of the feast, so the boys quickly scrambled to wash up and make their way down. On their way out of the forest they bumped into Rocky who was chatting to a girl with blonde hair and carrying Rocky Jr protectively in his arms. Quick introductions were made, and they set of racing each other to the Academy doors. Namjoon trailed far behind the rest and gave up, choosing to bury his face into his book again as he walked. Hyungwon was standing at the door waiting for them all looking very wet and very angry.

“What’s wrong?” Myungjun asked rushing up to him and taking off his jacket to wrap around the taller boy’s shoulders.

“Hoseok, I’m going to kill him.” seethed Hyungwon. “He freaked out when we were crossing the lake and pushed me into the water.”

Myungjun held back a laugh. “I’m sure he didn’t mean to push you. He just got scared that’s all. Where is he now anyway?”

“I don’t know, and I don’t care. I smell like lake water and I’m hungry as hell, so can we please just go and get something to eat so I can go back and get into bed?”

Myungjun nodded before taking his hand and walking into the Academy. They were swept along the sea of moving bodies and found themselves in a huge room, tables and chairs dotted about everywhere, most of which were taken already. Myungjun heard someone calling his name and looked over to see Sanha gesturing for him to come over to a table where Jinwoo and Dongmin were already sitting. Dongmin greeted them politely but Jinwoo kept quiet, staring at the table and tracing patterns on the wood with his fingers.

“Has anyone seen Hoseok?” Myungjun asked quietly so Hyungwon wouldn’t hear him. Sanha pointed to a table across the room where Hoseok was seated, clearly hiding from Hyungwon. Myungjun rolled his eyes and sighed before taking the seat next to Jinwoo and pulling Hyungwon down into the seat on his other side. He grabbed some napkins off the table and attempted to dry Hyungwons hair. Jinwoo stood up abruptly and left, muttering about needing the toilet. The door he was walking to opened and trays of food started floating out. He ducked quickly and looked back at their table in embarrassment before rushing out of a different door. Sanha laughed loudly and Myungjun kicked him under the table to silence him. The food floated around the room slowly and soon enough everyone’s plates were full. Jinwoo crept back and gave Myungjun a small smile as he filled up Jinwoos plate with food he had saved for him. The food was delicious. There was more food then Myungjun knew existed. He ate something that smelt like fish but tasted rubbery and everyone laughed when he spat it out with a look of disgust.

After he had finished eating, Myungjun looked around and was happy when he spotted his new friends dotted around various tables laughing and eating. He never knew he would have this many friends. If someone had told him that a few weeks ago, he would have laughed and told them to stop making up lies. Namjoon was sitting next to Hoseok and they were whispering amongst themselves and shooting glances in Hyungwons direction every few seconds. Youngjae was laughing loudly at something a smaller girl had said and waved when he noticed Myungjun was watching him. Myungjun waved back before turning his attention to Rocky who was standing up and stretching. He made his way over to Myungjuns table, petting Rocky Jr, and asked if they had any leftover food. Myungjun handed over a few fries and looked on baffled as Rocky placed the fries carefully on the floor. He was about to ask what he was doing before Rocky lifted Rocky Jr into the air and brought it down, hard, on top of the fries. They were completely crushed under the force and Rocky stood up looking disappointed.

“Rocky Jr doesn’t like the taste of those either.” He said sighing. “I don’t even know what rocks like to eat.” He turned on his heel and stalked off.

Myungjun turned back around in his seat to see what other people thought about that display of behaviour but no one else seemed to have noticed. Sanha was asleep with his hand in his drink and Dongmin was watching a boy with bright pink hair cross the room. Myungjun looked at Hyungwon who had suddenly stood up.

“HOSEOK I SEE YOU.” He shouted angrily at the boy, who jumped up with a shriek and raced from the room. Hyungwon followed him fast and everyone jumped out of the way to let him pass. Myungjun sighed and stood up to follow them to make sure no one died but Jinwoo stopped him.

“Let them sort this out, it will be over quicker that way. You’ll probably get hurt in the crossfire if you go now.” Jinwoo said wisely.

Myungjun sighed and flopped down into his seat. “I’m sure Hyungwon will just push him into the lake for revenge or something. I swear I feel like the oldest here sometimes.” He looked over at Jinwoo and pouted.

Jinwoo grinned. “Let’s act our age then, wanna start a food fight? I’ve heard about them before, they sound fun.”

“They are not the least bit fun and you smell a lot afterwards.” said Dongmin from the other side of the table.

“Only if the food hits you.” said Jinwoo excitedly, reaching over the table to pick up some food. Before he got there, a loud voice carried over the room. He sat back looking disappointed as Dongmin breathed a sigh of relief. Sanha woke with a start and knocked over his glass. After helping him clean it up they all looked over to see a man standing on a raised platform.

“Hello everyone, I hope you ate a lot and made lots of new friends. I’m the Head of this academy, Mr Bang and I would like to welcome you to this prestigious institute. Legends claim that the Academy was founded by the Deity of Eden herself, to give magic users across the land the chance to hone their abilities and improve characteristically in order to ascend to her kingdom after death. It is our job to help you achieve this and we will do our best and hope that in return, you will try your best too. Now it is time for the welcoming feast show, students in their final year of their training will come up here and showcase everything they have learned during their time here to give the new students a taste of what is to come.” Mr Bang gestured for students to come up and Myungjun looked on excitedly. He couldn’t wait to see what he would learn to do.

The show was spectacular. Students of each element performed the ability they were most confident in. One student caused the whole room to shake with the power of the tremors he created with his hands placed on the floor, causing stray cutlery to fall from the table edges. When the excitement died down another student created a little cloud above her head making it rain down onto her. She didn’t get wet however, as her very skin absorbed the water that fell and everyone applauded her as she bowed quickly, embarrassed, before running off stage. The next student got the loudest cheers as she created a blast of air from her palms and used it to propel herself from one side of the room to the other, above the heads of astonished students.

Sanha clapped excitedly. “I have air magic! I’ll be learning that too.”

Everyone voiced their jealously before gasping in amazement as another student chanted a few words causing giant plants to rise from the ground and walk across the room; where they were promptly frozen in place by a sullen looking boy. He waved his hands and snow fell from the ceiling in vast amounts that soon settled on the tables. Myungjun wished Hyungwon was still here so he could see how his powers will improve, they weren’t very strong from what he had shown in the forest on their way to the academy before. Myungjun looked across the table to see Dongmin waving his hands to create a little pile of snow next to his plate, unlike Hyungwons attempts, Dongmins actually settled and he looked proud of himself.

The room grew cold as the snow got fiercer before a gasp of shock came from behind them. Another older boy was walking through the room with heat waves radiating off his skin. The ice melted and people sighed in content from the warmth. The boy started to shoot balls of fire across the room which exploded into fireworks. Everyone cheered but Myungjun was no longer watching. He had turned to see Jinwoos reaction to what he would be learning but the boy looked far from happy. In fact, he looked terrified. Jinwoo stood up from his seat causing it to fall back with a clatter. Black flames spread across his palms and he looked down in shock. He was losing control. He clenched his fists tight, digging in his nails until blood dripped through his fingers. Myungjun panicked and reached for his hands to stop him but Jinwoo tore them away as if his touch burned and fled from the room. Myungjun ran after him to the shouts of his friends behind him.

The sound dampened considerably as he left the room and he followed the sounds of Jinwoos feet on the floorboards. He ran for what seemed like a long time, down corridor after corridor until the sound of Jinwoos steps slowed down to a stop. Myungjun turned the corner to see the boy shaking and falling through the door to an empty room. He followed him inside and caught him before he fell. He turned him towards his chest and pulled him in for a hug. Myungjun didn’t understand why Jinwoo was so scared but he held him tight. Jinwoo tried to fight, to push Myungjun away, but he wouldn’t let go. Jinwoo cried and cried until he tired himself out with Myungjun running soothing fingers through his hair and shushing him comfortingly. After a while, they sunk to the floor and Myungjun pulled back to look at his face. Even in the minimal light Myungjun could tell that Jinwoos eyes were swollen and tears streaked his face. Myungjun wiped them away gently and dug around in his pockets to find a tissue to wipe Jinwoos nose with. Jinwoo quietly thanked him and lay down putting his head in Myungjuns lap. He was quiet for a few seconds, letting Myungjun play with his hair.

“I’m sorry, I don’t usually have panic attacks in front of people.” He croaked out sounding close to tears again.

“If you cry again, I swear I’m going to cry with you.” Myungjun warned with a shaky voice. A little laugh bubbled up from Jinwoos chest and he looked up at Myungjun. The only light in the room was coming from the moon shining in through the little window and it fell across Jinwoos face, making the tears that clung to his eyelashes sparkle. Myungjun thought he looked beautiful. Jinwoo flushed and looked away. Had Myungjun said that out loud?

“Well its true.” Myungjun finished embarrassed before letting the silence envelope them again. They stayed like that until Myungjun thought Jinwoo had fallen asleep, but he suddenly spoke again.

“I don’t like my magic.” He said quietly and Myungjun felt his shirt get damp as Jinwoo buried his face into his stomach. “I wish I was normal.”

Myungjun rubbed soothing circles onto his back to let him know he was listening but didn’t want to interrupt.

“I wish I hadn’t been born. I don’t even want to be here to learn about my magic. I don’t deserve it.” He said, voice full of spite towards himself. Myungjun felt his heart clench painfully and he hugged Jinwoo closer.

“Don’t say that. I might not know why you feel this way, but nothing could be so bad that you should genuinely feel like this.”

That seemed like the wrong thing to say as Jinwoo laughed at his words bitterly not saying anything. After a few seconds he sat up looking like he’d made his mind up about something. “I shouldn’t even be here with you; I shouldn’t be around people and you should definitely stay away from me.” He stood up to leave. “Lets just pretend we never met.”

Myungjun scrambled to get up and grabbed the back of his shirt before he reached the door. He didn’t understand why Jinwoo was suddenly saying such things, but it made him upset to hear them. “Please don’t do this Jinwoo. Don’t leave me alone.” He said feeling tears well up in his eyes. “I was alone for so long; I don’t want you to leave me too.”

Jinwoo pulled away gently. “You’re not going to be alone; you have plenty of other friends.” He said moving towards the door.

“They’re not you though.” Myungjun called out desperately. This made Jinwoo pause and he turned around slowly to look at Myungjun. “They’re not you”. Myungjun repeated. “They didn’t save me that night in the forest and look after me all night. That was you and I’m glad we met. Not just because you saved me but because you’re a good person Jinwoo. You’re so kind and funny and I don’t want you to leave me.” He slowly walked up to Jinwoo and held out his hand. “Please stay.” He pouted sadly.

Jinwoo stared at him and slowly looked down at his outstretched hand. He closed his eyes and breathed in loudly before letting it out slowly, reaching blindly to take Myungjuns hand in his own. He opened his eyes and shot him a small smile. “No ones ever spoken about me like that before.” He said before pulling Myungjun into a hug. “I liked it.” He added quietly and Myungjun couldn’t help but giggle.

Myungjun pulled back first and cleared his throat awkwardly. “I know I made a big deal out of you not leaving but I really think we should go back to our rooms before everyone gets worried.”

Jinwoo seemed to be thinking before he replied. “I don’t remember how to get back to my room, do you?”

Myungjun thought back and realised he had been speaking to Rocky on the way there and racing the others to the Academy on the way out. He hadn’t been paying enough attention to his surroundings and he cursed himself.

“I have no idea.” He replied. Jinwoo sighed and felt around the nearest wall for a light switch. He found one and light flooded the room blinding them both temporarily. When Myungjuns eyes had adjusted to the light he looked around. They had ended up in some sort of storage room and he cheered happily when he pulled out a pair of old curtains after a few minutes of rummaging.

“We can sleep on this.” He presented the curtains, proud of himself for finding them. When he looked up at Jinwoo his face fell. Jinwoo was holding a much nicer looking blanket.

“Show off.” Myungjun mumbled before dumping the dusty curtains back onto the pile haphazardly.

Jinwoo rolled his eyes and got to work setting out the blanket neatly. He looked at his handiwork proudly before freezing with a look of dread on his face. “There’s only one blanket.” Was all he said. Myungjun hit his arm annoyed. “Don’t be so dramatic, I thought something was actually wrong looking at your face.”

Jinwoo spluttered. “There is something wrong! We both have to sleep on this blanket.”

Myungjun was struggling to see the problem. “I’ve slept on your LAP Jinwoo, we can both share a stupid blanket. Just turn off the light, I’m tired.” He walked over and lay down on one side of the blanket making as much room as possible for Jinwoo. “See, you have so much space. Now turn off the light you chicken.”

Jinwoo seemed to snap out of it and hurried to the light switch to turn it off. They were plunged into darkness and Myungjun waited patiently for Jinwoo to lay down. After what felt like an eternity Jinwoo lowered himself cautiously onto the blanket and shuffled all the way to the other side with his back to Myungjun, who just sighed and closed his eyes waiting for sleep to take him. Jinwoos breathing evened out and Myungjun guessed he was asleep. He was cold so he rolled over to press up against Jinwoos warm back. “I’m glad you were born.” He whispered before falling into his dreams.

Chapter Text

Myungjun woke to the feeling of someone shaking him. He mumbled incoherently and rolled over trying to go back to sleep.

“…jun you need to wake up we’re going to be late.” Jinwoos voice penetrated his sleep addled mind.

Myungjun groaned and opened his eyes, blinking a few times. He looked around to see Jinwoo hovering nervously by the side of the makeshift bed.

“We need to go pick up our timetables for classes today.” Jinwoo explained and offered his hand hesitantly to help Myungjun up.

Myungjun took it gratefully and with minimal effort was hoisted to his feet. He stretched until he felt his spine pop and sighed in relief. “I HATE sleeping on floors.” He declared dramatically before kicking the blanket into the corner. “Let’s go before we get into trouble.”

Myungjun and Jinwoo had a hard time finding their way back after running frantically through the corridors, with no sense of direction, the previous night. Eventually they made it back to the big hall they had eaten in, just as the last few students trailed out holding their timetables. Myungjun exchanged a worried look with Jinwoo. Just how late were they? They hurried inside to see the place was clear of tables, with only a few booths at one side where the elemental leaders were seated, talking amongst themselves. Grove looked up and waved Myungjun over.

“You’re very late.” He said sternly. “I handed out my last timetable a while ago and was just getting ready to leave, I do have classes to teach today.”

Myungjun stumbled over his apology and took his timetable with a deep bow. He looked over to see Jinwoo getting similar treatment from Blaze as the other two leaders looked on amused.

“C’mon now Blaze, don’t be too hard on the kid. He got here before we left didn’t he?” said one, she rolled her eyes at the look Blaze sent her way. “Why are fire users so hot tempered.” She got up out of her seat and glided out of the room.

“Well done, you’ve managed to piss her off again.” said the last leader, who Myungjun guessed oversaw the water elemental students, as he was creating patches of ice wherever he stepped on his way out of the room.

Blaze rubbed his hands over his face with a groan. “You’re dismissed.” He said to Jinwoo before hurrying out of the hall after the others.

Myungjun thanked Grove before quickly dragging Jinwoo out of the Academy building. He only let go when they reached the edge of the forest and he flopped down under one of the trees, patting the ground beside him. Jinwoo sat down next to him and looked at his timetable.

“Wow we have a lot of classes.” He said before peering down at Myungjuns timetable. They compared classes and were happy to see they had a few together.

“Basic combat and weapons training?” Myungjun read apprehensively. “I can’t fight.”

“Yeah that’s why you’ll learn it here dummy.” Jinwoo said, avoiding Myungjuns hand with a laugh. “Do we have that class together? Yeah, we do. I hope I get paired with you, I’d win all the time, you can’t even hit me properly.”

Myungjun was offended and dived forward, tackling Jinwoo to the ground. They rolled around laughing until a loud voice caught their attention. Sanha was running across the grounds towards them looking upset. Myungjun climbed off Jinwoo just in time as Sanha barrelled straight into him and hugged him tight.

“Where were you?” he whined angrily. “Dongmin-Hyung was worried about you and made me go with him to look for you last night.”

Myungjun felt really guilty to put them through that as Sanha had already been really tired at dinner. He just hoped they hadn’t looked for long. “I’m sorry.” he whispered rubbing Sanha’s back. “Jinwoo wasn’t feeling good so I had to make sure he was okay.” Myungjun pulled back to see if Sanha was okay as well, and to his relief he looked a bit better.

“But why didn’t you go back to your room last night? A boy with rainbow tape on his glasses asked me if I’d seen you at breakfast this morning and said you hadn’t been back.” Sanha questioned.

Myungjun and Jinwoo exchanged an awkward look and Sanha jumped back screeching. “EW DID YOU TWO STAY IN THE SAME ROOM?”

Myungjun said yes just as Jinwoo said no and Sanha covered his mouth with a dramatic gasp. “Did you two...kiss?” he said the last word quietly as if it was the most disgusting thing on the planet before clamping his hands over his ears. “Actually, I don’t want to hear it, I’m going to tell Dongmin-Hyung.”

Myungjun and Jinwoo were noisily denying it and tried to stop him but Sanha raced back into the Academy without looking back. Myungjun just sighed and laid back down on the grass. Why was Sanha so annoying?

“Why did he have to say it like that?” Jinwoo mumbled grumpily.

“He’s a baby, kissing is too much for him.” Myungjun replied.

“He’s not a baby he’s 10.”

“Exactly. A baby.” Myungjun said wisely.

Jinwoo just rolled his eyes and grabbed his timetable before standing up. “See you at dinner.” Was all he said before leaving Myungjun to watch his receding back as he disappeared into the academy.

Myungjun reached back to touch the tree behind him. He felt its amusement. “I’m glad one of us finds this whole situation funny.” He said sulkily before getting up to make his way back to his room. He owed Namjoon and Youngjae an explanation.

They were understanding about it and promised not to report his absence to Grove. Myungjun was grateful, he didn’t want to annoy the man any further today, or ever if possible.

The next morning, Myungjun woke with excitement coursing through his veins. Today was his first day of classes. He sprung out of bed and run over to Youngjaes, jumping on top of him as the boy moaned and tried to bury deeper under the covers. However, as soon as Myungjun reminded him of the day ahead, he shot up, bumping his head into Myungjuns chin. The boys yelped in pain before dissolving into giggles as Namjoon rolled out of bed in a panic wondering what was wrong.

They washed up and rushed down the ladder in record time. Other students were emerging from their rooms and a boy with chubby cheeks ran past dragging another taller boy.

“Slow down Jimin, I’m going to trip!” the taller boy said stumbling after him. The other boy, Jimin, just giggled and ran faster as they disappeared through the trees.

“You can feel the excitement.” Namjoon observed, pushing his glasses further up his nose.

“Even Rocky Jr is excited.” came Rocky’s voice from behind them. He hurried to catch up and presented the rock for them all to see. Youngjae looked from the rock to Rocky’s happy face and decided to stay quiet.

Myungjun greeted him happily and petted Rocky Jr. He was in such a good mood; nothing could faze him today. They made their way to breakfast, discussing what classes they had for the day. Rocky excused himself to go to the toilet and Myungjun led the others to the table where Sanha, Hyungwon and Hoseok were seated.

“Where’s Jinwoo?” Myungjun asked looking around the room. He couldn’t see him anywhere.

“He was just finishing by the time we got here and went to class early.” Hoseok explained helpfully, with a mouth full of food. Hyungwon looked at him disgusted, as he pushed his food around his plate.

“Eat hyung.” Myungjun told him pointing his spoon in his direction threateningly. Hyungwon sighed but ate a little more anyway.

Dongmin joined them not long after and ate quickly. Namjoon told him to slow down or he’d get indigestion and Dongmin obliged with a shy smile. “Sorry I’m just excited. I have weather manipulation class first and I’ve read all about it. It’s really interesting” Sanha leaned over the table excitedly, asking for tips. Hoseok and Hyungwon listened closely as they would be joining Dongmin and Sanha for that class. The four of them left after Dongmin finished explaining, eager to get to class and were replaced shortly after, by Rocky and the pink haired boy that Myungjun had seen Dongmin staring at the other night.

“This is the friend I was talking to you about Hyung.” Rocky said to Myungjun.

Myungjun thought back to their conversation about where Rocky had come from. “Moonbin, right?”

The pink haired boy nodded and smiled. Myungjun thought he was cute, kind of puppy like.

“My names Myungjun.” He said brightly and introduced him to Namjoon and Youngjae.

“It’s nice to meet you all.” Moonbin said politely before ramming a huge spoonful of food into his mouth.

Soon enough it was time for Myungjun, Namjoon and Youngjae to depart for their first lesson. Herbology. After looking at his timetable Myungjun decided that this class would probably be his favourite. He couldn’t wait to learn about all the different flowers and how to use them to help people. He also had another reason; he wanted to know why his flowers had changed whenever he created them. The first time in the field his flowers had been smaller and a pretty white, now they were vibrant yellow roses that signified friendship and happiness, according to his examiner anyway. Namjoon pulled out a parchment roll from his pocket and opened it carefully. It contained what appeared to be a map of the academy. He saw Myungjun looking and handed it over to him.

“We got given them before getting our timetables to help us find our lesson’s, but I know you were late. You can have mine; I’ve memorized it already.” He said with a yelp as Myungjun hugged him tight.

“Thankyou Namjoon you’re a lifesaver, I’d be getting lost all of the time otherwise.” He pulled back to shoot the boy a bright smile. Namjoon grinned back and led the way towards a different part of the forest.

“Our herbology classes are outside?” Youngjae asked happily. “That’s so cool!”

They walked for a few minutes through the trees before coming into a clearing. Myungjun gasped as he looked around. It was covered in plants and flowers, more then Myungjun could have imagined himself. Sun was shining down and making them sparkle, all different colours of the rainbow. Some of the plants were taller then Myungjun whilst some were so tiny Myungjun wanted to coo and tell them how cute they were. Sitting amidst those flowers was a little old lady who smiled warmly at them when they approached.

“You’re here a little early, boys. Come and take a seat.” She gestured to the sprinkling of boulders around her that were covered in moss. Namjoon sat down first stretching his long legs out in front of him. Myungjun and Youngjae opted to sit together on one of the bigger stones and Myungjun patted the moss, whispering a thankyou for the added comfort.

Other students slowly trickled into the clearing, looking equally as surprised as Myungjun had been. The seats started to fill and Myungjun recognised the boy from earlier, Jimin, taking a seat close to the old lady.

Once everyone was seated, she clapped her hands to call for their attention and gave them all a warm smile. “Welcome to herbology my dears. You are the new generation of plant users and I’m going to teach you all there is to know.”

Myungjun clutched Youngjaes hands in his and they exchanged excited looks.

“I have a pile of text books here,” she pointed to the stack of leather-bound books resting under the nearest tree. “and I would like you to collect one each. They will be yours until the end of the year so look after them well.” She waited patiently until everyone was seated again with their new books in hand. “Now what I want you to do for todays class; is identify some of the plants in this field and sketch them using the supplies provided. These drawings will go with you into next years lessons as you will be returning the textbooks, so do them well.”

Namjoon sighed unhappily and turned to Myungjun. “I can’t draw.”

Myungjun returned the look, “I don’t think I can either.” He got up to fetch them all drawing supplies and they made their way to the first patch of flowers. The flowers themselves were gorgeous and Myungjun reached out to them. They were cheerful and Myungjun smiled. “I’m happy too!” he said to them.

Youngjae looked over at him strangely. “They’re talking to you?”

“Not really I can just sense how they feel.” Myungjun shrugged nonchalantly.

Youngjae looked at him in awe before a small voice piped up behind them. “My grandmother told me that it means you have a talent with plants if you can sense them so early on.”

They turned around in surprise to see Jimin staring down at them shyly. “Hello, my names Park Jimin, can I join you?”

They made a space for him and he crouched down to touch the flowers. He was quiet for a few seconds. “Okay, I’ll ask Ms Jung for some water.” He said before standing up.

Myungjun stared at him in confusion. “Why do you need water?”

“The flowers are thirsty.” He said with a smile before skipping off to find the teacher.

Myungjun excused himself and ran after him. Jimin was surprised to see him tagging along.

“How did you know they were thirsty?” Myungjun asked curiously. “I only sensed that they were happy.”

“I lived surrounded by plants in my grandmothers’ shop.” Jimin explained, sounding wistful. “I was around plants so much that I learned over time how to communicate with them better. My grandmother is the best at it though. She talks to them more than actual people and others think that’s strange and look at her weirdly, but I think she’s brilliant.”

I wish I grew up around people like that, thought Myungjun. He immediately thought of his mother and felt a twinge of guilt. She had tried to raise him as well as possible, given the circumstances. Jimin went up to ask for some water and came back with a pot.

“We need to go collect the water ourselves.” He explained to Myungjuns confused expression. “I know where to go.” He led them through the clearing up to a taller plant at the back. It was nearly as tall as them, with a thick, sturdy looking stem and it appeared to be budding. Jimin walked up to it and placed a hand on it gently. “May we have some water?” he asked kindly, and to Myungjuns surprise the plant head bloomed to reveal bright blue petals. The plant leaned forward, and water began to trickle from the centre of the flower into Jimin’s pot. Myungjun was astonished, he’d never seen anything like it and wanted to touch it. So, he reached out towards it but before he made contact the plant closed in on itself as if not wanting to be touched. Jimin laughed at Myungjuns pout. “Try asking it nicely.” He advised.

Myungjun leaned forward tentatively and gently placed his hand on its stem. “May we have some water?” he asked as nicely as possible. The plant opened up fast and sprayed water up into the air, it fell like rain, sparkling in the sunlight and drenching them both. Jimin laughed loud and bright and thanked it before dragging Myungjun away, who was looking very offended.

“I asked nicely!” he whined, shaking the water from his hair.

They made their way back over to Youngjae and Namjoon who were finishing their drawings. Namjoon looked defeated and sighed as he put his drawing down. He stretched out his back with a groan before looking at Myungjun who was sulkily watching Jimin water the flowers.

“Why are you wet?” Namjoon asked.

“Plants hate me.” Myungjun replied shortly.

Youngjae looked up and laughed. “I’m sure they don’t, now hurry up and copy my drawing so we can move on.”

“Hey! You didn’t let me copy your drawing.” accused Namjoon.

“Yeah it’s because I REALLY wanted to see if you draw as bad as you say.” Youngjae said cheekily. “and you really do.” He added with a laugh.

Namjoon stomped off mumbling about unfairness in the world as Myungjun got to work, drawing out each petal and leaf with care and adding extra notes of its benefits on the back.

The rest of the lesson went smoothly and they each left clutching a small pile of their drawings. Namjoon was still sulking because he had somehow managed to rip one of the pages from his textbook after opening it and the teacher had reprimanded him. She had given him what she called a ‘heavy duty’ version with stronger binding in the spine. It seemed like she had come across children like Namjoon before, so she wasn’t too harsh.

“Lunchtime!” said Youngjae cheerfully. “Race you too the Academy!”

Chapter Text

“We have an empty slot after lunch, what do you want to do?” asked Youngjae making his way to one of the tables in the hall to eat.

“Well I’m going back to our room to get dry.” said Myungjun, pulling at his shirt that was clinging to him, still wet from the plant’s attacks.

They sat down and placed their drawings to the side before collecting some food from the trays that were floating past their table. Myungjun decided on chicken and vegetables and dug in hungrily. He hadn’t eaten much for breakfast, too busy trying to make sure Hyungwon was eating properly. Myungjun was on his second helping when the others joined them, noisily exclaiming about how cool their weather manipulation class had been. Myungjun listened enviously. He would have much rather been learning how to make it rain than being rained upon without his consent. He excused himself and made his way back to his room, wanting nothing more then to wash up to get rid of the dirt and get changed into a clean and dry set of clothes. He was too busy trying to ring out his shirt and bumped into something solid. It made a noise.

“Ouch, be caref- oh, Hi Myungjun.” Jinwoo said. “Why are you so wet?”

“Why are you out of class so late and why did you go so early?” Myungjun decided to ask, instead of answering his question.

Jinwoo looked a bit uncomfortable as he said “Oh, nothing interesting, its just an important class to me that’s all.” He didn’t offer any further explanations as he skirted past Myungjun mumbling about food.

His weird behaviour wasn’t helping Myungjuns mood. He walked off in a huff and made it back to his room in record time. He scrubbed the dirt from his hands and knees before changing into his softest sweater. It was bright yellow and was a birthday gift from his mother last year. He flopped down onto his bed and decided to go for a nap as he didn’t have another class until after dinner, so he pulled his stuffed bird to his chest and fell asleep.

“…looks so cute!” came Youngjaes voice from somewhere above him. Myungjun opened his eyes to see Youngjae only inches from his face.

Myungjun was startled and pushed the boy away. “Yah! Why are you watching me sleep?”

“We didn’t mean to.” Youngjae started before Namjoon cut in.

“What do you mean we? You’re on your own.” He said before going to put his drawings, from their previous lesson, away.

“Okay, I didn’t mean to,” Youngjae correct before continuing. “but you just looked so cute, I never knew you had a stuffed toy, I want one.”

Myungjun hid his bird under the pillow defensively. “You’re not allowed to touch him, and don’t either of you ever tell anyone okay?” he said trying to sound threatening. Even though Youngjae wanted to tease him some more he knew when to be quiet. Myungjun was older than him after all.

Youngjae backed away with his hands up. “I won’t tell anyone, we just came here to ask if you wanted to go for dinner, we have class soon.”

Even though all Myungjun had done was sleep, he felt like he could eat again. So, he got out of bed and slipped into his shoes. “Let’s go.”

Jinwoo was already eating when they entered the hall and despite being annoyed at him earlier Myungjun went to sit next to him. Jinwoo seemed quiet, sad almost and ate his food slowly. Myungjun wanted to ask what was wrong but held back knowing how uncomfortable Jinwoo was around the others still. He doubted the boy wanted to reveal what he was feeling with an audience, so he waited until he had finished eating, which took a very long time, before dragging him outside. Jinwoo looked confused as he looked at Myungjun and waited for him to speak.

“You’ve been weird all day, what’s wrong?” asked Myungjun, his concern seeping into his voice.

“It’s nothing hyung,” said Jinwoo looking down and scuffing the floor with his feet.

“You rarely call me Hyung which makes me even more concerned.” Myungjun stated, reaching forward to hold Jinwoos hand. Jinwoo shied away and put his hands behind his back. This just confirmed to Myungjun that something was wrong.

“Please don’t touch me.” Jinwoo said quietly.

Myungjun felt hurt by his request but kept the pain off of his face. “Okay I wont touch you but why? You should tell me that at least.”

Jinwoo seemed to shrink in on himself and muttered incoherently under his breath.

“What was that?” Myungjun asked leaning forward. Jinwoo took a small step back.

“I said I had to use my magic today.” Jinwoo said louder this time. “I hated it, but I had to do it.”

Myungjun remembered Jinwoo saying that he didn’t like his magic and wished he was normal back in the storage room. He sighed and thought carefully about what to say next.

“If you had to use your magic why did you go so early this morning? Surely you would have tried to be late to miss as much as possible?”

“No, my first class was meditation and discipline. I need that more than anything, so I went early and stayed behind to have as much time as possible. I had my practical skills lesson after lunch. That’s when they make you use your magic.” He said bitterly.

“Why do you hate your magic so much?” Myungjun asked quietly. He felt sad for Jinwoo whenever he heard that. He adored his own magic and was happy it was inside of him so he couldn’t imagine how Jinwoo would manage hating something that was a part of him. Jinwoo seemed to be thinking and opened his mouth to speak.

Before anything came out however, Hyungwons voice drifted out of the doors towards them. “Where is Myungjun? We’re going to be late to class.”

Jinwoo looked up startled and took his chance to leave.

“Jinwoo wait!” Myungjun called before moving to follow him. Hoseok stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.

“No time for that lover boy, we have class.” He smiled apologetically to Myungjun and linked their arms before walking over to Hyungwon. “Found him.” He declared proudly before pulling them towards the edge of the forest.

Myungjun couldn’t stop thinking about Jinwoo all through their next lesson. It was Zoology of magical creatures and their class was, yet again, in the forest with the sun setting between the trees. He couldn’t concentrate properly, and the others noticed. Hoseok whispered something to them and Myungjun was grateful because they didn’t ask any questions but made extra notes for him instead. When the lesson ended all Myungjun wanted to do was see if Jinwoo was okay but Dongmin stopped him.

“Hyung I have a question.” He said fiddling with the textbook in his hands. He seemed nervous but his face wasn’t giving any emotions away.

Myungjun peered up at his friend. “What question?” He really hoped it wasn’t about Jinwoo.

“You’re friends with that Minhyuk kid, right?” he started. “The one everyone calls Rocky.”

Myungjun was so used to calling him Rocky by now that he had completely blanked at the boy’s real name. “Oh yeah, sure we’re friends why?”

“He’s friends with the boy with pink hair…right?” he began to look nervous now and Myungjun was struggling to understand where this was going. Had Moonbin been mean to him or something? Was Dongmin coming to ask him to confront Moonbin about it as he was the Hyung?

“Yeah, Moonbin is his name. What’s the actual question?” he asked, his mind losing interest and shifting back to his Jinwoo problem.

“Actually, you just answered it.” Dongmin said before thanking him and hurrying off, leaving Myungjun more confused than ever.

He decided to just forget about it for now and go to find Jinwoo. He set off at a brisk pace out of the forest before coming to a stop. He couldn’t remember Jinwoo telling him what class he had last. That’s fine I’ll just go to his room, Myungjun thought before continuing. He got to the edge of the forest and stopped again. He couldn’t remember Jinwoo ever telling him where his room was, and he didn’t even know where the students with fire magic would be housed. He sighed, feeling frustrated. He resigned himself to the fact that he would have to wait until tomorrow, before spotting Sanha leaving the academy. Myungjun remembered Sanha saying at dinner that air users had the next class with the fire users and Myungjun saw his opportunity to find out where he was. He made a beeline for Sanha, but he realised the closer he got that Sanha was looking distressed. All thoughts of Jinwoo disappeared and he rushed over. He felt extremely protective of Sanha because the boy was so young, so he wanted to fix whatever was making him this way.

Sanha saw him coming and breathed a sigh of relief. “Hyung you need to come with me, Jinwoo-hyung got hurt.”

Myungjun took a few seconds to process what he had heard before gripping Sanha’s arms. “What do you mean hurt? Where is he?” he spoke fast and couldn’t stop the panic that was slowly creeping in.

“We had Alchemy class and I guess he wasn’t paying attention and spilt all this nasty smelling liquid down him, he started screaming it was awful, the teacher had to rush him to the infirmary and told us to pack up but not to touch what he’d spilt.” Sanha explained all of this as tears rolled down his face.

Myungjuns heart went out to him, it must have been so traumatic for him to see, even if he had been scared of Jinwoo at the beginning. Myungjun quickly wiped his tears away before demanding he take him to the infirmary. They got there quickly and Myungjun knocked on the door, jiggling his leg impatiently. Sanha sat on one of the chairs outside and told Myungjun that he didn’t want to go inside and see Jinwoo in such a state. Myungjun let him know that he understood and spun around as the door opened.

Blaze poked his head out looking tired. “Oh, its you, sorry kid but Jinwoos asleep right now, he can’t have any visitors just yet, if you come back tomorrow, I’m sure he’ll be awake.” He didn’t say anything more before shutting the door. Myungjun just stared at the wood not knowing what to do. Sanha came up behind him and pulled him away from the door.

“We should go to bed Hyung, we have class tomorrow, you wouldn’t be able to see him until lunch time anyway.” He said gesturing to the sign that stated visitation times. Myungjun just stood there staring into space. He was remembering how distressed he had seen Jinwoo before and couldn’t help imagining how bad of a state he must have been in whilst in so much pain. He didn’t realise he was crying until Sanha blotted his eyes with his sleeve. Myungjun sniffled and agreed to go back to his room, worrying outside the infirmary door all night would get him nowhere. They parted ways at the edge of the forest and Myungjun said goodnight before using his magic to open the way to the treehouses. He climbed up the ladder and opened the door to the room where Namjoon and Youngjae were already snoring, oblivious to the pain Myungjun was feeling.

He collapsed in bed without removing his clothes and pulled his bird out from under his pillow. “I’m really worried about him.” He whispered into the darkness. He tossed and turned for what felt like hours before falling into a fitful sleep.

Chapter Text

He woke up with a start as he fell out of bed.

“I told you he’d fall out of bed sooner or later” Namjoon said before helping Myungjun up.

Myungjun groaned in pain as he tried to stretch out his arms. His right one was aching from where the bones had been mended.

Youngjae came around to speak to him. “Are you okay Hyung? Were you having nightmares? You were moving around a lot.”

Myungjun tried to think back to what he had dreamt about but memories of yesterday came to him instead. “Jinwoo.” He said panicked before pulling off his rumpled clothes to get changed.

Youngjae stepped out of his path as he flew past to his dresser to pull out new ones. “You had nightmares about Jinwoo? How come you never got changed last night?”

Myungjun pulled on his new clothes before turning to answer him. “No, Jinwoo got hurt yesterday, really bad by the sounds of it and I didn’t even think about getting changed.” He rushed to the other room to get washed up and the two boys followed him looking concerned.

“What happened? Is he okay?” Namjoon asked, leaning against the door frame and watching Myungjun furiously brushing his teeth through the mirror.

Myungjun rinsed his mouth and rushed past them back out into their room. “I don’t know exactly what happened and I don’t even know if he’s okay. I got told he was sleeping and that I couldn’t see him until lunch today. Where are my shoes?”

Youngjae chucked him a pair and Myungjun put them on.

“Well why are you getting dressed so early if you can’t see him until lunch?” Namjoon asked, putting his glasses on.

“I’m not waiting until lunch; I at least want to see if he’s okay.” Myungjun shrugged before saying goodbye and going out the door.

He jumped down the last few rungs of the ladder and set off quickly through the forest. He spotted Jimin and the tall friend he had been pulling around the forest before, they were whispering behind one of the trees. He left them too it and jogged over to the Academy. He was outside of the infirmary doors before he realised, he didn’t have a plan. What if he got caught and told off for visiting before he was allowed? What if that was a serious rule and he got expelled? He hesitated before deciding to just go for it and quietly pushed one of the doors open. If he did get caught, he would just tell them his arm was hurting. It wasn’t a lie at least. He poked his head inside and to his relief there seemed to be no one around. Only one of the beds had the curtains pulled shut so he walked over to it quietly before slipping inside and pulling the curtain closed behind him.

“Myungjun what are you doing here?” Jinwoos voice startled him and he turned around quickly.

His reply got stuck in his throat as he saw the bandages covering half of Jinwoos chest. Jinwoo saw him staring and quickly pulled the covers up looking embarrassed.

“It’s nothing.” He said looking anywhere but Myungjun.

“That is most certainly not nothing!” Myungjun fretted his voice rising.

Jinwoo looked up at him “Shh, do you want to get caught?”

Myungjun whispered an apology before sitting on the edge of his bed. Jinwoo tried to move but hissed in pain and slumped back against the pillows.

“Don’t move, I have enough room.” said Myungjun, reaching over to move Jinwoos hair out of his face. To his surprise Jinwoo let him do it and just closed his eyes.

“Why are you here?” he asked quietly.

Myungjun scoffed, what a ridiculous question. “I’m here to make sure you’re okay of course.”

He was startled to see Jinwoo open his eyes, that were swimming with unshed tears, to glare in his direction. “Why do you even care about me?”

Myungjun was lost for words. Why was Jinwoo suddenly so upset with him? He struggled with what to say but eventually spoke. “Because you’re my friend. Sanha told me you got hurt so I came straight here but got turned away at the door last night.”

“You shouldn’t have bothered.” Jinwoo said, squeezing his eyes shut. “Please just leave.”

“No.” Myungjun said stubbornly. “I wont leave until you tell me what I’ve done wrong.”

Jinwoo sighed and gripped the blanket tight before opening his eyes again. “You haven’t done anything wrong Myungjun. I’m just better off alone.”

Myungjun felt himself getting annoyed. “How is that better off? Being lonely and miserable is better than being my friend?”

“Stop twisting my words.” Jinwoo said angrily. “I didn’t say that did I?”

“No but that’s what you implied!” Myungjun retaliated. “Why is it so bad being my friend? I’ve always been nice to you, haven’t I?”

“It’s because you’ll end up leaving when you find out the truth about me.” Jinwoo erupted. The blanket started to smoke where he held on tight and Myungjun panicked.

“Jinwoo the blanket!” Jinwoo looked down and pulled his hands away fast. The quick movement made him cry out in pain and Myungjun yanked the cover down to see blood seeping through the bandages.

“Oh no Jinwoo, let me go and get someone.” Myungjun went to stand up but Jinwoo grabbed his wrist to stop him.

Myungjun yelped in pain as the heat from Jinwoos hand burnt him. He pulled away reflexively and cradled his wrist. He felt a flutter of fear in his chest as his wrist started to sting but he pushed it down. He wasn’t afraid of Jinwoo, he didn’t want to be afraid of him. Jinwoo looked from Myungjuns wrist to his own hand in shock and burst into tears.

“Hyung I’m so sorry! I didn’t think, I just didn’t want you to get in trouble by getting someone when you’re not supposed to be in here.” He pulled his hands to his chest. “I can’t control it, this is why I hate my magic, I only ever hurt people, this is why you need to stay away from me!”

Myungjun thought the pain his heart felt at that moment, was worse than the pain on his wrist. He sat there quietly until Jinwoo calmed down, not wanting to touch him in case it upset the boy any further.

“It’s okay Jinwoo, I was just surprised by how warm your hands were that’s all, I didn’t get burned.” He lowered his sleeves a bit further to hide the damage and waited for Jinwoo to look at him. When it became clear that he wasn’t going to, Myungjun continued. “I had to learn to control my powers when I first arrived here and I’m still not very good at it either. I did get a little better though and you wanna know how?”

Jinwoo finally looked up at him, looking impossibly small and scared.

“I had the help of Hyungwon and Hoseok and Sanha, my friends.” He put extra emphasis on the word friends in a hope that Jinwoo would catch on quicker. “I’m your friend Jinwoo let me help you too.” He finished with a small smile.

Jinwoo was quiet for a few seconds before hesitantly nodding back. Myungjun felt relieved and patted his leg gently. They both froze at the sound of a door opening.

“Get under the bed!” Jinwoo hissed nudging Myungjun off the bed with his leg.

Myungjun scrambled under the bed just in time. He saw the curtain open and a pair of black, polished shoes approached, stepping dangerously close to his leg.

“Jinwoo you’re awake? How are you feeling today?” the woman’s voice held no warmth but was not unkind.

Myungjun heard Jinwoo shifting above him and the woman sighed. “I told you not to move around so much. Now I’ll have to change the bandages before the healer gets here.” Her shoes turned around and disappeared, so Myungjun took the opportunity to wriggle back out.

“See you later!” he whispered with a big grin before dashing across the room to the door. He dived behind one of the beds and looked around, making Jinwoo laugh before giving him a final wave and slipping out of the room. He hurried towards the hall in hopes of picking up something to eat before his first class.

He rushed through the doors and looked around for a place to sit. Jimin was sitting by himself sipping his water so Myungjun made his way over, trying to ignore the sting of his wrist.

“Where’s your tall friend?” he asked grabbing a slice of toast from Jimin’s plate.

Jimin didn’t seem to mind as he pushed the rest of his breakfast in Myungjuns direction who accepted it gratefully.

“My tall friend?”

“The one you’re always in the forest with.” Myungjun said through a mouth full of food.

Jimin thought for a moment before his face lit up mischievously. “That’s my best friend TaeTae, he’s a water user so he’s not allowed in our area, but I sneak him in, don’t tell anyone though.”

Myungjun laughed as Jimin looked genuinely worried that he might tell, and he shook his head. “I won’t tell, I promise.” Jimin still looked a little sceptical. “If I tell, which I won’t, you can snitch on me for sneaking into the infirmary before visiting hours.” He offered and Jimin relaxed.

“Why were you in there?” Jimin asked, finishing his water with a smack of his lips and a sigh of satisfaction.

“I went to check on a friend.” Myungjun said stuffing the last slice of toast into his mouth. “Let’s go to class.”

They left and Myungjun pulled out his timetable. “We have alchemy now with the water users.” He told Jimin as he led them to the right room. Hyungwon was leaning against the wall with his eyes closed as Rocky and Moonbin chatted excitedly off to the side. Moonbin must be a water user, Myungjun thought before realising Hoseok was missing.

“Where’s Hoseok?” Myungjun asked searching through the sea of heads to find his friend.

Hyungwon shrugged. “Dongmin dragged him somewhere when we got here, and they never came back. He said they’d be back when class started.”

“What’s the deal between you and Dongmin anyway?” Myungjun asked. “On the day of the examination you acted really cold towards him and acted like you knew him already.”

Hyungwon shrugged. “Nothing interesting.” Before Myungjun could say anything, he stood up straight, wrinkling his nose. “Why does it smell like somethings burning around here?”

Myungjun crossed his arms as casually as possible to hide his wrist. “I don’t know, why are you avoiding my question?”

The door next to them opened and their conversation was cut short by a serious looking man. He beckoned them all inside and shut the door loudly.

“There will be no messing around today, a student was already careless enough to get hurt yesterday and I will not have it happening again. Do you understand?”

The class murmured out a yes and he nodded, seemingly satisfied. There was a knock at the door, and it opened as Hoseok and Dongmin slipped inside. They apologised for being late and the teacher waved them off and told them to take the remaining seats. There was a seat left next to Namjoon and another seat left next to Moonbin. Hoseok took one look at Dongmin before diving into the seat next to Namjoon. Dongmin stood frozen and only moved when the teacher cleared his throat. He sat down in the chair and moved it to the other end of the table in a manner he must have thought was subtle but turned out to look completely obvious. Moonbin looked confused but went back to looking at the teacher when he began to speak.

“Today we’re going to be learning about the history of alchemy. I want you to take notes as I speak and, at the end, I will show you some ingredients. I would like you to guess what they are based on the notes you have written. Come and collect a text book each and we’ll get started.”

Myungjun grabbed a stack and handed them out. He gave Dongmin a questioning look when he handed a book over, but the boy just shook his head before opening it up and pretending to read it. Myungjun sighed and moved on, the book was upside down. He’ll tell me when he’s ready too, Myungjun thought.

The lesson went on and all that could be heard was the voice of the teacher and the scratching of pens on paper. At the end he pulled out a box and carefully took some items from it.

“I may as well show you this one first because I don’t want any of you to hold it considering the mess it caused yesterday.” He held up a bottle of black liquid. “This is concentrated siren venom. Sirens are alluring creatures but if you get bitten by one its venom will eat you from the inside out. If it gets on your skin, it will eat straight through it. We must dilute it before we use it, to make it less potent and I usually let students do this themselves, but I don’t think I will do that today. Maybe next time.”

Myungjun looked at the bottle and felt sick. He thought about the bandages on Jinwoos chest and wondered if his skin had been eaten away too and how diluted it had been when it touched him. He drowned out whatever else the teacher was saying to focus on not being sick and at the end of the lesson he rushed from the room where he promptly threw up his breakfast into a toilet. He groaned and wiped his mouth.

“Junnie are you okay?” Hyungwons voice floated through the toilet door.

Myungjun reached behind him to open the door and Hyungwon stepped inside holding a hand to Myungjuns forehead. “Are you sick?”

Myungjun shook his head and reached up to wipe his mouth. His sleeve slipped down and Hyungwon stared in shock at his wrist. “What the hell happened to your wrist?” he asked grabbing it to get a better look. Myungjun tried to pull away but Hyungwon held on strongly. “Tell me now Junnie, it looks like a handprint, who did this to you?”

“Nobody.” Myungjun said, finally snatching his hand back. “It’s nothing hyung just leave it alone.”

Hyungwon was silent for a few seconds before speaking. “Was it Jinwoo? He has fire magic right?” When Myungjun hesitated to reply Hyungwon snarled. “Sanha told me he was dangerous, but I didn’t believe it. I’m going to kill him.” He turned to leave and Myungjun grabbed onto his arm, full of fear.

“Hyung don’t, he didn’t mean to, he was scared, and he was trying to stop me from getting into trouble!” Hyungwon paused at this and turned to look at him.

“Why did he burn you then?”

“I’d made him upset and he couldn’t control it, but I promised to help him learn, like you and the others helped me.” Myungjun looked up into his eyes desperately. “Please Hyung I want to help him, please don’t tell anyone and don’t tell him you know. I already lied to him and told him it was nothing. He’d feel even worse if he found out.”

“He deserves to feel bad.” Hyungwon said coldly.

“If he feels even worse about it, he won’t let me help him” Myungjun squeezed his arm gently. “and I NEED to help him. Please.” He whined with his best pout.

Hyungwon sighed and closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Why are all my dongsaengs so annoying?” he groaned loudly before looking down at Myungjun. “Fine, I’ll keep quiet but on one condition; we go to the infirmary and get that burn tended to before it gets worse.”

Myungjun was ready to agree before he realised Jinwoo would be there. He said this to Hyungwon who sighed again. “Let’s go check first and if he’s there we’ll go back another time, deal?”

Myungjun agreed and let himself be taken to the infirmary. Hyungwon peeked in and confirmed that all the beds were empty. A few minutes later Myungjun was sitting on one of the beds and a salve was being rubbed over his burns. It stung at first but then the pain died down and left a cool tingling feeling behind. It was wrapped in a bandage to let the salve work without being disturbed.

“You’ll be fine by tomorrow.” The woman said before sending them away. Myungjun pulled his sleeve down to cover it up. He only had to hide it for the rest of the day. That wouldn’t be too hard.

Chapter Text

Myungjun thought the deity must be punishing him for lying to Jinwoo earlier, as his life was being made extremely difficult. After lunch he had communications class…with Jinwoo and the other fire users. He groaned loudly when he spotted Jinwoo waiting by himself down the corridor. Rocky stopped to look at Myungjun who had pressed himself against the wall.

“What’s wrong?” Rocky asked.

“Nothing, I’m just being punished for lying and I definitely deserve it.” Myungjun sighed before adjusting his sleeve and walking up to Jinwoo. “Hey how comes you're back in classes already?”

Jinwoo looked up startled but softened slightly at the sight of Myungjun. “An actual healer came in and sorted me out. It hurt a lot, but I feel better now.”

“Let’s see.” said Myungjun leaning forward to lift up Jinwoos shirt.

“No way!” Jinwoo crossed his arms over his chest looking scandalised.

Suddenly, Rocky yelped in pain beside Myungjun. He was jumping around and clutching his foot. “Rocky Jr attacked me!” he said. “I was attacked by my own son, this betrayal.” Rocky Jr lay on the floor near his feet.

“Did you drop him?” Myungjun asked, trying not to laugh.

“No. He ATTACKED me.” Rocky said, sounding genuinely hurt.

Myungjun rolled his eyes before bending down to pick up the rock. He gave it a telling off before handing it back to Rocky who looked much better. Myungjun turned back to Jinwoo who looked lost.

“What was that all about?” he asked when they were seated in the classroom.

“He seems to think that rock can hear him and has feelings.” Myungjun explained quietly. Rocky wasn’t sitting with them, but he would hear if they spoke too loudly.

“Like how you sense and talk to your plants?” Jinwoo asked, trying to make sense of the situation.

Myungjun hadn’t thought of it that way before and nearly agreed before saying “No, plants are living things, rocks aren’t.”

“So, he’s just crazy?” Jinwoo said bluntly.

Myungjun giggled and hit him lightly. “Don’t say that, he’s not crazy, just…different.”

Jinwoo pretended to be hurt by Myungjuns hit and they sat giggling until the teacher called for silence.

“Good afternoon everyone, I’m your communications teacher, Mr Seo. In my class you will be learning about the art of communication using your magic and your mind.” He was quiet for a moment and then his voice rang through Myungjuns head.

*You will learn to communicate like this*

Myungjun gasped at the weird sensation. He had heard the voice clearly, but the man had not opened his mouth to speak. Jinwoo had also gasped, amongst some of the other students so Myungjun guessed he had spoken to them all too.

“For today’s lesson I would like you to focus on trying to read the person sitting next to you. You must have contact to do this so early on in your knowledge, so hold hands, lean against each other, do it whatever way you want. You over there, I didn’t mean kissing!”

Myungjun looked over to see the pretty fire girl from the courtyard leaning over a scared looking boy who was trying to back away from her. She laughed loudly and leaned back, looking just as confident as ever. “I’m only joking.” She said lazily before taking the boys hands.

Jinwoo had tensed whilst looking at her and turned back to look at Myungjun. “I really don’t like her. She loves her fire too much and it makes her act cocky knowing how dangerous she is.”

Myungjun chose not to comment and reached forward to take Jinwoos hands. He hesitated before they made contact, waiting for Jinwoos permission and Jinwoo gave him a small nod before closing the rest of the distance. Myungjun closed his eyes and focused his magic to his palms, he pictured himself reading Jinwoos mind and heard his voice.

“You look constipated.”

Myungjun gasped excitedly. “I heard your thoughts!”

“No, I just spoke out loud.” Jinwoo said with a laugh as Myungjun pouted unhappily.

“Don’t trick me like that! And I’m not constipated, I’m concentrating. Unlike you.” He added childishly.

Jinwoo rolled his eyes and closed them. Myungjun took the time to look at his face. He didn’t often get to see it up close like this and he liked looking at all the little details. Like the faint scar he has under his eyebrow and the length of his eyelashes.

“You’re staring at me.” Jinwoo said, sounding amused as his eyes stayed closed.

Myungjun gasped again. “Did you just read my mind?”

“No, I can just feel you burning holes in my face. I know I must be totally interesting to look at,” he said sarcastically, “but now you’re the one who’s not concentrating.”

Myungjun huffed in embarrassment and closed his eyes. He tried really hard to get a read. So hard in fact, he ended up giving himself a headache.

At dinner, Jinwoo gave him some water and let Myungjun rest against him to try and ease the pain. Myungjun just whined at every loud noise and snuggled up closer.

“Do you want to go to the infirmary?” Jinwoo asked quietly.

“No, I’ve already been today because my arm hurt. I can’t go again, it’ll be embarrassing.”

Jinwoo tensed and Myungjun realised what he had let slip. He shot up fast and tried to think of a way out of his mistake.

“I meant that the arm I had mended was hurting earlier because I’d fallen out of bed. Isn’t that right guys?” He looked across the table to where Youngjae and Namjoon were eating. They confirmed his story without a second thought and Jinwoo seemed to relax. Myungjun cursed himself for being so careless and leaned back in cautiously when Jinwoo patted his shoulder. The pain in his head was subsiding when he heard someone clear their throat and sit down in the seat on his other side. He looked over to see Hyungwon, who wasn’t looking very happy and he sat up quickly. Hyungwon looked at Jinwoo untrustingly before pulling Myungjun closer to himself.

“If you want to lay your head somewhere, lay it on me.” He said. “Where I know you’ll be safe.” He added quietly.

Myungjun just rolled his eyes at his over protective behaviour before shooting Jinwoo an apologetic look. He snuggled up to Hyungwon and let himself be babied. He asked Hyungwon to feed him and was immediately denied. Hyungwon changed his mind quickly however, when Jinwoo offered, and shoved a piece of meat into Myungjuns mouth. Myungjun choked and had to be smacked on the back a few times.

“Sorry Junnie.” Hyungwon said handing him a glass of water.

“It’s okay.” said Myungjun after taking a few sips, eyes streaming. “It happens to the best of us.” He patted Hyungwons arm before standing up. “I’m going back to get changed into better clothes. We have Basic combat and weapons training next.” He said looking at Namjoon, Youngjae and then Jinwoo.

Hyungwon eyed Jinwoo suspiciously. “I can always skip my class and come join you.” He offered looking up at Myungjun. Myungjun just laughed and told him not to be silly.

He said goodbye to Hyungwon and Jinwoo before dragging Youngjae and Namjoon back to their room. They all got changed into comfy clothes and made their way down to the combat centre behind the academy. Myungjun would have never known it was there if they didn’t have to take this class. It wasn’t a small building by any means, but it was overshadowed by the beauty of the academy building itself.

They spotted the rest of their class on a flattened piece of land that was lit by torches to combat the setting sun. They made their way over to see not one, but two teachers standing side by side. Myungjun guessed they were twins because they looked eerily similar. What was more eerie is they didn’t talk. At all. They gestured for the class to follow them and started to jog towards the direction of the lake. They then proceeded to run around the lake, gesturing again for them to follow. The lake was even bigger then it had looked the first time Myungjun had seen it. He could have sworn he had seen big objects floating on the surface before but obviously not as the surface of the lake was completely clear now. Myungjun got halfway around the lake before collapsing and rolling onto his back, looking up at the afternoon sky and panting like a dog. A teacher came back for him and created water with her hands for him to drink. He drank it gratefully before getting up to try again. Jinwoo was way ahead before he realised Myungjun wasn’t beside him anymore and he jogged back to get him.

“Are you okay?” he asked, slowing down to Myungjuns speed.

“No, I’m sure I’m dying” He wheezed out. “But the real question is, why aren’t you dying with me?”

Jinwoo laughed and ran backwards so he could look at him as he talked. “When you have no friend’s, you have to do a lot of things to entertain yourself. I used to watch the students from previous years run around this lake and learn how to fight. I’d run at night when everyone was asleep and learnt to fight by observing their moves and practising them by myself.”

Myungjun was impressed and made it clear. “Wow I wish I’d done that too; this is too much for me right now.”

Jinwoo just laughed and turned around to jog properly.

“You said you used to watch students from previous years, does that mean you’ve lived in the guesthouse for a long time?” Myungjun asked trying to distract himself from the fire in his lungs.

“Haven’t we already spoken about this?” Jinwoo asked. Myungjun wasn’t sure but he didn’t have the greatest memory either. He said that to Jinwoo who just shrugged. “Well even so, I’ve lived there for as long as I can remember. This place is my home.”

Myungjun couldn’t quiet interpret the emotion in Jinwoos voice as he said that, but he didn’t want to chance making him sad again, so he sped up temporarily to jump on his back. Jinwoo yelped in surprise but held him up.

“Please carry me, my legs are going to fall off.” He begged.

Jinwoo just laughed and hoisted him up properly before setting off again. Myungjun cheered every time Jinwoo passed another tired student and they all looked up at Myungjun in envy. Rocky was already sitting on the grass at the finish line, running his hands through the lake water. Myungjun jumped off Jinwoos back, who collapsed to the floor groaning.

“How long have you been here?” Myungjun asked Rocky as he sat down beside him.

“A while.” He said serenely, looking up at the first stars twinkling in the night sky. “I like to run. Its very relaxing don’t you think?”

Myungjun thought back to him collapsing in exhaustion and having to use Jinwoo for a ride and found he couldn’t quite agree with Rocky’s sentiment.

Myungjun waited for the teacher who gave him water to cross the finish line with other tired students before approaching her and asking her to give some to Jinwoo. She gestured for him to make a bowl with his hands and proceeded to fill it up with water. He quickly transported it to Jinwoo and poured it into his mouth. Jinwoo wiped the water from around his mouth that hadn’t quite made it in and thanked him with a tired smile.

Youngjae and Namjoon made it across the finish line last and after getting some water, told the others that it was time to go. Myungjun helped Jinwoo and Rocky to their feet and walked with them back up to the academy.

“Where are fire users housed anyway?” Myungjun asked.

“Under the academy.” Jinwoo replied gesturing to the floor.

Myungjun frowned. Jinwoo had be underground in the guesthouse and now in the academy.

“Why do they keep putting you down there?” Myungjun mumbled.

Jinwoo laughed at Myungjuns face. “Don’t look at me like that, It’s a good thing. Everyone’s safer if we stay down there. The rooms aren’t that bad either.”

Myungjuns reply was cut off as Youngjae wrapped an arm over his shoulders and pulled him towards the forest. “We’re going this way, bye Jinwoo have a nice sleep!” Youngjae called over his shoulder. Myungjun tried to look back and wave and Jinwoo just laughed and waved back.

“I was having a conversation!” Myungjun protested pulling away from Youngjae when they reached the edge of the forest. Namjoon used his magic to open the path and they moved towards their treehouse.

“I was listening in and you have absolutely no tact.” Youngjae stated. “Fire users have to be kept away because they cause devastating accidents if they lose control. Its best they do it down there where they can’t burn each other because they’re all immune to that. I’m sure Jinwoo is covering up his true feelings about it by telling you that it’s a good thing. So, I stopped you from running your mouth and making him feel worse. You should be thanking me.” He climbed up the ladder and left Myungjun to his thoughts. Was Jinwoo really covering up how he felt? Didn’t friends tell each other everything? He was left with a bunch of questions which he wasn’t sure he’d get the answers too.

Chapter Text

It has been a month since Myungjun started his classes and he was enjoying it more then he ever thought possible. In herbology he’d finished sketching every single plant in the clearing and learnt a great deal more about them from Jimin. That boy was a library of knowledge when it came to plants and Myungjun was so grateful that he had been willing to share what he knew. Namjoons drawings had gotten increasingly better over the course of these lessons and now he didn’t look so sad when leaving at the end of class.

Myungjun excelled in practical skills as he could already grow multiple flowers in one go, where some students still struggled with one. When his friends asked him for the secret to doing it, he explained it was all thanks to their friendship. They didn’t believe him of course and Youngjae pretended to gag behind his back. Myungjun had moved on to trying to grow plants from random seeds, which proved much trickier. He didn’t know what was inside, so he couldn’t just visualize them to make them appear. He spent days trying to make the little seeds grow and often got frustrated. He’d even taken a few back to their room, in little pots, so he could practice more there.

What was even harder than that, were the basic combat and weapons training lessons. They started every lesson with a lap around the lake and had finally moved on to light sparring, without weapons. Myungjun always paired with Jinwoo as he was the best person to partner with. Not only did he have extensive knowledge about all the techniques already, but he was also patient and would explain things repeatedly if Myungjun needed it. The other person who thrived in this class was Rocky. He was so quick it was hard for his partners to land a hit. Myungjun felt sorry for them as they fell to the floor time and time again under Rocky’s stern glare. Myungjun decided Rocky was much scarier in this lesson and tried to avoid him as much as possible.

However, Myungjun hated no lesson more than history and law. He could have cried after the first class when his hand cramped up horribly. The teacher was an ancient relic himself but spoke extremely fast. He told them to take notes and threatened severe punishment to anyone who was caught slacking. Naturally, Myungjun had been terrified, and had written as much as he could. He was shocked to look up at the end of the lesson to see that Jinwoo had fallen asleep. He was sitting too far away, so Myungjun couldn’t warn him to wake up before the teacher saw. He’d breathed a sigh of relief after a short haired girl had nudged him awake just in time. The teacher, Mr Hwang, turned around and dismissed them all without checking their work.

“Why would he make such a big deal out of us making notes, if he wasn’t even going to check them.” Myungjun had grumbled on his way out of the room.

“If you’d bothered looking up from your book, you’d have realised he had his back to the class the whole time. He didn’t turn to check once, which is why I decided to take a nap.” Jinwoo had said, stretching out his cramped muscles.

Myungjun checked this theory the next lesson, and alas, Jinwoo was telling the truth. Mr Hwang never turned around, only to dismiss them, so Myungjun decided to use the time to catch up on some sleep too. They had it Wednesday evenings after all, so he was already tired by then.

Present day Myungjun however, was dozing off on a chilly Sunday morning during his meditations and discipline lesson. On the weekends all first year students were to attend these lessons early in the morning and Myungjun had stayed up late the night before, trying to sprout the seeds in the little pot by his window. He was regretting it today, as he found himself being poked awake every few minutes by Hyungwon sitting next to him.

“Why are you so sleepy?” He whispered to Myungjun. “You weren’t with Jinwoo were you?”

Asking this question had become Hyungwons hobby, Myungjun decided. He heard it so often he’d learnt to ignore him. So that’s what he did today. He turned away from Hyungwon and continued to try focusing on emptying his mind. It was hard when all he could think about was how to make his stupid seeds grow. He didn’t realise he was dozing off again until he was awakened by a disgruntled looking man, who was clearing his throat obnoxiously. Myungjun looked up at the teacher and apologised.

“If you’re not going to attempt this class, and keep distracting my other students with your snoring, you should leave.” He said haughtily before turning on his heel and walking away. The students around Myungjun giggled and he stood up flushed with embarrassment. He could only hope he hadn’t been too loud. He started to leave and looked up to see Jinwoo looking his way. He waved goodbye before walking from the room and was startled to feel a hand on his arm a few seconds later.

“Where are you going?” Jinwoo asked stepping in front of him. “These lessons are important.”

“I know, I’m just super tired. I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.” Myungjuns yawn was perfectly timed. “I just kept falling asleep and that old monk embarrassed me in front of everyone. I’m sure I don’t snore that loud.” He started to walk in the direction of the lake and Jinwoo followed.

“I’ll come with you then, I’m not really feeling that lesson today anyway.” Jinwoo said casually.

“I thought you said it was important.” Myungjun replied, breathing in the fresh, crisp air when they stepped outside.

“It is, but I do it five times a week, missing one day won’t hurt much.”

“I still don’t understand how you can do that. Two times a week is enough for me” Myungjun replied, flopping down on the grass beside the lake.

Jinwoo sat down and gently manoeuvred Myungjuns head into his lap and leaned back to look across the water. This type of skinship had become a regular thing for them now and Myungjun was happy that Jinwoo was beginning to trust himself around him.

“I choose to do the extra three so I can have better control.” Jinwoo said slowly.

“You seem to have excellent enough control already.” Myungjun complimented, looking up at him.

Jinwoo continued to look across the lake without saying anything.

“I’m going to take a nap.” Myungjun said sleepily a few minutes later.

“Not here.” Jinwoo said gently. “You’ll catch a cold.”

“Says the one wearing a short sleeve shirt in Autumn.” Myungjun retaliated, with half the amount of his usual vigour.

Jinwoo scoffed. “I make fire with my body, I’m never cold.”

Myungjun shuffled closer to him. “Exactly, stay here with me and I won’t catch a cold either.”

Jinwoo just sighed and ran his fingers through Myungjuns hair. “You’re so stubborn.” He said as he watched Myungjun drift off to sleep.

Myungjun woke up a while later to the feel of Jinwoos fingers still carding through his hair. He was warm and didn’t want to move.

Jinwoo chuckled and poked his cheeks. “You have to move at some point.”

Myungjun had begun to realise he had the worst habit of saying things aloud which he thought he was only saying in his head. He groaned and clung to Jinwoo like a life line. “Don’t make me, I’m fragile.”

Jinwoo just laughed and pushed him away. “Everyone’s leaving class now, we should go.” He stood and pulled Myungjun up, to the sound of his many protests. Once Myungjun had stopped fussing, they walked back to the academy for lunch, where they picked a table and waited for the others to join them.

“Are you still going to the chapel later?” Myungjun asked, spooning food onto his plate.

Jinwoo made a noise of acknowledgment before eating some food and chewing it slowly. “Wanna join?” He asked after swallowing it.

“I’ll pass on that one.” Myungjun said. He never understood why Jinwoo would want to sit in a cold, stony room, listening to the brother of the chapel, drone on for two hours about the deity who may or may not even exist. Jinwoo already had the busiest timetable of them all, with his extra meditation and discipline lessons. Myungjun had been shocked to hear he was adding on the extra time every Sunday night too. What had surprised him the most however, was how Sanha had heard and asked to tag along. Myungjun didn’t know the young boy was religious. That was the major turning point in Sanha’s and Jinwoos relationship. Sanha was no longer scared of him and they’d formed a close bond. It was heart-warming to see, if Myungjun was going to be honest.

The others joined them for lunch soon after and before long there were groans of satisfaction around the table. With full stomachs, everyone began discussing the most important news of the day. They had all found out on Friday that there would be a special announcement after the weekend, and they’d been making guesses as to what it could be. The most exciting guess had come from Moonbin, who suggested that they would be allowed out of academy grounds to explore Voredan city. It had gotten everyone excited for a few hours yesterday afternoon, discussing everything they knew about the city and what they wanted to do. The most boring guess however, had come from Dongmin and Namjoon, who suggested that exams could be coming soon.

“Who has exams one month into the academic year?” Hyungwon had pointed out. Everyone sighed in relief at the sound logic whilst Namjoon and Dongmin had actually looked a little disappointed. This lunchtime, they just revisited all the old guesses before wearing them out completely. The topic changed to what they wanted to do that afternoon.
Everyone had Sunday afternoons off and it wouldn’t be until evening that Sanha and Jinwoo would leave for their service. Usually on Sundays, they would just sit by the lake and tell each other stories of their lives before the academy or watch in amusement as Moonbin and Rocky re-enacted grand adventures that some sailor or other had told them as they were growing up. Myungjun always found himself absorbed in the stories and promised himself that one day he would visit their hometown, Zepheholde, to have his own adventures across the sea. However, as the weather grew cooler it no longer seemed so appealing to sit by the lake and listen to these stories.

“We could always go down to the combat centre and have a mini tournament to see who’s improved the most.” Rocky suggested looking competitive.

“Or we could go to the library and study.” Dongmin countered.

That’s how they found themselves down in the combat centre, a while later, stretching and trying to comfort a whining Dongmin.

“I’m bad at fighting, I’m going to lose straight away so what’s the point?” he sulked and Myungjun patted his shoulder sympathetically. They turned around to look when Rocky called for their attention.

“To make this fair,” He begun. “I’ve written our names on some parchment and I’ll pick them at random to see who goes against who.”

Everyone agreed, some more reluctantly then others and Rocky proceeded to pick out the crumpled pieces of parchment with his eyes closed.

“Okay, first up is Sanha and Namjoon.” Rocky declared waving the papers around to let everyone see. Namjoon walked over to the mats they’d set up in the middle of the room and Sanha reluctantly followed.

“Are you any good at fighting Hyung?” Sanha asked him, looking nervous.

“Not really.” Namjoon replied, offering an apologetic smile.

“Rules first.” Moonbin called out, standing up so everyone could see him. “Rule number one: No attacking each other’s faces. Rule number two: If you fall, you lose. That’s all.” He sat back down next to Rocky to watch the fight.

“There’s only two rules?” Dongmin squeaked fearfully and Myungjun couldn’t help but feel nervous too. He wasn’t terrible at hand to hand combat, he had Jinwoo teach him after all, but he knew how competitive everyone would get.

Rocky called out for them to begin and Myungjun watched as Sanha hesitantly approached Namjoon. The boy looked scared but determined. He was screaming the next second, as Namjoon lunged towards him. He jumped back, causing Namjoon to reach out too far and lose his balance. He fell clumsily to the floor and everyone cheered. Sanha looked perplexed as he was presented as the winner but smiled as everyone hyped him up.

“Our baby is the best!” Myungjun shouted, running over to give Sanha a hug.

“Hyung I’m not a baby. I’m 10 years old.” Sanha said grumpily trying to wriggle out of his grip.

“Exactly, you’re a baby.” Myungjun said ruffling his hair and letting him go. Jinwoo laughed in amusement at the familiar line.

When the noise died down, and everyone made sure Namjoon was okay, Rocky picked the next two names.

“Moonbin and Myungjun” He said and gestured for them to come up.

Myungjun looked over at Moonbin, who was walking up to the mat confidently. Myungjun had never seen him fight but had heard from Rocky that he was really good and that Rocky and Moonbin practiced together on Thursday nights. Myungjun could feel himself sweating already as he made his way over.

“I’ll go easy on you.” Moonbin smirked, getting into position.

Myungjun felt his competitive streak kick in and was the first to move when Rocky called for them to begin. He moved forwards fast and aimed a punch at Moonbin’s chest. It connected with his shoulder instead, as Moonbin moved to dodge, and the resulting sound of the skin on skin contact was loud and echoed through the room. Someone gasped behind him but Moonbin just laughed.

“Is that all you’ve got? I barely felt that.” he said cockily before proceeding to kick Myungjun straight in the stomach.

All the air was knocked out of him and he stumbled backwards, doubling over, only just managing to stay on his feet.

“You can do it Myungjun!” Jinwoos voice came from somewhere nearby. “Don’t forget what we practised.”

Myungjun regained his posture just in time, as Moonbin aimed a punch his way. He dodged it and pushed Moonbin’s arm to the side, hard. Moonbin wobbled on his feet, dangerously close to falling and for the first time looked worried. It spurred Myungjun on and he landed a kick to Moonbin’s thigh. Moonbin grunted in pain and flung himself at Myungjun. He bowled him over and Myungjun landed on his back having the air knocked out of him a second time.

Rocky declared Moonbin the winner and he climbed off Myungjun before helping him up.

“Sorry Hyung.” He said flashing Myungjun a puppy-like grin. Myungjun just laughed it off and congratulated him before sitting back down to nurse his damaged pride. He saw Jinwoo hurrying towards him, as the others congratulated Moonbin, but Hyungwon got there first.

“Are you okay? Are you hurt?” He asked poking and prodding Myungjun. Myungjun just batted his hands away and told him that he was fine. Hyungwon seemed satisfied and sat next to him to watch the next pair. It was Rocky and Youngjae, the latter falling within seconds. It didn’t surprise Myungjun in the slightest that Rocky won. The next pair was Jinwoo and Hoseok and everyone laughed as Hoseok ran around screaming instead of fighting back. Jinwoo eventually tripped him up and was declared the winner. Finally, the last pair was called. Myungjun felt uneasy about this, as it was clear there was something going on between Dongmin and Hyungwon.

The boys faced each other, Dongmin looking terrified as Hyungwon glared his way. The others had picked up on the bad blood between them over the last few weeks, so the atmosphere was tense. Myungjun knew that neither of them were good fighters, so he couldn’t imagine how this would go.

Upon hearing they could begin, Hyungwon moved forwards fast and, to everyone’s surprise, slapped Dongmin hard across the face. The slap was louder then Myungjuns punch had been and it rang through the room, bouncing off the walls. Everyone was frozen, looking between the two boys.

Dongmin tentatively reached up to touch his throbbing cheek and winced at the pain. “Rule number one: No attacking each other’s face.” He said quietly, looking up at Hyungwon.

“I don’t care about the stupid rules.” Hyungwon seethed, towering over him. “You never cared about going against the rules and cheating before.”

Myungjun wanted to get between them but knew this conversation had been a long time coming, so he decided to stay back unless it got too much. The others seemed to share the same sentiment.

Dongmin just stood there, looking confused. “What do you mean? I don’t cheat or break rules.”

Hyungwon hissed in frustration before stepping up and grabbing him by the collar. “You’re a filthy liar. I remember your face; you were the one who sabotaged my chance of winning the competition in Voredan. I NEEDED that prize money to help my parents and you ruined everything.”

Realisation dawned on Dongmins face and he looked at Hyungwon in horror. “It was you.”

“Yes, it was me! I trained for weeks and travelled all the way there by myself for that money and you took it away from me. My parents lost our house because of you.”

Myungjun was shocked to see tears running down Hyungwons face. He was used to seeing him angry sure, he was always angry at Hoseok, so it was nothing new, but Myungjun had never seen him so upset.

Hyungwon cut Dongmin off as he tried to speak. “You and your parents were known as the stuck-up family of our town did you know?” He asked with a laugh. “You got a nice comfy ride to Voredan and snatched up that money from underneath me. You ruined my life.”

Dongmin tried to pull away from his grip but Hyungwon swept his legs out from under him and slammed him down against the mat.

“I’m sorry.” Dongmin choked out. “I didn’t know, I HAD to win, you didn’t know what it was like for me, my parents would have been enraged if I didn’t.”

Hyungwon looked crazy, he was openly sobbing now whilst laughing through his tears. “I didn’t know what it was like for you? FOR YOU? YOU DIDN’T LOSE YOUR HOME DID YOU?” His voice dropped to a deadly whisper as he leaned down into Dongmins face. “I lost my home, and you got to move to a nice big one in the city with your parents, and they got to use MY prize money to start up their fancy little business. I heard about you all the time, how great your parents were and how many people they helped. It made me SICK.”

The room dropped in temperature as Hyungwon began to unravel and his birthmark began to glow. Dongmin looked down and panicked. He tried to push Hyungwon away, but it wasn’t working.

Myungjun realised he needed to stop them; they’d end up killing each other otherwise. So, he shakily got to his feet and rushed towards them. He knew Hyungwon was losing control and he needed to find a way to distract him. He dropped to his knees near Dongmins head and pulled Hyungwons face up to look at him.

“Hyungwonnie its me. I need you to let go now okay? I need you to listen to my voice and calm down. Can you do that for me?” he asked quietly, looking into his eyes, searching for anything that remained of his best friend. Hyungwon blinked a few times and let go of Dongmins collar. Myungjun sighed in relief thinking he had gotten through to him and reached for his hands. He realised his mistake when Hyungwon reached up instead, and pushed him away, hard. He heard the crackle of magic and an icy coldness spread over his chest. He landed a few feet away with a grunt and heard people moving frantically around him. He strained his head up to see Hyungwon looking at him with a horrified expression before being tackled to the ground by Moonbin. Myungjun let his head fall back with a thump and shivered as the ice penetrated his lungs. He gasped for breath as Sanha appeared above him, looking terrified.

“Jinwoo-Hyung, the ice is spreading you need to help him.” Sanha’s voice sounded muffled as his blood roared in his ears, but Myungjun could hear the panic it held. He tried to reach out to comfort him but found he couldn’t move.

“You need to use your magic to melt the ice.” Sanha begged.

Myungjun tried to speak but all that came out was a strangled gasp for breath. Don’t make him use his magic, he wanted to say. His pleas went unheard as Jinwoos face appeared above him. Myungjun could tell he was struggling but he spoke calmly.

“Myungjun I’m going to help you, but you need to hold on and not move or I might hurt you.”

Myungjun wanted to stop him, to tell him he’d be fine and that Jinwoo didn’t have to use the magic he hated to help him, but he could feel his consciousness slipping at the lack of oxygen entering his lungs. The last thing he felt was a warmth in his chest and hot tears hitting his face.

Chapter Text

Myungjun woke up in the infirmary to see the light in the room dimming. He felt a hand in his and looked down to see Dongmin dozing off at the side of his bed. The boy awoke with a start when Myungjun moved to sit up.

“Let me help you Hyung.” He said, moving to prop up his pillows.

When Myungjun was settled he asked how long he’d been there.

“Not long,” Dongmin said, looking out of the window. “A couple hours at most. It’s dinnertime now.” That explained the absence of the others.

“Why are you here and not eating with them?” Myungjun asked. He could already guess his answer and it was confirmed with Dongmins next words.

“I can’t eat, I feel too guilty.” He began quietly. “This only happened to you because Hyungwon was mad at me, I’m so sorry Hyung, I wish it was me lying there instead.”

“I didn’t have to step in and help though did I?” When Dongmin shook his head Myungjun continued. “Exactly, I CHOSE to help, so you have nothing to feel guilty about. In fact, I feel fine, a lot better then fine honestly. So, stop worrying about me.”

Dongmin looked up and gave him a small smile. “You’re the kindest person I know Hyung, I want you to know I’m really grateful you helped me out and I’d do anything to repay you.”

Myungjun thought for a second before coming up with the perfect idea. “You can repay me by sorting things out properly with Hyungwon. It was already hard watching my two friends avoid each other when we were all together and now that it’s turned outright hostile, I can’t imagine how difficult things will be.”

Dongmins lower lip began to tremble and he looked tearful as he spoke. “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to sort things out with him. What I did to him was really terrible and he lost his home because of me. I wouldn’t want to forgive me if I was in his shoes.”

“I know you Dongmin, you wouldn’t have done it without a reason, right?”

Dongmin sniffled and rubbed his eyes. “I did it because I was scared. My parents are awful Hyung, they push me to do well in everything and told me there’d be consequences if I didn’t win that competition. They wanted the money to set up a business in our hometown but after I told them what I’d done they made us move so people wouldn’t find out.”

“Do you want to tell me what you did?” Myungjun asked kindly and waited patiently as Dongmin seemed to think it over. He shook his head and Myungjun sighed. “That’s fine, but you need to explain why you did it to Hyungwon, he deserves that much don’t you think?”

Dongmin nodded miserably before getting up to leave. “I’ll go and see if he’s at dinner and try to talk to him.”

Myungjun nodded happily and said goodbye before closing his eyes. He considered going down to dinner too because he was starting to get hungry, but as he went to move, the nurse came around to check on him.

“How are you feeling?” she asked in her usual business tone.

“I feel fine.” He said. “What did you do to me?”

“I didn’t have to do much of anything. Your friends bought you up here and Jinwoo told me he had tried to stop the ice spreading to your heart. He was worried he hadn’t done a good job but after I checked you over you seemed fine enough, so I sent them away so you could rest. One boy refused to leave your side though, so I let him stay.” Myungjun smiled at the thought of Dongmin stubbornly staying by him. “What your friends wouldn’t tell me, however, was how it happened. I don’t suppose you’re going to tell me either?”

Myungjun was relieved to hear that no-one had told on Hyungwon, as he was sure that would have resulted in him being immediately expelled and he shook his head to the woman’s annoyance.

“Fine, I’m not very surprised, boys your age are always doing silly things.” She asked him a few more questions to make sure he wasn’t being bullied and there wasn’t a chance of it happening again before she left to bring him some food. He ate it quickly and she told him to lay back and get some rest.

He awoke sometime during the night to the sound of rustling near the end of his bed. Jinwoo was pulling the curtain around his bed closed and looked up at Myungjun like he’d got caught doing something terrible.

“Sorry, did I wake you?” he asked quietly and sat at the end of the bed.

Myungjun shook his head and smiled at him. “I’ve had plenty of rest now so its okay. What are you doing here?”

Jinwoo chuckled softly. “This feels familiar doesn’t it? I’m here to make sure you’re actually okay. The nurse said you’d be fine, but I wasn’t sure I believed her.”

“I feel great, you did a good job.” Myungjun said encouragingly before becoming quiet. “Thankyou for saving me again, I’m not sure what I’d do without you at this point.” He looked up to see a blush dusting Jinwoos cheeks.

“It’s fine.” He said awkwardly.

“It’s not fine.” Myungjun said and Jinwoo looked up in surprise. “You don’t like using your magic and I tried to tell you not to back there, but I couldn’t get my words out.”

Jinwoo looked flabbergasted and leaned forwards. “How could I not do anything? You would have frozen to death. I might hate my magic, but I’d use it time and time again if it meant saving your life.” He leaned back and sighed. “because you’re my best friend, the first true friend I’ve ever had.”

Myungjun felt the familiar warmth in his chest and smiled brightly. “I’m glad you feel that way, I didn’t want you to spiral and push me away after using your magic on me again.”

Jinwoo smiled back at him and grabbed his hand. “I won’t try to push you away this time. You never let me anyway.” He added lightly.

Myungjun squeezed his hand gently. “Did Dongmin and Hyungwon sort things out at dinner?”

Jinwoo looked confused. “Hyungwon didn’t come to dinner. Hoseok said he’s refusing to leave their room.”

Myungjun sighed and leaned back against the pillows. He should have known how much this would affect Hyungwon and decided if he wasn’t out of his room by tomorrow, he’d make him come out.

*

The next day was Monday so Myungjun had to get to class. He thanked the nurse before stepping outside and was greeted by Youngjae and Namjoon, who walked down to Herbology with him. He took his usual seat near his plant pots and tried again to make the mystery seeds grow. He gave up trying to visualise what could be in them and focused purely on his magic instead. He poured as much magic as he could into the soil and opened his eyes feeling exhausted. A cry of joy slipped through his lips as he noticed a tiny green leaf poking through the soil. It wasn’t much and he’d expended nearly all his energy for it, but it was still more progress then he’d made all week. Ms Jung hurried over at the noise and congratulated him cheerfully for his efforts.

Myungjun left for lunch with a spring in his step and ate three servings of food to reward himself.

“Hyung if you keep eating so much all the time, you’ll get fat.” Sanha said around a mouthful of his own food. He spat some of it across the table as Moonbin smacked him on the back of the head for his rudeness. Sanha swallowed the rest of his food and mumbled an apology.

Myungjun put his hands over his soft stomach protectively and pouted. He felt, rather then saw, Jinwoo sit down beside him with his own food and the boy nudged his shoulder gently.

“Why the sad face?” he asked, sipping on his water.

“Am I fat?” Myungjun whispered, moving his hands away from his stomach. Jinwoo poked it and shrugged.

“You’re a little squishy but there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Myungjun stood up sulkily, if Hyungwon was here he would tell him he wasn’t and chastise anyone who said otherwise. He stalked off leaving a confused Jinwoo behind.

It was too cold to go outside so he wandered to the library and walked amongst the shelves. He didn’t have another lesson until after dinner, so he pulled a few interesting looking books down and sat in one of the comfy chairs to read. The first book he opened was similar to the textbook from his zoology of magical creatures’ class. He flicked through the pages, mainly looking at the pictures. There was a section on ghost animals that made him shudder. If things were to die surely, they should just stay dead? He hurriedly moved on and looked down in interest at the different types of nymphs. A couple more pages and he came across the picture of a siren. He felt panicked as he remembered what the siren venom had done to Jinwoo and closed the book with a snap. He discarded it to pick up the book about Dragons.

He had heard of them in the stories his mother used to tell him when he was a child, but he’d never seen a picture of one. He flicked through the pages before he came across a bunch of pictures showing the life cycle of different species. He thought they looked scary with their sharp claws and spiny tails and couldn’t imagine letting one near his plants, they’d be incinerated. He closed the book and got up to put them back on the shelves. He still had time left until dinner, so he went back to curl up in the chair and rest. His mind kept drifting to Hyungwon and it made his heart ache. He missed him already and wondered how he could fix things. After a while of mulling it over he sighed and made his way down to dinner. If Hyungwon didn’t turn up for the next class he’d ask Hoseok to take him to their room.

He walked into dinner and saw Rocky sitting by himself trying to feed Rocky Jr again, so he went and sat with him.

“I don’t think he likes human food.” Myungjun pointed out. Rocky just sighed and put the piece of chicken back onto the plate.

“I think you’re right, but what else am I supposed to feed him?” he asked exasperated.

Myungjun shrugged. “Maybe he’s a cannibal and likes to eat other rocks.” He joked, but the smile was wiped from his face when Rocky jumped up.

“You might be right!” He said excitedly before dumping Rocky Jr onto Myungjuns lap and rushing off outside.

“Where’s he rushing off to?” Jinwoo asked, taking his empty seat. “and why did he leave Rocky Jr behind?”

“I think I’m rocksitting.” Myungjun said before patting it gently and stealing some fries from Jinwoos plate. “I told him Rocky Jr might be a cannibal and now he’s run off to find some sacrifices”

Jinwoo sprayed water across the table as he laughed. He wiped his mouth with the back of his sleeve and turned to look at Myungjun. “Why would you even suggest that?”

“I don’t know, but I’m bored of watching him smashing food all over the place.” He stopped talking when he noticed Rocky rushing back into the room with an armful of stones. Myungjun asked if he’d made them and Rocky just shook his head.

“I took them from the plant pots outside.” He explained, dropping the stones on the floor and taking Rocky Jr from Myungjuns lap.

“Are you even allowed to do that?” Jinwoo asked.

Rocky chose not to answer that question and began smashing Rocky Jr against the stones. Myungjun hid his face in embarrassment as the few students in the hall started muttering and pointing their way. He looked up when Jinwoo gasped to see Rocky’s birthmark glowing. Jinwoo hadn’t gasped at that though; he’d gasped because Rocky Jr seemed to be absorbing the resultant debris of the smashed rocks and was growing in size.

“What the hell is that?” Sanha shrieked from behind Rocky, as to everyone’s astonishment, the rock seemed to grow legs. It stood up shakily and leaned precariously as two arms sprouted from its right side and one sprouted from the other. Rocky frowned and waved another stone in front of what Myungjun guessed was its head. The features started to develop, and Rocky Jr leaned forward to crunch the offered stone. Its second arm grew out the left side with a pop and it garbled gibberish in a gravelly voice.

“That is my son.” Rocky presented proudly as an answer to Sanha’s question.

Myungjun had seen a lot of weird and wonderful things since entering the world of magic but this took the award for being the most bizarre. He stared open mouthed as Rocky Jr stumbled around trying to get used to its new body.

“He really wasn’t crazy after all.” Jinwoo said disbelieving.

Rocky looked up at him offended. “Who said I was crazy?”

Jinwoo hurried to deny it but Rocky was already looking back at his ‘son’ and appeared to not be listening. When Rocky stood up, Myungjun saw that Rocky Jr reached knee height and watched as it stumbled clumsily after Rocky as he left.

Sanha sat down opposite Myungjun and rubbed his temples. “That was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” They both agreed and relayed the events to the others when they arrived to eat.

Dongmin listened patiently before nodding his head. “I’ve read all about that in books, being able to animate rocks, crystals and metals is entirely possible for ground manipulators like him. It’s usually a higher-level skill so he must secretly be really in tune with his magic.” Myungjun let that process and clapped his hands excitedly.

“It’s like the student we saw at the feast animating the plants to walk around.” He said.

“Exactly.” Dongmin smiled. “Now, let’s go to Zoology class so we can check Rocky Jr out.”

Hoseok and Youngjae rushed from the hall first, excited to take a look. Myungjun said goodbye to Sanha and Jinwoo, who had alchemy together instead, and followed behind the others. They made it to the forest in record time and weaved their way through the trees to the location of their lesson. Hoseok squealed in excitement as he saw Rocky sitting on the floor, with a smile on his face, watching Rocky Jr running around making his strange gravelly noises. The other students were sitting far away from him looking a bit scared.

The lesson started soon after and the teacher had wheeled a large cart full of cages into the clearing. Rocky Jr growled lowly and moved to stand by Rocky’s side.

“Now then class, today I have a special assignment for you. I’m sure you will remember that last Friday I spoke of an announcement that will be made after the weekend.”

Myungjun was starting to get a bad feeling about this. He was starting to think that Moonbin’s idea of exploring Voredan city had been too farfetched.

“Your assignment begins with picking one of the cages here. They are magically protected, and you cannot see inside. They each contain a copy of a unique magical creature and your task is to look after them until February. It will make up 50 percent of your final grade, so you need to look after them well.”

Myungjun looked over at Hoseok knowing he was the biggest scaredy cat of them all and wasn’t surprised to see that the boy had turned a pale shade of white. They were told to come up one by one and pick a cage. Myungjun went last and had to climb into the cart to pick his. There were two cages left, one for the missing Hyungwon. He sighed and picked the one on the left. He jumped down, careful not to jostle it around too much and went over to his friends.

Namjoon had already opened his cage and an owl had hopped out, its head continuously spinning. Namjoon looked concerned and tried to stop it but the owl flew up into the nearest tree and they spent the next ten minutes trying to coax it down.

Dongmin had picked one of the larger cages and opened it to reveal, what appeared to be smoke, but formed into the ghostly visage of a dolphin. It swam through the air around him and Dongmin looked enamoured. Myungjun remembered what he had seen in the library and shuddered again.

Moonbin’s cage opened next and a group of girls screamed as a wolf sprung out of it and growled their way. Moonbin jumped in front of it and growled back and the wolf backed down whimpering. Myungjun thought they looked like the perfect pair, two overgrown puppies.

He turned to look at Youngjae who had squealed in delight as he opened his cage. A tiny horse had stepped out on wobbly legs and on closer inspection Myungjun could see it was sprouting a miniature horn.

“A unicorn?” He asked full of envy and moved over to stroke its colourful mane. Youngjae looked happy and was showing it off to anyone who would listen.

Myungjun knew he had to open his cage, but he was feeling too nervous. For all he knew a siren could pop out and bite him.

“Why aren’t you opening your cage Hyung?” Rocky asked walking towards him. He was followed along by Rocky Jr who was fending off a little white tiger that was being playful and swatting at his head.

“I’m scared.” Myungjun admitted and Rocky offered to open the cage for him. Myungjun let him and stepped away as the door opened. He covered his mouth in horror as the creature crawled out.

No way, he thought. I did not just pick a dragon. He could smell his plants burning already.

Chapter Text

Myungjun had made up his mind. Hyungwon still had not left his room and he couldn’t take the absence of his best friend anymore. He found Hoseok at the end of class, hiding behind a tree. His assignment was his worst nightmare. A giant snake was slithering his way and promptly vanished. Myungjun rubbed his eyes, to make sure he wasn’t seeing things, but realised it must have invisibility powers. His theory was confirmed a second later when the snake reappeared, wrapped around the base of the tree, looking up at the terrified boy. Hoseok whined and backed away.

“Please leave me alone, I’m scared of snakes, go find a new owner.”

Myungjun must be going crazy because he thought the snake had looked sad for a second. It wound its way further up the tree and watched its new owner from afar. Myungjun shifted his dragon so it was sitting more comfortably on his shoulder. He had tried carrying it in his arms earlier, but the thing had wriggled around and scratched his arms with its claws. This seemed like the safest option, even if it was currently nibbling his ear. He swatted it away for the billionth time before stepping up to Hoseok.

“Take me to your room.” He said bluntly.

Hoseok tore his eyes away from the snake in the tree and eyed Myungjuns dragon suspiciously before speaking. “I feel like I should take you on a date before that.” Hoseok joked weakly.

“I need to see Hyungwon-hyung” Myungjun intervened, ignoring his crude humour. “He’s depressed because of me so I want to see him.”

“Correction; he’s depressed because of what he did to you, not the other way around.” Hoseok pointed out before looking back up in the tree and groaning. “That thing has disappeared again, on the deity, I’m about to have a heart attack.”

Myungjun snapped his fingers in front of Hoseoks face to get his attention back. “Will you take me or not? You know I’m the only one that can make him leave. He’s not eating, and he rarely eats enough anyway. He’ll starve to death in there from stubbornness, sooner rather than later.”

Hoseok sighed. “I don’t even know if you’ll be able to get in. We have to use our magic to make the huts appear and its different from your magic.”

Myungjun was ready to give up before he remembered seeing Jimin tugging his friend he called TaeTae through their forest before. “Hold on one second, I need to ask Jimin something.” He called over his shoulder, running off to find the boy.

He found Jimin gathering up his things at the edge of the clearing. Something small and fluffy was whizzing around his head making a high-pitched squealing noise and Jimin caught it swiftly before stroking it, receiving a purr in return.

“Jimin I need to ask you a question.” Myungjun said approaching him. His dragon nipped his ear particularly hard and he yelped and pulled it off his shoulder. He put it on the ground where it screeched up at him in annoyance.

“Cute pet.” Jimin observed. “What’s your question? If its about your dragon, I don’t know as much about them as I do plants, but there are some great books in the library.”

Before Myungjun could get side-tracked with his dragon problem he focused on the matter at hand. “How did you get TaeTae into our forest if he has different magic?”

Jimin lit up at the sound of his best friend’s name. “Oh, that’s easy, I just keep hold of his hand to share my energy with him and he can see everything. If I let go it all disappears and he can’t see anything. Did that answer your question well enough?”

“Yes, thank you.” Myungjun called, running to get Hoseok. His dragon stumbled after him, flapping its under developed wings.

Myungjun found Hoseok cowering a few feet from his previous spot and trying to shoo the snake away. “For goodness sakes Hyung, she just wants to be accepted by you.” To prove it, Myungjun stepped up and ran a hand over its scaly body. Hoseok gagged and tried to regain his composure.

“I don’t have to touch it do I?” he asked looking down at his hands.

“Probably not, but it wouldn’t hurt to let it close to you. It’s worth 50 percent of your final grade after all.”

Hoseok seemed to mull it over before sighing. “Fine, but slowly.” He added, pointing a threatening finger at the snake, as it was already making its way over. It actually slowed down and gently brushed up against his shoe. Hoseok didn’t jump away at least, Myungjun was proud of him.

“I’ve found a way to see Hyungwon, just hold my hand and don’t let go.” Myungjun said reaching out to grab Hoseok.

Hoseok led him down to the edge of the lake and touched the water. Myungjun remembered seeing the giant objects floating on the water when he arrived at the academy before, so he wasn’t too surprised to see them materialise in front of him. What did surprise him, however, was seeing what the little huts were floating on; giant lily pads. Hoseok led him over the bridges and kept a tight hold on him. Myungjuns dragon stayed back at the edge of the lake and hissed as the snake curled up nearby.

“I wonder how this works anyways. Jimin said something about sharing energy but I didn’t really understand.” Myungjun wondered aloud, turning back to look where they were going.

“I’ve noticed that students who don’t have water magic can’t see the huts but can swim in the lake without bumping into any of them. The strangest thing is, If I’m sitting at the window in my room and they step into the lake they disappear, and I can’t see them anymore.”

Myungjun thought his words over, it was strange, but he didn’t have time to think about it further as Hoseok had stopped at one of the doors and was opening it, calling out Hyungwons name.

“I bought you a visitor.” He said, turning on the light to reveal an oddly shaped lump on one of the beds. The lump didn’t stir and Myungjun tugged Hoseok over to sit beside it.

This did make him stir and he grumbled sleepily. “Hoseok go away, I told you I want to be alone.” He sounded sad and Myungjuns heart hurt.

“Hyung its me.” He said quietly and the lump finally moved. A mop of blonde hair appeared as Hyungwon peeked his head out, eyes not used to the light yet. His eyes were swollen and Myungjun knew he had been crying.

“Junnie is that you?” He asked in disbelief and reached out to grab him. “How did you get in here?"

“I need to keep hold of Hoseok or its all going to disappear.” He explained.

“Just hold onto Hyungwon so I can let you talk in peace.” Hoseok said, sounding uncharacteristically serious.

Hyungwon grabbed his hand and immediately started apologising the minute Hoseok left the room.

“I’m so sorry Junnie, I don’t know why I did that. I saw you but I wasn’t really seeing you, you know?”

Myungjun shushed him and shot him a smile. “Don’t worry about it Hyung, I’m fine now honest, look.” He pulled down the collar of his shirt to reveal a chest clear of ice. “Jinwoo saved me.” He added quietly. He knew Hyungwon got annoyed whenever his name was mentioned, so he held his breath when Hyungwon spoke.

“I should go and thank him then I guess.” He said stiffly. He looked up at Myungjuns astonished expression and carried on. “I always thought he was too dangerous to be around you, but it looks like I’m just as bad.”

“Well I forgave Jinwoo and now I’m forgiving you.” Myungjun said simply and squeezed his hand. “You’re my best friend of course and I missed you a whole lot today. You didn’t even come and see me in the infirmary.”

Hyungwon had the grace to look embarrassed. “I’m sorry, I didn’t think you’d want to see me.”

Myungjun scoffed. “I always want to see you, now scoot over, its cold out here and I’m tired.”

Hyungwon made room and they snuggled down under the cover. They heard the door open and Myungjun peered over Hyungwons shoulder to see Hoseok sneaking in and asking if it was okay to come in now.

“You know it is anyway, I bet you were listening at the door the whole time.” Hyungwon mumbled.

Hoseok made an offended noise. “I didn’t actually, I snuck into the kitchens to get you some food.”

Hyungwon sat up fast as his stomach gave a loud grumble. “Sorry Seokkie.” He said sounding genuinely bad. “Please pass me the food, I’m starving.” He made room on his other side for Hoseok to climb in and ate the food quickly. When he was finished, they snuggled down under the covers again. Myungjun and Hoseok cuddled up to Hyungwon making him laugh and they fell asleep feeling better then they had in ages.

*

Myungjun woke up sweating. Hoseok was wrapped around him, breathing hot air into his face. Myungjun whined. “Hoseok you’re too hot get off.” He didn’t realise his mistake until it was too late. Hoseok rolled away and the contact with his magic broke. The bed disappeared and Myungjun fell into the lake with a scream. He kicked his way to the surface and broke through the water with a gasp. It was shockingly cold, and he felt a dull ache set into his mended arm as he swam to the embankment.

He crawled out of the water and fell onto his back breathing hard. He heard a screech and looked up to see his dragon breathing smoke from its nostrils above him.

“I’m okay.” Myungjun said tiredly, reaching up to pat its scaly head.

“Myungjun is that you?” Hyungwon called out walking towards the lake, carrying plates of food. He dropped them when he realised what had happened and hurried over.

“I leave you for five minutes and Hoseok does this! I’m going to kill him.” Hyungwon seethed, all the affection he’d held towards Hoseok last night had disappeared. “I even got that boy breakfast to say thank you. Wait, is that a dragon? What the hell is going on.”

Myungjun just laughed and pushed himself up. He shivered hard and wiped the water from his face. “I need to go and get changed; I’ll see you in alchemy.” He left Hyungwon mumbling incoherent thoughts and turned around when he reached the edge of the forest. Hyungwon was eyeing the giant snake warily before disappearing onto the lake.

When Myungjun entered his room, he swiftly moved his little plant away from the eyes of his curious dragon. He briefly wondered why the dragon had come into his room and not into the other one last night but was interrupted by Namjoon.

“Why are you always wet?” He asked, pulling on his shirt and staring up at the ceiling mournfully, where his owl was perched in the rafters. Its head was still spinning at an absurdly fast rate.

“I fell in the lake.” Myungjun said before going to get dry.

Namjoon seemed to accept it and left him too it. Youngjae was nowhere to be seen so Myungjun guessed he’d already gone to get breakfast. He was in the process of pulling on new clothes when a sneeze wracked his body. He groaned loudly; he really didn’t want to get sick.

*

Unfortunately, as the day progressed it seemed to get worse. Hyungwon noticed his change of demeanour as they were mixing ingredients in alchemy. Hoseok had come over to apologise and Myungjun had waved him off before sneezing and dropping too many fish eyes into the pot. It started to smoke, and they were told off by their teacher for wasting ingredients. Hyungwon asked him if he was okay and Myungjun just smiled and told him he was feeling great. It wasn’t like Myungjun wanted to keep it a secret from him that he was getting sick, he just didn’t want to give Hyungwon more reason to be annoyed at Hoseok.

He had communications with the fire users next and Jinwoo wasn’t as easy to fool. “You’re sick.” He said placing a hand on Myungjuns forehead. “You’re never sick, why are you sick?” he started to fret and Myungjun swatted his hand away and moaned.

“You’ll make me sicker if you keep fussing. Lets just get on with the lesson.”

They’d made little progress in the past month with getting a read on each other and Myungjun didn’t think he’d have much luck today either with the way his head was feeling. He frowned in confusion as he heard Jinwoos voice.

*Why is he sick? Should I take him to the infirmary? *

“I don’t need to go to the infirmary, I told you to stop fretting.” He said with a pout.

Jinwoo gasped and pulled his hands from Myungjuns. “You just read my mind!”

“What?” Myungjun asked confused. “I heard you speak clearly, you said that out loud, stop joking around.”

“No, I really didn’t.” Jinwoo said, staring at him wide eyed. “How did you do that?”

The teacher, Mr Seo came towards them and clapped his hands. “Looks like you’ve made progress boys. You’ve worked out the trick to it then?” he looked between them expectantly and hesitated, looking closely at Myungjuns face. He sighed and shook his head. “I see now, you’re sick.”

“What does that have to do with it?” Myungjun asked feeling grumpier by the minute at not being able to understand the situation.

“The trick is,” Mr Seo began as Jinwoo leaned forward in his seat to listen. “to make your mind vulnerable to allow the thoughts in and out. Your mind is weak because you’re sick and Jinwoos mind is probably weak as he’s unable to concentrate because he’s worried about you.”

Jinwoo coughed awkwardly but didn’t deny it.

“I will allow you boys to go to the nurse for medicine, seems as you have made progress today. Now go, before I change my mind.”

Jinwoo scrambled from his seat and dragged Myungjun from the room in the direction of the infirmary. The nurse just sighed and let them inside.

“I see more of you two then anyone else. Can you not look after yourselves?” she asked, shoving a spoonful of thick black liquid into Myungjuns mouth. It was disgusting and he wanted to spit it out but the look she gave him made him swallow it down fast.

They left quickly and made their way down to dinner. Myungjun could feel the stuffiness in his head slowly receding but he still felt bad. He picked at his food and ignored Jinwoos attempts to cheer him up. His dragon scratched at his legs and Myungjun bent down with a sigh to place it on his lap. Jinwoo had Zoology that morning and his phoenix was somewhere up in the rafters sleeping. He had looked envious upon seeing Myungjuns dragon in Communications class but claimed his phoenix was better for him as it could reincarnate if he accidently blasted it with his fire.

“How did you get so sick anyway?” Jinwoo asked trying to coax a conversation from Myungjun.

Myungjun let his head fall to the table with a thump before replying. “I fell into the lake this morning.”

“Did someone push you?” Jinwoo asked as casually as possible, but Myungjun could see him stabbing at his food with more force than necessary.

“Not exactly.” He said, rubbing at his temples. “I was sleeping with Hyungwon and Hoseok in their room and their contact was the only thing keeping me in the bed.” He ignored the way Jinwoos chopsticks scraped across the plate and continued. “Hoseok let me go after I told him it was too hot and then I found myself falling into the lake. It was cold.” He pouted and closed his eyes.

Jinwoo sputtered above him. “You slept in a BED with both of them?” he asked incredulous.

“I slept in a bed with you if you don’t remember.” Myungjun replied shortly.

“That...that was different!” Jinwoo floundered. “That wasn’t even a bed and we had no choice.”

“I had no choice either, I needed to go make things right with Hyungwon, or did you want me to be miserable with him ignoring me?” Myungjun asked sharply. His head was starting to hurt again, and his dragons’ claws were digging uncomfortably into his stomach. He sat up properly to shift it around and looked up to see Jinwoo staring at him, seemingly lost for words.

“Why do you care so much anyway? I can sleep where I want, you’re not my mother.” Myungjun snapped. He regretted it when Jinwoo stood up with a scowl.

“Sorry I’m concerned that my best friend decided to sleep in the same bed with the person who tried to kill him the day before. Sorry I care.” He finished before walking away, without looking back. His phoenix let out a whistle above and flew to land on his head. Myungjun would have laughed in any other situation but right now he just wanted to throw things. The plate he grabbed was swiftly removed from his grasp by a concerned looking Moonbin.

“Why do you and Jinwoo-hyung look like you’ve just had a fight?” He asked, setting the plate down out of Myungjuns reach and scratching his wolf gently behind the ears.

“I’m sick and I’m an idiot.” Myungjun whined, resting his head in his hands.

“You’ll work it out Hyung.” Moonbin said, comfortingly rubbing his back. “You two never stay mad at each other for long.”

Myungjun found comfort in his words and gestured for his plate.

Moonbin looked wary. “I won’t give it to you unless you promise not to throw it,” he said.

Myungjun laughed weakly. “I promise. I just want to eat, I’m hungry.” He finished his food quickly, feeding pieces of meat to his dragon and rushed towards his next lesson. It was Combat training, so he had the perfect chance to make up with Jinwoo.

Chapter Text

As expected, it didn’t take long for the two of them to make up. Myungjun threw himself at Jinwoo dramatically, hanging heavily around his neck and apologising repeatedly. The other boy took one look at his pout and caved with a sigh.

“Stop using that pout against me, it makes me want to forgive you instantly.” He tried to sound annoyed but laughed as Myungjun stood up properly to tickle his sides.

“It’s my secret weapon.” Myungjun said with a wink and Jinwoo pushed him away.

The lesson went quickly as they were both in a good mood. Jinwoo went easier on Myungjun as he was worried about him still being sick and Myungjun was secretly relieved. The most entertaining part of the lesson was when they turned around startled, as a boy shouted in pain behind them. They turned to see Rocky apologising profusely to him, struggling to hold Rocky Jr back.

“What was that all about?” Myungjun asked him at the end of the lesson.

“Rocky Jr thought I was in danger when I started sparring and he punched Jackson-hyung in the shin.” Rocky explained sighing. Rocky Jr was babbling nonsense behind them in his gravelly voice, probably defending himself, Myungjun thought with a smile.

*

The weeks passed quickly and soon enough it was the day before hallows eve. They had been told a week ago, that there would be a masked ball and Namjoon groaned at the news.

“I hope there’s no dancing.” He said and Sanha agreed quickly with him. All things considered; he wasn’t really surprised that Sanha didn’t want to attempt dancing with his two left feet. Myungjun was proud of Sanha though, he’d only gone to the nurse three times for nosebleeds after tripping since they started their lessons. He’d taken him to the infirmary so often at the guesthouse that this was a welcome break.

On the other end of the spectrum, Moonbin and Rocky were talking excitedly about showing off their moves on the dancefloor. Myungjun was listening into their conversation, trying to pick up tips, when he saw Moonbin’s head snap to the side. He followed his gaze and watched as a girl approached Dongmin. They were close enough to hear what she was saying.

“Hello Dongmin, have you found a partner to the ball yet?” she asked, fluttering her eyelashes. Myungjun thought she looked like she had something in her eye and snorted into his drink. She scowled his way before turning back to Dongmin who had cleared his throat.

“Yes, sorry I’m already going with someone.” He said before coming to sit at their table.

Moonbin excused himself from the conversation and left to go to the toilet.

“Who are you going to the ball with?” Myungjun asked curiously, after the girl had left looking annoyed.

“No-one.” Dongmin answered looking sheepish. “I just didn’t want to go with her.”

Myungjun laughed and patted him on the back. “Smooth.” He said, giving him a thumbs up.

*

Present day Myungjun found himself sitting on his bed, smoothing out the lapels of his suit and wondering how the ball tomorrow night would go. He’d asked Rocky and Moonbin to teach him how to dance and they’d done so without protest. He was as ready as ever but groaned as he remembered he didn’t have a date. When he asked Namjoon and Youngjae who they were going with, they both told him they were going with other people.

“A girl came up to me and asked and I felt too awkward to turn her down.” Youngjae said looking unhappy, but he brightened up as he turned to Namjoon. “You should have seen Namjoons face when he was asked though. It was a second-year boy who approached him and Namjoon went BRIGHT red before shouting yes and running away. He even tripped on his own foot when he ran out the door.” Youngjae cackled evilly, relaying his friend’s embarrassment as Namjoon just groaned and hid his face in his pillow. Myungjun laughed along as he rubbed Namjoons back sympathetically.

Youngjae heard him sigh and turned to him. “Still haven’t asked anyone?”

Myungjun went back to flop on his bed. “Nope. I haven’t really found the chance to slip it into conversation with anyone.”

“More like you’re just too shy.” Youngjae said, making his way over to his own bed and delicately moving his tiny sleeping unicorn to the other side of his pillow.

“It’s not like anyone would want to go with me anyway.” Myungjun said. He realised before the words even left his mouth, that what he said wasn’t true. He had plenty of friends he could ask, many of which he knew would say yes but that seemed to be his downfall. He had too many friends he could ask and didn’t want to make anyone feel hurt if he didn’t ask them. He voiced his thoughts to Youngjae who just laughed.

“You’re not that special you know, not everyone is jumping at the chance to be your partner.”

Myungjun knew him well enough by now to know he didn’t mean that in a bad way and it rang true in Myungjuns ears which only made him scowl more.

“You’re not helping you know.” Myungjun said looking out of the little window by his bed.

“Just ask Jinwoo.” Youngjae said before turning off the light. They were plunged into darkness and Myungjun could hear a breeze ruffling the leaves outside.

“Jinwoo hasn’t even said if he’s going or not.” Myungjun replied after a few seconds.

“Maybe he’s waiting for a reason to.” Namjoon piped up sleepily before rolling over and falling asleep.

Myungjun thought about it as soft snores filled the room and decided he would ask Jinwoo tomorrow.

*

He woke up to the sound of rain pattering gently against the window and rolled over with a groan. He’d had a bad dream about asking Jinwoo to the ball and him rejecting his offer angrily before incinerating everything in the nearby vicinity. He knew Jinwoo wasn’t likely to do that, but he still felt nervous as he approached him after breakfast. It was a Saturday, so they had Meditation and Discipline class for two hours that morning. They walked there together, uncharacteristically quiet. They were walking down a quiet corridor when Myungjun decided that now was as good a time as any and turned towards Jinwoo determinedly.

“Do you want to go to the ball with me?”

“Will you go to the ball with me?”

They looked at each other for a second in shock before bursting into giggles. Myungjuns dragon jumped around their feet in excitement at the noise and Jinwoo had to scold his phoenix for beating his head with its wings.

“I thought I was going to get rejected.” Jinwoo said after getting the bird to settle down.

“Me too.” Myungjun admitted with a grin as he bumped shoulders with him.

They reached the classroom and grabbed a couple of cushions at the door before sitting together in the corner. Youngjae entered not long after and raised his eyebrows in their direction pointing towards Jinwoo. Myungjun sent him a thumbs up and Youngjae cheered wildly before being scolded by the teacher for disturbing the calm atmosphere.

Myungjun smiled and closed his eyes, trying to empty his mind but it was hard when he could feel Jinwoo watching him.

“Stop staring at me Jinwoo, its distracting.” He whispered with a scowl and felt Jinwoo move next to him.

“Sorry.” He whispered back. “I’m just happy you said yes.”

Myungjun couldn’t help the small smile that graced his face and he reached out blindly for Jinwoos hand. Jinwoo met him halfway and Myungjun focused on making his mind vulnerable.

*I’m happy you said yes too. * He thought hard and heard a small inhale of breath from beside him as his voice entered Jinwoos mind.

*Get out of my mind I’m trying to meditate* Jinwoo replied, making Myungjun snort. They were shushed by a student near them and Myungjun pulled away from Jinwoo to focus. No matter how hard he tried he couldn’t stop thinking about the night ahead and found himself feeling oddly nervous. He’d already asked Jinwoo hadn’t he? So why was he still feeling this way?

After the class, everyone had free time until the dance and went to sit by the lake despite there being a chill in the air. Myungjun was looking forward to snuggling into Jinwoo to steal his body heat but was disappointed when Moonbin dragged the boy away. Sanha saw him pouting in their direction and came over to cheer him up. Myungjun cuddled up to Sanha instead and even though it wasn’t as warm it was still nice. He opened his eyes when he heard Hoseok laughing.

“You’re the real maknae of our group.” He said, wrapping his bright scarf further around his neck.

“Am not.” Myungjun sulked.

“Sure you’re not Junnie.” Hyungwon said, rolling his eyes as Myungjun giggled at the nickname.

Everyone looked in the direction of two small figures in the distance, who were jogging towards them. When they got closer Myungjun recognised Jimin dragging along the friend he called TaeTae, who was carrying a bundle of items.

“They’re ready!” Jimin pronounced proudly and he pointed to the bundle in TaeTaes arms. Myungjun realised they were masks and jumped up to help unload them gently onto the floor. Jimin had offered to make them, using some of the plants he apparently grew behind his treehouse and Myungjun had been so excited, it was a masked ball after all, so they had to have them.

Jimin handed everyone one each until they were all gone.

“Where’s Moonbins and Jinwoos?” Myungjun asked, wondering if Jimin forgot.

“I gave them theirs first.” Jimin explained and excused himself before running back the way he came, dragging his friend behind him.

“He’s a bundle of energy that one.” Hyungwon said before yawning. “It makes me tired just looking at him.”

“What about Hoseok?” Myungjun pointed out. “He’s a bundle of energy too.”

Hyungwon looked over at Hoseok who was trying on everyone’s mask and wrinkled his nose. “He makes me tired just by thinking about him.”

Myungjun laughed before turning his attention to the mask Jimin had made him. It wasn’t anything special, it was made of parchment but Myungjun thought it was beautiful. It was covered in delicate yellow petals and it reminded Myungjun of his flowers. He silently thanked Jimin before declaring he was going back to the room to get ready. Everyone agreed that it was time to go and slowly dispersed.

When they got back to the room, the boys went off to get ready alone. Namjoon looked like he was going to be sick and kept mumbling words of encouragement to himself. Myungjun went over to comfort him before a smell in the air stopped him. It smelt like something was burning and he turned around in time to see his dragon shooting its first little flames over the sleeve of his suit. He shrieked and pulled the suit off the bed. The dragon went tumbling and wriggled around on its back for a few seconds before getting upright and hissing his way in annoyance.

“This isn’t food!” Myungjun whined and poked at the singed hole near the wrist. Namjoon hovered over his shoulder to take a look at the damage.

“It’s not that bad, no one will notice.” He said, trying to cheer Myungjun up.

“But I’LL notice.” Myungjun said back, before flopping onto his bed. His dragon appeared above his head, smoke furling from its nostrils and Myungjun scowled its way. “Why did you do that?” The dragon just tilted its head to the side and stared. Myungjun sat up with a huff and went to put on his suit.

After realising it wasn’t that bad after all, he went to the bathroom and banged on the door. “Youngjae hurry up in there, I need to do my hair.”

The door opened and Myungjun burst out laughing as Youngjae waltzed into the room with his hair sticking up all over the place.

“What on earth did you do to your hair?” Namjoon came up behind him to see what was so funny. “It looks like the perfect nest for my owl to sleep in, if he needed one at least.”

Myungjun was glad he asked, because he couldn’t seem to stop laughing to ask himself. Youngjae didn’t look offended, in fact he laughed as well.

“Maybe if my date see’s this she’ll want to find someone else to dance with.” He said with a mischievous glint in his eye. Myungjuns laughter slowly died down and he swatted at his arm.

“That’s awful.” He said. “but I don’t have time to scold you, I need to use the bathroom.” He squeezed past Youngjae and got to work on his hair. He lost track of time and before long Namjoon was banging on the door telling him it was time to go. He took one last look it the mirror and smiled. His hair was wavier then usual and bounced gently every time he moved. He thought he looked cute. He gently set his mask in place, over his eyes, before opening the door and stepping out.

He felt nervous all the way down to the academy doors but apparently nowhere near as nervous as Namjoon, who they had to keep running back for. He was trying to escape and go back to his room but froze as someone called his name by the door. Myungjun looked over to see a few students waiting there. A girl was shivering in the chilly night air, clad in a bright orange dress with feathers on the shoulders. Myungjun was reminded of Jinwoos phoenix before he turned to look at the other students, there was some he didn’t recognize, like a young-looking girl who sighed in relief as her date took her inside and a boy with bright green hair who was jiggling his leg nervously.

“Namjoon!” the voice called again, and a handsome boy swept down the steps towards them. Namjoon made a strangled sound before being pushed over to him by Youngjae.

“Hello.” The older boy said politely. “I’m Kim Seokjin and I’m here to collect my date.” He grabbed Namjoon by the arm and swept him back up the stairs. Namjoon looked over his shoulder and gave them a worried look before disappearing inside. Myungjun turned to laugh about it with Youngjae but the boy had disappeared.

He looked around and heard his name being called. He looked over to the green haired boy, who was walking towards him. How does he know my name? Myungjun thought. He waited nervously picking at the hole in his sleeve until the boy stopped in front of him. He seemed familiar somehow but Myungjun couldn’t tell because of the mask covering his face. It was covered in green and black petals and looked delicately made. Myungjun frowned, had Jimin just made masks for everyone in the Academy?

“It’s me.” The boy said lifting off his mask.

“Jinwoo?” Myungjun looked at him in shock.

Jinwoos hair was a vivid green colour and it reminded Myungjun of his plants, and the treehouse and the field behind his house in his hometown where he’d made his first flowers grow. He scanned Jinwoos face and stopped at his eyes. They’d been lined in what looked like charcoal and Myungjun watched as his eyelashes fluttered nervously. He’d never seen anyone do that to their eyes before, but he decided he wanted to see it more often. Especially on Jinwoo.

“Do you like it?” Jinwoo asked nervously, as he ran a hand through his hair. “Moonbin wanted to dye it for me earlier, It’s my favourite colour.”

“It’s my favourite colour too.” Myungjun said quietly, reaching up to touch it. He tousled it gently and relished in how soft it felt. Jinwoo leaned against his touch with a sigh and closed his eyes, the moonlight hitting his face just right. Myungjun felt his breath catch in his throat as it illuminated every curve and edge. He was beautiful. Jinwoo heard the noise and slowly opened his eyes to scan Myungjuns face in return. Everything seemed to fade away around him and Myungjun found himself watching as Jinwoos tongue darted out to wet his lips.

“Are you okay?” Jinwoo whispered and Myungjun tore his eyes away. He nodded in response, not trusting himself to speak and a bright smile bloomed on Jinwoos face. Myungjuns heart thumped painfully against his ribcage as he looked into the eyes of his best friend.

Chapter Text

Jinwoo stopped smiling as he sensed his discomfort and peered at his face in concern. “Are you sure you’re okay?” he asked again. Myungjun tried to look away but Jinwoo held his chin lightly and lifted his face up to look at him. His face was so close. Myungjuns heart thumped more painfully then before and he gripped at his chest.

“I think I’m dying.” He whispered as tears filled his eyes. “My chest really hurts.” Myungjun was scared, what was happening to him? He hadn’t had a panic attack in a really long time, but he felt one coming now as a result of this foreign feeling. His magic crackled across his fingers and flowers spread out like a blanket, littering the floor around their feet. It didn’t stop there, however.

“Myungjun what’s going-" He didn’t get to finish his sentence before thick vines burst from the ground and Jinwoo hissed in pain as one shot past his arm, causing him to pull away from the scared boy. Myungjun didn’t realise that he was boxing himself in with walls of vines as his brain told him he was in danger. He heard Jinwoo calling his name, but he was struggling to focus.

“Jinwoo what’s going on?” Myungjun heard a voice asking outside.

He looked around in the dark and could only see small slivers of light from the moon, feeding its way through the gaps in his defence. He pushed against the vines, but nothing happened. Someone outside was speaking again so he stopped to try and listen to the muffled voices.

“You can’t burn it down with him inside of there, you’ll kill him!” came Hyungwons voice. “Let me freeze them and we can break it down.”

“Yeah and what happens if we can’t break it and he freezes to death?” Jinwoo retaliated.

“You two stop arguing! I saw Grove inside, someone go and get him, maybe he knows what to do.”

Someone had listened to Moonbins suggestion, as Myungjun heard faint footsteps receding.

“Myungjun can you hear me?” Jinwoo called out desperately.

Myungjun tried to answer him but all that came out was a squeak. He pushed harder at the walls, he felt claustrophobic and needed to get out. His tears spilled over, making his mask stick to his face and he heard muffled grunts as Jinwoo kicked at the vines from outside.

“That won’t do anything boy.” Groves voice rang through the night. “He won’t come out until he’s ready. You need to calm him down. What happened anyway?”

Myungjun heard Jinwoo explaining the situation. From how they had been talking, to his chest hurting and Jinwoo even threw in the fact that vines had never grown before during one of his attacks.

Grove mumbled something Myungjun couldn’t hear and then repeated that they needed to get Myungjun to calm down.

Myungjun squatted down and clutched at his hair. What if he never calmed down? Would he die in here? He was startled out of his thoughts by Jinwoos voice penetrating his mind.

*I hope this works; I feel really stupid standing here like this. What if its already working and he can hear me? Shut up brain and think. *

Despite his situation Myungjun couldn’t help the little laugh that bubbled up through his chest. Jinwoo was such a dork. The amusement didn’t last for long as the anxiety flooded back in.

*JinJin? * He thought quietly.

“I can hear him!” Jinwoos muffled voice floated through the wall and someone clapped their hands.

“What’s he saying? Is he okay?” Hyungwon asked worriedly.

“Just shut up and let me think.” Jinwoo said.

*Junnie I can hear you, keep talking to me, or thinking whatever it is, let me know you’re okay*

*JinJin I’m scared, the vines are too strong, and I can’t get out*

*You can, I promise. These vines are a part of you. How do you think I’m communicating with you? I’m touching them and you’re hearing me, aren’t you? *

Myungjun thought about it, but through his fear he couldn’t understand what Jinwoo was trying to say.

*I don’t understand, please just get me out of here* he thought desperately.

*Your mind is controlling them Junnie, remember in Communications we had to hold hands to get a read on each other? That’s because we needed contact, but all I’m touching is these vines and not you but you’re still hearing me, which means these vines are a part of you. * Jinwoo paused for a second before thinking again. *How do you usually make flowers grow? *

*I visualise them and they appear* Myungjun thought.

*Exactly! Think about these vines Junnie, think about them coming down*

Myungjun nearly cried out as he felt his connection to Jinwoo break as the boy stepped back to give him space. He focused on Jinwoos words and visualised the walls around him. He imagined them going back into the ground and looked up in surprise as he heard a creaking above him. He could see the night sky clearly.

“Its working!” Hyungwons voice came much clearer now.

“Keep going Myungjun, you can do it!” Jinwoo called encouragingly.

Myungjun was spurred on and placed his hands on the vines and pictured them coming down completely. He felt them rush past his fingers and the cold air hit him. He didn’t realise he was falling until Jinwoo caught him. He sat down hard, pulling Myungjun into his lap.

Myungjun cried as Hyungwon and Moonbin crowded round to see if he was okay and snuggled down further into Jinwoos chest.

“Come back inside boys, I don’t think he wants to be gawked at like some spectacle.” Groves voice was firm but kind, and Myungjun felt the presence of Hyungwon and Moonbin disappear.

“Shhhh.” Jinwoo rocked him backwards and forwards gently running his fingers through his hair. “You’re okay now Junnie, you’re out of there and you’re safe.”

His warm voice soothed Myungjun, and after a while, he was no longer crying and just sniffled into the other boy’s shirt. “I was so scared, I thought I wasn’t going to be able to get out.” He whispered quietly.

Jinwoo rubbed his back before pulling him closer. “But you did, didn’t you?” He waited until he felt Myungjun nod his head. “And you’re safe now aren’t you?” Myungjun took longer this time but still nodded his head. “Then will you look at me?”

Myungjun pulled back slightly to look up at him. Jinwoo reached up hesitantly and pulled the mask off of Myungjuns face.

“That’s better.” He said with a small smile before leaning down and pressing his lips gently against Myungjuns forehead. He tensed after realising what he had just done and pulled back to look at Myungjun. “Was that okay?” he asked looking uneasy but relaxed when Myungjun nodded shyly.

Myungjun was used to kisses like that. Hoseok would always press gentle kisses into his hair when they cuddled and Youngjae would swoop in to kiss his forehead playfully when Myungjun was being extra cute, but somehow it felt different with Jinwoo. He couldn’t understand why but decided it didn’t matter right now.

He stood up shakily and Jinwoo followed, linking his arm through his for support. Myungjun smiled at him gratefully before asking if they could go inside. It was getting too cold and Myungjun wanted to let the others know he was okay. He shivered slightly as a particularly cold breeze ruffled his hair and Jinwoo frowned before letting go of Myungjun and shrugging his suit jacket off. He wrapped it around Myungjuns shoulders before wrapping an arm around him again and leading them inside.

Hyungwon was pacing nervously just inside the door. He sighed in relief as he spotted Myungjun and Jinwoo stepped back as Hyungwon raced forward to pull him into a hug.

“Myungjun I was so worried, I’ve never seen you do anything like that before, are you okay?”

Myungjun pulled back to smile at him. “I’m fine Hyung, just a bit tired.”

“Do you want to go back to your room? I can take you, or we can go back to mine and just cuddle? I promise I won’t let go like an idiot.” He finished referring to Hoseok allowing him to fall into the lake.

Myungjun just laughed and shook his head. “No, I can’t miss my first masked ball, even though I’m not really masked anymore.” Myungjun turned to Jinwoo. “and neither is my date apparently.”

Jinwoo looked taken aback to realise he wasn’t masked before remembering he’d taken it off to reveal his identity to Myungjun.

Hyungwon just sighed and patted him on the shoulder. “Whatever you want Junnie. Just come find me if you change your mind okay?”

Myungjun nodded happily before taking Jinwoos hand and dragging him inside. There was music tinkling in the air, an upbeat tune that had everyone swaying and laughing on the dance floor. Myungjun pulled Jinwoo towards it and started to dance. Jinwoo looked surprised and shouted over the music.

“I didn’t know you could dance.”

Myungjun just laughed and spun away deeper into the crowd. Jinwoo followed and grabbed him so he wouldn’t get lost.

“Moonbin and Rocky taught me.” He admitted, shouting loudly. He didn’t hear what Jinwoo said next but suddenly he was being swept around the floor. Jinwoo was an amazing dancer and Myungjun was soon feeling giddy from the adrenaline.

He pulled them off of the dancefloor and slumped down in an empty chair. “Can you go find me some water I’m thirsty.” He asked and watched Jinwoo hurry off. He looked around and spotted a few of his friends, they were easier to recognise under their masks then Jinwoo had been.

Namjoon was being swung around the dance floor and was laughing loudly as he stood on Seokjins toes. The older boy didn’t seem to mind as he looked down at Namjoon fondly before leaning down to whisper in his ear. Myungjun looked further to see Rocky spinning elegantly and finishing with a bow as Rocky Jr clapped his stony hands spraying dust up into the air. The students around him moved away with disgruntled looks on their faces but Rocky didn’t seem to notice. Myungjun scanned the tables to see if he could spot anyone sitting down and frowned when he noticed Moonbin sitting by himself in the corner. He went over to him and sat down in the empty chair beside him. Moonbin looked up surprised.

“Oh, hyung you’re here, I thought you would have gone back to your room.” He said leaning over to squeeze Myungjuns arm gently.

“How comes you’re here by yourself?” Myungjun asked.

“I don’t feel like dancing.” Moonbin said and Myungjun looked at him worryingly.

“You love to dance; you were so excited for this.”

Moonbin just shrugged him off. “It doesn’t matter now, by the way have you seen Dongmin? He should be somewhere around here with his date, but I haven’t seen him” he asked.

“What date? I thought Dongmin didn’t have a date.” Myungjun wondered who Dongmin had asked.

“You heard him in the hall, he told that girl he was already going with someone.” Moonbin said sounding a bit upset.

“He came back to the table and told us it was just a lie because he didn’t want to go with her remember?”

Moonbins face lit up. “Really? I went to the toilet, so I didn’t hear.”

Myungjun could sense that there was something Moonbin wasn’t telling him but noticed Dongmin entering the room. “He’s over there if you need to talk to him.” He said pointing behind Moonbin and Moonbin spun in his seat to look.

“Oh yeah, I’ll go talk to him about that…thing.” He finished awkwardly before leaving in a hurry, his bright pink hair bobbing through the crowd.

Myungjun just sighed and scanned the room for Jinwoo. He spotted him looking confused as he stared at the empty seat Myungjun had been sitting in. Myungjun called his name over the noise and waved him over when he looked up.

“Why are you over here?” He asked, handing his drink over.

“Moonbin looked lonely and asked me where Dongmin was. I think there’s something going on between them.” Myungjun said.

“Oh yeah, Moonbin has a crush on Dongmin.” Jinwoo said casually, sipping at his own drink.

Myungjun spat his out across the table. “He what?” he got out between coughs.

Jinwoo smacked him on the back a few times. “How did you not notice? They’re so obvious.”

Myungjun thought back to all the little signs he’d been given, and his mouth dropped open. “I think Dongmin has a crush on Moonbin too! He’s always staring at him and asked me weird questions about him. Wow now that I think about it, they’re both so obvious.” He laughed and shook his head. “How oblivious can some people be?”

Jinwoo mumbled something and Myungjun leaned closer to hear. “What was that?”

“Nothing.” Jinwoo said with a smile. “Wanna dance?”

Chapter Text

The night eventually came to an end and sweaty bodies spilled out of the front doors, onto the grass. It was refreshing to feel the night air on his face after dancing in the crowd for so long. Myungjun stretched his tired limbs before turning to smile at Jinwoo.

“Let’s go for a walk.” He suggested, not wanting the night to end yet. Jinwoo agreed and they began walking in a random direction. The shouts of excited students slowly disappeared as they walked further away.

Myungjun was curious about something Jinwoo had said to Grove before. “Hey, can I ask you something?”

“Anything.” Jinwoo answered him, looking up at the stars.

“How did you know I hadn’t made vines before during a panic attack?”

Jinwoo stopped and looked at him awkwardly, trying to think of what to say. Myungjun waited patiently until he spoke again. “I’d rather show you something first.” He said, gesturing for Myungjun to follow him. Myungjun followed without complaint and they walked in silence for a while. He looked down to make sure he didn’t trip on anything in the dark and bumped into Jinwoo when he stopped.

After a quick apology Myungjun looked up to see they had stopped near the guesthouse. There were still some lights on in the windows, which made it easier for them to cross over to the tree looming near the front. Jinwoo quickly climbed up to sit on one of the lowers branches and pulled Myungjun up to sit next to him. Myungjun could just about see the front door from where they sat.

“Jinwoo why are we here?” he turned to look and saw that Jinwoo looked nervous. He reached over to grab his hand and rubbed it encouragingly. “You can tell me whatever it is.” Myungjun was already starting to understand but wanted him to explain it.

“This is where I first saw you.” He begun nervously. “You were climbing out of Mr Chois carriage with your arm in that sling and I’d never seen anyone look so scared. It reminded me of how I used to feel, and I wanted to go down and comfort you, but then a tall handsome boy got out behind you and you bumped into him trying to get back inside.”

“Hyungwon.” Myungjun said smiling.

Jinwoo made a noise of acknowledgment before continuing. “I saw him lean down and say something to you before hugging you and Hoseok got out to hug you too. I feel awkward saying this, but I was so jealous of you. You had friends to comfort you when you were sad.”

Myungjun squeezed his hand lightly and he squeezed back.

“I’m not jealous anymore, I have friends now who look after me.” He smiled and shifted around until he was facing Myungjun better. “I saw the flowers spreading around you whilst you were panicking, and I was surprised to see them spread faster when you were feeling better. I thought back to that moment when I saw the vines growing.”

Myungjun accepted that answer to his question and allowed himself to remember the warmth he had felt in his chest at his friend’s kind words when he’d stepped out of the carriage and it made him feel strangely nostalgic.

“I realised how different we were. When you lose control, you grow pretty flowers and when I lose control, I hurt people.” Jinwoo was quiet as he rubbed at Myungjuns wrist, tracing the ghost lines of his burns. “I know I burnt you, I know you lied to make me feel better and I was selfish enough to play along. I’m sorry.”

Myungjun was horrified, he had tried so hard to hide it so how had Jinwoo known? He went to speak but Jinwoo stopped him.

“You’re a terrible liar, I saw right through it immediately.” He laughed as Myungjun pouted and he became oddly serious straight after. “I have other things to apologise for.”

Myungjun was now lost, he couldn’t imagine why Jinwoo would need to apologise any further.

“Those boys who cornered me here were right. I had been watching you, but I wasn’t trying to be creepy I swear. After you were shown into the guesthouse, I went to the infirmary to lay down. I was told to go there whenever I was feeling depressed and seeing you with your friends just…anyway, I heard someone coming in, so I peeked past the curtains and there you were. You looked even worse up close by the way.”

Myungjun remembered back to walking into the infirmary and seeing one of the beds occupied and wondering who was in there. He felt a weird sense of comfort knowing it was Jinwoo.

“I saw Mrs Ko fixing your arm and your nose and I felt sick thinking about how you’d gotten into such a state. Your back looked terrible, there were so many bruises I wondered how you were even alive. It was worse when she asked what happened to you and you said you couldn’t remember. She told you that you must have been through something traumatic and it made me realise something. You might have seemed like this delicate boy who grew flowers when he lost control was you were actually so strong as well.”

Myungjun squeezed his hand hard as he blinked back the tears stinging his eyes. He hadn’t felt strong at the time, not at all.

“What I have to apologise for is watching you from then on. Those boys who cornered me were the guesthouse bullies and I didn’t want them to go near you. They caught me watching you by the pond and picked a fight. I was wondering how to get out of there without hurting anyone with my magic when suddenly you appeared. Still battered and bruised but ready to stand up to them. Then they were gone, and you were there calling me smart and laughing with me instead of at me like I was used to. It was too much for me and I ran. I’m sorry I avoided you and I’m sorry that I couldn’t stay away from you even then.”

Myungjuns cheeks were flushed from embarrassment. Jinwoo was making him out to be some hero and it was hard to imagine.

“The night of the feast, before we started the academy, I saw you setting up the table for your friends. I wondered what it was like to have friends and to do nice things like that for them. So, when you went inside to get matches, I went and took some off another table and lit the candles for you. I just wanted to feel like a part of your group, and it made me happy to see you and the others having fun. I tried to slip out to the forest to be alone and I didn’t realise you were following me. It wasn’t until I heard those guys mouthing at you that I realised and by the time I got there you were in so much pain. I didn’t know why but I knew I had to help you. Then he grabbed you by your hair and I was trying so hard to stay in control, somehow it worked, but you passed out before I could see if you were okay. I didn’t want to leave you alone out there, so I stayed. I didn’t mean to fall asleep either, I was going to slip away when the sun rose, but something woke me, and I saw you staring at me. It was quite intimidating.”

Myungjun giggled. “Sorry, I’m the reason you woke up, you had dirt on your face, so I wiped it off.”

“Ahh...” Jinwoo smiled down at his lap before continuing. “I wanted to run away again after that, but you wouldn’t give up my jacket and it really was my favourite, not that I minded much. You called me sad eyes and it felt strange knowing someone had taken the time to notice something so abstract about me, so I told you my name instead and suddenly we were friends. If anyone told me before that I would have friends when I joined the academy I would have laughed.”

Myungjuns heart clenched painfully as Jinwoos sentiment hit close to home. He remembered thinking the exact same thing and for the first time realised he wasn’t alone.

“Thankyou for telling me.” He said quietly, sensing that Jinwoo had come to a stop. “Also, I want you to know that I will not be accepting any apologies from you because they’re not needed. I let slip to Hyungwon on the carriage ride here that I wanted to feel safe for once and you’ve made me realise I was safe the minute I stepped foot on the ground here.”

He looked up quickly when he heard Jinwoo sniffle. “Why are you crying?”

“Sorry,” Jinwoo said wiping his nose noisily. “No-ones ever told me I make them feel safe before. I’m just used to being the danger to civilization.”

“You’re not dangerous, you need to stop thinking like that Jinwoo.” Myungjun said softly.

“I haven’t told you everything about me yet, I’m going to need some more time to feel ready for it and you may change your mind about me when you hear it.” Jinwoo said sadly before looking at him. “Do you think we could still be friends until then?”

Myungjun couldn’t imagine what Jinwoo could say to change his opinion of him, so he just nodded his head and pulled him in for a hug. He’d completely forgotten they were sitting in a tree and began wobbling precariously on the edge of the branch. Jinwoo acted fast and pulled him back up.

“See?” Myungjun said with a smile when he was seated again. “I’m safe with you.”

Chapter Text

The day had finally come for their trip into Voredan city. It had been announced in November and Myungjun had been bursting with excitement ever since. They were now two weeks into December and the holidays were rapidly approaching. He couldn’t wait to spend his first Christmas with his friends and had spent days trying to think of gifts to give them. He knew some of his friends would be going back home to spend Christmas with their families, but he still wanted to prepare something for them.

He was eating his breakfast and talking to Hoseok excitedly about the day ahead, when the temperature suddenly dropped and a stormy looking Dongmin slammed his plate of food down on the table beside them.

“I can’t believe this.” He seethed and sat down heavily.

“What’s wrong?” Myungjun asked, instantly switching to, what his friends liked to call, his ‘worried mother mode’.

Dongmin looked up and his bottom lip began to tremble. “My parent’s want me to go home for Christmas, but I already promised Binnie that I’d spend it here with him.”
Myungjun reached over to hold his hand and rub soothing circles into the skin. Dongmin used his other hand to scrub furiously at his eyes before continuing. “I always have to do what they say. They ruin everything and I hate them.”

Hoseok got up to hurry over and give Dongmin a hug. Whilst he was distracted, Myungjun looked over to Sanha, who was being weirdly quiet. Sanha looked up after realising he was being watched and gave Myungjun a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. Myungjun had to look away as Dongmin spoke again.

“I don’t know what to do, I’ve already picked out the perfect present for him, but it will be pointless if I can’t give it to him on the day.”

Myungjun sighed, he wasn’t at all sure how to help Dongmin. He’d heard enough about his parents to know that what they said was final.

“What happens if you just don’t go?” Hoseok asked, sitting back down in his seat.

“They’d probably storm this place and drag me out.” Dongmin said sounding defeated. “Sometimes I wish I didn’t have parents.”

Everyone looked up startled when Sanha slammed his hand down on the table. “Shut up.” He shouted, glaring in Dongmins direction.

Myungjun was shocked at Sanhas blatant rudeness and lack of honorifics. “Sanha, apologise right now.” He said sharply to the young boy. Sanha just stood up shaking and stormed out of the room.

They were silent before Hoseok cleared his throat. “Junnie you should go see if he’s okay, you’re the best one for the job. I’ll sit with Dongmin till you get back.”

Myungjun nodded feeling numb. He’d never seen Sanha look so angry and the way he walked off without apologising really irritated him. He rushed from the room and looked around. He couldn’t see Sanha anywhere and stopped the nearest student to ask.

“Excuse me did you happen to see what direction an angry looking curly haired boy walked out of here in?” She pointed towards the stairs and Myungjun thanked her before rushing up them. He saw Sanha’s mop of red hair turning the corner down the corridor and hurried towards it.

“Sanha!” He called as he watched him disappear into one of the rooms. He read the sign saying ‘Toilets’ and went inside. He could hear Sanha sniffling in one of the cubicles and went to knock on the door.

“You better open this door and talk to me Sanha or you’ll be in even more trouble.” He warned.

“Go away Hyung.” Sanha said sadly. “I don’t want to talk right now.”

Myungjun sighed and lowered his voice. “Sanha, I promise you’ll feel better if you just talk to me and tell me what’s wrong.” He heard another sniffle but Sanha didn’t answer him. “Please can you let me in? I’m not mad at you I’m just worried.”

He finally heard the toilet door click and Sanha gestured for him to come inside. It was cramped, but Myungjun was just relieved he’d made this much progress.

He bent down and pulled some tissues off to wipe Sanha’s face. “I don’t like seeing you upset. You need to tell me why you were so mad at Dongmin.”

Sanha was quiet for a long time and just when Myungjun thought he wasn’t going to reply, he spoke. “I don’t have parents Hyung.” He said, pulling his legs up onto the toilet seat to bury his face into his knees.

Myungjun felt his stomach drop. What did Sanha mean he didn’t have parents? He’d always assumed Sanha had lovely parents because he was such a happy and confident boy who never really complained about anything. “What do you mean Sanha?”

“I don’t have parents.” He repeated, pulling his legs closer. “I’ve been at the guesthouse since I was five. They left me there and never came back for me because they didn’t love me.”

Myungjuns heart felt like it was breaking, Sanha sounded so sad. “Don’t say that, I’m sure they do love you, there could be a good reason as to why they did it.”

“They don’t love me.” Sanha said sharply before looking up at Myungjun. “They told Mrs Ko that they didn’t want me in front of my face. I can still remember the way they said it.”

Myungjun was lost for words. How had he not known about this earlier? “Why didn’t you tell me Sanha? Why didn’t you tell anyone?” he asked sadly.

“I did tell somebody.” Sanha said, the sharp tone disappearing from his voice. “I told Jinwoo. He was already there when I was left behind.”

“You said Jinwoo was dangerous to me. Why would you tell him if he was dangerous?” Myungjun asked, feeling confused.

Sanha shifted uncomfortably. “I told him before I thought he was dangerous.” He didn’t offer any more of an explanation so Myungjun let it go with a sigh, they were running out of time. The carriages to take them into Voredan would be arriving soon.

“So that’s why you were mad at Dongmin?” Myungjun asked, putting the pieces together. “Because he was talking about hating his parents?”

“No, I was mad because he said that sometimes he wished he never had them.” Sanha said grumpily. “I pray every night that my parents would come back for me and Dongmin-hyung says all of those bad things. At least he has parents.” His voice cracked at the end and he started to cry, loud gut-wrenching sobs that bought Myungjun close to tears. He always wondered why Sanha chose to go to church with Jinwoo every Sunday and now it made sense. He just wanted his parents back.

Myungjun pulled him into a hug and rubbed his back trying to calm him down. He could feel Sanhas magic pulsing under his skin and a breeze raced around the cubicle.

“Shh, It’s okay Sanha, I’m here for you, We’re all here for you…Dongmin-hyung too.” He added cautiously. “I know this might not mean much to you, but we all love you and care about you and you’ll always be OUR baby.”

Sanha let out a small laugh and hugged him tighter, the breeze slowly dying down with his magic. “It does mean a lot to me Hyung, you’re all the best family I’ve ever had.”

Myungjun let his own tears fall freely and hugged Sanha until he started to protest.

“Get off Hyung, you’re crushing me.” He whined. Myungjun gave him one last squeeze before letting go.

“You do need to go and apologise you know that, right?” Myungjun said, making sure he was listening.

“Yes Hyung.” Sanha sighed before getting up. “Let’s go before we miss the carriages.”

They walked back downstairs together and Sanha dashed over to give Dongmin a hug and an apology. Dongmin just smiled down at him and ruffled his hair.

“I wondered if you’d make it back in time.” Hoseok whispered, pulling him away from the pair. “Is Sanha okay?”

“I hope so.” Myungjun said quietly before giving Hoseoks arm a quick squeeze. “Let’s go.”

Myungjun climbed into one of the carriages with Dongmin, Sanha and Hoseok. It wasn’t until they were out of the academy grounds that Myungjun realised he hadn’t seen Jinwoo all day.

“Has anyone seen Jinwoo?” He asked and watched with a frown as the others shook their head. Ever since the night of the ball, his and Jinwoos friendship had gotten stronger. They spent more time together and confided in each other more. Jinwoo still hadn’t told him what he wanted to explain about himself and Myungjun was patiently giving him the time he’d asked for. He just hoped that Jinwoo was in one of the other carriages and closed his eyes to have a rest.

It wasn’t long before the carriage stopped, and they all scrambled out excitedly. Myungjun looked around but couldn’t see a head of green hair anywhere. He frowned but was pulled away by Hoseok, who led them to the front of the carriages where the elemental leaders were gathered.

“This is your first trip out of the academy grounds.” Blaze begun. “Depending on how you behave today, will determine whether you will be allowed out again or not.” He let the mumbles of the students around him die down before continuing. “Me and Zephyr,” He gestured to the woman next to him, who Myungjun recognised as the leader who had stormed out when he and Jinwoo had picked up their timetables. “will be in the upper part of this city if you wish to find us for help, and Grove and Frost will be in the lower part. You have until sundown to explore the city and then I want you back here. If you get into trouble, press your birthmarks and we will come find you.” Myungjun looked down at his wrist and was surprised to see it glowing a faint green colour.

They were dismissed and the students scattered excitedly, running in every direction. Myungjun spotted Namjoon and Youngjae hurrying off and let their names die on his lips. He was going to ask if they wanted to join him and the others, but they obviously had other plans. Myungjun set his mind to the most important task of the day. Shopping for gifts. His mother had sent him a pouch of money with a note attached, explaining that he should stay at the academy for Christmas as she was going to be busy over the holidays. He hoped she was okay and patted the pouch of money gratefully before slipping it back into his pocket.

Dongmin had lived in Voredan, so he knew all the best places to go and took them first to see the castle. Myungjun had been amazed at the glimpse he had gotten of it, on his way past to the academy before, but nothing could prepare him for seeing the hulking building up close. It was grand and sparkled in the winter sun. Myungjun wondered what it would look like when the first snow decided to fall. He’d woken up every day, over the past couple of weeks, to rush to his window to see if the snow had come but there was still no sign of it.

“What are you thinking about?” Dongmin asked, noticing the vacant look on Myungjuns face.

“I want it to snow.” Myungjun pouted. Dongmin just shook his head fondly before holding his hands over Myungjuns head and using his magic to create a flurry of snowflakes. There wasn’t a lot of it but Myungjun still clapped his hands in excitement.

“You’re so cute Junnie.” Hoseok said before attacking him with a backhug. Myungjun just laughed and snuggled back into him. He looked through the golden gates, leading up to castle, and wondered what it would be like to live there.

“I think it would be lonely.” Sanha said from beside him. Myungjun wasn’t surprised he had spoken his thoughts out loud again and just hummed in agreement. Something caught his eye and he turned his head to watch, as a flash of green hair disappeared down a small alleyway nearby.

“Jinwoo?” Myungjun muttered pulling away from Hoseok.

“Nope, sorry to disappoint, but I’m still Hoseok.” He said with a grin as Myungjun looked at him.

“Not you, I think I just saw Jinwoo over there. Let’s go get him.” He said before setting off. He didn’t get far until Dongmin pulled him back.

“Don’t go Hyung.” He said as Myungjun turned to him.

“Why not?” Myungjun asked, eyes narrowing in suspicion.

Dongmin looked nervous and cleared his throat. “You don’t even know if that was him, it could be a stranger, I mean lots of people dye their hair, right?” Myungjun might have agreed but decided something seemed off when the boy laughed awkwardly.

“Lets just go check.” Myungjun said, shaking his hand off. He turned around and Hoseok stepped in front of him.

“Can we go and look after I’ve been to the toilet?” He asked innocently.

“Can’t you hold it? Jinwoo will have disappeared by then.” Myungjun asked, trying to step around him.

“It’s not Jinwoo.” Dongmin mumbled, but Myungjun just ignored him.

“Please Junnie.” Hoseok whined.

“You’re old enough, go by yourself.” Myungjun said, starting to get annoyed.

“Why are you two acting so weird?” Sanha asked, eyeing Dongmin and Hoseok who exchanged innocent looks.

“Don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.” Hoseok said.

“Then let Hyung go and find Jinwoo-hyung.” Sanha said before stepping around them and grabbing Myungjuns hand to pull him away.

The boys just sighed and followed behind them. Myungjun hurried on ahead and stepped into the alleyway. There was no-one there and he frowned.

“See! Now he’s gone.” He whined and turned to his friends, looking cross.

They shied away from his glare and Myungjun sighed. “Let’s go find a toilet then.”

“I don’t need the toilet anymore.” Hoseok said happily. “I’ve just seen a sweet shop and I’m DYING for some sugar.”

They were surrounded by the sugary treats a few minutes later and Myungjun was eyeing Hoseok warily as the boy whizzed around the shop picking out the different things he wanted. Myungjun was already feeling stressed at the thought of a hyper Hoseok and looked around to distract himself.

He picked up a bag of floral flavoured sweets to give to Jimin as a Christmas gift and handed over the correct amount of coins. They soon left and headed down the street. He stopped at a window that displayed a selection of colourful trinkets. His eyes lit up as he spotted the perfect gift for Jinwoo and he hurried inside. A bell tinkled above the door and he was immediately hit with the smell of incense. He let his fingers trail over the pretty crystals and gemstones before stopping in front of what he wanted.

He held the thin length of leather up to the light to watch the green and black gemstone it held sparkle.

“That’s a pretty necklace.” Hoseok said from behind him. “That would be perfect for Jinwoo.”

Myungjun nodded happily and carried it carefully to the owner, who sat hunched over behind a countertop.

“For someone special.” The old woman observed in her raspy voice. Myungjun shivered as her gnarled finger brushed against his and she took the necklace from his hand. “For someone very special.”

Myungjun nodded politely as he watched her observe the stone. It began to hum with magic, and she made a satisfied noise.

“Onyx and Malachite blend, the perfect stone for protection, discipline and a means of resisting temptation. I feel that will be perfect for your special friend.” She said before handing it back to him.

Myungjun allowed himself a few seconds to revel in the fact that it was literally the perfect gift. He pulled out his pouch to hand her some money, but she waved it off.

“I would like something else from you instead, you have a good energy about you boy. All I ask, is one hair from your head.” Myungjun was confused at the request but reached up to pluck out a hair. A firm hand on his wrist stopped him and he looked over to see Dongmin eyeing the woman suspiciously.

“What are you doing Hyung? Just give her the money so we can leave.” He said, staring at the woman with an air of confidence that Myungjun couldn’t quite reach. He quickly placed the money he was going to pay down onto the counter and was swiftly pulled from the store by a furious looking Dongmin.

“What the hell was that?” He said angrily. “You should never give any part of your being away to a stranger, she could have done any number of strange things with that hair, use your brain hyung!”

Myungjun felt like a scolded child as he realised what Dongmin said was true. Dongmin looked down to see the hurt look on his face and sighed. “I’m sorry, I was worried that’s all.”

Myungjun gave him a shaky smile before looking down at the necklace in his hand. It was worth the scolding he decided.

“Wow hyung you’re scary when your mad.” Sanha said from behind Myungjun. Hoseok agreed quietly before suggesting they move on. Myungjun tucked the necklace safely in his pocket and followed the others. He started to think of all the bad things that could have happened and shuddered.

The day passed quickly after that. Myungjun picked out some more gifts and some supplies to make friendship bracelets for Hyungwon and Hoseok before following Dongmin into a strongly scented coffee shop. He told Dongmin to order him whatever he was having and sat down at one of the wooden tables, his mind shifting back to Jinwoo.

Maybe Dongmin and Hoseok were right, maybe it wasn’t him. Surely, he would have come to find Myungjun by now if it were? He traced the lines in the wood before a steaming cup, of something sweet smelling, was placed in front of him. He thanked Dongmin before taking a sip. It tasted nice, very earthy.

The door opened and Myungjuns head snapped up as he watched a man step inside. Myungjun had the strangest feeling that he knew him, but it wasn’t possible because he’d never seen the man before. He looked down to see a battered looking sword tucked into his belt and looked back up again when he felt eyes on him. The man was looking his way with a stony expression on his face. He went up to order his drink, drank it down in a few gulps and promptly turned to leave, his coat flapping behind him.

“Are you okay?” Sanha asked, waving a hand in front of his face.

“Yeah I’m fine.” Myungjun replied. “Hurry up and finish your drink I want to go.”

Chapter Text

Myungjun gave one last hopeful look around, before giving up and climbing into the carriage. Jinwoo really must not have come today, he thought. Myungjun just hoped he was okay. He couldn’t think of a good reason as to why Jinwoo would miss a chance to leave the academy, when he’d been there his whole life. The others left him to his thoughts, and he leaned back to shut his eyes.

“Hyung I dare you to stick that whole bag of sweets in your mouth.” Sanha said excitedly, leaning towards Hoseok.

Myungjun heard Dongmin groan as Hoseok took up the challenge. A few minutes later and he was bouncing up and down in his seat.

“wowthatwasthebestdayeverwasn’titguys.” Hoseok stumbled over his words.

“What?” Sanha asked with a laugh.

“This is all your fault.” Dongmin said accusingly and Sanha grinned wickedly, jumping out of the now still carriage, as it pulled up outside the academy.

“Have fun taking him back!” Sanha said with a cackle before racing off.

“That boy is evil I’m telling you.” Dongmin grumbled before grabbing onto one of Hoseoks jiggling arms and pulling him from the carriage.

Myungjun climbed down the steps and watched Dongmin chasing Hoseok towards the lake, screaming something about being careful. He shook his head fondly before spotting Hyungwons blonde head in the crowd. He walked over to warn him about his hyper roommate and went off to his own room afterwards.

He tucked all his gifts away safely before flopping onto his bed. His dragon flew down from the window with a screech. He reached over to pat her scaly head and pulled his bird out from beneath his pillow. Its wing was slightly torn from where he’d had to wrestle it from the dragons mouth a few nights ago and he picked at it absentmindedly. His day had been good, but a few things niggled away at the back of his mind. Where was Jinwoo? Who was that strange man? Why were Dongmin and Hoseok acting so strangely? He rolled over with a groan and screamed into his pillow. He was going crazy with all these questions and no answers.

Youngjae and Namjoon came inside a while later, dumping their purchases onto their beds.

“…hide it.” He heard Namjoon whisper and he looked over curiously.

Youngjae quickly put something under his pillow and smiled at Myungjun. “What’s wrong with you?” He asked looking at how grumpy Myungjun appeared.

“What’s that?” Myungjun asked, pointing to the lump under his pillow.

“Nothing.” Namjoon said quickly, standing in front of the bed and blocking Myungjuns view.

Myungjun turned back over and screamed into his pillow again. “Why is everyone keeping secrets from me?” He whined when Youngjae came over to see if he was okay.

“Its not really a secret.” Youngjae said awkwardly. “It’s your Christmas gift from us both.”

Myungjun felt bad for dragging the answer from him and apologised before resting his head in Youngjaes lap. “Did you see Jinwoo at all today?” He asked with a sigh.

“Yeah, I saw him this morning.” Youngjae said and Myungjun looked up quickly to listen. “He told me he wasn’t feeling well and that he wanted to stay behind.”

Myungjun sat up. “Why didn’t you tell me this earlier?” He asked frantically. “Did he look sick? What do you think is wrong with him? I could have stayed behind if I knew!”

Youngjae shushed him and waited for him to calm down before speaking again. “Jinwoo told me not to tell you, because he knew you’d stay behind, and he didn’t want you to miss out on today. He said he didn’t really care about seeing the City because he’s snuck out of the grounds a lot of times before.” Youngjae added with a shrug.

Myungjun felt a little bit better knowing that Jinwoo hadn’t missed out on too much. “Did he look sick? How bad was it?”

Youngjae just sighed. “He looked fine hyung, stop worrying. You’ll see yourself tomorrow when we go back to class.” He got up and told Myungjun to get ready for bed.

Now that Myungjun knew that Jinwoo wasn’t too sick, he felt the sleepiness from his long day hit him. He got changed and washed up before climbing back into bed and was asleep before his head touched the pillow.

*

The next morning, he had Combat training and rushed there to speak to Jinwoo. He saw him sparring with one of the other students and sat back to watch. To his relief Jinwoo looked fine. Perfectly healthy in fact, as he dodged blow after blow and pinned the other boy down onto the mat. He helped him up and gave him a friendly pat on the back before sweeping his hair from his sweaty forehead. Myungjun took his chance and walked over to him.

“Me next.” He said with a grin. Jinwoo grinned back and took him over to the side to wrap Myungjuns knuckles in cloth. Myungjun had sensitive hands and his knuckles had spilt a few weeks ago from the pressure of so much fighting. Their lessons had been getting more aggressive as their first set of exams approached, and his hands were paying the price. Jinwoo was gentle, he always was, and had them wrapped neatly in no time. He stepped back up to the mat and got into position.

“Where were you yesterday?” Myungjun asked circling around him, looking for an opening. “Youngjae said you were sick, but you look fine to me.” He aimed a jab towards Jinwoo, and the boy dodged it swiftly with a laugh.

“I’m better now, it was just a headache.” He said throwing his own punch that connected with Myungjuns raised arms. “Focus Myungjun or I’m going to beat you again.”

“You always beat me anyway.” Myungjun huffed and dodged his next attack. “If it was just a headache why didn’t you go to the nurse, you could have come with us.” He moved forward and grabbed Jinwoos forearms. “You could have come with me.”

Jinwoo smirked at him through his arms. “Did you miss me?”

Myungjun just scoffed at his cockiness and pushed him away. “I thought I saw you yesterday.” He noticed the way Jinwoos step faltered slightly and he frowned. Jinwoo quickly composed himself and used Myungjuns distracted state against him. He kicked out and Myungjun stumbled back from the force.

“I told you I wasn’t there.” Jinwoo said and advanced on him again.

Myungjun dodged his next jab and tried to sweep Jinwoos feet out from under him. It didn’t work and Jinwoo grabbed him on the way up, to slam him down against the mat.

Myungjun landed with a grunt as Jinwoos weight landed on top of him. He looked up at his face and watched as Jinwoo swept his hair back again. Jinwoo put his arm down on the other side of Myungjuns head, caging him in.

“Why don’t I believe you?” Myungjun asked quietly and looked into his eyes to try and figure out the truth. His heart thudded as he noticed Jinwoos eyes flit down to look at his lips. He licked the dryness from them and watched as Jinwoos eyes followed the movement of his tongue. Jinwoo sat up fast with a frustrated growl. “I don’t care if you believe me or not.” He stood up and offered Myungjun his hand. Myungjun accepted it and stood on shaky legs.

“What wrong with you?” Jinwoo asked, watching him wobble.

“I don’t know.” Myungjun said. “My legs feel weak.”

“Did you eat breakfast?” Jinwoo asked, taking him to sit down.

“No.” Myungjun said sheepishly. “I came straight here to see you.”

Jinwoo sighed irritably and started to unwrap Myungjuns knuckles. He made sure they were okay before telling Myungjun to wait there for him. Myungjun watched as he said something to one of the teachers, who gave him a curt nod. Jinwoo hurried back and pulled Myungjun up.

“Let’s go get you some breakfast.” He said leading him to the door.

When the door opened, a blast of cold air hit them both in the face and Myungjun shivered before his mouth dropped open at the sight in front of him. A blanket of snow was covering the grounds and snow was falling thick and fast. His feet were moving before he could stop himself and he stepped outside, letting go of Jinwoos hand to reach up and touch the falling flakes. They melted on his palm and he laughed loud and bright, jelly legs long forgotten as he ran out into the storm. He heard Jinwoo call his name but carried on trying to catch as many as he could. He ran and laughed and let his joy radiate around him. A warm pair of arms wrapped around his waist and Jinwoo pressed himself up against Myungjuns back, radiating a gentle heat.

“Its too cold out here for you Junnie.” Jinwoo called over the rushing wind. Myungjun didn’t feel cold. His magic crackled across his skin as he let his emotions take control. He was here with Jinwoo, in the snow, happy and warm. He felt the magic spill out of him in waves and wondered if Jinwoo could feel it too. He turned around in Jinwoos arms and watched the boys face light up, as bright yellow petals fell around them, mixing prettily with the snow at their feet.

“Junnie its beautiful.” He gasped, letting go of Myungjun with one of his arms to reach out for the petals. They rushed through his fingers and he smiled. “You’re always just out of reach.” He said sadly and Myungjun tilted his head in confusion.

“I’m right here JinJin.”

Jinwoo pulled his hand back and placed it gently on Myungjuns cheek. It was warm and Myungjun leaned into it happily.

“Yeah, you’re here.” Jinwoo said with a smile. “You should call me JinJin more often, I like it.” He leaned forward and planted a soft kiss on Myungjuns forehead. Then another one on his nose. Myungjuns heart began to pound and the petals swirled chaotically around them. Jinwoo looked up as one grazed his cheek and frowned. He pulled Myungjun in for a hug and rocked them gently, backwards and forwards.

“It’s okay, don’t be scared. You’re safe here.” He muttered into Myungjuns hair like a mantra, over and over again, until the last petal fell.

Chapter Text

Myungjun woke up alone on Christmas day and sat up with a yawn. Youngjae and Namjoon had already left to go home to their families for the holidays. Myungjun glanced over at the poorly wrapped gift they had left at the end of his bed with a smile. He knew straight away that Namjoon had wrapped it. He picked it up and tore at the paper eagerly, revealing a fluffy stuffed bird, almost identical to the one hidden under his pillow. He put it gently to the side and opened the note that had fallen out.

Merry Christmas Hyung!
We hope you like the present, it took a long time to find the perfect one. Eat lot’s today and pass our Christmas greetings to the others. Try not to miss us too much!!
P.S Don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone about this toy either hehe~

Myungjun scoffed but gave his new friend a big hug before showing it to his dragon who was dozing by the window.

“See this? This is NOT food. Don’t let me catch you chewing this one too or there will be consequences.” The dragon just huffed smoke from her nose and went back to sleep.

Myungjun got out of bed and went to quickly brush his teeth and get dressed. He wanted to see the others and give out his gifts. He’d already given Youngjae and Namjoon theirs before they left. He had also presented Hyungwon and Hoseok with the friendship bracelets he made them, that matched the one he made for himself. They’d fallen into a messy pile of limbs as they tried to hug him at the same time and Myungjun was just happy that they liked them.

He hurried down to the hall for breakfast but stopped with a frown when he realised it was empty. He was sure he had arranged with the others to meet him there. Maybe they’d forgotten. He pouted and looked down at the gifts he’d spent a long time wrapping perfectly, and decided he’d just see them later.

“SURPRISE!” a very Dongmin like voice shouted. Which was impossible because his parents had made him go home for the holidays. Myungjun turned around in shock and sure enough Dongmin was standing in the doorway with a big grin on his face.

“Why are you here?” Myungjun asked, rushing over to give him a hug. “I thought you were going home.”

“I was, but I changed my mind. If my parents come to get me, I’ll have to go, but for now I want to spend Christmas with you and the others.” He said happily.

“Won’t you get into trouble though?” Myungjun asked, pulling back and looking into his face with worry.

Dongmin just shrugged. “It will be worth it. I can’t be scared of my parents forever. That fear has already ruined someone else’s life. Speaking of that someone else, me and Hyungwon-hyung made up in time for Christmas.” Dongmin added with a small smile.

“You did?” Myungjun asked, jumping up and down with excitement. “That’s great news! How did you manage that one?”

“That’s a story for another day.” Dongmin said before setting his bag down on one of the tables. “The others are hiding around the corner waiting to come out by the way. I asked them to let me surprise you first.”

Myungjun looked over his shoulder and saw a mop of pink hair disappearing quickly behind the door. He rolled his eyes. “Moonbin I can see you, just come out already.”

Moonbin walked into the hall looking sheepish and was followed by Sanha and Rocky who watched their twin tiger assignments race ahead of them. Sanha had been so excited to show off his assignment to everyone and they’d all been shocked to see he had gotten the same as Rocky. Every other student had received something different, so the boys thought there had been some sort of mistake. Sanha had gone to ask the teacher immediately but came back grumbling about there not being a mistake after all and refusing to say anything further on the subject. Over time they’d learned to accept it and let their tigers play together.

“Where’s Jinwoo?” Myungjun asked. “Wasn’t he with you?”

“No, he told us he was going to the Guesthouse to give his gift to Mrs Ko.” Sanha explained before taking a seat. “I asked him to take mine to her too. It’s too cold out there for me.” He added with a shiver.

Myungjun felt guilty for forgetting Mrs Ko when he went shopping but decided that Jinwoo and Sanha had more of a reason to get her something, considering she looked after them for years.

Myungjun gestured for them all to sit down and handed out his gifts. “Should we wait for Jinwoo before we open them?” Dongmin asked.

“You don’t have to wait, I’m here.” Jinwoo said, jogging into the hall. It still shocked Myungjun to see Jinwoo wearing such thin clothes in the snow and he felt the immediate urge to fuss over him but squashed it down. He makes fire with his body Myungjun, he’s not going to catch a cold, he thought to himself before flashing Jinwoo a bright smile. He patted the empty seat beside him and Jinwoo sat down, depositing his own gifts for everyone on the table. He did so with extra care and Myungjun was curious to hear a gentle clinking coming from inside them.

“What does everyone want to do first, breakfast or presents?” Myungjun asked. He could already tell by their eager faces what they wanted, so he gestured for them to open his gifts.

Sanha tore into his with childlike vigour and gasped. “Is that…us?” He asked looking down into the frame. Myungjun had spent the longest on Sanhas present. He had doodled pictures of him and all their friends on a piece of parchment and put it into a wooden frame he had carved himself.

“Yeah its all of us Sanha.” Myungjun said, leaning over to give his hand a squeeze. “It’s a family portrait you can look at when you feel like you’re alone, to remind yourself that we’re all here for you.”

Sanha’s lip began to tremble and he ran around the table to sit in Myungjuns lap and give him a big hug. “Thank you Hyung, I’ll look after it and keep it by my bed at all times.” He whispered fiercely in his ear. Myungjun laughed and rubbed his back before letting him go.

Everyone else thanked him for their gift before he turned to Jinwoo, who was staring at his without moving. “Why aren’t you opening it JinJin?” He leaned over to ask quietly, whilst everyone around them continued exchanging presents.

Jinwoo seemed to snap out of whatever trance he was in before giving Myungjun a shy smile. “Sorry, it’s just…this is the first gift I’ve received on Christmas that hasn’t been from Mrs Ko.” He watched Myungjuns face change. “Don’t look at me like that, I didn’t mind much, I never liked to celebrate Christmas anyway.”

“Well you’re going to celebrate it every year that we’re here, whether you like it or not, surrounded by people who care about you. So, stop looking sad and open my present before I take it back.”

Jinwoo snatched up the present and clutched it to his chest. “You’ll have to fight me to get this back.” Myungjun just rolled his eyes and turned to his own miniature present pile that the others had put in front of him. He opened one to reveal a pocket-sized book on different types of plants and knew to immediately thank Dongmin. He was flipping through the pages when he heard a soft gasp beside him, and he looked over to see Jinwoo running his fingers over the necklace.

“Do you like it?” Myungjun asked nervously, not being able to read the emotion on Jinwoos face.

“I love it.” He said, before holding it up to the light to let it sparkle.

“That’s pretty hyung.” Rocky said looking over. “I’ve seen gemstones in class but that looks like a mix.”

“Yeah its an onyx and malachite blend.” Myungjun said, remembering back to the old woman’s words in the shop. “It’s supposed to protect you from harm and promote self-discipline. I think the woman said something else as well, but I can’t remember sorry.” He said flushing with embarrassment at not remembering.

“It’s perfect.” Jinwoo whispered to himself before handing the necklace to Myungjun. “Put it on me.” Myungjun laughed at his eagerness and tied it up behind his neck. When Jinwoo turned back round it was nestled nicely against his throat.

“Wow it looks even better on you, matches nicely with your hair.” Myungjun complimented and watched as a blush crept over his face.

“Stop flirting Hyungs and open the rest of your presents so we can have breakfast, I’m hungry” Sanha whined.

“I did ask if you wanted to have breakfast first, so don’t complain.” Myungjun scolded him lightly.

He opened the rest of his gifts and thanked everyone. He’d never had so many nice things and he felt extremely lucky as he watched everyone around him laughing and having fun.

“We’re lucky to have you too.” Jinwoo said, passing his present to Myungjun. “I hope you like it, just please be careful; it’s really fragile.”

Myungjun unwrapped it carefully to reveal a wooden box, with leaves engraved prettily over the lid.

“I had someone else carve the box for me. I didn’t want to risk burning the wood.” Jinwoo explained, shifting nervously in his seat. “Open it.”

Myungjun ran his fingers over the leaves before opening the box. His eyes widened in awe as he looked down at a small glass flower. It looked delicately made.

“Touch it.” Jinwoo said. “I want to see if it works.”

Myungjun was confused at the request but picked it up gently. To his surprise the flower bloomed, delicate glass petals fanning out and taking on a yellow hue. Jinwoo sighed in relief beside him.

“I spent so long making that. Glass isn’t as easy to shape as I thought.” He peered into Myungjuns face anxiously. “Do you not like it?”

“That’s the stupidest question you’ve ever asked Hyung, of course he likes it.” Moonbin said from across the table.

“I don’t like it.” Myungjun said quietly and everyone around the table turned to look at him. “I ADORE it.” He placed it back down into the box and watched as the petals folded back in on themselves. He set the box aside and turned to Jinwoo to grab his hands. “Thankyou so much for making me such a beautiful gift, It’s the best present I’ve ever had.”

“Hey!” Sanha piped up offended.

Rocky nudged him with an elbow and told him to shut up. “Jinwoo-hyung spent days making that you brat.”

Sanha just scowled at him but was quiet after that. Someone cleared their throat and Myungjun tore his eyes away from Jinwoos to look around. “I’ll go ask for breakfast.” Jinwoo said quickly before standing up and hurrying to the door the trays usually float out of.

“Myungjun why are you blushing?” Dongmin asked.

“I’m not!” Myungjun said feeling very hot. “I’m going to the toilet.” He got up and walked outside to let the winter air cool him down. He was definitely blushing, but he didn’t know why. Maybe he was just super happy about Jinwoos gift. It definitely did not have anything to do with the way Jinwoo had been staring at him. Definitely not.

He stayed outside for a while, watching the snow fall around him, as he waited for the heat to disappear from his face. When he deemed himself presentable, he went back inside to see everyone eating happily.

“Where did you go?” Jinwoo asked as he sat down.

“Toilet.” Myungjun mumbled and scowled over at Moonbin, who was smirking knowingly in his direction.

When breakfast was finished, they decided to meet back up in the academy grounds after taking their new things back to their rooms. Myungjun said goodbye to the others and rushed across the snowy field towards the forest. He opened the door to his room, after struggling to get everything up the ladder without dropping it, and placed it all neatly on his bed. He moved to put everything away but kept Jinwoos flower on the window ledge beside his bed. He picked it up again to watch it bloom and felt a smile tugging at his lips. It must have taken him such a long time, Myungjun thought, and he did it all for me. He didn’t know why but his heart fluttered at the thought and he placed it gently in the box before turning to his dragon.

“Come on sleepyhead, lets go down and meet the others.” He stroked her scaly head and she shifted on his pillow, before getting up shakily with a screech. Myungjun pulled out some meat from his pocket, that was wrapped in tissue from breakfast, and watched her eat it hungrily.

“I know you’re just a copy of a dragon.” Myungjun said with a smile. “But sometimes you seem really real.” She just eyed him for a second before taking off out of the open door.

“Wait for me!” Myungjun called and scrambled out after her.

*

Myungjun was standing by the edge of the forest, chatting to Rocky, when Dongmin and Moonbin rushed over.

“Finally.” Sanha said with a whine. “We waited ages for you.”

“Sorry.” Dongmin said, blushing lightly. “We’re here now, what do you guys want to do?”

“Snowball fight!” Sanha shouted, before throwing a snowball that hit Moonbin in the side of the head.

Myungjun didn’t know what was going on and screamed as a snowball came his way. Jinwoo pulled him out of the line of fire and Myungjun looked over his shoulder to see Sanha dodging an attack from Moonbin. Why was Moonbin throwing snow at their maknae like that? Myungjun thought feeling worried, but it turned to confusion a second later as Sanha started laughing. Jinwoo dragged Myungjun behind the nearest tree after seeing his expression.

“Jinwoo what’s going on?” Myungjun asked frantically. “Why is everyone trying to hurt each other?”

“They’re not trying to hurt each other.” Jinwoo laughed. “It’s a game, you have to try and hit other people with balls of snow, and they try and hit you back.”

“That doesn’t sound like a very fun game.” Myungjun mumbled, looking out from behind the tree.

“I always thought it looked pretty fun.” Jinwoo said. “Let’s go and join them. I’ll try and melt any that come our way and you throw them from behind me okay?”

Myungjun turned around to see Jinwoo looking excited, and decided to try this weird game, just to keep that look on his face a bit longer. He quickly nodded before crouching down to pick up some snow. Jinwoo bent down with him and showed him how to pat it into a ball-like shape before gesturing for them to go.

Jinwoo was true to his word. He managed to block the majority of the snowballs thrown their way and cheered Myungjun on as he hit Dongmin in the back. Everyone ran in terror as Rocky Jr came tearing out of the forest using all four of his arms to shoot relentless attacks to anyone who came near Rocky.

“Hyung that’s cheating!” Sanha shouted at Rocky, who just shrugged and laughed. Sanha’s tiger bounded through the snow towards Rocky’s and Sanha gasped dramatically. “You traitor!” He shouted at it, as the twin tigers rolled around scrapping playfully.

Myungjun was reminded of his dragon and scanned the sky above to no avail. The snow was falling thicker now, and he couldn’t look up for long. He didn’t need to, however, as she swept in with a shriek and melted a snowball heading his way. He looked around and was shocked to see it had been Jinwoo.

“Yah! You brat I thought we were on the same team?” He shouted and watched Jinwoo pick up another one. “Don’t you dare!” Myungjun warned before Jinwoo let it fly. It sailed through the air and hit Myungjun on the shoulder with a thud. Myungjun was going to make him pay for that.

All his time running laps around the lake proved useful as he chased after him, dodging snowballs left and right until he found the perfect time to tackle him to the ground. They rolled around laughing and kicking up clouds of snow until Jinwoo inevitably overpowered him.

“You’re heavy.” Myungjun whined, trying to push him off his legs, but Jinwoo sat there looking down at him and smirked. He went to reach for more snow and Myungjun grabbed his wrist to stop him.

“I swear on the deity, if you hit me with one more snowball Park Jinwoo, I will never talk to you again.” Jinwoo dropped what he was holding immediately and Myungjun made a satisfied noise in the back of his throat. Jinwoo rolled off Myungjun and lay down on his back next to him, sighing as he pulled at his shirt.

“I may not get affected by the cold, but this wet shirt is making me feel gross.” He said looking down at it in annoyance. He quickly looked over at Myungjun and scanned his clothes. “You must be freezing! Why didn’t you say anything?” They both sat up and Myungjun looked down in surprise. He’d been having so much fun he hadn’t even realised how much snow had melted over him and shivered as his wet clothes stuck to him uncomfortably.

“It was worth it.” Myungjun said, feeling genuinely happy. He’d had his first snowball fight and could still feel traces of the adrenaline it brought in his veins.

Jinwoo turned away to look back at the others. Their figures looking smaller in the distance. “Should I go and let them know you’re leaving? You can’t stay out here in that state; you’ll just get sick again.”

“Don’t bother, you’ll just get attacked if you go back now.” Myungjun said with a shrug before getting up. Jinwoo got up too and paused in front of him, scanning Myungjuns face. He stopped at his nose. “Your nose is all red.” Jinwoo observed before giving him a small smile. “You look cute.”

Myungjun blushed at the compliment but quickly froze as Jinwoo leaned forwards.

Jinwoo stopped, inches away, and breathed hot air on to his face. It tickled and Myungjun pushed him away laughing. “What was that for?”

“I was warming up your cold nose, without using my magic.” Jinwoo said, wiggling his fingers. “Did it work?”

Myungjun rolled his eyes but reached up to touch it. It did feel a bit better. “I’ll come find you at dinner okay? I want a nice hot bath now.” Jinwoo nodded at his request and said goodbye before heading off in the direction of the academy to change out of his own wet clothes.

Chapter Text

The first of February rolled around, and soon enough it was time to say goodbye to his dragon. He coaxed her back into her cage, and handed her over to the teacher, feeling a bit sad. He watched as Hoseok handed his cage over next, sniffling a little.

“Why are you so upset?” Myungjun asked, rubbing his back.

“I guess I got used to her being around.” Hoseok said, rubbing his nose. “Snakes aren’t that bad I suppose.” Myungjun smiled and gave him a quick hug, before turning his attention to the teacher, who had cleared her throat to speak.

“Well done everyone! I’m sure some of you will be relieved to have that burden lifted from your shoulders. I hope it has given you enough of a taste to see if you would like to work with magical creatures in the future. I will add these scores to your end of year result, so I hope you looked after them well. Now, I need you all to listen to me so quieten down.” When the clearing was silent again, she spoke. “We have about an hour left of this lesson, but I need to discuss something important with you first. I want each of you to take one of these pieces of parchment and read it carefully.” She began handing them out and Myungjun looked down to read.

1st YEAR STUDENTS- FEBRUARY DUNGEON RUN EXAMINATION.

“What the hell is a dungeon run?” Hyungwon asked lowly from beside him. Myungjun shrugged before reading further down the paper.

AS THE FIRST HALF OF THE YEAR COMES TO AN END, I AM DELIGHTED TO ANNOUNCE THE OPENING OF THE DUNGEON EXAMINATIONS. THESE SPECIAL EXAMINATIONS WILL COME EVERY SIX MONTHS UNTIL THE END OF YOUR TIME HERE TO TEST EVERYTHING YOU HAVE LEARNED IN A REAL-LIFE SITUATION.

Myungjun felt the first stabs of anxiety as he read over the words. A real-life situation, what does that mean? And why did it have to be in a dungeon? Where there were dungeons there were usually monsters.

“We’re going to die.” Youngjae whined dramatically and frowned as Namjoon shushed him.

A NEW TIMETABLE WILL BE GIVEN TO YOU, WITH ALL OF YOUR CLASSES (EXCEPT PRACTICAL SKILLS AND BASIC COMBAT AND WEAPONS TRAINING) CANCELLED FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS TO GIVE YOU EXTRA TIME TO PREPARE. YOU ARE REQUIRED TO FOLLOW THIS NEW TIMETABLE AND FAILURE TO DO SO WILL RESULT IN IMMEDIATE EXPULSION.

Myungjun heard a few people cheer at the prospect of cancelled classes, and he couldn’t help but feel a small twinge of happiness knowing that he wouldn’t be doing history and law for the next two weeks.

THE COMBAT TEACHERS, WHO HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING YOUR PROGRESS, WILL BE SORTING YOU INTO TEAMS OF 6 DEPENDING ON WHAT THEY HAVE OBSERVED FROM YOU DURING YOUR LESSONS. YOU WILL BE IN THESE TEAMS ON THE DAY OF THE EXAMINATION. MORE INFORMATION WILL BECOME AVAILABLE SOON. GOOD LUCK.

Hoseok squeaked in fear beside Myungjun. “I can’t believe they want us to voluntarily go into a DUNGEON of all places. I’d rather get expelled.”

Dongmin sighed behind him. “I’m sure they wouldn’t put us in any real danger Hyung. Like the announcement said, we’ve been preparing for this for nearly six months, we’re more then ready to give it a go.”

“You’re just saying that because you like exams you nerd.” Youngjae retaliated and moved to comfort Hoseok. Dongmin didn’t bother to reply and went off to talk excitedly with Namjoon.

Myungjun went to find a spot in the clearing to sit down. Dongmins words had given him some hope, as he also believed that they wouldn’t just let them die in there.

At the end of the lesson, they were given their special timetables and Myungjun was surprised to see it fuller then his normal one. He no longer had combat training with only the fire users; there were days where he had it with the other elemental students too. The number of practical skills lessons had risen from two to five and he still had herbology. He wondered why that was, but his train of thought was cut off by Hyungwon telling him it was time to go.

*

Myungjun grunted as he hit the mat and growled in frustration. “Could you be a little more gentle? You’ve thrown me down twice already!”

“Maybe if you paid attention, you’d be able to dodge!” Jinwoo said back angrily. “You’re not trying hard enough.”

Myungjun scrambled up and pushed him away. “I’m trying my best!”

“Well clearly your best isn’t good enough.” Jinwoo said, cracking his knuckles and getting back into position. “Again. This time watch my eyes, try and see where I’ll move.”

Myungjun took his advice and dodged the punch he sent his way. He continued to watch him as they circled around each other. “My back really does hurt.” He whined.

Jinwoo sighed and his eyes softened. “I know Hyung. I’m sorry, I’m just nervous. We’ve only got a few days left.” He blocked Myungjuns kick and grabbed his arms. “Stop leaving yourself vulnerable up here.”

Myungjun came to a stop and just looked at him. “I can’t do this; we’re going to fail because I can’t fight properly.” They had found out during their first combat lesson, on the new timetable, that they were going to be on the same team. The other members hadn’t been decided yet, but the teachers had obviously been impressed with the way they worked together, even if they couldn’t say it out loud.

“We’re not going to fail.” Jinwoo said and let go of him. “You need to get rid of that mindset. Even if you struggle with the little things, you’ve come a long way from when we first started. If worse comes to worst in there, you can always use your magic, you’ve been practicing hard right?”

Myungjun thought back to his practical skills lessons. He’d been learning to control the growth of his vines to be used in a defensive and offensive way. The teacher would throw objects into the air, and he’d used his magic to push the vines from the ground to catch and crush them when they fell. He wasn’t very good, only hitting about half of the targets but the teacher had encouraged him all the same.

“I guess.” He got back into position and stepped forward to jab at Jinwoo. Jinwoo didn’t try to dodge and just let it connect. He knew Myungjun would be spurred on more if he landed a few hits. It worked as Myungjun felt a small surge of triumph. “I’ve been learning more in herbology though. I can bring some of my plants into the dungeon to help.”

“How are you going to carry around plants and fight at the same time?” Jinwoo asked looking confused.

“Not in their pots you dummy. I’ll harvest what I need and carry them in a pouch I made for my belt.” Myungjun said with a laugh. “I’m better suited for support I think.”

“Well then, leave the fighting to me.” Jinwoo lunged forwards and snaked an arm behind Myungjuns back. He used his other hand to grab the back of Myungjuns thigh before pulling him off his feet. They fell again, but this time, Jinwoos arm took most of the impact from Myungjuns back. “Was that gentle enough for you?” He asked breathlessly, as he looked down at him. Myungjun felt his hot breath fan over his face and made a strangled noise of confirmation.

“Good.” Jinwoo smirked. “Let’s go again.”

*

Myungjun stood in front of the dungeon doors and felt a hand sneak into his. He looked over to see Sanha glancing his way looking nervous.

“We’ll be okay.” Myungjun said, in what he hoped was an encouraging voice. Truth be told, he was nervous as well and his heart felt like it was going to beat out of his chest. Their team had been decided and it balanced nicely. There was one person from each branch of elemental magic in their group and he realised it must have been done on purpose, to give them a better chance of fighting off every type of creature in there. Myungjun with plant, Jinwoo with fire, Dongmin with ice, Moonbin with water, Rocky with ground and Sanha with air. We can do this, Myungjun thought and willed up his remaining shred of confidence.

He went over the instructions they had been given in his mind for the hundredth time. Enter the dungeon, clear the floor of monsters, find the boss room, defeat the boss, move down to the next floor and repeat. They had to see how far they could get. Myungjun had asked the examiner how they’d know if they couldn’t get any further and the examiner had replied with an unsettling smile. “You’ll know when you find yourself incapacitated.”

Myungjun tried not to think about what that meant as he waited nervously with the others for their turn. Every time a new team went in, the doors would close behind them and open again sometime later when the team fell, to let the next group in. So far, no-one had come out of the dungeon, and it made Myungjun feel even worse.

He jumped in fear as the huge stone doors opened in front of him, and squeezed Sanhas hand one last time, before letting it go to follow Jinwoo inside. They’d appointed Jinwoo the leader of their team with no complaints, and he’d taken on the responsibility well. The doors closed behind them, shutting out the sun, and they were plunged into darkness. Sanha started to panic but Dongmin shushed him.

“Jinwoo-hyung, I saw unlit torches lining the walls before the doors closed, could you light them for us?” He asked quietly.

“It’s pointless.” Jinwoo said. “My fire is black; it doesn’t give off light.”

“Well that’s just great.” Moonbin said sarcastically, from somewhere to Myungjuns left. Myungjun heard him yelp and quickly apologise.

“Stop bickering.” Myungjun said before feeling around. “We’re in some sort of corridor, just find the walls and use them to guide you along. We’re supposed to come out in a bigger area, I’m guessing some sort of cavern, and I’m sure there will be some form of light there. They can’t just discriminate against people with black fire, can they?” He didn’t feel so sure himself, but it seemed to placate the others. Myungjun stepped forwards shakily, until his hand made contact with the wall, and he followed it along, guided by the sound of Jinwoos footsteps. They walked for a few minutes until Jinwoo spoke.

“The walls disappeared, I can’t feel it anymore, we must be inside properly now.” His voice echoed, and Myungjun knew he was right. They waited for the others to step through and suddenly the room lit up. The torches on the walls burned brightly to reveal the first floor. It was empty, except for rivers of murky liquid flowing in all directions around the room. There were boulders littered around and Myungjun eyed them suspiciously; waiting for monsters to jump out and attack them at any moment.

“What the hell?” Moonbin said from behind them and Myungjun turned to see the entrance to the corridor was gone. They were completely trapped.

“It’s too quiet.” Dongmin observed before stepping further inside. “and it smells really bad. Binnie you might want to hold your nose.”

Moonbin stepped up to Dongmin and smelled the air. He gagged and his eyes started streaming. “It stinks like a sewer in here!” For once, Myungjun wasn’t jealous of Moonbins excellent sense of smell. He turned around when Sanha gasped.

“Its because it is a sewer!” The young boy shouted and pointed over to something that was moving on the far side of the room. Myungjun looked closer and saw two beady eyes staring their way.

“Is that a rat?” Jinwoo asked, looking disgusted. “Why is it so big?”

“No, that’s multiple rats.” Dongmin said and pointed as more crept from the shadows. Myungjun counted about ten of them before they attacked.

They raced across the room, squeaking madly and Myungjun had the most absurd urge to laugh. He watched as Moonbin surged forwards and called out to him. “Moonbin, get back here, we don’t even have a plan!”

“There’s no time,” Jinwoo said before running after him. “Don’t just stand there!” he said when he realised no one else was following. Rocky brushed past Myungjun and commanded Rocky Jr to go ahead. The animated rock overtook Jinwoo and Moonbin and dived on the first rat. They were about the same size, coming up to the boy’s knees, and scrapped ferociously. Upon seeing how vicious the rats were, Myungjuns urge to laugh at the situation disappeared. They could get seriously hurt if they weren’t careful.

Myungjun stepped over the first river of murky water and wrinkled his nose. It really did stink. He watched Jinwoo kick the rat off of Rocky Jr and heard him grunt with the effort.

“They’re heavy.” Jinwoo called out. “Sanha I don’t think your air magic is strong enough here, so stay behind Myungjun.”

Myungjun made sure Sanha was doing what he was told before turning his attention back to the fight. He watched as Moonbin manipulated the dirty water around him and sent it as a powerful blast towards a group of the rats. They scattered but were hardly slowed.

“Minnie, I need you!” Moonbin shouted. “Do it like we practiced.”

Moonbin lifted more water into the air and launched it again. This time Dongmin stepped up and aimed his hands in the direction of the water. His birthmark began to glow and something bright and blue shot from his hands. It connected with the water and froze it immediately. The new ice slammed into three of the rats, and they made a horrible screeching noise before falling to the floor. They didn’t move again and Moonbin cheered and looked back to blow Dongmin a kiss. Dongmin screamed as Moonbin let his guard down and was bowled over by one that had snuck up on him. Rocky shouted something unintelligible and Rocky Jr flew across the room to heave it off him.

“Thanks.” Moonbin called over to him, as he struggled to his feet.

“Thank Rocky Jr not me.” Rocky replied before kicking one of the rats in the face.

Myungjun felt Sanha tugging on his sleeve and turned to see him pointing at something behind them. Myungjuns stomach dropped as he realised that he’d let his guard down too and there was one behind them. He pushed Sanha away towards Dongmin and tried to remember what he had practiced. He let the magic crackle over his palms and heaved the vines through the floor. The stone broke noisily around him, and he aimed them towards the rat as it descended upon him. He missed.

“Hyung!” Sanha shouted as Myungjun was knocked off his feet. He landed hard and felt his temper rise; he was sick of being thrown to the floor all the time. He screamed in frustration and the vines flew back to wrap around the creature, pulling it from his body and crushing it in the air. Myungjun heard the bones crack sickeningly and warm liquid rained down above him. Dongmin appeared beside him and pulled him to his feet.

“I don’t know why people say I’m scary when I’m mad, you’re much worse.” He said, leaning forward to wipe the blood from Myungjuns face. Myungjun just laughed and turned around at the sound of cheering.

The other boys were standing, exhausted, surrounded by rat bodies.

“We did it!” Jinwoo said, laughing in disbelief.

“Don’t get too excited.” Dongmin warned. “We still have to defeat the boss before we can move to the next floor.” Just as he finished speaking there was a rumble from the other side of the room and a new pathway opened.

“Here goes nothing.” Myungjun said with a gulp.

Chapter Text

They were standing at the end of the newly formed corridor, when Myungjun stopped them from going any further.

“The minute we step out of here, it’s going to seal us in again.” He said, looking back at them. “I need you all to tell me now, if you’re hurt anywhere or too tired. I have plants on me that can help.”

“We’re fine Hyung.” Rocky assured him. “We should just get this over and done with.” The others murmured their agreements and followed Jinwoo into the room. The torches blazed and the entrance closed. They didn’t have to look far to spot the boss. It was another rat. Much bigger then the rest and Myungjun guessed that it was probably taller then him. It growled low in its throat and Sanha jumped with a start.

“Are rats supposed to growl?” He asked, sounding scared.

“Probably not.” Dongmin said with a weak laugh. “Who wants to go first?”

“We should have come up with a plan.” Myungjun said again, feeling frustrated. “We can’t keep going in blind like this.”

“How much can we plan Hyung?” Moonbin asked exasperated. “It’s a giant rat that probably wants to eat us. Have you ever come across something like this before? Because I haven’t. So how are we even supposed to know where to begin?”

Myungjun couldn’t argue with that and just sighed. “Fine. Well I’m guessing we’re allowed to make the first move, because it’s not attacking us yet.” He was right. The rat was growling at them, but not advancing.

“Well let’s be smart about it then.” Jinwoo piped up. “Our first move could be the most important. Moonbin and Dongmin, you should stay together because your magic works great when its combined.” Moonbin moved over to Dongmin and flashed him a grin. Jinwoo looked satisfied and continued. “Myungjun, I think you should use your vines to try and trap its legs. If it can’t move, we might have a better chance. Rocky Jr should help too and…I don’t know, crush its toes or something.” Myungjun snorted but accepted his command as Rocky Jr made his way over garbling gibberish. “Rocky I want you to create tremors in the ground to throw it off whenever it gets too close to one of us and Sanha,” Jinwoo said, turning to give the frightened boy a kind smile. “You have the most important job; we don’t know if other rats will come out to help it, so you need to stand back and keep a look out okay?” Sanha nodded his head determinedly and moved back against the wall.

“You make a great leader.” Myungjun said to Jinwoo encouragingly. “But what are you going to do?”

Jinwoo was silent for a moment. “I’m our last resort.” He said quietly and Myungjun watched the dark flames dance across his hands. Jinwoo looked up confidently. “Are you ready?” Everyone agreed and spread out across the room.

Dongmin and Moonbin made the first move and the giant rat roared in anger, rearing up before charging their way. Myungjun noticed it was slower than the others because of its size but wasn’t ready to give it any time to get closer to his friends. The vines shot from the floor, breaking the stone apart and he took extra care in aiming them this time. He cried out when they wrapped around one of the monsters back legs. It was short lived; after a couple of tugs the vines snapped and the rat continued towards them. Dongmin tried to freeze its front legs but his attempt was just as weak as Myungjuns, only slowing it for a few seconds.

“Rocky now!” Jinwoo shouted and Myungjun turned to see Rocky kneel down on one knee and place his palms on the floor. His birthmark shone brilliantly and Myungjun felt the earth beneath his feet tremble. The rat wobbled precariously, giving Moonbin enough time to push Dongmin out of harm’s way. The rat descended upon him instead and Moonbin delivered a spinning kick to the side of its head. The rat didn’t even flinch, before lunging forward and biting down on his arm. Moonbin screamed in pain as blood gushed from the wound, and he disappeared under its giant body.

The temperature dropped considerably as Dongmin watched Moonbin fall. He cried out and raced towards the boss but Jinwoo grabbed him around the waist to stop him.

“Moonbins out!” He said loudly, trying to get Dongmin to calm down. “Don’t rush in there like an idiot or you’ll be out too.”

The rat turned around and Myungjun saw that what Jinwoo had said was true. Moonbin was nowhere to be seen. He’d disappeared and all that was left behind was a puddle of his blood.

“Where’s he gone?” Dongmin asked in a panic. Tears were streaming down his face and Myungjun wanted to do nothing more than comfort the distraught boy. There was no time, however, as he saw the rat change targets to Rocky. Myungjun circled round the rat, until he was completely behind it this time, and shot vines towards both of its back legs. It would struggle a lot more trying to get out of two then one, he thought, and he felt a small surge of victory when the rat was stopped. Rocky Jr moved quickly around it, crushing its feet under his stony legs. The rat batted the animated rock away, when he’d gotten too close to his front legs, and Rocky Jr flew across the cave where he was smashed against the wall.

“NO!” Rocky shouted, running over to where Rocky Jr was laying in pieces.

Myungjun felt his grief and used it to push magic through his vines. They crushed the rats back legs and it fell with a screech.

“Now Jinwoo.” Myungjun shouted, before falling to his knees in exhaustion. He’d used too much energy already. Jinwoo watched him fall, with concern in his eyes, before calling to Sanha.

“Sanha come here and take Dongmin, get him away from me.” Sanha did as he was told, and pulled Dongmin to the side of the room, trying to comfort him.

Myungjun looked up when he felt heat and saw Jinwoos birthmark glowing. His eyes widened as he watched the black fire spread. First over Jinwoos hands, then his arms, until it covered his entire body. Myungjun heard him muttering under his breath and the fire began to move back towards his hands. A few more muttered words and the fire blasted out of his palms in a continuous stream. The rat screamed in agony as it was cooked alive. Jinwoo didn’t stop until it wasn’t moving anymore and the smell of burning meat turned Myungjuns stomach. He was sweating from being near such extreme heat and it made him feel even more sick. He bent over on his hands and knees and threw up all over the floor until he could feel hands patting his back. He looked up, expecting to see Jinwoo but Sanha was there instead, smiling weakly from above him.

“Are you okay Hyung?” He asked and Myungjun nodded. He sat back to look around him and saw Jinwoo struggling to get his fire under control. Myungjun watched in horror as Jinwoo teetered on his feet, before falling forwards with a thud and being swallowed by the floor.

He climbed up on shaky legs, exhaustion still making his limbs heavy and stumbled over to where Jinwoo had disappeared. He fell to his knees and felt around. The ground was solid, it was as if nothing had happened. “Jinwoo? Can you hear me?” He banged on the floor desperately but got no response. “Rocky!” He called out to the boy who was cradling the remains of Rocky Jr. “Get over here, I need you to get Jinwoo out of the ground!”

“He’s not there.” Rocky said, voice trembling. “He’s out now too, like Moonbin-hyung.”

Myungjun refused to believe it. How could they be out already? It was only the first floor for crying out loud. He continued to shout Jinwoos name and pound on the floor until a strong pair of hands pulled him back. He buried his face into Dongmins chest and cried at how unfair it was.

Rocky stumbled over a while later, holding the original rock that created Rocky Jr and asked Myungjun for some herbs to cure his tiredness. Myungjun wasn’t sure there was a point. They wouldn’t be able to get much further without the other two but reached around in his pouch anyway. He grabbed out the appropriate plant and handed it around. Soon, everyone was back on their feet, energised but lost.

“What are we going to do?” Sanha asked quietly. “We’re not that strong without Jinwoo-hyung and Moonbin-hyung.”

Myungjun didn’t have the heart to lie to him, so he just said he didn’t know.

“Well we have to keep going,” Rocky said. “or we’ll never get out of this place.”

They agreed silently and walked to the opening that had appeared in the wall. It led to a set of steep stone steps and they walked down them feeling tense. Myungjun didn’t know what to expect on the second floor. He certainly hadn’t expected giant rats on the first. When they made it to the bottom Myungjun made sure that they didn’t need anymore of his help before stepping into the room. It looked like a forest and Myungjun wondered how the trees were surviving down here. He moved forwards and touched one gently. He didn’t hear any whispers, so he knew they weren’t alive. Being surrounded by the trees was still something familiar to him, so it filled him with a bit of confidence.

“If Jinwoo-hyung was here he could just burn down all the trees.” Rocky said miserably.

“We can do this without Jinwoo.” Myungjun said sounding determined. “Just follow me, we don’t know what’s in this forest yet, but I’m sure we’ll find out if we go a bit further.”

“I don’t want to find out.” Sanha said stubbornly. “I just want to leave.”

“We’ll leave soon anyway.” Dongmin said shortly. “Let’s just listen to Myungjun-hyung and find out what’s going to wipe us out.”

Myungjun rolled his eyes at Dongmins sulkiness but took a tentative step into the trees. It was strange. It almost felt like they were in a real forest. The only thing that gave it away, was looking up and seeing the dungeon ceiling. No matter how far left and right he looked, he couldn’t see any walls surrounding them.

A bug the size of a small bird flew towards Sanha and he blasted it away with a shriek. “Ew, why are there bugs in here, I hate them!”

“Quiet!” Myungjun whispered urgently and listened for the sound that caught his attention. There was a buzzing noise coming from nearby and it was growing louder. He gestured for them to follow quietly and crept through the trees.

Sanha blasted another bug away from his face with a whine. “Hyung I really don’t want to be in here.”

“I know Sanha just follow…what the hell is that.” Myungjun was distracted from what he was saying by a giant object hanging from one of the trees in front of them. The buzzing was almost deafening now, and he realised the sound was coming from inside of it. “Is that a beehive?” He asked and Dongmin cleared his throat.

“That is most certainly not a beehive. Since when were beehives green?”

“That’s where these nasty bugs are coming from.” Sanha exclaimed as a couple of them exited the hive and flew towards them. Myungjun reached out to squash one in his hand.

“This should be easy then!” He said happily before noticing something was wrong. His fingers started to go numb and he couldn’t move them. “Don’t let them touch you!” He shouted as the hive opened above them, bugs bursting free, and the boys scattered through the trees. Myungjun watched Sanha blasting them away with cries of disgust and realised he would be okay. Dongmin was doing something similar, freezing them mid air and watching them fall to the ground and shatter. As long as they don’t touch us, we’ll be okay, Myungjun thought, before looking over at Rocky. He wasn’t doing anything to stop them and Myungjun realised he couldn’t. The boy had earth magic. He needed contact with the earth to use it but couldn’t slow down to try or they’d catch him.

Think Myungjun think! He thought desperately. He followed after the boy to keep him in his sights before an idea came to him. He’d seen these bugs before, he realised. There was a whole page on them in one of the books he’d read in the library.

“Rocky!” He called out and the boy looked over his shoulder. “Circle round and come back to the hive.” He watched Rocky follow his instructions and turned to find Sanha and Dongmin. They were standing back to back, fending off the creatures and Myungjun called out to them to circle back to the hive as well. He only had one chance to get this right. He turned back and dodged a bug that flew his way before setting off towards the tree they needed.

“What’s the plan?” Rocky called out when he was close enough. Myungjun turned to make sure Sanha and Dongmin were in hearing distance before shouting over the buzz. “Sanha and Dongmin, keep the bugs away from me whilst I use my magic, Rocky when you get close enough, drop to the floor and aim your tremors at the tree with the hive.” They shouted their agreement before picking up speed towards him. Dongmin and Sanha got there first. Circling around Myungjun defensively and keeping the bugs at bay.

“Now Hyung!” Rocky shouted and dropped to his knees, placing his hands on the floor. Before the bugs could reach him, Myungjun did what he had done the night of the ball. He created walls of vines, but instead of creating them around himself he created them around Rocky who was instantly shielded from the bugs assault. They bounced off the vines angrily and Myungjun felt the ground shake. He’d boxed Rocky in to give him the chance to use his magic and he watched in glee as the tree fell from the tremors, completely crushing the hive under it weight. Dongmin and Sanha blasted away the last bugs before falling to the ground with a sigh. Myungjun pulled his vines back to free Rocky who looked tired but was grinning.

“How did you come up with a plan like that so fast?” Dongmin asked sounding impressed.

“I’d read about those bugs in a book.” Myungjun explained. “The hive regenerates them continuously. We had to destroy it, or they would never stop regenerating. I knew Rocky couldn’t slow down long enough to bring down the tree for us, so I had to think of a way to shield him. I needed you two.” He stopped to point at Sanha and Dongmin. “To shield me whilst I used my magic.”

“You make a good leader too Hyung.” Sanha said happily. “Now can I have another one of your plants, I’m EXHAUSTED.” Myungjun laughed and chucked him one before handing out some to the others. He looked up when he heard a rumbling noise, to see walls magically appear around them and after a quick search, they found the next corridor.

“Boss time.” Rocky said with new found enthusiasm.

Chapter Text

They were a lot more prepared this time around. They knew the boss would be a bigger copy of the bugs they had already faced, and immediately began to make a plan when they entered the boss room. The giant bug was hovering silently in the middle of the floor, and the lack of noise was a nice change from the incessant buzzing in the forest.

“I say we look around for the hive it should be connected to first.” Dongmin suggested. “It won’t move until we attack, so we’ll have time.”

“I don’t think it will be connected to a hive again.” Myungjun said. “That would be too easy. If there is one however, we should leave it to Rocky. He did a good job last time.” Rocky nodded determinedly, looking pleased.

“Then we should take out its wings first.” Dongmin said. “If it can’t fly, it can’t attack us.”

“Good idea, you should try to freeze them, I’ll try to pierce them with my vines, and you should try to knock it off course with your magic Sanha.”

“Got it Hyung!” Sanha said eagerly and ran over to attack the monster.

“Not yet Sanha we haven’t looked for the hive!” Rocky called out but it was too late. Sanha hit the bug with the full force off his magic and it tumbled away in the air before getting upright and turning towards him. Sanha faltered, realising his mistake after processing Rockys words, and didn’t dodge fast enough. The bug shot out a giant glob of green liquid that covered Sanha head to toe. Myungjun remembered the feeling of his numb hand, and watched as Sanha went completely limp, before falling to the floor and being sucked in like Jinwoo had been.

“What an idiot!” Dongmin shouted as he dived away from the green goo that flew his way. He aimed at one of the bugs four wings and froze it solid. The bug seemed to struggle as it flew lopsided from the extra weight and Myungjun took his chance to take out another wing. He heard a sound that startled him and made him miss. Rocky was on his knees smashing Rocky Jr against the rocks that littered the floor, trying to revive him.

“What are you doing?” Myungjun shouted in frustration at his failed attack. “We don’t have time for this.”

“Rocky Jr is a rock, he won’t be affected by the bugs attack, he can help us!” Rocky said desperately trying to get his magic to work. He gave a shout of joy as Rocky Jr started to reform, and the bug turned at the noise.

“Rocky no!” Dongmin shouted out, realising the situation. Rocky looked up too late and the Bug coated him with its next blast. Rocky was sucked into the ground and took Rocky Jr with him.

“Our team is a bunch of idiots.” Dongmin swore angrily and shot another attack at the bug. He hit another wing and the bug started to sink to the floor. Myungjun took his chance and forced his vines through the dirt to wrap around its giant body. He knew they wouldn’t hold for long and shouted at Dongmin to freeze them. Dongmin did it swiftly and the vines hardened to form a stronger trap. The bug started to fire attacks all around the room and it took all of Myungjuns willpower to dodge them. He pulled Dongmin to safety behind one of the boulders and peeked his head over to see the bug struggling to get free.

“I don’t know what to do, my vines are trapped, and we can’t touch it physically or we’ll be incapacitated.”

“I can use my magic to try and freeze it to death, but you saw what happened to Jinwoo-hyung. He expended so much energy he passed out.” Dongmin said sounding stressed. “I don’t think we have much of a choice though.”

“I don’t want to be left alone!” Myungjun squeaked, feeling anxious already at the thought. “We don’t know what’s down on floor three, what if it’s something awful?”

“Man up Hyung, unless you’ve got something in that magic pouch of yours that can help us, you’ll just have to go it alone.”

Myungjun took the time to root through his plants before realising he really had nothing left of any use and sighed. “Fine, go freeze it, I’ll see you when this is all over.” He leaned back against the rock to close his eyes and heard Dongmin moving away. The temperature dropped as Dongmin got to work and Myungjun tried to block out the sound of the giant bug dying. It went quiet and Myungjun heard a thud. He knew Dongmin was gone before he even looked around.

The walls rumbled as the next staircase was revealed and Myungjun got up on shaky legs. He shoved one of his plants in his mouth and felt himself calm down as he chewed. He knew he wouldn’t last long and just hoped it wouldn’t hurt too much. He walked down the stairs, hearing his footsteps echo around him and wondered just how long they’d been in the dungeon already. He was sure other teams hadn’t lasted this long and used that to encourage himself. He wanted to get the best score possible, so he stepped into the room feeling a bit more focused and heard the wall seal shut behind him.

To his surprise he was standing in a field. The ceiling of the dungeon had disappeared and instead he looked up to see clouds moving lazily in the sky. He watched as the clouds changed shape. A castle. A tree. A dragon. He identified them one by one, until they started to speed up. The sky turned stormy and rain started to pour. He heard a sound in the distance and looked over to see a young woman and a young man fighting back to back, cutting down giant spiders and sirens and snakes. The scene looked strange to him and he walked closer, wiping the rain from his eyes. They both seemed so familiar.

“Mother?” He called out and the woman turned to look at him.

“I’ll keep you safe.” Her voice reached him as a whisper. Myungjun screamed as the man she was fighting with turned around and stabbed her in the back with his battered sword. Myungjun recognised that sword and looked into the eyes of the man from the coffee shop in Voredan city. He walked towards Myungjun with a stony expression and Myungjun got ready to fight. He didn’t know what was happening. Why was his mother here and how was she so young? Who was the man with the sword and why did he kill her?

“Why did you kill my mother?” Myungjun shouted at the man as he stepped in front of him. The man didn’t speak, he just raised his battered sword and pierced it through Myungjuns heart.

*

Myungjun sat up with a gasp. He yanked the collar of his shirt down and sighed in relief when he looked at a chest free of wounds. A woman came over to check on him before telling him he was free to go. He looked around to see he was in some kind of giant medical tent, that was lined from end to end with makeshift beds. Some of the beds were occupied and Myungjun noticed Dongmin sleeping in one of them, gentle snores falling from his lips. Myungjun smiled to himself, the boy deserved to rest after sacrificing himself like that. This must be where all the students end up when they fall in the dungeon, he thought.

Myungjun stepped outside to see that the sun was setting and realised they really had been in there for a long time. He looked around to see the dungeon doors through the trees.

“Hyung!” Moonbin called out, rushing over to him. He had his arm wrapped up in a sling but was smiling brightly. “You were in there for such a long time! How far did you get?”

“Floor three I think.” He replied scratching his head. When Moonbin tried to congratulate him, he stopped him. “I didn’t do anything; it was all thanks to Dongmin. He sacrificed himself by using the rest of his energy to kill the boss on the second floor.”

“Wow, that’s so cool.” Moonbin said, eyes sparkling. “I wondered why he was knocked out when he arrived.”

“You looked cool too, pushing Dongmin to safety like that.” Myungjun said feeling genuinely impressed. “He cried for ages after, but don’t tell him I told you or he’d probably kill me.”

Moonbin laughed, face flushed and winced as he tried to hide it. “Ouch, that rat really did a number on me.” He said, frowning down at his arm. “How did you get incapacitated anyway?”

“I got stabbed in the heart.” Myungjun said, feeling confused. “but when I checked, I had no injuries like you.”

“Probably an illusion.” Namjoons voice came from behind him and he apologised when Myungjun jumped.

“An illusion?” Myungjun asked, moving to let Namjoon join in on the conversation.

“Well if you say you got stabbed, but nothing came from it, then it must have been an illusion cast on you by the creatures from that floor.” Namjoon said with a shrug. “What stabbed you anyway?”

“It was strange, a man stabbed me after he stabbed my mother. I’ve seen him before in Voredan, in the coffee shop I visited with Dongmin, Hoseok-hyung and Sanha, but he seemed a lot younger. So did my mother.”

“Exactly,” Namjoon said with a smile. “It couldn’t have really been your mother and that man down there because people don’t age backwards. I wonder what sort of creature has those powers.”

“How far did you get anyway Hyung?” Moonbin asked, turning excitedly to look at Namjoon.

“My team fell on the first floor.” Namjoon said miserably. “Hoseok wouldn’t stop screaming at the rats and Hyungwon incapacitated him. Everyone was busy arguing after that, so we got wiped out.”

Myungjun felt sorry for Hoseok, it wasn’t his fault he was scared of everything. Even Myungjun had been pretty terrified after seeing those rats fight and he decided to scold Hyungwon when he saw him, regardless of who was older.

“Myungjun-hyung reached floor three and was the last one standing!” Moonbin said proudly. “Wait, what was on floor two then Hyung?”

Moonbin and Namjoon looked his way, eager for him to share. “Bugs, lot and lots of bugs.”

Namjoon wrinkled his nose in disgust before excusing himself and leaving the two boys alone.

“I’m sorry Hyung.” Moonbin said, and Myungjun was startled to see him looking sad. “I got too cocky thinking I could take the boss on alone. I’m worried we won’t get a good score now.”

This was a new side of Moonbin that he hadn’t seen before. His confident and loud personality sometimes made him seem Myungjuns age if not older. Myungjun had to remind himself that he was younger and needed support sometimes too. He reached over to ruffle his hair.

“It’s okay Binnie, you have to make mistakes to be able to learn how to grow. I promise you that none of us are upset with you. We’ll accept our score, and in six month’s time when we try again, we’ll go in more prepared and get an even better one. Deal?”

“Deal.” Moonbin said with a small smile.

Myungjuns mind drifted to who else fell in that room. “Where’s Jinwoo? I didn’t see him sleeping in the tent?”

“He woke up a while ago and told me he was going down to the lake to have some time to think.” A mischievous grin crept onto his face. “I’m sure he wouldn’t mind company though Hyung…especially yours.”

Myungjun heard the hinting tone underneath his words and would have retaliated, but he really wanted to make sure Jinwoo was okay. So, he said a hasty goodbye before walking quickly in the direction of the lake.

*

It took him a while to get there, the dungeons were pretty deep in the forest, so he had time to think about what to say to Jinwoo. He knew he didn’t like using his magic to harm others and guessed he’d probably be berating himself for falling so early and leaving the team leaderless. He saw Jinwoo laying back on the grass and jogged over to look down at him.

Jinwoo had his eyes closed but when he realised something was blocking the sun from his face he looked up. “I knew you’d find me sooner or later, how did it go?” He didn’t sound as upset as Myungjun expected. He didn’t sound upset at all in fact. There seemed to be a lightness to his voice that Myungjun had never heard before.

He sat down and patted his lap for Jinwoo to rest his head on it. The boy accepted with a smile and waited for Myungjun to speak. “It was okay I guess.”

Jinwoo hummed and closed his eyes as Myungjun played with his hair, the green strands running through his fingers. “How many floors?”

“Not many.” Myungjun said with a sigh. “We made too many mistakes, I really thought we’d do a lot better.”

“I’m sure you did great, try not to worry about it.” Jinwoo said, sounding sleepy.

“How are you feeling anyway?” Myungjun asked quietly. “You used your magic a lot today.”

“I feel really good.” Jinwoo said with a smile. Myungjun was taken aback, this didn’t sound like the Jinwoo he knew.

“I thought you didn’t like using your magic?” He asked cautiously, worried that he would say the wrong thing and ruin Jinwoos good mood.

Jinwoo opened his eyes to look up at him. “I used my magic to protect you guys, it actually felt…great. I hadn’t used my magic properly like that in a long, long time and I didn’t realise how much energy was pent up inside of me. I feel like I’m floating right now, it’s like a heavy weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”

Myungjun felt relief rush over him. He could see Jinwoo was feeling so much better and it made him happy. He continued to play with Jinwoos hair until he heard his breathing even out.

“JinJin?” He whispered to the sleeping boy who didn’t stir. “I’m really glad you’re happy.”

Chapter Text

Myungjun found himself dozing off, the firm weight of Jinwoos head on his thigh, keeping him anchored and warm. His chin slipped off his hand and he woke with a start. Jinwoo mumbled incoherently below him and Myungjun shushed him back to sleep. The sun had completely set, but the torches around the lake had blazed to life sometime during Myungjuns nap. The quiet didn’t last long and they both shot up, ripped back into reality, when a loud angry shout echoed across the lake.

“I HATE YOU, STAY AWAY FROM ME.”

“Seokkie please! I said I was sorry.”

“Sorry isn’t good enough, you ruined everything! You said you’d protect me and ended up turning against me! You got us all killed you idiot!”

Hyungwon mumbled something that Myungjun couldn’t hear and Hoseok growled in annoyance.

“If you’re just going to be a smartass about it, I’ll go and find somewhere else to sleep!”

Myungjun could make out the shape of the two boys as they made their way to the edge of the lake. Hyungwon sped up to grab Hoseoks arm.

“Please let’s sort this out, I don’t want to go to sleep during a fight.”

“You should have thought of that before you froze me! Do you realise how cold I was?” Hoseok added with a whine.

Myungjun watched as Hyungwon pulled him into a hug and said something into his hair. It seemed to work as Hoseok visibly relaxed.

“I’m the little spoon.” Hoseok said grumpily before disappearing onto the lake. Hyungwon chuckled before disappearing too.

“What the hell happened between those two?” Jinwoo asked, looking over at Myungjun who just sighed.

“Hyungwon-hyung got annoyed at Hoseok screaming at the rats on the first floor and incapacitated him. Their whole team started arguing about it and got wiped.”

“Damn that’s tough. No wonder he’s so mad, I would be too.” Jinwoo said, shaking his head in disbelief.

Myungjun just hummed in agreement and pulled his legs up to his chest.

“Are you cold?” Jinwoo asked. Myungjun just smiled to himself as he knew he didn’t even need to answer. Jinwoo was already taking off his jacket to give it to him.

“Not anymore.” He said happily and pulled it closer around himself. It smelled of Jinwoo and he breathed it in with a satisfied sigh. They sat in a comfortable silence, listening to the water lap gently at the embankment.

“I’m sorry for leaving you alone.” Jinwoo said quietly. “I thought I could wipe out the boss and carry on but I’m a lot weaker than I thought.”

Myungjun reached over to squeeze his arm comfortingly. “It’s only because you haven’t let yourself get stronger; you need to stop being so scared of your magic.”

Jinwoo was silent and Myungjun watched as multiple emotions flashed across his face. He took a deep breath before speaking. “Myungjun, I’m ready to tell you now. About myself. I asked for time, and you’ve been so patient. If I put it off any longer, I’ll never tell you, and I want to tell you everything about myself before I…never mind. Please just let me talk, if you interrupt, I might stop, and I need to do it all in one go. I told you that your opinion of me will change, so if you want to stop being friends with me after this then you need to just get up and leave. Don’t look back or I might try to stop you.”

He was beginning to panic, so Myungjun reached out to grab his hands and give them an encouraging squeeze. “I’ll listen, go ahead.” He felt strangely nervous. More for Jinwoo than himself he realised.

Jinwoo closed his eyes and was quiet for a time, he opened them and Myungjun could see they held a new found determination. “I was a baby when I was taken to the guesthouse. I grew up around other children like me, ones who were abandoned or lost their parents. It was okay for a time, I never had friends, but the other children were nice enough. They were nice enough until a couple of them broke into Mrs Ko’s office, to steal back a toy she had confiscated.” He stopped to look down at the grass.

“Mrs Ko keeps case files of all the children that go to live at the guesthouse, and I guess they got curious. I woke up the next morning and one of the kids was sitting on my bed holding one of those files. He didn’t say anything, just waited for me to sit up before chucking it at me and running away. I didn’t have a clue what was going on.” He laughed bitterly. “I wish I hadn’t picked it up, I wish I hadn’t looked.” His voice broke and he stopped to pull his hand away from Myungjun.

Myungjun went to speak, to try and offer some comfort but he stopped himself. He remembered what Jinwoo had asked and waited as it took a few minutes for Jinwoo to talk again. When he did, he sounded more composed.

“It took a long time to pick up all the paper, there was so much of it and I wondered who it could possibly be about. It wasn’t until I looked properly that I realised it was mine and I was confused. How much could there possibly be to know about me? I’m just another unlucky kid who was abandoned by his parents. That’s what Mrs Ko told me anyway, I was too young to remember them. But I used to have these horrible nightmares. Nightmares of fire, bright green fire that enveloped everything around me.” Myungjun shivered at the thought. “And Mrs Ko would tell me that’s all they were, bad dreams that I needed to forget. She tried everything to help me, even going as far as giving me special medication to sleep. But nothing worked, the nightmares were relentless. I’d wake up every night, screaming and clawing at my skin.” He scratched at his arms nervously now and Myungjun reached over to pull his hands away. Jinwoo didn’t seem to notice and just kept speaking.

“The folder gave me the answer as to why I was having those nightmares. I created that fire when I was a baby Junnie.” He looked up at Myungjun desperately, trying to make him understand but Myungjun was lost.

“But your fire is black JinJin, how could you create green flames?” He asked.

“Remember when you told me your flowers had changed when you arrived here? You said they were small and white before, but now they’re yellow? My fire changed too.” Jinwoo started to cry and backed away as Myungjun moved to wipe his tears away. “Don’t Junnie, I deserve to cry. I created that fire and…and it killed my parents.” A gut-wrenching sob was pulled from his throat and he clutched at his chest. “They didn’t abandon me, I killed them.”

Myungjun felt his world tip on its axis as Jinwoos words sunk in. It all made sense, the boys bullying him after they read his file, Sanha telling him he was dangerous and that he had killed people. Myungjun had just laughed it off at the time but it was really true. He was scared of using his magic because of what it had done. Myungjun felt sick and dug his nails into the skin of his thighs to distract himself from the nausea. Fear fluttered in his chest as he looked at Jinwoo. Jinwoo was right, he was dangerous, and he could kill Myungjun at any moment. Myungjun should leave like Jinwoo said and never look back. The next words that came out of his own mouth surprised him.

“Don’t cry Jinwoo, you were a baby you didn’t know any better.” Why the hell did he just say that? Why wasn’t he running away? “I know you’d never intentionally hurt anyone…you wouldn’t, would you?”

Jinwoos sobs quietened down a bit and he shook his head. “That’s not the point though. They’re still dead because of me. It hurts so bad Junnie, I don’t even remember what they look like, its like they never existed. I had to grow up being bullied, with no one to turn to, because the only people who would have cared are gone.”

Myungjun felt the fear that was creeping into his chest die out. He felt ridiculous for even feeling that way to begin with. Jinwoo wasn’t dangerous, he’d spent the whole of his life paying for what he had done, and he never used that as an excuse to be a bad person. He was good, so so good.

“I know JinJin” Myungjun said softly. “I can’t even imagine how much that would hurt. You need to listen to me now okay? I said this to Sanha and I’m saying this to you; It might not mean much right now, but you have people here who care about you, people you can turn to if anyone is mean to you, people who want to see you be happy and grow and achieve great things. Parents aren’t the only people who can be your family.” Myungjun watched as Jinwoos sobs slowly died down to sniffles.

“You’re still here.” Jinwoo said, voice laced with quiet disbelief. “Why are you still here?”

Why am I still here? Myungjun thought. He found his answer when Jinwoo looked up into his eyes.

“I’m still here because what you did is something you couldn’t control, I’m sure your parents know that too. Everything that’s happened to you since, has shaped you to become the person you are now. A son his parents can be proud of.” He moved over to sit in front of Jinwoo and held his face in his hands. “You’re kind and caring and gentle. You have so much love to give but you need to learn to love yourself first, magic and all. Own your mistakes and forgive yourself, you can’t carry that guilt around with you forever. They wouldn’t want you too and neither do I.”

Silent tears fell from Jinwoos eyes and Myungjun wiped them away with his thumbs, not wanting to let go of his face yet. “Thankyou for being born, thankyou for growing up this way, thankyou for being strong enough to face each and every day, thank you for putting me first all of the time and thankyou for telling me. I wouldn’t change a thing about you and I’m not going anywhere.” He pulled Jinwoo closer and pressed his lips gently against his cheek. Myungjun sat back to smile and finally let him go. Jinwoo sat there, shocked into silence as he let the words process and he reached up to touch his cheek with a trembling hand, “You kissed me.”

“I did.” Myungjun said with a shrug.

“You never kiss me.”

“It was about time I paid you back.”

“Why did you kiss me?”

“Because you’re special to me.”

Chapter Text

When the weekend came to an end, the timetables went back to normal and Myungjun was grateful. He was covered in bruises from all of the extra combat classes and had shed some weight from the rigorous exercise. The others noticed when they went to eat lunch after class.

“Hyung that’s not enough food, here have some of mine.” Dongmin said, spooning some more rice into his bowl.

“I can’t eat much more Minnie, but thanks anyway.” Myungjun said giving him smile.

“You’ve hardly eaten anything!” Sanha exclaimed, pointing at his food. He was right, Myungjun hadn’t eaten more than a few spoonful’s but he felt full.

“Yah, you were the one who told me I’d get fat if I kept eating remember?” Myungjun scowled at him and shoved another spoonful into his mouth before pushing the rest of it away.

“You’re finished already?” Jinwoo asked taking a seat at the table. “I thought we could eat together.”

“Yeah, I’ll just see you at dinner.” Myungjun said, getting up to leave. He said goodbye to the others before making his way to the clearing where he had herbology class. He’d just attended herbology before lunch, but he wanted to use his free time to sit with his plants. After being so brutally incapacitated in the dungeon he’d found himself feeling more unsettled then usual, and this was the only thing that he found kept him calm.

The clearing was empty except for the teacher, Ms Jung, who was pottering around. Myungjun made a beeline for his little patch of soil, not wanting to talk to her and managed to slip past unnoticed. It wasn’t because he didn’t like her, in fact she was his favourite teacher, he just wanted to be alone. He crouched down to look at the variety of flowers he had grown and touched them gently.

These days he could hear the whispers more clearly. He combined what he learned in communications class, about allowing his mind to be vulnerable, with the knowledge he gained from his teacher. She told him that he would find it easier to communicate with the plants he grew with his own magic because they shared the same energy.

He touched them all individually to find out what they wanted and found he didn’t have much to do. He’d done the majority of the work before lunch, and only needed to replant a little flower who didn’t have enough room to spread its roots. He sat back with a contented sigh and wiped the dirt from his hands when he’d finished. It had been a brief break from his thoughts, but they soon came flooding back.

His mother being killed, the strange man from the coffee shop, the feeling of the sword piercing his heart. Myungjun reached up to gently touch his chest. He didn’t know how much longer he’d be able to go on feeling this anxious. It had only been a couple of days, but it felt like forever.

“Got something on your mind?” Ms Jung said kindly, taking a seat next to him.

“A few things.” Myungjun said, giving her a shy smile. “I’m here because the plants take my mind off of them.”

“Would you like to talk about it? Talking helps sometimes.” She asked and waited patiently for him to make up his mind. Myungjun supposed it couldn’t hurt and relayed the events of the third floor in the dungeon. Ms Jung was quiet the whole time he spoke and only replied when he’d finished.

“I can see why you would be feeling that way, that’s quite a trauma. I have a question, if I may.” He nodded for her to continue. “Which death do you think has affected you the most, your mothers or your own?”

Myungjun thought it over. He had theoretically died and immediately woken up safe afterwards, but his mother had been killed and he hadn’t been able to see her after, for obvious reasons.

“My mother.” He said quietly. “I miss her a lot and I just want to make sure that she’s okay.”

Ms Jung sighed and nodded her head wisely. “I think you would benefit from speaking to Grove and arranging a short trip home. It could help you become more settled, you seemed very distracted in class today and I can’t imagine it will get any better if you don’t act.”

Myungjun was surprised, he didn’t even think leaving the academy was allowed, even temporarily and the idea both excited and worried him. He was excited at the prospect of seeing his mother again but worried about missing out on lessons. However, like Ms Jung has said, he was struggling to concentrate in class anyway. He thanked her for the advice before setting off back to the academy.

*

He left Groves office, half an hour later, feeling disheartened. Grove had denied his request, saying that as it had only been a few days since the dungeon run, he didn’t think a trip home was necessary.

“You may feel better in a few days without seeing her.” He said. “You can come back in a week if nothing has changed and we’ll discuss it again.”

Myungjun walked down to dinner and sat at an empty table. He shouldn’t have allowed himself to get his hopes up because now he just felt sad. He rested his head against the table and closed his eyes. He felt a hand on his back a few minutes later and sat up to see Jinwoo sitting down beside him.

“What’s wrong?” He asked after seeing the look on Myungjuns face. Myungjun didn’t feel like talking about it so he just shook his head and plastered a smile on his face.

“Nothing’s wrong, I’m fine.” Jinwoo didn’t seem convinced but he let it slide in favour of getting some food.

“I’m starving.” Jinwoo whined. “I just had practical skills and actually tried hard to use my magic for a change.”

“That’s good JinJin.” Myungjun said, feeling genuinely happy that he was trying. He had hoped he hadn’t overstepped any boundaries when talking to Jinwoo about his parents the other night, but it seemed to have had a good effect on him. Myungjun hadn’t even realised how worried he was about it, until he felt his shoulders relax slightly at the thought. He looked up to see the tips of Jinwoos ears tinged red. “Why are you blushing?” Myungjun asked reaching out to poke the ear closest to him.

“I’m not!” Jinwoo denied hotly. “I just like it when you call me that.” He mumbled before sipping his drink.

“Yeah and I like it when I can eat my dinner without wanting to gag.” Hyungwon said, sitting down at the table with Hoseok.

“Go sit somewhere else then!” Jinwoo said scowling at him, but Hyungwon ignored his words to look at Myungjun instead.

“Where’s your food? Jinwoos eating why aren’t you?” he asked, pointing to the lack off food in front of him.

“I ate before Jinwoo got here.” Myungjun lied quickly. He felt too sad about not getting to see his mother, and the anxiety that came with it had ruined his appetite.

“How much did you eat? Dongmin told me you’d hardly eaten anything at lunch.” Hyungwon frowned as he looked Myungjun over. “Have you lost weight?”

Myungjun felt his patience slipping and gripped at his thighs under the table to calm himself. “I ate a lot, stop asking me questions and just eat your food Hyung.”

The rest of dinner went quietly after that and Myungjun couldn’t wait for it to end. He had zoology with the water users next and decided to skip it. He didn’t want to be around Hyungwon and Dongmin anymore today. So, when Hyungwon wasn’t looking, he slipped away back to his room. He crawled into bed and lay under to covers, clutching his two stuffed birds to his chest. He felt his eyes drooping and allowed himself to sleep.

*

He was back in the field, laying on the grass, and watching the clouds pass overhead. He watched as the clouds began to take shape. A castle. A tree. A dragon. It felt familiar, too familiar. He sat up when it began to rain and looked across the field to see his mother fighting back to back with the man. There were cutting down monsters left and right and Myungjun felt panic surge. He took off at a run.

“Mother get away from there!” He called frantically. “He’s going to kill you!” She turned to look at him with a smile. Myungjun screamed as the sword plunged deep into her back.

He woke up with a gasp and felt the bed dip beside him. “Shh Junnie.” Youngjae said pulling him into a hug. “It was just a bad dream, we’re here now.” Namjoon made a noise of agreement before sitting down next to Youngjae.

“Why weren’t you in class Hyung?” Namjoon asked when Myungjun had calmed down.

“Didn’t feel well.” He lied again and felt guilty as Youngjae looked at him with worry.

“Are you sick? Do you want me to take you to the infirmary?” he asked, feeling Myungjuns forehead. Myungjun just shook his head and told them he wanted to go back to sleep. They left him with the promise they’d get up to sit with him if he had another nightmare and he went to sleep thinking he was lucky to have such good friends.

The next morning, he woke up to see one of his stuffed birds looking down at him. “Good morning!” The bird said. Great, Myungjun thought, I’ve gone crazy.

“I’m here to remind you that Youngjae is the bestest friend ever!” The bird said and Myungjun narrowed his eyes in suspicion. “He even got you breakfast in bed to cheer you up!” Youngjae moved the bird away and appeared above him with a grin on his face. “Sit up Hyung.”

Myungjun groaned as he pushed himself up and accepted the food Youngjae gave him. Myungjun was feeling hungry this morning, so he dug in eagerly. He only managed to eat half of the plate before feeling full and handed it back to Youngjae.

“Is that all?” Youngjae asked in surprise. “Are you not hungry anymore?”

“No, I’m fine now, thanks for breakfast.” Myungjun said ruffling his hair. “What class do we have first?”

“Alchemy with the water users, so get up. I’ll take the plate back down and meet you there.” Youngjae said, leaving him to get dressed.

Myungjun got ready slowly before making his way to his first lesson of the day. He saw Hyungwon leaning against the wall and went straight over to cuddle up to him.

“Someone’s clingy this morning.” Hyungwon said, looking down at him fondly and pulling him closer. Myungjun just hummed and closed his eyes. He didn’t want to talk, he just wanted comforting. Class started soon enough, and he whined as Hyungwon pulled away.

“Let’s go Junnie, we can sit together if you want.” Myungjun nodded eagerly and cuddled back up to him when they’d gotten to their table. The teacher didn’t seem to care and began to teach them about the different uses of griffon feathers in potions. When he asked them to attempt making their own, Myungjun huffed grumpily at having to move. His nightmare still haunted him and all he wanted to do was cuddle his friends. Why was the teacher being so mean?

“The teachers not being mean grumpy pants.” Hyungwon said with a chuckle. “I’ll get all the equipment and you cuddle up to Seokkie instead okay?” He didn’t even have to move before Hoseok was latched around him. Myungjun was glad he had clingy friends and snuggled into Hoseok happily. The lesson went fast, and they got praised at the end for brewing an excellent potion. Myungjun allowed himself to feel happy even though he had hardly helped at all and left to go to lunch, feeling a bit better than he had when he’d first woken up.

They sat at the table eating and having fun, waiting for the others to finish class. Myungjun looked down at his plate in surprise to realise he had eaten a lot. He leaned against Hyungwon when the latter had finished eating and was content with listening into the conversations around him. Jinwoo turned up last and had to sit on the opposite side of the table for once, as Myungjun was in between Hyungwon and Hoseok. Jinwoo always sat next to him so it felt weird sitting like this and Jinwoo seemed equally as uncomfortable with the arrangement. He didn’t complain, however, and just ate his food in silence, looking up every now and again.

Hyungwon shook Myungjun out of his trance at the end of lunch and told him he had to leave to go to class. Myungjun sat up and said goodbye to him before looking back over at Jinwoo. The boy was avoiding his gaze and tracing patterns in the table top with his fingers. Myungjun had communications with the fire users next, so they left together in silence.

“Why are you so quiet?” Myungjun asked him, before reaching over to thread their fingers together. Jinwoo just shrugged his shoulders but held on tight as they made their way inside the class room.

“Now class, today we are going to be moving on to using touch as a means to sense another person’s emotions. Hearing thoughts is one thing, but sensing how someone actually feels, without being told, is much different.” Mr Seo began. “A person’s true emotions are hard to sense so you need to focus. Your mind needs to be strong this time, to delve deep as you search for your answer.” He gestured for them to begin and Myungjun turned to see Jinwoo looking worried.

“What’s up?” He asked, playing with Jinwoos fingers. Jinwoo just brushed the question off and told him they should begin. Myungjun tried hard to make his mind stronger, it was a lot different from allowing himself to be vulnerable like they had previously learnt. He wasn’t able to sense anything, no matter how hard he tried, and sighed in frustration.

“You’re annoyed.” Jinwoo observed. “I can sense your emotions already.”

“Shut up you just heard me sigh.” Myungjun said, pulling his hands away as Jinwoo laughed. “This is ridiculous, if I try any harder, I’ll give myself another headache.”

“Stop trying so hard then.” Jinwoo said.

“You’re literally the most unhelpful person to ever exist.” Myungjun said annoyed, but quickly apologised at seeing Jinwoos hurt expression. They went back to attempting the lesson and still failed to get anywhere by the end of class.

“We have combat training next.” Jinwoo said as they walked down to dinner. “I heard we’re sparring with weapons now.” Myungjun didn’t like the sound of that, it sounded painful, but he kept his thoughts to himself as they sat down in the hall.

“Better get your energy levels up.” Jinwoo said, spooning some meat onto Myungjuns plate. Myungjun found he couldn’t stomach much again but tried for Jinwoos sake. It was worth it when Jinwoo leaned over to wipe at Myungjuns mouth with a napkin. He found himself grinning like an idiot as his heart fluttered at Jinwoos caring action and Jinwoo smiled back in response.

They left after eating something sugary for dessert and walked into the combat centre to the sound of wood hitting wood. The twin mute teachers were sparring ferociously with wooden poles. They appeared almost blurred at their intense speed and Myungjun watched in awe as the woman swept her brother off his feet and pinned him down with the pole at his throat. She stood up to see them watching and gestured for them to pick up their own weapons.

In this lesson, they learnt basic stance and techniques and for once, Myungjun found himself overpowering Jinwoo. He started to get his suspicions about halfway through, and they were confirmed, to his annoyance, when he purposefully left himself open to an attack and Jinwoo didn’t take the chance.

“Why are you letting me win?” Myungjun asked, feeling his sense of achievement fizzle away into nothing. “It’s insulting.”

Jinwoo just shifted uncomfortably and spun the pole around a few times. “I don’t want to hurt you.” He said with a shrug.

“You didn’t have any trouble throwing me to the mat before.” Myungjun pointed out and watched as Jinwoo turned red.

“That was different!” He said defensively. “This is an actual weapon, its hard to know how much it will hurt when I hit you, at least when we sparred before I could control how much force to use.”

“Hit me lightly then.” Myungjun said, softening at Jinwoos thoughtfulness. “Just don’t avoid it all together or we’ll never get better.” Jinwoo nodded with a sigh and got into position.

“Don’t moan later if you get hurt then.” Jinwoo said before advancing on Myungjun.

Chapter Text

Myungjun did moan. He moaned all the way back up to the academy after the lesson ended. It was dark and time to go back to his room, but he didn’t want to go back just yet.

“Jinwoo my arm hurts so much.” He pouted, lifting up the sleeve of his shirt to reveal a bruise that was blossoming just beneath his shoulder. “Why did you hit me so hard?”

Jinwoo sighed irritably before slowing down to take a good look at Myungjun bruise. He poked it hard and Myungjun yelped in pain. “I told you It was going to hurt.” Jinwoo said annoyed. “Stop being a baby. We’re going to be sparring with weapons from now on, so you better get used to it. I tried to be gentle, you can always partner with someone else who won’t care as much.” That shut Myungjun up straight away and he quickly smiled before grabbing Jinwoos arm.

“No that’s okay, it doesn’t hurt much after all.” He said. Jinwoo rolled his eyes and tried to leave. “Wait!” Myungjun called out desperately. “I don’t want to go to bed yet, can you stay out with me a bit longer?” He really didn’t want to go to sleep just to have more nightmares. Luckily enough, Jinwoo agreed and they walked up to sit in the library instead. There weren’t many students in there at this time, so they got to choose one of the big, comfy reading chairs to sit in by the fire.

Jinwoo opened his arms to let Myungjun snuggle up to him and they sat there quietly, watching the flames dancing in the grate. After a while, Jinwoo started to move around, trying to get comfortable.

“Myungjun your hip bone is digging into my thigh; can you move over a bit?” He asked sounding pained. Myungjun obliged and his shirt rode up at the movement. Jinwoo gasped as he looked down and used the arm, that wasn’t currently wrapped around Myungjuns shoulders, to reach over and poke at his exposed hip. “You really have lost a lot of weight Junnie, you didn’t eat as much as usual at dinner either, what’s going on with you?”

Myungjun tensed as the thought of his nightmares came back. He didn’t want to admit that they were making him so anxious that he couldn’t eat, so he lied again. “It must have been all of those extra combat lessons before the dungeon exams that made me lose all that weight.” At least that much was true. “I’m just not hungry at the moment, no reason why. I’m sure I’ll start to eat again when I’m back into our normal routine.”

Jinwoo didn’t seem convinced but neither did he push for answers. He just pulled Myungjuns top back down for him and went back to staring into the fire. The silence that enveloped them lulled Myungjun into sleep and he jolted awake sometime during the night with tears running down his face.

“Myungjun?” Jinwoo asked. He was crouched down on the floor by his legs, looking up into his face. Myungjun rubbed at his face quickly. “Why are you down there?” He asked Jinwoo, trying to steady his voice.

“You were moving around a lot and it woke me up.” Jinwoo said quietly. “Did you have a bad dream?”

“I guess so.” Myungjun said awkwardly. “Nothing to worry about though, just come back up here and cuddle, I’m cold.” Even with the fire blazing in the grate nearby he felt a chill in his bones. Jinwoo sat back down in the chair and let Myungjun lean against him. Myungjun didn’t sleep at all for the rest of the night.

*

It was Friday evening and Myungjun was leaving his Herbology class when he spotted Grove walking towards him. Myungjun did a double take when he realised Jinwoo trailing behind him looking sheepish.

“Myungjun.” Grove greeted him when he was close enough. “If you would like to come with me, I have something to discuss with you.” He turned to walk up to the academy and Myungjun hurried over to Jinwoo.

“Why are you here?” He asked. “Are we in trouble or something?” Jinwoo just shook his head and continued to look at the floor. They were led into Groves office and he shut the door behind them with a snap.

“Myungjun I have heard from Jinwoo that you are struggling to eat and are still having nightmares since leaving the dungeon.” Myungjun turned his head to look at Jinwoo in shock, but the boy avoided looking his way. “I can see now that you have been affected by this much worse than we initially thought.”

“What the hell Jinwoo.” Myungjun whispered to him angrily. Jinwoo turned to look his way and scowled.

“I did what I had to do. Everyone’s worried about you, we all know you’re not eating, and I spoke to Youngjae after the night in the library and he told me you’d been having nightmares all week. You should have told me!”

Grove cleared his throat to interrupt their argument and he leaned forward to place his arms on his desk. “I have reconsidered your request to go back home. You will be leaving tomorrow morning, so pack your things tonight and be down at the front door after breakfast.” Jinwoo froze in shock beside him.

“You’re leaving?” He squeaked, looking at Myungjun with wide eyes.

“Temporarily.” Grove corrected him. “Until Myungjun feels well enough to come back.”

Myungjun felt his heart rate soar at the thought of going home and he quickly thanked Grove before dashing from the office. He heard Jinwoo calling his name, but he didn’t stop. He didn’t stop until he was back inside his room. He packed his bag frantically, ignoring Youngjaes and Namjoons questions and placed it to rest by the door when he was finished.

“Hyung what the hell is going on?” Namjoon asked, trying to get Myungjuns attention. Myungjun turned to him with a big grin on his face.

“I’m going home.”

*

Myungjun sat at breakfast the next morning, telling the others that he was going back home for a while and didn’t know when he’d be back. Jinwoo didn’t come down to breakfast, Myungjun hadn’t seen him since inside Groves office and he didn’t think he’d see him until he came back either. Hyungwon carried his bag out to the carriage for him and hugged him tight.

“Be safe and come back soon, I’ll ask everyone to make notes for you in class, so you don’t miss too much.” Hyungwon said quietly to him.

“You sound like my mother.” Myungjun said with a laugh, the mere thought of her made his heart race and he rushed around hugging everyone else goodbye. They all slowly dispersed and Myungjun climbed up into the carriage. The driver cracked his whip and the horses set off at a trot. Myungjuns heart felt heavy at the thought of not saying goodbye to Jinwoo and he hoped that he was okay.

“WAIT!” Someone shouted behind them and Myungjun looked out of the window to see a mop off green hair rushing out of the academy doors towards them. Myungjun quickly asked the driver to stop and climbed out. Jinwoo barrelled into him and hugged him tight.

“Please come back soon.” He said, voice wavering and Myungjun pulled back to see him on the verge of tears.

“Aww JinJin don’t cry, I won’t be gone for long. I just need to make sure my mothers okay and ask her some questions and then I’ll be right back okay?” He waited to make sure Jinwoo was feeling better before getting back into the carriage. He opened the window and leaned out to say goodbye. Jinwoo seemed to be struggling for words and gave up. He just said goodbye before running back towards the academy, leaving Myungjun to wonder what he wanted to say.

The carriage ride went smoothly. They had to stop at the Inn, the same one Myungjun had spent the night with Hoseok and Hyungwon in, and Myungjun was happy to get a room to himself. The old innkeeper was happy to see him again and fussed over him like a long-lost son. Before they left the next morning, he used his powers to grow her some new flowers and she gave him some food for the rest of the journey in return. He was practically vibrating from excitement when they pulled into his hometown and he flew from the carriage when they pulled up outside of his house. He let the driver get his bag and ran up the garden path to bang wildly on the door.

“Mother it’s me, open the door!” She opened the door with a wide smile and opened her arms. He ran into them and was glad she was there to hold him up. The relief he felt upon seeing that she was okay was too much for him to handle and he felt his legs give out.

“I’m so happy to see you.” He whispered trying to hold back tears.

“My gorgeous boy, let me get a good look at you.” She pulled back to scan his face. “You’re so grown up already I can’t believe it, but you’re too skinny. Come in and take a seat, I’ve made dinner.”

He followed her inside and sat at the table in the kitchen whilst she moved around the room, setting up his food. When she was finished, she sat across from him to watch him eat.

“You seem happier.” She said quietly. “I’m glad.”

He gave her a shy smile and nodded his head. “I do feel happy, but I’m happier now because I’m back home.” She reached over to squeeze his cheek playfully and then left him to finish his food.

Myungjun sat back with a happy sigh when he was done. Nothing could beat his mother’s food. He helped her clean the dishes and sat with her in the garden to watch the sun set.

“How are lessons going?” She asked, turning to look at him. “Are you doing well in them?”

“I love them, I’ve learnt so many new things! When I come home, I’ll be able to keep the garden nice. You should see how many types of flowers I can grow.” Myungjun said excitedly, but felt it die down when he remembered where they were.

“You know you can’t use your magic around here Junnie.” His mother said sadly. “You know what happened before.”

Myungjun had flashbacks of Jung-hoon and his thugs in the field and shivered. “At least I’d be able to defend myself this time.” He said grumpily. “I know how to fight now.”

“I’m sure you do sweetheart.” She said ruffling his hair. “How did your first set of dungeon exams go?”

Myungjun looked up at her in surprise. “How do you know about that?”

She hesitated briefly before talking. “I couldn’t send my son away and not know anything about where I was sending him now could I?” It wasn’t exactly an answer to his question but Myungjun took it.

“The dungeon was harder than we thought. Two members of our team fell on the first floor and three fell on the second. I had to go down to the third floor alone.”

His mother made an excited noise. “My son is the best!” He laughed it off felling embarrassed.

“I only made it to the third because my friend Dongmin sacrificed himself when we got stuck. He was really brave.”

“Well you need to thank Dongmin for me. You were brave too, for continuing by yourself, that must have taken a lot of courage. Were there monsters?” She asked sounding nervous.

Myungjun hesitated. He didn’t want to ruin the good mood, but he had come home for a reason after all. “Actually, that’s what I need to talk to you about.” He felt nervous now the time had come, and she moved closer to hold his hand encouragingly.

“You can talk to me about anything Junnie. I know I wasn’t the best mother and I tried to supress that side of you, but things are different now. Not having you here has taught me where I was wrong and I’m ready to listen to whatever you have to say now.” Her words meant a lot to Myungjun and he let her know that before getting down to the matter at hand.

“There was a creature on the third floor that I was told manipulated memories to create illusions. I didn’t realise it at the time, so everything really confused me. I was in a field, watching the clouds until it started to rain. I saw you and a man. He had black hair and dark eyes.” His mother tensed at his words but didn’t speak. “You were fighting with him, not against him but together. You told me that you would keep me safe but he st...stabbed you in the back and you died. I thought it really was you, but you looked younger. The man came up to me and stabbed me through the heart. I was sure I was dead, but I woke up to find out it was all an illusion.”

“That must have been so hard.” She said sadly and pulled him into a hug. “So that’s why you came back? To see if I was okay?” Myungjun nodded his head and pulled away.

“I have a question, about that man.” He started but she cut him off.

“Now isn’t the time to talk to you about this, it’s getting late you should sleep. You’ve had a long journey.” Myungjun could sense she was avoiding the topic and grabbed onto her when she tried to leave.

“I saw him.” He said quickly. “In Voredan during my day out. He came into the coffee shop I was in with my friends and he looked at me. I recognised his eyes before I even saw him in the dungeon. Why?”

His mother buried her face in her hands and sighed. “I really didn’t want to have this conversation with you, ever if possible.”

Myungjun felt a sinking feeling in his gut as he sensed where this conversation was going. “It’s him isn’t it?” He asked stiffly. “He’s my father.” When his mother nodded, he stood up. He excused himself and moved swiftly down the garden path to the gate. He let his feet guide him to the field he knew all too well and lay back in the grass. The sky was clear of clouds, but he could see the first stars twinkling lightly.

When he was younger, he used to dream about having a father. A father who would walk him to school and tuck him in at night. A father who would play games with him and teach him how to shave when he grew up. Never did he think he would meet the man himself and be ignored like he didn’t even exist. He knew the man recognised him there was no way he wouldn’t. Myungjun had only recognised his eyes because he saw them everyday when he looked in the mirror. His father would know him by his eyes too, yet he walked away without looking back. It would be a lie to say it didn’t hurt.

Myungjun growled in annoyance and cursed loudly. No wonder his mother never wanted to talk about him, he clearly didn’t care at all. I’m not crying, Myungjun thought stubbornly as he rubbed the tears from his face.

Chapter Text

“Junnie have you packed everything?” His mother asked him again for the third time. “I don’t want you to leave anything behind.”

“Yes mother.” He said with a sigh. “The answer will still be yes if you ask me again.”

It has been a week since Myungjun had returned home and he was feeling like a different person. His nightmares stopped after the third night there and he found he could eat properly again. He never bumped into Jung-hoon and a part of him was secretly disappointed. He would have loved to have seen his face when realising Myungjun was no longer weak and defenceless. He moved to the door with his bag and stepped outside into the sun.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to make you anymore food?” She asked worriedly, smoothing down the front of his clothes.

“Mother you’ve made me so much food to take, that I’m sure I’ll still have some left when I reach the academy, and I still have to sleep somewhere overnight!” Myungjun said feeling impatient. “I’ll come back soon, and you can make me more food then.”

His mother seemed placated and she gave him one last hug before waving him off. “Stay safe and keep eating properly!” She called out as he climbed into the carriage. He promised he would and sat back with a sigh as the carriage set off.

*

He walked into the hall during dinner and smiled as Sanha looked his way. “Hyungs back!” Sanha shouted excitedly and the whole table turned around quickly to look. Myungjun laughed as they all dashed over to see him. Hyungwon swept him off his feet into a hug and spun him around.

“Junnie your back!” He said happily.

“I was only gone for a week!” Myungjun said, feeling slightly dizzy. “You’re acting like I was gone forever.”

“It felt like forever!” Youngjae whined dramatically and pulled Myungjun away from Hyungwon to hug him too. The others made noises of agreement and Myungjun looked around to see Jinwoo was missing.

“He’s not here.” Moonbin said, with his usual knowing smirk. “He’s been moody all week, I wonder why…” He yelped when Dongmin elbowed him in the ribs and they went to sit back down to eat.

“How are you feeling now anyway?” Namjoon asked, peering into his face. “You do look better.”

“I feel a lot better.” Myungjun said happily. “I even brought some of my mothers cooking.” He presented the box of food he was carrying and laughed when Hoseok snatched it away.

“He’s by the lake.” Rocky whispered to him with a smile and hurried off to stop Rocky Jr who was wreaking havoc nearby. Rocky must have revived him whilst I was away, Myungjun thought. It was good, Rocky Jr was like Rockys other half and the boy had been truly devastated when he was smashed to pieces.

Myungjun excused himself and rushed outside to find Jinwoo. He almost walked past him but stopped when he recognised his jacket. Jinwoos hair was no longer a vibrant green. It was as black as his fire now.

“JinJin?” He said quietly, feeling a bit nervous. Jinwoos head snapped around and he scrambled to his feet.

“Myungjun, you’re back.” He said, stepping up to stand in front of him. “You look different.”

“So do you.” Myungjun said amused, pointing to his hair. “It looks good.”

Jinwoo ran a hand through it and grinned. “Thanks, I didn’t have much to do without you here, so Moonbin dyed it for me again.”

“I missed you.” Myungjun said with a pout. It was true, he’d lay awake at night in his old room and wish he could see his friends again, especially Jinwoo. Youngjae was right, it had felt like forever.

Jinwoo smiled and finally moved forwards to touch him. “I missed you too Junnie.” He said pulling him into a hug. “It was boring here without you, I had to spar with Rocky in combat training instead and we broke a couple of the wooden poles by accident.”

Myungjun pulled away to look at him in shock. “How hard were you fighting to break something like that? That’s so dangerous!”

Jinwoo just laughed and lifted up the side of his shirt to show off an impressive bruise on his ribcage. “Pretty hard.” He said with a shrug.

Myungjun reached out to run his fingers over it lightly. “It looks painful.”

“It doesn’t hurt so bad right now.” Jinwoo said, sounding strange and Myungjun looked up to see him blushing lightly. He coughed awkwardly and pulled his hand away.

“See? This is why I shouldn’t leave. You’ll just get hurt if I’m not here.” Myungjun said, pretending to huff.

Jinwoo let his shirt fall and shook his head fondly. “You better not leave again then. Who knows what sort of trouble I’ll get into?”

Myungjun sat down on the grass and waited for Jinwoo to sit down next to him. He leaned into him with a contented sigh and looked out across the lake. “It really does feel good to be back, no matter how much I love my mother, this is my new home. It’s the first place I’ve ever felt accepted for who I am.” Jinwoo wrapped his arm around Myungjuns waist and pulled him closer.

“I used to hate it here, at the guesthouse I mean, but I like it now.” Jinwoo said happily.

“Why? Because I’m here?” Myungjun asked cheekily and squealed as Jinwoo tickled his sides. “You didn’t deny it.” He pointed out when they’d settled down.

“I don’t want to.” Jinwoo replied looking down at him. “I do like it a lot better with you here, the others too. It’s a lot more fun.”

Myungjun had to agree with that. He’d never had so much fun in his life. He went back to cuddling into Jinwoo. Now he was back, he didn’t want to let go. They stayed by the lake, chatting until the sun went down and Myungjun groaned as Jinwoo moved to get up.

“My legs are numb, please carry me.” He whined pulling at Jinwoos trouser leg. Jinwoo swatted his hand away and rolled his eyes. “Don’t be dramatic, you can still walk…stop looking at me like that…Myungjun no…bloody hell fine, get on.” He sighed and bent down. Myungjun cheered as he climbed onto his back. His pout had won again.

Jinwoo started to walk back towards the forest but Myungjun stopped him. “No JinJin, I don’t want to sleep in my room, I want to stay with you.”

Jinwoo nearly dropped him but Myungjun held on tight. “Myungjun you can’t sleep in my room.” Jinwoo said, sounding strangled. “and you’re choking me to death.”

“Sorry.” Myungjun said, loosening his arms. “Why can’t I? I slept in Hyungwon and Hoseoks room.”

Jinwoo was silent for a few seconds before sighing. “Fine, you can come to my room, but if Blaze catches us, you’re taking the blame.”

“Deal!” Myungjun said happily, excited at the prospect of seeing Jinwoos room for the first time. He was quiet as Jinwoo piggybacked him to the academy and down a staircase he’d never noticed before. Myungjun watched as Jinwoo pressed his hand up against a wall and gasped when the wall disappeared to reveal a long corridor with torches lighting the way.

“Its warm down here.” Myungjun observed and he heard Jinwoo scoff.

“Of course its warm, this literally houses fire users you dummy. Plus, there’s a rumour that there’s a lake of lava under the academy, where the older years go to practice magma manipulation. I don’t know how true that is though.” He placed Myungjun down gently but remembered to keep hold of him to share his magic so the corridor wouldn’t disappear. “We need to be quiet from here, I don’t want anyone to notice you.”

Myungjun stayed silent as Jinwoo navigated the maze. He was just turning down another corridor when he cursed and pushed Myungjun into a dark corner that wasn’t being lit by the torches. “Blaze is coming this way, stay quiet and he won’t notice us.” Jinwoo pressed Myungjun up against the wall a little further until his own back was out of the light. Myungjun found himself getting hot at the close proximity and Jinwoo used his free hand to cover Myungjuns mouth. Blaze walked past unaware and Jinwoo waited until he was out of sight before sighing in relief and pulling back to look at Myungjun.

“Why did you cover my mouth, I couldn’t breathe!” Myungjun fussed.

“You were panting like a dog, I had to shut you up somehow.” Jinwoo whispered to him fiercely.

“Its because its hot down here.” Myungjun whined. “How much further?”

“Just up ahead, stop whining or I’ll take you back.” Jinwoo warned him.

They made it to his room and Jinwoo closed the door behind them. Unlike Myungjuns naturally lit room, Jinwoos was brightened by more of the torches that had lit the walls outside. It made creepy shadows dance in the corners and Myungjun unconsciously moved closer to him.

“It’s not as nice as my room.” Myungjun said looking around. The only furniture Jinwoo had was a bed, pushed up tight against the wall, a dresser for his clothes and a small bookshelf that held his class textbooks and the books he took from the guesthouse.

“You don’t need to show off about it.” Jinwoo replied, sounding grumpy and pulled Myungjun over to his dresser. He took out two clean tops and two pairs of shorts. “Hold onto my waist so I can change.”

Myungjun gripped his waist tight, scared of breaking contact with his magic and closed his eyes as Jinwoo pulled his top off.

“Why did you close your eyes?” Jinwoo asked, his warm breath fanning over Myungjuns face. Myungjun didn’t reply, just kept his eyes closed until Jinwoo was done. “Your turn.” Jinwoo said, pressing a change of clothes into Myungjuns empty hand and snaking an arm around his waist.

“If you hold me this close, I won’t be able to move.” Myungjun scowled, opening his eyes.

“Sorry, force of habit.” Jinwoo said and pulled back a bit to give him some room.

“Close your eyes too, or I won’t get changed.” Myungjun said, suddenly feeling self-conscious. The thought of Jinwoo seeing him in just his underwear made his insides burn.

Jinwoo just sighed but did as he was told and soon enough, they were snuggled up under the covers in his bed.

“Your clothes are comfy.” Myungjun said, relishing in the way they felt against his skin.

“Keep them then.” Jinwoo mumbled sleepily. “Let’s go to sleep I’m tired.”

It didn’t take long for Myungjun to fall asleep, Jinwoos soft breaths a comforting lullaby.

*

Myungjun woke up feeling more rested than he had in a long time and smiled sleepily as he felt Jinwoos hand in his. He didn’t know what the time was, because he couldn’t see outside, but a quick look at Jinwoos clock told him it was still pretty early. He moved across the bed until he was pressed up against Jinwoos side and threw a leg over the sleeping boy’s waist. Early morning cuddles are the best, he thought to himself and snuggled happily into Jinwoos neck. All he could smell was Jinwoo and it made him realise how much he’d missed him. He nosed at his neck lazily until Jinwoo stirred.

“Myungjun stop doing that or you’ll give me the wrong idea.” He groaned sleepily.

“Sorry.” Myungjun said, feeling embarrassed at being caught. “You just smell really nice.” Jinwoo hummed happily above him but didn’t open his eyes. He was quiet for so long that Myungjun thought he might have gone back to sleep.

“JinJin?” He whispered, and Jinwoo made a soft noise of acknowledgment back. “I really did miss you.” Something in Myungjuns voice made Jinwoo open his eyes to look down at him. “I missed you so much it made my chest hurt, and for some reason it still does.”

Jinwoo looked at Myungjuns pout. “You really missed me?” Myungjun nodded. “and your chest hurts when you think about me?” Myungjun nodded again. A look of pain flashed across Jinwoos face and suddenly Myungjun was being rolled onto his back, the hand Jinwoo was holding was pressed into the mattress by his head. Jinwoo looked down at him and brushed the hair off his forehead delicately.

“Junnie, say it again. Tell me you missed me.” He commanded quietly. He watched Myungjuns lips as they formed the words and Myungjun felt his heart pick up speed in his chest at the look in Jinwoos eyes. “You like me.” He whispered.

“What?” Myungjun asked confused. “Of course I like you.”

“No, I mean you really like me. The way Moonbin likes Dongmin.” Jinwoo said, caressing Myungjuns cheek with the back of his hand. “It’s why your chest hurts when you think about me.”

Myungjun thought about his words and the truth hit him hard, leaving him breathless. He liked Jinwoo, he really liked Jinwoo. He liked everything about Jinwoo, the way he laughed, the way he smiled, the way his voice sounded when he was sleepy. He liked how he was always there to cheer him up, to silently offer his food, to wrap his knuckles before combat training and leave kisses along them when they were done. How had he not realised until now?

“I guess I do.” He said quietly, watching as Jinwoos eyes widened slightly at his confession. He reached up to press his hand against Jinwoos chest and was happy to feel his heart racing just as fast as his own. “You like me too.”

“I know.” Jinwoo said. “I’ve known for a long time.”

Myungjun blushed, not expecting such an honest answer and Jinwoo swallowed loudly.

“Myungjun, I’m going to kiss you.” He said, voice shaking. “If you don’t want me to, then tell me now.”

Myungjun didn’t think he could even speak, but if he could, he definitely would not be saying no. Jinwoo took his silence as his answer and leaned down slowly. He pressed their lips together gently, once, twice, three times until Myungjun found his voice. “JinJin you’re making me feel dizzy.” He whined.

It was a sensory overload, Jinwoo was everywhere. Myungjun could smell the familiar scent of his skin a lot stronger now. It conjured images of campfires and spice and warmed him up whenever he breathed it in. He could hear Jinwoos heavy breaths, like he’d just ran a lap around the lake, when really all they’d shared was a few chaste brushes of their lips. Myungjuns eyes drifted open to look at the boy above him. Jinwoos cheeks were flushed, a stark contrast to his charcoal black hair and his eyelashes fluttered prettily when he opened his eyes. Myungjun felt weak under his gaze, vulnerable even but he knew he was safe. Everything around him faded away until all he could see was Jinwoo. The only thing keeping him grounded in reality was Jinwoos firm body weight on top of him.

“Is this okay?” Jinwoo asked quietly, voice still scratchy from sleep. “Do you want me to stop?”

Myungjun processed his words and shook his head quickly. “Don’t stop. More JinJin, I need more…please.”

Jinwoo just laughed and kissed him again, harder this time. Myungjuns lips were tingling and his heart was thumping wildly against his ribcage as he felt Jinwoos tongue graze over his bottom lip. He’d never kissed anyone like this before and wondered how Jinwoo knew what to do. He followed his lead and opened his lips with a breathy sigh, pulling him impossibly closer. The faint brush of Jinwoos tongue against his own sent fire searing through his veins.

He reached up to thread his fingers through the hair at the back of Jinwoos neck and tugged lightly at the soft strands. Jinwoo groaned into his mouth and Myungjun shivered at the new feeling. He whined needily, trying to elicit more noises from him and felt Jinwoos magic pulse dangerously under his skin. He never wanted to stop kissing him. His lips were soft, like the petals of Myungjuns flowers and he wanted more. More, more, more.

Suddenly everything was too hot and Jinwoo was pulling back quickly with a gasp. His lips where swollen and slick with their spit and his hair was tousled messily. Myungjun thought he had never looked more attractive. When their breathing finally slowed, Jinwoo looked down at him again to speak.

“We need to stop.” he said, sounding pained. “I can’t control my magic right now.”

Myungjun just giggled and leaned up to kiss him gently once more. “Breakfast?” He asked happily.

*

They were sitting in the hall eating their food, when the others slowly trickled in, one after the other, to join them. It was Sunday morning and they all had meditation and discipline class after breakfast. Myungjun was praised when everyone noticed he was eating properly again, and he felt happy. When he was finished, he sat back with a satisfied sigh and patted his stomach, he could already feel the familiar squishiness coming back from having been fed so much by his mother.

“Wanna go?” Jinwoo asked, standing up and holding out his hand. Myungjun took it and said goodbye to the others. He’d see them soon for class anyway but Jinwoo seemed to have other plans.

“Do you want to go and get changed?” Jinwoo asked. “The others will probably start asking questions if they realise that you’re wearing my stuff.” No matter how much Myungjun wanted to stay in his clothes, he agreed. He didn’t want to be bombarded with questions today. They parted ways at the academy doors and Myungjun rushed towards the forest.

It would be the first day of spring soon and Myungjun could sense it in the air. His magic thrummed under his skin at the thought, and he laughed when he looked down to see flowers blooming wherever he stepped. Today was going to be a good day.

Chapter Text

Myungjun walked down to breakfast on the first of April with a spring in his step. He spotted Sanha and Rocky, sitting alone, and went over to pull up a chair on their table.

“Hey guys, where’s everyone else?” Myungjun asked, looking around.

“There’s a new notice on the board in front of the combat centre. We were just leaving when we saw them going down to look at it. They’re probably still there.” Rocky said, sipping his drink.

“A new notice? What about?” Myungjun asked, as he spooned food onto his plate from the tray that floated past.

“There’s going to be a competition in a weeks’ time, to find the best fighters in our year. Everyone wants that title because it’ll help you get offers from guilds, and maybe even the King himself, when you leave the academy.” Sanha said, spearing his chicken sulkily. “I suck at fighting though, so I’ll never win.”

“That’s why I’m helping you.” Rocky replied, reaching over to ruffle his hair with a smile.

“I’m lost.” Myungjun said, feeling confused. “Guilds? The King?”

“Oh yeah I forgot you lived under a rock your whole life Hyung.” Rocky said with a laugh. “Basically, when we leave the academy at the end of our third year, we have different choices on where to go. We can either join a guild, which is basically a group of people who come together to use their magic and other skills to gain fame and fortune, by helping people in need and working together in different competitions that Voredan holds every year. The most well-known guilds are found in either Voredan or Zepheholde and everyone wants to join them, but the most famous ones are invite only, which is why this tournament that’s coming up is important. You need to get your name out there and catch the attention of the guild master’s. The other place that’s invite only, is working with the King as one of his men. That’s even harder to get invited to, as the King only wants the best.”

“Sounds like everyone’s going to be out for blood after they read the notice then.” Myungjun sighed unhappily. Joining a guild or working for the King sounded fun, but pretty much impossible. Myungjun knew he was a decent fighter, but he was no-where near the best in the year. He was still struggling with the wooden poles in combat training and hadn’t made much progress in practical skills for a while now.

“Yeah, by the end of the day tensions will be high.” Sanha said, sounding worried. “News spreads fast around here.”

Myungjun hummed in agreement and went back to eating. He only looked up when he felt a pair of hands on his shoulders. Hyungwon was looking down at him and giving him a tight smile.

“What’s up?” Myungjun asked, putting down his cutlery and turning around in his seat. Hyungwon let his shoulders go and sighed.

“Have you heard about the notice?” When Myungjun nodded his head Hyungwon continued. “Everyone’s down at the combat centre now. Jinwoo asked me to come and collect you, Sanha and Rocky so we can sort out teams for each category. If we don’t decide amongst ourselves then the teachers will do it for us, and we all decided we should do it together. So let’s go.”

Myungjun cursed himself for sleeping in and not being included in the conversation they’d had. “I’m surprised you let Jinwoo tell you what to do.” Myungjun said, gesturing for Rocky and Sanha to follow them.

“I needed to get out of there, everyone was giving me a headache.” Hyungwon groaned, rubbing at his temples. “I know why this is important, but its so stressful trying to fight above the sheer amount of testosterone in the room.”

Myungjun laughed and threaded his fingers through Hyungwons to give his hand a gentle squeeze. “I’ll go and sort them out, I’m basically everyone’s mother at this point.” They hurried across the grounds and Myungjun could already hear the noise of people talking from outside. He opened the door to see crowds of students dotted around the place, either chatting excitedly or downright arguing.

“Take me to read the notice first.” Myungjun said loudly to be heard over the noise. Hyungwon nodded and dragged him over to a group of students crowded around the board. They parted when they saw Hyungwon, and Myungjun wondered why they all seemed so intimidated by him. He looked up when they stopped in front of the board and read the new piece of parchment that had been tacked on.

COMPETITION NOTICE: THE ACADEMYS BEST FIGHTER. 1ST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY (SEE OTHER NOTICES FOR 2ND AND 3RD YEAR STUDENTS)

MONDAY THE 7TH OF APRIL-WEDNESDAY THE 9TH OF APRIL, CLASSES WILL BE CANCELLED AS THE COMPETITON TO FIND THE ACADEMIES BEST FIGHTER WILL BE HELD. THERE WILL BE THREE CATEGORIES.

1. SINGLES MATCH 1v1, NO WEAPONS, NO MAGIC (MONDAY 7TH APRIL)

2. PAIRS MATCH 2v2, WEAPONS ALLOWED, NO MAGIC (TUESDAY 8TH APRIL)

3. GROUP MATCH 5v5, WEAPONS ALLOWED, MAGIC ALLOWED (WEDNESDAY 9TH APRIL)

EVERYONE IS REQUIRED TO FIGHT IN AT LEAST ONE OF THESE CATAGORIES. THE TITLE OF BEST FIGHTER WILL BE ADDED TO YOUR ACADEMIC RECORD IF YOU WIN FIRST PLACE.

THE WINNERS OF EACH ROUND WILL PROGRESS TO THE NEXT UNTIL THE FINAL MATCH. THESE WILL BE ALL-DAY EVENTS AND WILL NOT BE EASY. THE COMBAT CENTRE WILL BE OPEN 24/7 UNTIL THEN FOR THOSE WHO WISH TO PRACTICE.

OFFICIAL GUILD MEMBERS AND MEMBERS OF THE KINGS COURT WILL BE IN ATTENDANCE, SO IT WILL BE A GOOD CHANCE TO MAKE A NAME FOR YOURSELF. EVEN IF YOU DO NOT WIN, THEY MAY SEE SOMETHING IN YOU THAT THEY SPECIFICALLY NEED.

YOU MUST SUBMIT YOUR TEAM OF CHOICE BY TOMORROW. FAILURE TO DO SO WILL RESULT IN TEAMS BEING MADE FOR YOU.

GOOD LUCK!

No wonder the others had begun discussing teams already, Myungjun thought. They only had one day to decide. He told Hyungwon he was finished and let him guide them towards the others. Jinwoo saw them walking over and sighed in relief.

“Where’s Rocky and Sanha? Oh, there they are. Let’s get straight to it, we don’t have a lot of time.” Jinwoo seemed stressed and he kept running his hand through his hair. Myungjun let go of Hyungwon to hurry over to him.

“Can I talk to you for a second?” He asked as quietly as possible. Jinwoo looked at him exasperated.

“Can it wait Junnie? We’ve been trying to sort this out for ages now.”

Myungjun frowned but nodded and stepped back over to cling onto Hyungwons arm. He just wanted to ask why Jinwoo was so stressed about this all. He wasn’t even the oldest here so why was he trying to sort out the teams for everyone?

“The singles match we don’t need to discuss; we just need to make sure we all submit our names for them before we leave. The pair matches are more difficult.” Jinwoo began as everyone turned to listen. “You’re all my friends so I want everyone to have a good chance of being noticed.”

“Well there’s only two ways of doing this.” Dongmin said. “Choice one being the strongest fighters go together because there’s more chance they’ll win, which will be you, Rocky, Moonbin, Hoseok and Hyungwon. The weaker ones of us will rank ourselves and pair up according to what would give us a better chance. Choice two being the strongest pair with the weakest to get us all as far as possible.”

“There’s a downside to the second choice though.” Namjoon pointed out. “If you put someone strong with someone weak their difference in skill level will be obvious and it might get the wrong sort of attention. It will just make the weaker person seem even more unskilled and that won’t go down well with the guild and King court officials.”

“That could work in our favour though.” Sanha spoke up. “They could see that the stronger ones are willing to sacrifice first place to help out their friends and teamwork could be a skill they’re looking for.”

Myungjun reached over to pat Sanhas hair proudly. “Good thinking Sanha!” The young boy glowed at the praise.

“Well I guess that settles things.” Jinwoo said, smiling over at the young boy. “Let’s listen to our maknae for a change.” Everyone agreed and Sanha hid his blush behind his hands from receiving so much attention.

Myungjun nudged Hyungwons shoulder until the older boy looked down at him. “I didn’t know you and Hoseok-hyung were good at fighting with weapons.”

Hyungwon just shrugged and gave him a small smile. “Neither did we, until we tried.”

Jinwoo suggested they make the pairs first, to see how well people worked together, so they could decide on the five person groups later that day. Everyone agreed and the time passed quickly as they decided on the pairings. Moonbin was quick to choose Dongmin as his partner and nobody complained. Those two were inseparable anyway.

“Let’s be partners Junnie.” Hyungwon said, giving his hand a squeeze. “We haven’t been partners for anything in so long.”

Myungjun agreed happily and only felt a little guilty when he had to turn down Jinwoo a while later. Jinwoo promised him that he didn’t mind and went to ask Sanha. Myungjun heard Sanha turn him down too.

“Sorry Hyung, Rocky-hyungs been teaching me how to fight and I already asked him to be my partner.”

Jinwoo just laughed weakly. “Okay so who DOES want me to be their partner?” Myungjun was relieved to see Namjoon and Youngjae rush over to talk to him as Hoseok looked on offended at being ignored.

“Wanna practice at lunch Hyung?” Myungjun asked. Hyungwon nodded and told him it was time for class.

*

Myungjun made sure to eat lots of food at lunch that would give him energy, before excusing himself from the table with Hyungwon and dragging him eagerly across the grounds. He was in a good mood after coming out of a fulfilling Herbology lesson and Hyungwon seemed to be in a good mood too.

“This is going to be fun!” Myungjun said happily.

Ten minutes later and Myungjun decided it most certainly was not fun. He wasn’t used to the merciless way Hyungwon fought and yelped in pain as the wooden stick hit the flesh of his thigh for the fourth time.

“Myungjun you can’t just watch one end of the stick, this is a two-handed weapon for a reason, it hits two ways. I’ll go slower this time.” Hyungwon moved a little slower as Myungjun got used to the new advice. It was hard to block both ends of the pole, but he managed to get the basics down before the end of lunch.

“Well done Junnie you did really well.” Hyungwon said encouragingly. “You don’t have a lesson now do you? We can either stay and practice some more or take a break.”

“Take a break please.” Myungjun said desperately. “I think my arms and legs are going to fall off.”

Hyungwon ignored his dramatics and took their weapons back to the rack, whilst Myungjun flopped down against the nearest wall and watched as Jinwoo taught Youngjae nearby. He was being a lot tougher then he usually was with Myungjun and he winced as he saw Youngjae get his legs knocked out from under him by Jinwoos pole. Myungjun had been there enough times to know how much that hurt. He watched the muscles in Jinwoos arms flex as he helped Youngjae up and jumped when Hyungwon cleared his throat from above him.

“If you stare any harder your eyeballs will pop out of their sockets.” He said, taking a seat next to Myungjun.

“I wasn’t staring.” Myungjun replied flushing.

“What’s the deal between you too anyway?” Hyungwon asked curiously. “Somethings changed between you, I can tell.”

“Jinwoo told me he likes me.” Myungjun said quietly, looking down at his hands. “I told him I like him too.”

“About time.” Hyungwon mumbled. Myungjun turned back to look at him in surprise. “Don’t look at me like that Junnie, you two made it disgustingly obvious that you liked each other from the beginning. You’ve always looked at him like he hung the stars in the sky, and he was even worse.” He smiled softly at Myungjuns pout and pulled him over for a hug. “I’m happy for you though, are you together now then?”

Myungjun sighed and snuggled into him. “No, we never discussed it after we told each other how we felt. I haven’t even had any real alone time with him to bring it up since.”

“Well its obviously not made things awkward between you, so that’s good.” Hyungwon observed. Myungjun was glad it hadn’t, but he knew the longer he waited, the harder it would be to bring up.

“I’ll talk to him after the competition.” Myungjun said determinedly before pulling away from Hyungwon. “Let’s practice again Hyung, I’m going to beat you this time.”

Chapter Text

It was the night before the competition and Myungjun found himself down in the combat centre, fighting beside Hyungwon, against an equally determined Rocky and Sanha. Due to Hyungwons brutal training methods, Myungjun had gotten considerably better over the past week and was holding his own against Rocky, who flung his pole around at lightning speed. Hyungwon reached over to block a blow that was aimed at Myungjuns head and whipped around to knock Sanhas weapon from his hands. The pole fell to the floor with a clatter and Sanha whined in annoyance before getting ready to fight without one. One look at Hyungwons face, however, made him surrender and he stepped off the mat. It took longer to get Rocky out, but with the combined power of the two, he soon gave up.

Myungjun fell back on the mat with a groan. He’d learned to accept his body would be permanently bruised from now on and didn’t move until Jinwoo leaned over with a cup of water for him to drink. He drained the cup dry and listened as the others, who had watched, gave them feedback. He accepted his mistakes and moved off the mats to observe the next teams. It was Moonbin and Dongmin against Hoseok and Namjoon. Myungjun had been shocked the first time he saw Hoseok fight. He no longer ran around scared of being hurt. Instead he moved with purpose and his body flowed like water as he dodged Moonbins attacks.

Dongmin yelped in pain as Namjoons wooden pole made contact with his shin and Moonbin looked back at him in worry. Hoseok took his opportunity to knock Moonbins weapon from his hands and it rolled away pathetically.

“Maybe if you stopped making heart eyes at your boyfriend, you wouldn’t have lost.” Hoseok said smartly when the fight was over.

“I couldn’t just ignore him, he got hurt!” Moonbin said grumpily.

“You have to ignore me Binnie.” Dongmin said, moving over to stroke his arm. “We won’t win if you get distracted.” Moonbin pulled away and stalked out of the room. Dongmin just sighed before saying goodnight to everyone and following him outside.

“Anyone up for another round?” Jinwoo asked and Hyungwon accepted his challenge, much to Myungjuns dismay.

*

At breakfast the hall was buzzing with energy. Myungjun couldn’t help the anxiety that was rising in his chest, but he pushed it away. He wouldn’t let anything distract him today. Not even Jinwoo, who had just walked into the hall looking as handsome as ever. Okay maybe Myungjun was a little distracted as Jinwoo made his way over, smiling lazily at him.

“Is that a new top?” He asked, looking at the black tank that Jinwoo was wearing. It was low cut on the sides and Myungjun blushed when Jinwoo reached over the table, exposing himself. Jinwoo hummed before looking over at him in mild concern.

“What’s wrong? Why is your face red?” He asked, moving to put a hand on his forehead. “You’re not sick, are you?” Myungjun swatted his hand away feeling even more embarrassed and heard Moonbin laugh across the table.

“No Hyung, he was just totally checking you out.” Moonbin shrieked and dodged the cutlery Myungjun threw his way.

“Was not.” Myungjun mumbled and poked at the food on his plate with his remaining utensil. An arm snaked around his waist as Jinwoo pulled him closer.

“I don’t mind.” He whispered in Myungjuns ear wickedly. Myungjun wished the ground would just swallow him up whole. He was glad when Hyungwon called him from across the room and he scrambled away hearing Jinwoo laugh behind him.

They walked down to the arena that had magically appeared in the grounds overnight. It was filling up fast and they sat in seats that were closest to the front. Myungjun allowed himself to get excited as the time ticked on and was positively vibrating when the head of the academy, Mr Bang, walked into the arena to talk.

“Welcome students, to the annual Academy’s Best Fighter Competition. All of you here have trained hard and I am excited to see how you all perform today. I would like you to welcome our guests, who have kindly travelled here to observe your talents.” His voice boomed around the arena, magically amplified, and he pointed to a section in the stands that had been cornered off to seat the guild officials and Kings’ men that Myungjun had never seen before. He did a double take when he saw a familiar looking man sitting in one of the seats looking disinterested. He felt his stomach drop as he realised his father would be watching him fight.

“I’m sure you are all eager to begin so I won’t talk for much longer.” Mr Bang continued. “When your name is called, you are to make your way to the bottom of the stands. It is one on one, no weapons and no magic. If you cheat, you are immediately disqualified. The last person standing wins, good luck!” The students clapped enthusiastically as he left and a loud hum filled the arena as students chatted excitedly, wondering who was going to be called first.

“Yoon Sanha.”

Myungjun gasped as he watched Sanha make his way down the steps looking sick. It was so unlucky to be called first and Myungjun hoped he would be okay. The name of another boy Myungjun didn’t recognise was called and he leaned forward in his seat to have a good look at him. He was taller then Sanha but looked just as scared. They bowed to each other respectfully before getting into position. The whole arena seemed to hold its breath.

“You can do it Sanha!” Myungjun called out loudly, until Hyungwon yanked him back down in his seat.

“You’ll just embarrass the poor kid.” He said as students turned to look their way. Myungjun scowled but kept quiet. He didn’t care if everyone turned to look at him, that was one of his friends down there who needed the support.

A loud horn blared through the arena, indicating the start of the fight and Myungjun gripped the edge of his seat as he watched Sanha lunge first. Rocky had been a good teacher apparently because Sanha landed the majority of his hits and dodged even more. The crowd cheered as Sanha blocked a hard kick and delivered one of his own. The taller boy stumbled and growled in annoyance. The ground begun to vibrate and Sanha looked down in panic as he realised that he was sinking into the floor.

“HE’S CHEATING!” Hyungwon shouted angrily beside him. The crowd booed and one of the mute combat teachers ran forwards to restrain the boy before he could do anymore damage. Sanha had to be pulled free by Grove before he stumbled back towards the stands looking tired. Myungjun ran down the steps towards him, to see if he was okay, and Sanha just waved him off with a smile. It was an eventful start to the day and Myungjun watched as more and more students went up to fight.

“Ahn Hye-Jin”

Myungjun watched as the pretty fire girl, that Jinwoo disliked, descended the steps confidently. He was shocked to hear a boy’s name being called next.

“Are they really going to make him fight that girl?” Myungjun asked.

“Sure, why not? I’ve seen her fight, she’s probably as tough as he is, if not more.” Hyungwon said with a laugh. Myungjun understood straight away as the fight began. The boy she was supposed to battle just stood there looking dumb, not knowing whether to actually attack her or not but he didn’t have a choice. She raced forwards and knocked him off his feet. The crowd was going crazy as she rained punches onto him from above and he struggled to get free. Myungjun saw his mouth move and the girl laughed. Myungjun wrinkled his nose in disgust as the boy spat at her and she slapped him hard across the face. As the boy couldn’t get up, he was deemed incapacitated and had to be dragged from the arena kicking and screaming at her retreating back. She went up to sit with her friends who congratulated her loudly.

“Kim Myungjun.”

Myungjun felt his heart race at the sound of his name and Hyungwon gave him a quick hug of encouragement before he made his way down the steps.

“Park Jimin.”

Myungjun watched as Jimin raced across the arena to hug him tight. “Good luck Myungjun!” He said with a sweet smile before getting into position. Myungjun almost felt bad as the fight began and he saw how poor Jimin’s fighting technique was. He vowed to help him improve in future combat training lessons, before knocking him off his feet and climbing gently on top of him to pin him down.

“Sorry Jimin.” He said with a small smile, but the boy just shook his head beneath him.

“Don’t worry, I didn’t think I’d do very well anyway, I think I’ll just stick to my plants.” The horn sounded for them to stop and Myungjun laughed as he pulled Jimin to his feet. No matter how small the victory, he still felt proud to have passed the first round and looked up into the stands at his father. To his disappointment he wasn’t even looking his way, too busy talking to the people around him. He really wanted to prove that he grew up strong without him and it angered him to see the man not even paying the slightest bit of attention to him.

He stewed angrily in the stands until the final pair was called.

“Chae Hyungwon.”

He gave Hyungwons hand a squeeze and watched him descend the stairs.

“Park Jinwoo.”

Myungjun sat up in shock. He’d been so angry he hadn’t even realised that Jinwoo hadn’t fought yet. He watched as the boys bowed respectfully before getting ready. The bell started and they circled each other slowly. Hyungwon was saying something he couldn’t quite hear and Jinwoo shook his head in reply. Hyungwon moved first, he didn’t fight as well without a weapon, but managed to hold his own longer then Myungjun expected. Myungjun looked over to see his father watching the fight with interest and felt his anger brewing again. He completely missed what happened next but looked down when the horn blared to see Jinwoo pulling Hyungwon to his feet.

“What were you talking about down there?” Myungjun asked, after making sure he was okay, when he got back in his seat.

“I just asked Jinwoo why he hadn’t asked you to be his boyfriend yet, he didn’t want to tell me apparently.” Hyungwon said with a shrug.

“Hyung!” Myungjun whined. “Why would you do that? I said I was going to talk to him after this was over!”

“Hey, I had to distract him somehow. I’m not as good as him in hand to hand combat, so I had to get the upper hand.” Myungjun just sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose in annoyance.

“You’re a jerk Hyung.”

*

After a quick break, they were back in the arena waiting for the second round. Jinwoo had swapped seats with Hyungwon and Myungjun was leaning his head against his shoulder when the first name was called. He watched half-heartedly as more people fell and were eliminated. He only sat up to watch properly when Moonbin was called and watched his pink head bobbing through the crowd.

“Lee Dongmin.”

Jinwoo snorted as they saw Moonbin look round in shock. “This should be interesting.”

Dongmin made his way down to the arena and bowed politely. He laughed at something Moonbin said and got into position. The horn sounded for them to begin and Myungjun was shocked to see how ferociously they fought. He realised a few minutes in that Moonbin was holding back, letting Dongmin steal the spotlight and he smiled. They were incredibly endearing. The fight ended when Moonbin ran forwards to sweep Dongmin off his feet and place him gently on the floor. Dongmin waved his hands in surrender, pretending to be mortally wounded, and Myungjun watched in amusement as Frost hurried out to tell them off. He wasn’t smiling for long when his name was called. Jinwoo leaned forwards to kiss him on the cheek and Myungjun stumbled down the steps a blushing mess.

“Yoon Sanha.”

Myungjun was at a crossroads. He really wanted to win but he really didn’t want to fight Sanha. He watched as Sanha bowed to him and got into position. He quickly bowed back and got ready hesitantly.

“Hyung, I know what you’re thinking.” Sanha said sounding annoyed. “If you go easy on me, I’ll just feel insulted. I’d rather lose with some pride you know.”

Myungjuns laugh was drowned out by the horn and he was shocked to feel Sanhas fist connect with his shoulder so quickly. He dodged the next swing and backed away fast. Sanha was just so cute, how could he hurt him? He dodged again and pushed him awake weakly.

“Hyung stop it.” Sanha whined. “Just hit me already.”

“I can’t.” Myungjun said holding back a laugh. “I think I’m going to have to forfeit.”

“Don’t you dare.” Sanha scowled. “If you do, I’ll tell Jinwoo-hyung that you sleep with two stuffed toys.”

Myungjun looked up at him in shock. He was going to kill Youngjae and Namjoon, whoever had told on him, but first he needed to shut Sanha up. Sanha grinned evilly as he saw Myungjuns face change and laughed loudly as Myungjun bowled him over. The horn sounded when Sanha surrendered and Myungjun pulled him to his feet.

“Don’t you dare tell Jinwoo.” He hissed and Sanha just ran back into the stands cackling. Myungjun set off immediately to find his roommates. They were in big trouble.

Chapter Text

The sun was setting, and the fifth round was beginning, after the quick break they’d had for dinner. Myungjun was still in the competition, after beating two others after Sanha, and he was excited to see how small the list of remaining competitors was. Maybe he had a chance of winning after all. That thought was quickly extinguished when he was called as Jinwoos opponent.

They made their way down the steps together and Jinwoo shot him a happy smile as they bowed. He’s probably expecting me to fight the same way I usually fight with him, Myungjun thought gleefully. He was going to fight the way Hyungwon taught him instead, without mercy. The Horn sounded and Myungjun begun immediately. He pictured Jinwoo as just another enemy and lunged forwards. Jinwoos eyes widened in shock when Myungjun landed two blows consecutively, without giving him the time to dodge.

“You’ve gotten better.” Jinwoo grunted in pain as Myungjun kicked him away. “Looks like I don’t have to go easy on you after all.”

Myungjun nearly squeaked in fear as the look in Jinwoos eyes turned deadly and he descended upon him with a new type of force Myungjun hadn’t experienced from him before. It was a lot harsher after that and they fought roughly as the crowd around them cheered. Myungjun was beginning to realise he was going to be overpowered if they kept this up, so he needed to distract him somehow.

“I guess now’s the wrong time to say I really need to use the toilet.” Myungjun said, remembering Hoseoks distraction method in Voredan. It worked, Jinwoo looked up, bewildered at the random change of topic.

“Just kidding!” Myungjun said, grinning wickedly before kicking him in the stomach, hard. Jinwoo stumbled backwards and fell to his knees as the air was knocked out of him. Myungjun didn’t give him a chance to breath and tackled him to the floor.

“Sorry JinJin, I had to win somehow.” Myungjun said smirking, as he pinned him down. Jinwoos face changed from a look of betrayal to a look of determination and he used all his strength to roll them over.

“That’s why you shouldn’t get cocky and let your guard down cutie.” Jinwoo said, pinning Myungjuns arms above his head. The floor rubbed painfully against his wrists and he growled in annoyance. He was trapped and Jinwoo knew it. He scanned Myungjuns face lazily until he stopped at his lips.

“I really want to kiss you right now.” Jinwoo muttered quietly, his voice sounding a lot huskier then it had a second ago. Myungjun didn’t have time to answer as the horn blared above them, reminding them that they were not alone.

Jinwoo let him go and helped him to his feet, before pulling him quickly to the nearest exit. Myungjun looked over his shoulder, up into the stands, to see his father finally watching.

“JinJin where are we going?” Myungjun asked with a scowl, as the other boy pulled him around the side of the building, out of sight. Myungjuns scowl was wiped from his face when he felt his back hit the wall. Jinwoo caged him in with his arms, eyeing him hungrily.

“I need to kiss you.” he said bluntly. “I can’t wait any longer.”

Myungjuns breath caught in his throat as Jinwoo surged forward to press their lips together messily. They hadn’t kissed since the morning in Jinwoos room and this already felt a lot different. They kissed as fiercely as they had fought, allowing the adrenaline high from the fight to fuel them. Myungjuns teeth knocked painfully against Jinwoos but he didn’t care. He just reached up to wrap his arms around Jinwoos neck and pulled him closer. He felt the leather strap of the necklace he had given Jinwoo for Christmas under his fingers and smiled until Jinwoo pulled back.

“Why are you smiling and not kissing me instead?” He asked impatiently and Myungjun laughed brightly. He looked down to see the black and green gemstone peeking out from the collar of Jinwoos tank top and touched it lightly.

“You’re wearing it.” He said happily and Jinwoo sighed.

“Of course I’m wearing it, you gave it to me for protection remember? Now stop distracting me. I’m in the middle of something extremely important.” Myungjun felt his legs go weak as Jinwoo leaned down to trail wet kisses across his neck and had to hold onto him for support. He was whining happily soon after, as Jinwoo took his hands off the wall to grip Myungjuns hips and push him further against it. The familiar feeling of slowly losing focus was starting to come back and Myungjun felt his magic thrum under his skin.

Someone cleared their throat loudly behind them, pulling Myungjun back into reality, and he pushed Jinwoo away with a squeal. He immediately tensed upon seeing who it was. His father was staring down at him, nose wrinkled slightly in disgust and looking between the two. Myungjun stepped in front of Jinwoo to block him from view and looked up at the man defiantly. He could feel his face burning from being caught in such a compromising position but tried to push the embarrassment away.

“From the way you’re glaring at me, I can assume you know exactly who I am?” The man said curtly and Myungjun nodded, feeling slightly unnerved at his voice.

“I came today to scout out new talent and watch you fight. I’ll have to leave disappointed it seems.” His father said coldly. The criticism dug deep but Myungjun held back his tears, not wanting to show this man any weakness.

“It wouldn’t be the first time you left.” He said back harshly and batted Jinwoos hand away that was tapping his shoulder.

“True.” The man said unbothered. “I had hoped you would have inherited some of my fighting ability naturally at least, but you performed poorly out there. You’re just like your mother, allowing your emotions to get in the way.” His eyes flickered to Jinwoo behind him. “I will be here to observe the matches left, over the next two days, so we’ll see just how good you really are.”

Myungjun blocked Jinwoo from view again. “Why do you care so much anyway?” He seethed through gritted teeth.

“I’m your father Myungjun.” The man said simply, but Myungjun cut him off.

“You’re not my father! I don’t have one, I never did. You stopped being my father when you decided to leave me.” Myungjuns voice finally cracked at the end but his father didn’t soften. In fact, he begun to look angry.

“You’re ruled by your emotions Myungjun. You’ll never be strong if you carry on this way.”

Jinwoo finally stepped up with a frustrated growl and pulled Myungjun back to face the man himself. “Myungjuns emotions make him human, if he had to stop being human to become strong, he’d lose the best part of himself, or even worse, he’d end up like you.” Myungjun would have laughed at the look of shock that crossed his father’s face, but he was still too angry and allowed Jinwoo to pull him away.

They sat by the lake as Myungjun ranted about the man who was supposed to be his father and Jinwoo wiped his tears when he cried.

“I’m so sorry Junnie.” Jinwoo said quietly. “He’s made me realise that maybe no parents are better than terrible ones.” Myungjun hummed in agreement before moving over to sit in between Jinwoos legs. He leaned his back against Jinwoos chest and felt Jinwoos arms move to wrap around his waist. They stayed like that, looking over the water until Myungjun sat up in shock.

He turned back to look at Jinwoo. “You beat me! You should be in there fighting in the next round. You could even win!”

Jinwoo just shrugged with a smile and pulled him back against his chest. “I don’t mind Junnie. I’d rather be out here with you. Even though you had to see your father, I don’t regret coming out much.” His voice was light, hinting at the kiss they’d shared and Myungjun whined in embarrassment. For the second time that day, he wished the ground would just swallow him whole.

*

Myungjun woke up in a tangle of bodies. Rocky had won the title of best fighter in the singles match and they’d all celebrated with him, in the storage room Myungjun and Jinwoo had first slept beside each other in, until the early hours of the morning. It was the only place they could think of where they wouldn’t get caught and they had snuck in a feast that Moonbin and Rocky swiped from the kitchens.

Someone had their head on Myungjuns stomach, and he looked down to see it was Hoseok who was sleeping peacefully. He had his own head pillowed against Jinwoos arm and pushed someone’s long leg from their chests when he moved to sit up. The room seemed a lot smaller with everyone in it and he heard a few sleepy grumbles as he made his way outside. He stretched out his aching limbs with a sigh and thought about the day ahead. It was the 2v2 matches today and he felt even more excited knowing he was going to be fighting alongside Hyungwon. It was what he had trained the hardest for. He went back into the room to shake everyone awake as they needed to refuel with breakfast.

Jinwoo whined and tried to pull him back down into a hug. It took all of Myungjuns restraint to say no and not be sucked in by the tempting warmth. Jinwoo was quick to get up when he heard Myungjun squeal above him and he watched as Hyungwon dragged him from the room by the back of his shirt.

“Go and have a shower first Junnie you stink.” Hyungwon said wrinkling his nose before sniffing his own clothes. “Ew, I stink too. Let’s meet in the hall in 20 minutes for breakfast.”

Myungjun raced across the grounds, not wanting to be late and scrambled up the ladder to his treehouse. He was enjoying the way the hot water soothed his aching muscles when he heard banging on the bathroom door.

“Get your butt out of there Hyung. Me and Joon need to shower as well and we’re running out of time!”

Myungjun scrubbed himself clean as quickly as possible before pulling a fluffy towel around his waist and stepping out. “It’s all yours.”

Youngjae dragged Namjoon into the bathroom and shut the door behind them.

“Youngjae I am NOT getting into that shower with you!”

“We don’t have time, stop complaining. Here let me help you.”

Myungjun laughed when he heard Namjoon scream. The panicked boy burst from the bathroom with his glasses askew and his shirt half off. Youngjae poked his head out with a sigh. “Fine, but I’m going to take a bit longer so don’t moan at me if you have to take the worlds fastest shower.” He shut the door with a click.

“Anything is better then getting naked in front of that boy.” Namjoon grumbled, pulling his shirt back on properly. Myungjun agreed before getting dressed. When he was finished, he said his goodbyes before racing back across the grounds. The hall was buzzing with energy again and Myungjun felt himself getting excited. He sat down next to Hyungwon, who had already plated him up some food, and ate eagerly.

“Slow down Junnie or you’ll choke to death.” Hyungwon scolded him lightly. “You can’t die just yet; I need you so I can compete.” Myungjun nudged him lightly with a pout and Hyungwon laughed. “I’m just kidding, how are you feeling today? Ready to fight with me?” Myungjun nodded happily and finished his food. They left quickly to make their way down to the arena and Myungjun felt a blow to his good mood when he saw his father sitting in his usual seat, glaring his way.

“We have to win today.” He said to Hyungwon fiercely.

“That’s the idea.” Hyungwon said, ruffling his hair fondly. “Just do it how we practiced, and we should be fine. Just remember the pole…”

“…is a two-handed weapon for a reason.” Myungjun recited perfectly. “It hits two ways so watch both ends.”

“Exactly, we’ll be fine. Let’s just watch and see how everyone else does today.” The arena filled up around them and Myungjun watched as the head of the academy stepped out to talk again.

“Welcome everyone, to the second day of the Academy’s Best Fighter Competition. Todays match will be two on two, weapons allowed but no magic. Let me repeat that if you break the rules you will be disqualified. I hope you all trained hard and can show your full potential here today. Good luck!” Mr Bang moved back up into the stands to take a seat with the other adults and the crowd clapped politely.

“Kim Namjoon and Jung Hoseok.”

Myungjun watched as Hoseok made his way down the steps to stand by himself in the middle of the arena. He was looking around nervously until the door crashed open and Namjoon came running in, apologising profusely with his hair still wet from his shower. Hoseok said something to Namjoon looking annoyed but they both stopped to listen when their opponents were announced. Two scary looking boys made their way down towards them and Myungjun was surprised to see Hoseok smile. Myungjun would definitely not be smiling if he had to face them. They towered over Hoseok trying to look intimidating, but the boy just smirked before saying something that made them angry. Namjoon seemed a bit worried as he picked up his pole but Hoseok patted him on the back encouragingly and he smiled.

The horn sounded and Myungjun gasped as the two bigger opponents advanced on Hoseok at the same time. Whatever he had said to them had provoked them into aiming for him. It seemed to be his plan however, as he spun away laughing and dodging their attacks, allowing Namjoon to advance on them from behind.

“A diversion tactic.” Hyungwon observed, sounding impressed. “That will go down well with the judges.”

Myungjun watched in awe as the two brutes fell into their trap and cheered as his friends were pronounced as the winners a few minutes later. He watched in awe, as the students he learned alongside, fought and fell with vigour and it made him anxious for his turn. He wanted to get out their and expend his pent-up adrenaline. They were called up as one of the last matches and Myungjun raced from his seat excitedly.

He picked up his pole and faced his opponents, a sullen looking boy and girl who whispered furiously between themselves. Hyungwon gave him an encouraging smile and stepped up first when the horn sounded. The crash of wood on wood was a lot louder down here and Myungjun winced as the sound battered his ear drums. It was his least favourite part of fighting with these weapons.

He dodged the pole that was swung as his head and felt his heart skip a beat as it brushed past his ear, dangerously close. He let his body move on autopilot as he spun around to stand back to back with Hyungwon like they’d practiced. They fought well like this, making their opponents circle around looking for an opening, which neither of them were willing to give. Myungjun suddenly remembered the nightmares he’d had where his parents were fighting back to back and he couldn’t help the way his eyes moved up to where his father was sitting. The man was still glaring at him and the distraction cost Myungjun his weapon. He felt it being flung from his hands as the sullen girl grinned his way.

“Hyungwon I lost my weapon.” He said, feeling annoyed at himself. He felt Hyungwons presence disappear but didn’t have time to look as the girl swung her pole towards him again. It thudded against his palm painfully as he reached out of block it. She attacked ferociously and Myungjun tried to block them all with his arms until they felt like they were going to break. The crowd cheered at something behind him and he just hoped it wasn’t Hyungwon who had fallen. He felt extremely vulnerable at his back, but it didn’t last long as Hyungwon stepped around him swiftly and knocked the girls pole away harshly. She stumbled and finally looked around to see her partner down.

“Get your weapon Junnie, I’ll hold her off.” Hyungwon said before advancing on her. Myungjun looked around frantically to locate where it had fallen, the sound of wood on wood spurring him on. He saw it just behind the girl and could have cried. He tried to go around but she saw and lunged towards him.

“Excuse me, I wasn’t finished.” Hyungwon said, mocking offence, before knocking her legs out from under her. She landed with a yelp and watched as her weapon rolled away to bounce off of Myungjuns shoes. She rolled over with a frustrated sigh and surrendered as Hyungwon pressed one end of his weapon to her throat. The horn sounded and Myungjun ran over to Hyungwon and jumped into his open arms. He wrapped his legs around his waist as Hyungwon spun them around laughing.

“Junnie I think you should let go; your boyfriend is glaring.” Hyungwon said when they finally came to a stop.

“He’s not my boyfriend.” Myungjun scowled, before quickly getting down and looking up to see Jinwoo looking away. He smiled to himself before rushing up to see him.

“JinJin we won!” He said happily and sat down in the empty seat next to him. Jinwoo looked over at him and smiled.

“You did, well done. Let me take you to the infirmary area outside, your arms look terrible.”

Myungjun looked down in surprise to see bruises already blossoming over them from the girl’s relentless attacks and he whined in pain when he realised just how much they hurt.

“Next time try not to get distracted. I don’t want to see you lose your weapon and get attacked like that again. I was ready to jump in there and strangle her myself.” Jinwoo muttered angrily as he led Myungjun outside, with a hand sitting gently at the base of his spine.

Myungjun let the healer wave her hands over his arms and the pain started to fade, much like it had done when Mrs Ko treated him back at the guesthouse. He thanked her before making his way back inside the arena to watch the start of the next round. He sat next to Jinwoo and snuggled up to him, enjoying the way Jinwoos fingers gently ran through his hair.

“Chae Hyungwon and Kim Myungjun.”

Myungjun sat up in shock to look at Jinwoo. “How can they make you go again?” Jinwoo asked angrily, standing up to look towards the adults in the stand. “You’ve only just been!”

Myungjun watched with a sinking feeling in his stomach as his father sat back down in his chair. Fine, Myungjun thought irritably, if you want me to fight again so soon, I will. He pulled away when Jinwoo tried to hold him back with promises that he’d speak to someone about letting him go later, and descended the stairs determinedly. He met Hyungwon at the bottom and nodded quickly when he asked him if he was okay enough to fight. Myungjun quickly explained about his brief trip to the healer as they picked up their weapons and Hyungwon sighed in relief.

“Park Jimin and Kim Taehyung.”

Myungjun bowed respectfully to the two boys when they stepped up and found he couldn’t return Jimin’s smile this time. He sent him a quick apology as the horn sounded and rushed forwards to meet him. He didn’t get far, as Taehyung, who Myungjun came to realise was his friend TaeTae, stepped in his path and took the blow.

“Sorry.” Taehyung said, flashing him a boxy smile. “I can’t let anyone hurt Jiminie.” He swung his weapon around, spinning it between his fingers and Myungjun knew he wouldn’t be able to block in time. He closed his eyes and waited for the blow that never came. Instead he heard a horrible snapping noise as Hyungwon intervened and blocked the blow with his now broken pole.

“Sorry.” He said coldly. “I can’t let anyone hurt Junnie.”

The smile slipped from Taehyungs face. “It doesn’t look like you have much of a choice.” He said looking down at Hyungwons weapon. This time Myungjun did see the swing coming and had time to block as Taehyung turned on him, kicking Hyungwon away.

The crowd cheered as they fought viciously, defending their friends. Myungjuns pole connected with Taehyungs ribs and Jimin screamed as he fell with a grunt. Myungjun looked up to see Hyungwon tackle Jimin to the floor and went to do the same to Taehyung but the boy was already up again. They met in the middle, wood crashing loudly, and Myungjun used the new position to knock Taehyungs feet from beneath him with a sweep of his leg. Myungjun fell with him and yanked the weapon from his hands before discarding his own. He tried to hold him down, but Taehyung thrashed wildly throwing him off. They stood up to face each other, circling each other slowly. Myungjun gestured for him to attack and dodged his punch with a laugh. Taehyungs foot connected with his stomach a second later and he fell heavily onto his hands and knees.

“TaeTae watch out!” Jimin shouted. Myungjun was in too much pain to look up but heard bodies hit the floor beside him. Hyungwons blonde hair flashed in the side of his vision and he heard him growl, it sounded feral.

When he’d caught his breath, he got up shakily on his feet to see Hyungwon choking Taehyung in a headlock on the floor. Taehyung hit the ground three times signalling surrender and the horn sounded loudly.

Chapter Text

Myungjun was angry. More then angry, he was furious. He helped Hyungwon to his feet and looked up at his father in the stands who was smirking down at him. He didn’t seem shocked when Myungjun stormed across the arena towards him.

“Where are you going?” Hyungwon called out but got no reply.

Myungjun ascended the steps and stopped in front of the man, shaking with rage. “Why did you make me fight again so quickly?” He asked through gritted teeth. “I know it was you who told them to call me.”

His father looked at him lazily before standing up to tower above him. “You should be thanking me. I did you a favour. You disgraced yourself in the first round, allowing yourself to lose your weapon to a girl.” Myungjun flushed at the thought. “I was giving you a chance to redeem yourself, but it seems you couldn’t even do that right. Now go and rest before the next round and try not to embarrass yourself any further.” He turned around and left Myungjun to stew until he felt a pair of hands pulling him away.

He let Jinwoo take him outside and flopped down onto the grass feeling exhausted. Jinwoo sat by his head and looked down at him with a small smile. “You did good.” Myungjun hummed in acknowledgment before closing his eyes.

“Let me nap JinJin.” He said tiredly. “I don’t feel like being awake right now, wake me when its my turn to fight again.”

*

He woke sometime later, to Jinwoo shaking him urgently. “Junnie get up its time to go.” Myungjun shot up fast and scrambled to his feet.

“Who are me and Hyungwon-hyung fighting?” He asked rushing to the doors. Jinwoo didn’t say anything and just followed him inside. Myungjun walked up to see Hyungwon and Youngjae already waiting with their weapons. “I’m fighting you?” Myungjun asked incredulous and turned to look at him. Jinwoo just nodded awkwardly before handing him his weapon.

“Good luck.” He said quietly before getting into position.

Myungjun cursed the judges. He needed to win to show his father he could, but it would be near enough impossible to win against Jinwoo. The horn sounded and Youngjae stepped up to take on Hyungwon, leaving Jinwoo to fight Myungjun. They looked at each other for a few seconds, not moving until Hyungwon shouted at them. Myungjun snapped out of it and flicked his wrist fast to block Jinwoos blow. He pushed him back and advanced on him instead.

He’s not Jinwoo, just another enemy, Myungjun kept telling himself, I won’t win if I think of him as Jinwoo. He swung the pole around as hard as he could, and it cracked loudly against Jinwoos arm. He grunted in pain and backed away. Myungjun didn’t stop, he couldn’t stop. He lunged at him and hit him over and over again. Jinwoo tried to block but his arm was giving him problems.

He’s not Jinwoo, just another enemy. He’s not Jinwoo, just another enemy. He’s not Jinwoo, just another enemy. Myungjun snarled at the boy in front of him and Jinwoo looked up with fear in his eyes. “Myungjun what-"

He didn’t get a chance to finish before Myungjun reached down to pull Jinwoos legs from under him. Jinwoos head hit the floor with a sickening crunch but Myungjun didn’t stop, he couldn’t stop. That wasn’t really Jinwoo, it was his father below him and he punched him in the face, over and over again until two pairs of hands pulled him back.

“MYUNGJUN WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?” Hyungwon shouted, stepping round to face him. “Hold him properly Youngjae.” He commanded as Myungjun struggled against his hold. He felt a sharp pain in his arms as they were pulled harshly behind his back and Myungjun kicked and screamed trying to break free.

“I’m sorry Junnie” Hyungwon said. “This is for your own good.” The last thing Myungjun saw was Hyungwons fist before everything went black.

*
He came around sometime later with a groan. His head hurt like hell and when he tried to open his eyes, he nearly threw up from how fast the room was spinning.

“Hyung?” Someone spoke up quietly beside him, and he moaned in response, not feeling ready to form words yet. “Hyung can you hear me?” Another moan.

“Bloody hell, how hard did you hit him?”

“Hard enough so he’d stop freaking out and trying to kill us all.”

What the hell were they talking about? Myungjun wouldn’t try to kill anybody. He tried to say as much but his words came out mumbled.

“What was that?” Hyungwon asked, leaning over to hear better. “Say it again Junnie.”

“Where am I?” Myungjun asked instead, focusing hard to get the words out.

“The infirmary in the academy.” Hyungwon said. “Had to take you here after you lost the plot, what the hell was that anyway you idiot? You nearly killed him.”

Myungjun managed to open his eyes slowly to look up at them in confusion. “What are you talking about?”

“Oh great, how convenient is that.” Hyungwon said with a groan, rubbing a hand over his face. He looked tired and stressed and Myungjun wanted to make sure he was okay but struggled to sit up. Youngjae was quick to help him and propped up his pillows for him. Myungjun leaned back with a sigh, waiting for the room to stop spinning.

“What’s the last thing you remember Hyung?” Youngjae asked anxiously, peering into his face. “Please tell me you remember us.”

“Of course I remember you.” Myungjun said, what a ridiculous question. “The last thing I remember… asking Jinwoo to wake me up after I took a nap. I was tired.”

“You don’t remember anything after that? At all?” Youngjae asked, sounding even more worried. “Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure.” Myungjun said beginning to feel irritated. “Why am I here anyway and why does my head hurt?”

“You tell him.” Youngjae said to Hyungwon, getting up quickly from his chair. “I don’t want to be here when you do.”

“Yah you brat, get back here!” Hyungwon shouted at his retreating back and turned to look at Myungjun with a frustrated sigh. “Well I might as well just tell you; it won’t be any easier if you hear it from anyone else. We went into the next round and had to fight Jinwoo and Youngjae. I thought everything was fine until I had Youngjae pinned to the floor and looked up to see you going absolutely nuts and ripping Jinwoo off his feet. I heard his head hit the floor and thought that was bad enough, but you didn’t stop, just climbed on top of him and hit him like it was the only thing that mattered. You didn’t even calm down when we pulled you off and I had to get you to stop somehow, you looked like a wild animal for crying out loud. So I punched you, sorry.” He finished not sounding apologetic at all.

Myungjuns eyes widened as Hyungwon relayed the story. Little fragments of his memory came back to him and he really felt like he was going to be sick this time. He leaned over the bed and let it all out as Hyungwon rubbed his back. Fear gripped at his heart as he remembered Jinwoos face when he was pulled from him.

“Where is he?” Myungjun asked, struggling out of the bed on shaky legs. “Take me to him right now, I have to make sure he’s okay!”

“He’s fine, get back in the bed Myungjun, you need to let the nurse check you over first.”

Myungjun pulled away from him. “No!” He shouted, looking up at him with tears in his eyes. “I don’t care about being checked over, I care about Jinwoo, take me there now or I’ll look for him myself.”

Hyungwon saw the determination in his eyes and sighed. “Fine, last time I checked he was down in the Infirmary tent near the arena. They didn’t want him to come up here with you in case you…yeah.”

In case I hurt him again, Myungjun thought with self-loathing. He was quiet as he let Hyungwon lead him outside. He clung to him feeling weak at the knees as they got closer to the tent.

“Are you sure you want to do this right now?” Hyungwon asked him quietly when they stopped. Myungjun nearly said no, too scared to see the way Jinwoo would look at him, but the need to make sure he was okay was stronger and he nodded his head. They pushed the tent flap open to step inside and Myungjun saw Jinwoo laying in one of the beds with his eyes closed. He approached him cautiously and gasped softly at the sight of his face up close. His bottom lip was split and bruised, his right eyebrow looked even worse and he had some sort of tape over his nose.

“Jinwoo I’m going to fix your nose now.” The healer said walking up to the bed, looking at a medical chart in her hands. She looked up in surprise at Myungjun before narrowing her eyes in suspicion. “You shouldn’t be here.” She said sharply. Myungjun looked down to see Jinwoos eyes snap open. He didn’t miss the fear that flashed across them when Jinwoo looked up at him but didn’t get a chance to speak before he was being ushered out of the room.

“Jinwoo!” He called out, trying to look over the healer’s shoulder as she moved him closer to the tent door. His heart squeezed painfully when Jinwoo rolled over in the bed to turn his back to him. “I’m sorry Jinwoo please!” he stumbled backwards out of the tent, feeling more upset then he had been upon entering. The healer warned him not to come back in or she’d call security and turned to go back inside. Myungjun tried to follow her but was pulled back by Hyungwon.

“Stop it Junnie, you’ll just get into more trouble. Lets just sit down under this tree and wait for him to come out.” Myungjun did as he was told and curled up against Hyungwon feeling awful. He fell asleep after a while and woke to Hyungwon shaking him.

“Junnie, I went to see if he was finished yet, but he’s disappeared. Just go back to your room to sleep it’s getting late.” Myungjun only left after double-checking the tent and walked slowly to the forest with a heavy heart. Why had he snapped like that and hurt Jinwoo in such a way? He felt like crying again but waited until he was under his covers and away from prying eyes to do so.

*

Myungjun heard from Youngjae at breakfast that Jinwoo had dropped out of their team for the group match so their whole team had been disqualified. He searched every inch of the academy and its grounds looking for him after that, until realising he just didn’t want to be found. Myungjun skipped lunch and dinner and didn’t bother going to watch the 5v5 matches that day.

*

The rest of the week went painfully slow as Myungjun tried and failed to find Jinwoo. He eventually stopped attending classes all together and chose to stay in his room, only nibbling at the food Youngjae and Namjoon bought up to him.

*

Monday came again and Myungjun was getting ready to spend another day in bed when someone knocked sharply on their door. He ignored it and hid under the covers.

“Myungjun you have five seconds to open this door and invite me inside politely before I kick it in and drag you out less politely.” Grove said calmly, counting down the seconds before the door swung open to reveal the dishevelled looking boy. “I’m glad you made the right decision.” Grove said happily and followed Myungjun inside.

Myungjun sat back in bed and pulled his legs up to his chest. He gestured for Grove to sit down and felt the bed dip slightly from the added weight.

“You have not been attending class Myungjun.” Grove said and waited for Myungjun to explain himself. He didn’t, so Grove sighed before talking again. “You can’t stay in here forever. I know why you are upset but you cannot use it as an excuse to skip class. You will fall behind, and it will be too hard to catch up.”

“I hurt him.” Myungjun said sadly. “He’s scared of me now. I can’t go back to class and have him look at me that way.”

“He will continue to look at you that way until you sort things out. Jinwoo is getting the exact same talk from Blaze as we speak. He seemed to think the best course of action for your friendship was to skip class too.” Myungjun felt sad at the thought of Jinwoo holing himself up in his dark room. “You don’t even have any classes together today, so I want you to attend them all. Failure to do so will result in detention and I don’t want to have to do that to you. I expect to see you showered and ready to leave in the next ten minutes. I will step outside to wait for you.” Grove stood up and walked to the door. “Now Myungjun.”

Myungjun heard the door click shut and sighed. He didn’t want to leave but he didn’t want detention either, so he hauled himself off the bed to go for a shower.

He was out of the door in seven minutes and Grove smiled down at him happily. “Good, lets go.” He walked Myungjun all the way down to herbology and left him with another warning about detention if he didn’t stay. Myungjun ignored everyone who looked his way and went to sit beside his patch of flowers. They all looked sad at the lack of attention he had given them over the past week, and he spent the whole two-hour lesson trying to make them feel better.

He almost felt like himself again when he left herbology. Youngjae and Namjoon approached him warily but he gave them a small smile to let them know he was okay. He didn’t see Jinwoo at lunch or dinner but knew he would be attending his classes too. He had Zoology last and cheered up as they moved onto the topic about dragons. He got a lot of the questions right, after handling his own for his assignment, and the teacher praised him highly. He left the clearing feeling relieved at getting through the day but came to a stop as he noticed Jinwoos figure, standing in the place they usually sat together by the lake.

Hyungwon came up behind him and nudged him forwards. “Go Junnie, it looks like he’s waiting for you.” He nodded dumbly before walking across the grounds towards him. Jinwoo watched him approach looking tense and Myungjun stopped about a metre away, just staring at him quietly. The silence was suffocating and Myungjun knew he had to speak first.

“Are you okay?” He asked before quickly backtracking. “No, I didn’t mean that, of course you’re not okay. That was a stupid question, sorry.” The words spilled out of his mouth fast. “I’m not sorry about that, I mean I am sorry about that but I’m more sorry about what I did to you. And by that, I mean what happened in the arena, if you don’t remember. Wait of course you remember that’s why you’ve been avoiding me, and I totally understand why you’ve been avoiding me, I’ve been avoiding me too. And you. Not because you did anything wrong but because of how I knew you’d look at me. Does that make me a coward? Of course it does. Have I said I’m sorry yet?” He finished weakly as Jinwoo stared at him, eyebrows raised.

“Once or twice.” Jinwoo said quietly and Myungjun laughed before remembering the situation they were in and finished with an awkward cough.

“Your face looks better.” Myungjun pointed out when the silence got too much again. “Which is no thanks to me of course. Why would I even say that? I’m sorry.”

“Why did you do it?” Jinwoo finally spoke, his voice sounded sad and Myungjuns heart clenched painfully. “Why would you hurt me like that? I know we had to fight but you took it too far.”

Myungjun bit his lip hard as he looked down at the floor. “I don’t know why. I wish I had an answer to give you, but I don’t. I’ve thought about it myself, but I can’t even remember much of what happened to begin with. I remember hearing the horn and watching you, waiting for you to make the first move and then Hyungwon shouting and its like something switched inside me. I wanted to show my father I could win; show him I wasn’t useless and that he should regret leaving me and my mother in the first place. I just ended up hurting you instead.” Myungjuns voice cracked and he let himself cry. “I don’t care about what he thinks anymore, I care about you and how much I hurt you. I know I’ve ruined things between us, and I know you don’t like me anymore. I just want to say that I’m sorry, so so sorry for being the worst friend to ever exist.”

“You’re an idiot.” Jinwoo said quietly and closed the distance between them to make Myungjun look at him. “My feelings haven’t changed about you just because you punched me in the face a few times. Yeah, I’m upset with you and pretty angry if I’m going to be completely honest, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like you anymore.”

Myungjun let his words sink in and it just made him cry harder. “I couldn’t find you all week, so I thought you hated me!” Jinwoo just sighed and pulled him into a hug.

“Will you stop crying because it’s making me feel guilty and I want to apologise now, even though I shouldn’t.” He said grumpily, rubbing circles into Myungjuns back. Myungjun didn’t stop crying for a long time, but when he did, he pulled away to look at Jinwoo with puffy eyes. Jinwoo scanned his face before wrinkling his nose.

“You look positively disgusting.” He said, wiping the snot from Myungjuns nose with his sleeve. “Remind me why I like you again?” He laughed as Myungjun whined at his teasing and pulled him back in for another hug. “That was the worst week of my life Junnie. Let’s not fight again, I don’t think my heart can take it.” Myungjun made a noise of agreement and pulled him closer.

“I missed you.” Myungjun said quietly, feeling himself get emotional again just by thinking about it. “It felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest and crushed into a million pieces.” Jinwoo hugged him tight before leaning back to place a hand on Myungjuns chest.

“It’s still in there I promise. We just need to look after it better from now on okay? No more fighting and especially no more punching me in the face.” He laughed again as Myungjun tried to pull away from him, face flush with embarrassment.

“JinJin stop teasing me.” He whined. “Can we just forget about it?”

Jinwoo pretended to think about it for a few seconds before giving in at the look on Myungjuns face. “Okay we can forget about it. On one condition.” Myungjun groaned dramatically making him laugh. “Kiss me.”

Myungjun didn’t need to be told twice.

Chapter Text

“Myungjun if you sigh one more time, I’m going to ram that book down your throat.” Hyungwon said irritably, running a hand through his hair.

“I can’t help it. This is so boring.” Myungjun whined, looking down at his history and law homework. He had to write a 1000-word essay on the history of runes. He’d only written a few sentences and they’d been in the library for over an hour now.

“Homework isn’t meant to be fun Junnie.” Hoseok said from the floor by their table. He was stretched out across the carpet, flicking through his textbook and making notes.

Myungjun just sighed again and pulled his book away when Hyungwon moved to grab it. He didn’t fancy choking on a book today thanks. He managed to write a few more sentences in the next hour before giving up completely.

“I’m going to go and enjoy the sunshine; I can’t sit here much longer.” He said getting up and bidding them farewell. He exited the library and wandered down a few familiar corridors before coming to a stop at the sound of voices, one of which he’d recognize anywhere. They were coming from the room that students usually had their practical skills lessons in. He opened the door quietly and peeked inside to see Jinwoo standing in the middle of the room talking to Hyejin, the pretty fire girl, who Myungjun was sure Jinwoo had said he didn’t like.

“I never thanked you.” Jinwoo said. “The advice you gave me back then came in handy. I might not have made it very far, but I didn’t end up naked at least.”

Myungjun watched in confusion as Hyejin laughed and reached out to touch his arm. “I’m just glad you didn’t tell the others, or we’d both get into trouble.”

“I hate lying to Myungjun though.” Jinwoo said quietly. “If he found out he’d freak out.”

“Yeah but you had a good reason.” Hyejin said, rolling her eyes. “You might not have been with him for the trip to Voredan but at least you met me there right?” she laughed again, leaning forwards flirtatiously to tug at the hem of his white shirt. “I didn’t see you bring this in before.”

Jinwoo looked down at the shirt and frowned. “Oh crap, I wore the wrong one, let me go and change.”

Hyejin stopped him from leaving. “We don’t have time Jinnie, just take it off.”

Jinwoo mumbled something that Myungjun couldn’t hear and Hyejin laughed. “Sorry, I wouldn’t want to make your boyfriend mad.”

“He’s not my boyfriend. We’re just friends.” Jinwoo said. “But honestly, I don’t want to be friends with him anymore.”

“Tell him that then.” Hyejin said sounding bored. “Can we hurry things up a bit? We’ve been meeting up secretly for a while now and haven’t gotten very far, so take your shirt off and let’s get started.”

Jinwoo sighed before lifting it up to reveal the tan skin of his back. His muscles flexed as he pulled it off completely and discarded it across the room. “What if someone sees us?” he asked sounding worried.

Myungjun froze as Hyejin looked towards the door and noticed his presence, her eyes widening slightly. She quickly composed herself, and with a smirk, looked back at Jinwoo. “No-one will see us.” She closed the distance between them and ran her fingers down Jinwoos chest. Myungjun decided he’d seen enough. He slammed the door shut before running down the corridor, with tears burning angrily in his eyes.

Jinwoo was lying to him. Jinwoo ditched him to go to Voredan last year with her instead. Jinwoo didn’t want to be friends with him anymore. Jinwoo had been meeting her secretly for a long time. Jinwoo was comfortable taking his clothes off in front of her and was worried about people seeing them and let her touch him like that. Everything Myungjun had heard and witnessed spun around in his head, taunting him. He’d been an idiot to think Jinwoo ever liked him. It was clearly all a lie he’d made up to trick Myungjun. Why? Myungjun didn’t know, he just knew he needed to get as far away from them as possible.

He ran until he was out of the academy doors. Then he ran some more, across the grounds and into the forest. He’d forgotten to use his magic to open up the way to his room, but he didn’t want to go back. He just ran deeper into the trees until his lungs were burning, and he couldn’t go any further. He spotted a low hanging branch and pulled himself up onto it. He climbed a little higher before leaning back against the tree trunk and pulling his knees up to his chest. His heart ached terribly, and he wished he hadn’t heard. He’d be clueless about Jinwoos betrayal but at least he wouldn’t be in so much pain.

“…JUN.” He heard Jinwoos voice from somewhere behind him and closed his eyes, trying to block him out. He didn’t want to see him, and he didn’t want to talk to him.

“MYUNGJUN.” He was closer this time and Myungjun clamped a hand over his mouth to muffle the noise.

“Myungjun, I can hear you crying.” Jinwoos voice was softer now and Myungjun looked down through the branches to see him approach the tree, looking around in confusion.

“Go away Jinwoo.” Myungjun said angrily. There was no point hiding anymore if Jinwoo could hear him. Jinwoo looked up in surprise before sighing.

“Are you going to come back down so we can talk or am I going to have to climb up?”

Myungjun didn’t say anything, he just buried his face in his knees and ignored him. He heard Jinwoo climbing up towards him, shoes scraping against the bark, mingled with soft grunts of exertion. The branch he was on dipped slightly at the added weight but held them both steadily.

“Junnie will you look at me?” Jinwoo asked quietly. Myungjun shook his head. “Please look at me, I think there’s been a misunderstanding.”

Myungjun looked up to glare at him. “I know what I heard; I know what I SAW. You’re a liar Jinwoo, so where’s the misunderstanding?” He watched as Jinwoo squirmed uncomfortably under his gaze.

“I did lie.” He said quietly. “and I’m sorry.”

“You’re sorry?” Myungjun asked, voice laced with disbelief. “That’s all you can say?” Jinwoo looked away and it made Myungjun angrier. “How long?”

“How long since what?” Jinwoo asked sounding confused.

“How long since you’ve been seeing Hyejin?”

“I met her in Voredan.” Jinwoo said quietly. “But I’ve been regularly seeing her since the dungeon run.”

It felt like Myungjun had been stabbed in the heart again. Jinwoo had been seeing Hyejin since Voredan and leading him on, making Myungjun think he was the one Jinwoo liked instead. He didn’t think he’d ever get over this.

“Why?” Myungjun asked, voice cracking. “Why would you do that to me? I trusted you.”

Jinwoo looked up sadly and tried to reach over to touch him but Myungjun slapped his hand away.

“Don’t touch me.” He seethed. “Don’t touch me with the hands you’ve used to touch her, it makes me sick.”

“Don’t be stupid Myungjun, I can’t help having to touch her. How else am I going to learn?” Jinwoo asked, sounding annoyed.

“Learn about what? How much you like her?”

“What the hell do you mean? You know I like you.”

“STOP LYING.” Myungjun shouted, frustration pouring out of him. “You don’t like me, if you liked me you wouldn’t sneak around behind my back, taking off your clothes and letting her call you Jinnie and touch you like that! You told her I wasn’t your boyfriend and that you didn’t even want to be friends with me, so do us both a favour and get lost you absolute jerk.” Myungjun swung around on the branch and jumped off, landing on the ground with a thud. He needed to get away from him, his magic was boiling at the surface and it wouldn’t be long before he snapped. He didn’t get far and nearly screamed in frustration as Jinwoo jumped down and ran over to pull him back.

“You’ve got it all wrong Myungjun.” He said desperately. “Please just listen to me. Let me explain myself.”

“I don’t want to listen to you! You’ll just lie to me again and I don’t want to hear it.”

“I won’t lie to you again I promise. If you don’t like what I have to say, then I’ll let you leave, but please just give me a chance.” Jinwoo sounded like he was on the verge of tears and it made Myungjun weak. He hated it when Jinwoo cried.

“Fine.” Myungjun said sharply, yanking his arm out of Jinwoos grip. “Why did you lie to me about Voredan? You said you were sick, but you went to meet her.”

Jinwoo took a second to gather his thoughts. “I had to lie, I needed to visit an enchanter without you knowing, to get your Christmas gift finished and to get some of my clothes enchanted. The glass flower I made you only blooms when you touch it because it’s been enchanted. That’s why I asked you to see if it works, I was worried it wouldn’t. I bumped into Hyejin there by chance.”

Myungjun thought about the glass flower sitting beside his bed, he’d always wondered how it bloomed. “Why did you need to get your clothes enchanted?” Myungjun asked, curiosity overtaking his anger slightly. “I’ve never heard of that being done before.”

“Neither had I until that day. When I saw Hyejin she had her own pile of clothes being done and I asked her what they were doing. She told me that they were making her clothes fire proof because her fire magic always destroyed anything she wore. I never knew that could happen because I never used my magic after what I did to my parents.”

Jinwoos painful memory softened Myungjun a little but he wasn’t ready to admit it. “Well what did she mean about you both getting into trouble?”

“She told me about the dungeon run examinations after overhearing Blaze talking about it to Zephyr. If I told anyone else about it and Blaze found out, we would have been in trouble. It wasn’t supposed to be announced until February after all, they would have thought we were cheating or something. Hyejin advised me to get some clothes enchanted too whilst I was there, as I’d be using my magic properly during the exam and I’m glad I listened. It would have been embarrassing to wake up naked because I incinerated my clothes.” He looked down at his feet, ears bright red.

Myungjun was beginning to realise that maybe he’d misunderstood after all and stood there uncomfortably, waiting for Jinwoo to finish.

“I was in the practice room just now because I wanted to thank her for giving me the advice about my clothes. I was also in there because she’s been helping me learn how to use my magic. I always said she was overconfident with her magic but that’s just because she’s good at using it. I didn’t want to ask her for help, but she didn’t seem so bad after telling me about the exams early, so I took a chance and I’m lucky she agreed. She’s really helped me improve and I owe her a lot. The only reason I took my shirt off back there is because it’s one that hasn’t been fireproofed yet and I didn’t exactly want to incinerate it during practice. I did tell her I’d go change, but like she said we didn’t have time. A class was going to be using that room soon.”

“So you would have taken off all of your clothes then because you didn’t have time?” Myungjun asked huffily.

“Of course not, look at my shorts, I wore these in the dungeon remember? These are fireproof. If I had picked up the wrong shorts too, I would have insisted that I went to change, no matter how little time we had left to practice.”

Myungjun looked down and saw he was telling the truth. It made him feel worse. “She called you Jinnie. I didn’t like it.” He knew he was being childish now, but he couldn’t help it.

“That’s the first time she’s ever called me Jinnie and I told her not too because I only let you call me nicknames.” Jinwoo said with a sigh. “Is there anything else you want me to explain?”

Myungjun was about to say no before remembering the one thing that had upset him in the first place. “You told her you didn’t want to be my friend. Why would you say that?” he asked sadly, kicking at the dirt beneath him with the tip of his shoe.

“It’s not that I don’t want to be friends with you. It’s that I don’t want to be JUST friends with you.” Myungjun let the words sink in and flushed. He was such an idiot; how could he ever think Jinwoo didn’t like him? Myungjun felt relieved after hearing his explanation and couldn’t help the laugh that escaped. Jinwoo looked up in surprise. “You laughed.”

“I didn’t.” Myungjun said defensively and quickly went back to scowling. “She still touched you in that disgustingly inappropriate way after seeing me standing there and you just let her.” He crossed his arms and glared at him, almost daring Jinwoo to deny it.

“I didn’t let her you idiot. If you’d stayed for one more second you would have seen me push her away.” He finished talking before narrowing his eyes in suspicion. “Wait…’disgustingly inappropriate’? Myungjun are you jealous?” he asked incredulously and laughed as Myungjun turned bright red. “I can’t believe it you’re actually jealous! That’s so cute.”

“I am NOT jealous at all Park Jinwoo so stop laughing. I wouldn’t get jealous over something so petty.” He turned to walk away but Jinwoo stepped in front of him.

“Aww you’re so cute when your jealous, I think I like you even more now.”

“Go AWAY Jinwoo.” Myungjun said, trying to cover his blushing face.

Jinwoo cooed and tried to pull his hands away. “You’re even cuter when you’re flustered.”

“I hate you.” Myungjun said with no real malice. Jinwoo just laughed it off anyway.

“I like you a lot too Junnie. Can we be boyfriends now?”

“Go and ask Hyejin to be your boyfriend.” Myungjun replied childishly.

Jinwoo just rolled his eyes. “I don’t want to, she’s not as pretty as you…wow you’re blushing even more. Do you like it when I call you pretty?” Myungjun would rather die then admit that yes, he very much liked it. Jinwoo smirked knowingly at his silence and reached over to gently hold his face. “Junnie you’re so pretty, I need to look at you up close.” He said as he studied Myungjuns face, looking at every detail before faking chest pains and collapsing dramatically on the floor.

“Stop you’re so embarrassing.” Myungjun whined, looking around to make sure they were definitely alone. “Jinwoo why are you on the floor?”

“Help me Junnie! I’ve fallen in love and I can’t get up!” Jinwoo choked out, clutching his chest with one hand and making grabbing motions toward Myungjun with the other.

“I can’t believe I like you.”

Chapter Text

Myungjun woke up, surrounded by warmth and sighed happily as he snuggled further into Jinwoos chest. It was a Monday morning and Jinwoo had snuck Myungjun into his room again the night before. He loved having sleepovers with Jinwoo. They were fun and exciting and always ended with Myungjun waking up in the best mood possible. Today was no different.

He looked up to see Jinwoo sleeping, lips parted slightly as he snored. Myungjuns heart fluttered as his eyes roamed Jinwoos face. He looked so vulnerable and at peace, it was a lot different to how he usually looked. Myungjun reached up to trace the faint scar he’d left on Jinwoos eyebrow and then moved down to trace the scar on his lip. He still felt incredibly guilty whenever he looked at them, but he knew Jinwoo forgave him. Jinwoo stirred at the touch and smiled sleepily.

“G’morning cutie.” He slurred; voice laden with sleep. He pulled Myungjun closer and pressed a kiss into his hair. “Did you have a good rest?”

Myungjun hummed happily before pulling away to sit up, careful to keep contact with Jinwoos magic so the room wouldn’t disappear around him. He still had flashbacks to falling into the lake after Hoseok let him go. It had been a shock to say the least. He stretched out with a groan and looked down fondly at Jinwoo, who was falling back to sleep.

“Wake up JinJin, we’ll be late for class.” Myungjun said, giggling when the sleepy boy pouted and whined, trying to get back under the covers. “No JinJin, no more sleep. Get up.”

“Don’t wanna Junnie.” He grumbled and pulled him back down for a hug. “Let’s just skip class today.” It was a tempting idea. The thought of staying in bed where it was cosy and warm, where he could cuddle Jinwoo all day and probably steal some kisses. He wanted it more than anything, but he knew they’d just get into trouble.

“Jinwoo we can’t.” Myungjun said with a laugh. “Get up now or I’ll never sleep over again.” Jinwoo sat up as fast as his tired body would let him to scowl at Myungjun.

“You bribe me too much.” He said sulkily, before pulling Myungjun from the bed so they could get changed. They still hadn’t found a good way to do this considering they couldn’t let go of one another. After a few bumps and giggles they were done and Jinwoo pulled Myungjun in to kiss him gently. “Let’s go.”

Jinwoo opened the door quietly and looked left and right before hurrying Myungjun through the corridors. The fear of being caught always gave Myungjun a rush. They passed some students who eyed them suspiciously but didn’t say anything when Jinwoo glared their way. They turned down the last corridor, tasting freedom and came face to face with a surprised Blaze.

“Detention.” He said sternly.

*

Myungjun scrubbed out the last cauldron before sitting back with a groan. He’d been scrubbing all of the cauldrons from the last alchemy class and they’d brewed potions with something that stank. It was hard work, not only on his nose but on his back too. It was aching and he stood up shakily to place the last clean cauldron on the shelf.

“You may go.” Mr Song, the alchemy teacher, told him before turning back to the parchment he was marking. “Don’t get into trouble again Myungjun, I don’t wish to oversee another detention.”

Myungjun mumbled an apology before slipping from the room. He wondered where Jinwoo was and how he was doing. They had detention in separate places and Myungjun had been annoyed at that. He knew they deserved it for breaking rules, it was dangerous to sleep in the same room as a growing fire user, they were housed under the Academy for a reason, but that didn’t stop him from complaining when they took Jinwoo away.

He trailed back to his room in the forest and took a well-deserved shower. When he was sure he’d washed away all the smell, he got out, dried and dressed before Namjoon and Youngjae came in.

“Well good luck Joonie.” Youngjae said, patting Namjoon on the back. “He’d be an idiot to say no.”

“What’s going on?” Myungjun asked, fluffing his hair with a towel.

“I’m going to ask Seokjin to be my boyfriend.” Namjoon said nervously. “I’ve spent lots of time with him since he asked me to the ball last year and I really like him.” Myungjun saw the tips of his ears turning red and he cooed as he moved over to give him a hug.

“I’m happy for you Namjoon. Youngjaes right, he would be an idiot to say no. When are you going to ask him?” Myungjun pulled back to let him answer and saw Namjoon smiling gently.

“Tonight, I asked him to meet me where he asked me to the ball.”

“That’s so sweet!” Myungjun squealed, reaching up to ruffle Namjoons hair. “If he says no, I will personally find and beat him up okay?”

Namjoon laughed and pushed him away lightly. “You have more chance of being beaten up Hyung, have you SEEN his shoulders? They’re so broad and muscl…” Myungjun tuned his ramblings out as Youngjae crept over to him.

“Namjoons going to be ranting about Seokjin for the next twenty minutes, so let’s get into bed and leave him to it.” Youngjae said, looking back at Namjoon who was still talking, eyes glazed over and looking into space.

Myungjun followed Youngjae to his bed and asked him if they could sleep together for the night. Youngjae didn’t even think twice and let him in under the covers so they could cuddle. He reached up to turn the light off and plunged the whole room into darkness.

“…and his eyes, wait guys I was talking!” Namjoon said sounding offended. Myungjun and Youngjae giggled under the cover until they heard Namjoon sigh and the door to their room opened and closed.

Myungjun snuggled up to Youngjae and sighed happily. Youngjae smelt different to Jinwoo, he smelt earthy and it comforted Myungjun greatly. Youngjae pulled him closer and dropped a gentle kiss to his forehead.

“Let’s go to sleep Hyung.” He mumbled tiredly and soon enough both boys fell into their dreams.

*

“Namjoon didn’t come back last night.” Youngjae gossiped around the table at breakfast.

“He could get into trouble!” Dongmin said shocked. “He’ll get detention if he gets caught.”

“Sometimes the detentions worth it.” Jinwoo said, sliding his hand under the table to hold Myungjuns. He gave it a quick squeeze before going back to eating his food. Dongmin eyed the movement of his arm suspiciously but didn’t comment on it.

“What classes do we have today Junnie?” Jinwoo asked, when everyone had gone back to discussing Namjoon.

“I have alchemy with the water users first, then communications and combat training with you.” Myungjun replied with a smile. “Let’s meet here for lunch and go to class together.” Myungjun knew they did this all the time anyway, but he still enjoyed the thrill of making plans with Jinwoo, no matter how small and insignificant they were. Jinwoo just nodded and got up to leave for his zoology class with Sanha.

Myungjun left ten minutes later with Hyungwon and they made their way to alchemy, discussing what topic they were moving onto next. When they were seated, the teacher called for their attention and began to speak.

“Now students, we have two months left until your final examinations. You will have one practical exam and one written exam for this class. In the practical exam you will be asked to brew a specific potion in a limited timeframe. This will test how well you work under pressure and give an indication of your brewing skill level. The written exam will cover everything you have learnt over the course of this year, so I hope you made good notes to look back upon.”

Myungjun looked down at his book happily. His notes were neat and pretty because he found this class important and wanted to note every little thing he was taught. He grimaced when he thought back to his history and law notes, which were presented very differently.

“Today we are going to recap some of our earlier topics to refresh your memories. So, I would like you all to open your textbooks and turn to page 34.” The sound of rustling paper filled the room as everyone found the right page. “Now class, let’s begin.”

*

In communications, the boys were still trying to get a read on each other’s emotions. Myungjun was holding onto Jinwoos hands tightly and focused on making his mind strong. When he felt ready, he tried to push past the iron defence of Jinwoos mind, searching for any indication of his true feelings. He had asked Jinwoo to make his mind vulnerable, with the hope it would make things easier, but that didn’t seem to be working either. He was ready to give up when a faint feeling of warmth slowly spread across his chest. He could tell this was Jinwoos emotion as it didn’t feel natural to his body and he pulled away with a gasp. He opened his eyes to see Jinwoo watching him carefully.

“Did you feel anything?” He asked, sounding hopeful and leaned forwards eagerly to listen.

Myungjun allowed a grin to grace his face as he nodded. “I felt you Jinwoo, it was a warmth in my chest.” Jinwoo blushed lightly and sat back with a shrug.

“I guess you did a good job, my chest is feeling pretty warm right now.”

“Yeah, you must feel warm all the time because of your fire magic, but that’s not an emotion though.” Myungjun mumbled confused.

“It’s not because of my magic.” Jinwoo sighed. “My chest is warm because I was thinking about you.” He laughed as Myungjun squealed and hid his face behind his hands.

“Stop saying things so casually like that.” He whined, looking through his fingers at Jinwoo. “It always catches me off guard.”

“What? I can’t tell my boyfriend that I like thinking about him?” Jinwoo smirked and leaned over to pull Myungjuns hands away.

“I’m not your boyfriend.” Myungjun grumbled before pushing him away and getting up. The teacher had told them the lesson was over, so he made his way to the door with Jinwoo clinging to his back.

“Be my boyfriend Junnie.” Jinwoo whined in his ear and Myungjun shivered as it tickled. “You like me, don’t you?”

Myungjun sighed and continued walking, trying to detach Jinwoos arms from around his waist. “I do like you but that doesn’t mean I want to be your boyfriend.”

Jinwoo let go and stepped in front of him, stopping him from going any further. Students filed past them but Jinwoo only had eyes for Myungjun as he frowned. “Why not? I like you, you like me, that usually equals boyfriends.”

Myungjun wanted to brush it off and tell him he didn’t want to be boyfriends with someone so annoying, or something equally childish but he decided to just go with the truth. “You never sound serious when you ask me, it always sounds like a joke and I don’t want my first relationship to start like that.”

Jinwoo looked at him in shock. “Your first? Junnie you’ve never had a boyfriend before?” Myungjun flushed and pushed past him to join the sea of students making their way to dinner. He got halfway down the corridor before Jinwoo was pulling him back. “Don’t ignore me.”

Myungjun whined and turned to glare at him. “So what if I’ve not had a boyfriend before? Neither have you.”

“Yeah but I’m different to you. You’re…you.” Jinwoo finished lamely, gesturing at Myungjun as if it explained everything.

“Exactly.” Myungjun said sharply. “I’m me, which is why I’ve never had a boyfriend before. I’m short and ugly and I don’t have a nice body like you and the others.” He felt his insecurities claw at him and jolted in shock as Jinwoo grabbed him firmly by the chin to pull his face up.

“Yah! Don’t you ever talk about yourself like that again.” Jinwoo scolded, anger radiating from him. The few students who were left around them hurried away, expecting Jinwoo to lose control any second.

“Jinwoo what are you-“

“No Myungjun, shut up and let me talk.” Myungjun nodded weakly, eyes wide and feeling slightly taken aback at Jinwoos sudden display of dominance. “I can’t believe those words just came out of your mouth. You’re so far from being ugly it makes me want to laugh. You’re gorgeous, stunning, the prettiest boy I’ve ever seen and the fact you think anything different astounds me.” Myungjun felt his face heat up and he tried to pull away but Jinwoo kept a firm grip on his chin to hold him in place. “You have such beautiful eyes that sparkle every time you laugh and it makes me weak. Whenever you get flustered you turn the prettiest shade of pink, the same colour as your lips and it makes me want to kiss you all over.” He leaned forwards to kiss Myungjun gently. “and so what if you’re short? I’m short too, it just makes it easier to kiss you without breaking my neck trying to look up at you.”

Myungjun giggled at his dramatics and let Jinwoo kiss him again. He finally let go of Myungjuns chin and kissed him where his fingers had left marks, muttering apologies. His hands moved down to Myungjuns hips and gave them a squeeze. “Your body might not be muscular like mine but that doesn’t mean it isn’t nice. I like your soft stomach its cute, your hips too. Everything about you is perfect the way it is. I’d touch it all day long if you’d let me.” He wrapped his arms around Myungjuns waist and pulled him flush against his body to whisper in his ear. “Please don’t ever say such hateful things about yourself again, it upsets me.”

“Okay, I’m sorry. I can’t help it; I just feel that way sometimes.” Myungjun said quietly.

“Well you shouldn’t.” Jinwoo replied firmly. “Now let’s go to dinner.” He grabbed Myungjuns hand and pulled him to the hall.

*

Myungjun sat through dinner, mind drifting to what Jinwoo had said and he couldn’t stop smiling. No one had ever complimented him so fiercely and he knew Jinwoo meant every word he said, which just made him even happier. After he’d finished his food, he didn’t try to stop Jinwoo when he put more on his plate.

“We have combat training next; you need to get your energy up Junnie.” Jinwoo said with a smile and watched fondly as Myungjun ate.

They left soon after and made their way to the combat centre where class was already underway. Myungjun looked around to see students practicing with a different weapon.

“Dual swords!” Jinwoo said, voice laced with glee as he dashed across the room to the weapons rack. He pulled two down and handed them to Myungjun. They were a lot lighter than the wooden poles they’d gotten used to. They had leather handles for a better grip and the wooden blade seemed fragile, as it was thin and sharp, like a real sword. Myungjun swung them experimentally and they made a satisfying swishing noise as they cut through the air. He eagerly stepped up onto the nearest mat and looked around to see Namjoon block a particularly hard hit from Youngjae. He half expected the wood to snap, but it didn’t. Must be magically enhanced, Myungjun thought before getting into position.

He bowed politely to Jinwoo and let him make the first move. They fought hesitantly for the first half of the lesson, getting used to the new weapons, before Myungjun called for a break. He was sweating from how much more he could move without the usual weight of the wooden poles and needed a drink.

He poured himself some water, from the jug on the table at the side of the room, and drank some greedily before sliding down the wall to sit on the floor and catch his breath. Jinwoo sat next to him and he took the opportunity to lean against him.

“Junnie, I’m going to leave early today.” Jinwoo whispered and Myungjun looked around in surprise.

“Why? Are you not feeling well?” He asked worriedly and tried to get a good look at his face. Jinwoo just laughed and pushed him away gently.

“I’m fine, there’s just something I need to do. Will you meet me at midnight by the edge of the forest?”

“JinJin if we get caught, we’ll get detention again.” Myungjun whined, thinking back to how much his back hurt scrubbing all those cauldrons.

“We won’t get caught.” Jinwoo promised. “It will be worth it, please say you’ll come.” He begged Myungjun with his eyes until the older boy gave in.

“Fine, see you later.” Myungjun said defeated, as Jinwoo got up to leave. He drained the rest of his drink before getting up to fight one of the wooden dummies at the end of the room.

*

Myungjun made his way quietly through the trees. Grove didn’t patrol the forest often at night, but he wanted to make sure he was quiet just in case. He heard a twig snap under his feet and stood there frozen, waiting to hear Groves voice telling him he had another detention. It never came, so he quickly moved on. He sighed in relief when he saw Jinwoos shadow, hovering nervously at the edge of the forest. He jumped when Myungjun materialised in front of him, but managed to stay quiet as he took his hand and moved them swiftly along the tree line, until he found what he was looking for. It was a little path that Myungjun hadn’t seen before and they walked in silence through the forest until they came to a stop in front of a thick hedge row.

“We have to crawl from here.” Jinwoo said, his voice shockingly loud in the quiet forest. Myungjun saw him drop to his knees and crawl underneath a small opening in the bush. Myungjun followed closely behind, wondering where they were going and gasped in awe as they made it to the other side. The trees were a lot thinner here and the moon shone down prettily onto the surface of a pond. Jinwoo took his hand and led him over to sit on one of the flat rocks beside it.

“How did you find this place JinJin?” Myungjun asked quietly, looking around and drinking in the ethereal sight. Little patches of flowers littered the floor around them and Myungjun watched in awe as a group of fireflies hovered lazily over the surface of the pond, seemingly undisturbed by their presence.

“I found it when I was looking for a place to hide during our fight.” Jinwoo said with a sad smile. Myungjun reached over and traced the scar on his eyebrow.

“I’m sorry JinJin.” He said quietly, guilt flooding through him again. Jinwoo caught his hand and pulled it down into his lap.

“I already forgave you remember. You weren’t yourself when it happened, so stop apologising.” He let go of Myungjuns hand to reach into his jacket pocket. “I have something for you Junnie, close your eyes.”

Myungjun raised his eyebrows in surprise. Why was Jinwoo giving him a gift? He closed his eyes quickly and felt Jinwoo tie something behind his neck a few seconds later. There was a heavy warmth at his neck, and when he was allowed, looked down to see a pretty pink gemstone. The necklace was almost identical to Jinwoos except the colour and the shape. Where Jinwoos was black and green and circular, Myungjuns was pink and carved into a heart. He reached up to stroke it with a soft gasp.

“Its beautiful JinJin.” Myungjun said, with the strangest urge to cry. Jinwoo reached forwards and pulled Myungjun into his lap. Myungjun wrapped his legs around Jinwoos waist and hugged him tight. “Thank you, I love it.”

“Junnie, will you look at me?” Jinwoo said quietly and waited for Myungjun to pull back. “I listened to what you said earlier, I really heard what you were trying to say. I know you might not have believed me when I asked before because I never asked seriously enough, but I’ll be serious now. More serious than I’ve been in my life because I’m serious about you, about us.” Myungjun knew what he was going to ask and held his breath.

“Myungjun I know you have your insecurities and your worries, but I want to be there always to soothe them and make them disappear. I want to be the one you come to when you’re sad or happy or scared. I want to be able to kiss you in front of our friends without worrying what they might say or give you my clothes to wear without them asking questions about it. I just want to be able to call you mine Junnie. I really really like you and I promise I’ll look after you. Do I have to ask formally? Why do I feel nervous now bloody hell…Kim Myungjun will you- oh wow Junnie look!“

Myungjun didn’t need to look, he’d felt his magic building as he listened to Jinwoo talk. His heart felt like it was going to explode, so he had expelled his magic instead. The petals rained down above them, fluttering gently. Myungjun did look up in shock however, when he noticed something had changed. His petals were no longer yellow, they were a vibrant, rich red. He looked at Jinwoo, who was staring around in awe.

“Yes.” He whispered and Jinwoo quickly looked down at him. “Yes Jinwoo, I’ll be your boyfriend.”

He expected Jinwoo to shout with joy and kiss him. What he didn’t expect was for Jinwoo to burst into tears. “JinJin why are you crying?” He asked panicked and grabbed his face to wipe them away.

“I’m happy.” Jinwoo said, through choked sobs. “I’m so happy you said yes.”

Myungjun opened his mouth to reply but shut it when Jinwoos face suddenly changed. He looked at Myungjun with fear in his eyes. “Move Junnie, get away from me!”

Myungjun felt the heat rolling off of him in waves and quickly unwrapped his legs from Jinwoos waist. Jinwoo pushed him straight into the pond and Myungjun opened his eyes under the water to see a bright green light illuminating everything above the surface. He waited until it had died down before kicking his way to the top. The pond had been a lot deeper than he’d expected and he broke through the surface of the water with a gasp, lungs burning from holding his breath for so long.

He felt Jinwoos hands grab him strongly under the arms and he was pulled out onto the grass. Or what was left of it. “JinJin, your fire.” Myungjun said with a cough. “It’s changed like my petals!” He opened his eyes and rubbed the water from them when he heard no response. “JinJin?”

“Over here.” Jinwoo said, hiding behind one of the trees and poking his head out.

“What are you doing over there?” Myungjun asked, struggling to his feet and wringing out his shirt. He moved to walk over to him but Jinwoo stopped him.

“WAIT! Don’t come any closer.” Jinwoo said sounding panicked. “I was wearing the wrong clothes, they weren’t fireproof.”

Myungjun had never laughed so hard in his life.

Chapter Text

Myungjun walked out of his history and law exam with a groan. It was by far the most boring exam he’d done but luckily it was his last, not including the last dungeon run of his first year. He would be attempting the dungeons again in a weeks’ time and he couldn’t wait. He knew they would do much better this time around and was excited to see how far they could get with proper preparations.

Myungjun made his way to the hall for dinner and slipped into the seat next to Jinwoo. He whined loudly, looking for attention and squealed when Jinwoo poked him in the ribs.

“You’re supposed to give me the good kind of attention.” Myungjun pouted. “That’s not the good kind.”

“What is the good kind Junnie?” Jinwoo asked with a smirk. “This?” He leaned forwards to kiss him but before their lips touched, Sanha shrieked and slammed his plate down.

“Stop it Hyungs, we agreed no kissing at the table!” Myungjun looked up to see Sanha grumpily stabbing his food and he pushed Jinwoo away.

“Yes Jinwoo, we did agree so stop it.” He said cheekily, earning himself another dig in the ribs, with Jinwoos elbow this time.

“Brat.” Jinwoo mumbled under his breath but Myungjun could see a smile tugging at the corner of his lips.

“I’m so glad exams are over.” Hoseok said, sitting down. “My hand is going to fall off with the amount I’ve had to write this past week.” Myungjun made a noise of sympathy and reached across the table to take Hoseoks wrist gently and massaged it for him. “Thanks, Junnie.” Hoseok groaned, feeling the pain recede.

Jinwoo cleared his throat obnoxiously beside them and Myungjun leaned back with a sigh.

“The jealous boyfriend act doesn’t suit you Jinwoo.” Hyungwon said, sitting down on Myungjuns other side and pulling him in for a cuddle. “Junnies ours as well you know.” Myungjun giggled and snuggled into him as Jinwoo huffed beside him.

Myungjun had told them all of his and Jinwoos relationship, the day after they’d gotten together, and he was glad everyone had been happy with the new development. It wasn’t like much had changed anyway. Except they’d kissed during breakfast one morning and Sanha had screamed like he was being murdered. So, the new rule had been put in place of no kissing at the table.

Present day Myungjun pulled out of Hyungwons embrace to finish eating his food. He excused himself from the table and rushed from the hall. He wanted to go to the library to study some more on useful plants that he could take into the dungeon.

Jinwoo found him curled up on one of the reading chairs, surrounded by books, half an hour later. He moved some out of the way and sat on the arm of the chair, looking down at Myungjun as he scribbled notes onto a roll of parchment.

“What are you doing Junnie?” Jinwoo asked, reaching over to run his fingers through Myungjuns hair. Myungjun sighed happily at the attention and put the roll of parchment down.

“Making extra preparations for the dungeons next week. I want to help as much as I can so we can get a really high score.”

Jinwoo smiled and gestured for him to stand up. Myungjun did, confused at Jinwoos request and watched as Jinwoo moved off the arm of the chair to sit where Myungjun had been sitting. He patted his lap, gesturing for Myungjun to sit on it and he did, wrapping his arms around his neck and kissing him softly.

Someone made a noise of disgust behind them and Myungjun turned to see one of the older year boys walking away from them shaking his head. Myungjun flushed and hid his face in Jinwoos neck. He knew that making his and Jinwoos relationship public would come with some backlash from other students who weren’t so…accepting, but it still hurt whenever someone would act negatively towards them. He didn’t realise he was trembling until he felt Jinwoo rubbing a soothing hand up and down his spine and shushing him gently.

“Do you want me to go beat him up?” He asked and Myungjun pulled back with a small laugh.

“No JinJin, its okay. I don’t want you getting detention again.”

Jinwoo had already landed a detention once, after getting into a fight with a group of guys who had cornered Myungjun after one of his classes. They’d been nasty and called him names. One even went as far as using his water magic to drench Myungjun from head to toe in freezing cold water and he’d run to Jinwoo crying and looking for comfort. When Jinwoo had finally gotten Myungjun to talk about what happened, he had gone berserk and hunted the boys down before launching at them.

Zephyr, the air elemental leader, had caught them and used her magic to suspend them all upside down in the air until they calmed down. Then had given them all detention for fighting. Myungjun had thought it was extremely unfair and tried to argue his case but Jinwoo had shushed him after he was threatened with detention too. He always seeked out Jinwoo for comfort whenever something like that happened, but he made sure to hide the things that he knew Jinwoo would get mad about so he wouldn’t get into trouble again.

“I don’t care if I get detention.” Jinwoo said, sitting up higher in the chair. “If anyone makes you feel uncomfortable, I’ll make them regret it. I told you when I asked you to be my boyfriend that I’d look after you and I plan on keeping that promise.”

“You can’t look after me if you’re in detention though.” Myungjun pointed out and laughed when Jinwoo pouted. “Now get out of this chair and stop distracting me so I can go back to my research.”

Jinwoo whined and wrapped his arms tightly around Myungjuns waist. “Just sit like this and do it Junnie, I don’t want to move.” Myungjun sighed and adjusted himself so he was sitting in between Jinwoos legs, with his back against Jinwoos chest and he went back to making notes.

A few books later and he heard gentle snores coming from behind him. He looked over his shoulder to see Jinwoo sleeping. His hair was growing long and falling past his eyes so Myungjun reached back to brush the black strands away from his forehead. One more book and I’ll finish, Myungjun thought.

Two books later and he was fast asleep, leaning back into Jinwoos embrace.

*

“Let me help you with that Hyung.” Rocky said, coming around to face Myungjun and taking the leather straps from his hand. He reached around to wrap the new belt around Myungjuns waist and buckled it tight.

“How did you do that so quick?” Myungjun asked in awe. “There’s so many straps, it’s like a puzzle.”

“Guess I’m just good at puzzles” Rocky shrugged. “What weapon are you taking with you?”

Myungjun looked over at the weapons rack. They hadn’t been allowed to take weapons into the dungeon before because they didn’t know how to wield them properly, but today they could choose from what they’d been training with.

“I want the dual swords; it makes me lighter on my feet so I can help anyone who needs quick healing.” Myungjun decided and watched Rocky pull two down for him. Rocky was already wearing a harness, with one of the wooden poles strapped at his back, so he could pull it free when he needed it. Myungjun thought he looked really cool. He came back over to Myungjun and handed the swords over.

“I’ll strap the two scabbards for the swords by your hips so they’re easier to pull out. You’d struggle getting them off your back, its not as easy as it looks.” Rocky explained. Myungjun just nodded and watched his lithe hands get to work. When he was finished, he stood back up with a satisfied sigh.

“Let’s go find the others Hyung.” Rocky said, before offering his arm for Myungjun to slip his through. They made their way through the trees, chatting excitedly about the day ahead. Myungjun spotted the rest of their team waiting for them by the dungeon doors.

“Is it our turn next?” Myungjun asked, hurrying over.

“Oh, there you are.” Dongmin said, sounding relieved. “We wondered if you’d get here in time.”

“Sorry.” Myungjun mumbled. “I couldn’t get this stupid belt on.” He looked around to see everyone else’s weapon of choice. He was surprised to see that they all had wooden poles strapped to their backs like Rocky. “I’m the only one using the swords?” He asked looking around.

“You’re the only one here who needs to move quickly.” Jinwoo said with a shrug as he made his way over. “The rest of us want to hit harder. We spent more time training with these poles anyway so it’s just easier to use.” He quickly dropped a kiss into Myungjuns hair and turned around when the dungeon doors rumbled open behind them.

“Time to go!” Sanha said excitedly, and they made their way inside.

The doors closed behind them and Dongmin sighed. “I forgot it was so dark, find the wall everyone.”

“No need.” Jinwoo said and everyone but Myungjun gasped as vibrant fire lit up the darkness. Jinwoo used it to light the torches along the wall, throwing everything into a greenish hue.

“Wow, what the hell Hyung, your fires changed.” Moonbin said, but quickly scowled when Dongmin told him to watch his language.

They were able to see where they were going this time and made quicker progress. Myungjun wrinkled his nose at the familiar stench of the first floor and was ready for the wall to seal shut behind them. They moved out onto the floor, stepping over the murky rivers of sewer water and met the rats halfway this time. Rocky sent Rocky Jr ahead to distract them, allowing the boys time to pull the poles from their backs. Jinwoo spun his expertly through his fingers before swinging hard at the nearest rat. It connected with a sickening crunch and the rat collapsed lifeless.

Myungjun watched as Rocky Jr got pinned down by one and was saved by Moonbin who kicked it off of the struggling rock. It garbled something in its gravelly voice and Moonbin laughed. “No problem, I owed you one from the last dungeon run.”

Myungjun wondered how he’d understood what Rocky Jr had said but quickly shook his head clear of thoughts to focus on the fight. He couldn’t afford to get distracted like last time. He watched a rat creep up behind Jinwoo and set of running. He focused on bringing his magic to his palms and heaved his vines through the stone behind Jinwoo to create a wall between him and the rat. The rat squeaked angrily and tried to claw through but Myungjun got there first. He pulled his swords free and descended upon it. Even though the swords were wooden, they were still sharp and strong, so they could do a lot of damage.

“Myungjun what the hell are these vines?” Jinwoo asked when he finally looked behind him. He poked his head round the wall to see Myungjun deliver the final blow. Myungjun stretched with a groan and watched as blood ran down his forearm. The rat had scratched him and torn through skin.

“Myungjun you’re bleeding!” Jinwoo said rushing forward to grab his arm. “How bad is it? Do you have bandages?”

Myungjun pulled his arm away gently with a wince, it stung. “Go help the others JinJin, I’ve got this.” He pulled his vines back into the ground and pushed Jinwoo away to give himself some space. “Go now Jinwoo.” He commanded before pulling his vines back through the ground to create a shield around himself. He didn’t bother creating a roof, the rats couldn’t climb, and he needed the light. He reached down with his good hand to clumsily untie the pouch at his waist. He set it on the floor and rummaged through it to find the tub of paste he’d made the night before and some bandages. He quickly layered the paste on and hissed at the sting. Wrapping it in the bandage was a lot harder and took a while. The fighting died down around him and he pulled the vines back to see his friends looking down at him with worry.

“Are you okay Hyung?” Sanha asked and helped Myungjun to his feet.

“I’m fine.” Myungjun said, waving his dodgily bandaged arm around. “Can someone put my pouch back on my belt?” Rocky moved over immediately to help and Jinwoo tutted before pulling Myungjuns arm towards himself.

“How do you not even know how to bandage properly. You watch me doing it enough when I wrap your knuckles in combat training.” Myungjun pouted but let him re-wrap him before they moved towards the new opening in the wall.

They stepped into the boss room and eyed the giant rat warily as it growled their way. They knew they could make the first move, but it was still unsettling. Jinwoo quickly gave them commands and they spread out. Myungjun and Dongmin were told to strike first. They had to trap its legs so it couldn’t move from the beginning. Myungjun aimed his vines at the rats two front legs and Dongmin froze the vines solid, much like they’d done to the bug boss during the last dungeon run. It worked, the rat finally sprung to life and squeaked madly upon realising it couldn’t move.

Rocky held Rocky Jr back, probably still traumatised from what this boss had done to him before and they all watched as Jinwoo stepped up. Myungjun warned him not to use too much energy and Jinwoo smiled at him before bursting into green flames. He heard him chanting under his breathe and the fire moved down to his palms. Myungjun knew to cover his nose as Jinwoo cooked it alive. He stopped early, pulling the flames back into his skin and just watched as the boss took its last breath. Myungjun cheered and raced over to give Jinwoo a hug.

“You did it!” Myungjun said happily. “You controlled your magic so well, I’m so proud of you!” Jinwoo just laughed and gestured to the new opening in the wall.

“We should go, but first, let’s see who need’s a plant boost.”

*

The second floor was easy. Sanha used his newly improved air magic to blast the hive off the tree where it shattered into pieces. In the boss room, Myungjun was able to heave his vines through the floor to shield anyone who was in danger of being blasted with the numbing goo. Dongmin and Jinwoo blasted the boss from either side with their magic until it collapsed lifeless under double the power. Myungjun boosted their energy before walking down the steps to reach the third floor.

“Remember everyone, whatever you see is an ILLUSION. Don’t believe what you see. I read up about the creature that does it. It’s a trickster fairy, you need to break free from the illusion first before we can kill it. There could be one or multiple so let’s get this done quickly.” Myungjun explained before stepping into the room. He was back in the field and when he looked behind him, everyone had disappeared.

He saw his parents fighting back to back across the field and felt nothing as his father stabbed his mother in the back. He just waited patiently for the man to approach him and returned the favour of stabbing him straight through the heart with one of his swords. The illusion shattered and Myungjun saw the fairy in question squeak in fright. It tried to fly away but Myungjun knocked it from the air before crushing it under his foot. He looked around to see the others, standing eerily still around the room, staring into nothing. They each had a fairy hovering in front of their faces, casting their spells. Myungjun knew they had to break free from their illusions alone before he could harm the fairies in question and waited patiently. A noise to his right made him turn and he saw Rocky Jr racing around Rockys feet trying to swat the fairy away, but he was too short.

Myungjun had an idea and used his vines to create a little staircase for Rocky Jr to climb. The rock stumbled up the steps quickly and crushed the fairy in a stony fist. Rocky gasped and fell to his knees as the illusion was shattered. He looked up to see Myungjun offering him a hand and let himself be pulled to his feet.

“What happened?” Rocky asked, looking thoroughly confused. “I hadn’t found a way out yet.”

“Rocky Jr was your way out.” Myungjun said happily. “I noticed he wasn’t affected by the illusion and because he’s an extension of your magical energy he was able to crush the fairy that I couldn’t touch.”

Rocky crouched down to give Rocky Jr a hug and Myungjun looked up when he heard Jinwoo curse. He was sweating and shaking, trying to crush the fairy in front of him. Now the illusion was broken Myungjun could kill the fairy for him and he held Jinwoo up as he fell forwards.

“Junnie, boost me now. I don’t know how long I can hold on.” Jinwoo said weakly as Myungjun fumbled awkwardly for the pouch crushed in between their bodies. He pulled out a few wrong plants before finally finding the one he needed and shoving it into the tired boy’s mouth. He felt the strength return to Jinwoos body and when he thought it was okay, he pulled back to look at him properly.

“JinJin are you okay?” Myungjun asked, searching his face for signs of distress. “What happened in there?” Jinwoo just nodded before telling him they’d talk about it later.

“Moonbins out of the illusion.” Rocky called behind them and they turned to see Moonbin watching Dongmin carefully. Myungjun looked over, startled to see tears falling from Dongmins unblinking eyes. Moonbin moved over to touch him but Myungjun called out to stop him.

“Moonbin don’t! If you touch him, he could get seriously freaked in the illusion and might not be able to get out.”

“He’ll know its me.” Moonbin said, sounding surprisingly certain and leaned forwards to press a gentle kiss to Dongmins lips. To Myungjuns surprise, Dongmins eyes fell closed and he wrapped his arms around Moonbin with a sob. Moonbin reached up with one hand to crush the fairy that tried to fly away.

“Binnie.” Dongmin said weakly, pulling back to look at the pink haired boy. “You’re okay Binnie, thank the deity, I thought I’d lost you.” He cried some more and Moonbin pulled him into another hug.

“Shhhh Minnie, its okay. I’m okay, you’re okay it was just an illusion.” He rubbed his hands soothingly up and down Dongmins spine until he stopped crying. They pulled back to share a kiss that was so intimate that Myungjun had to look away, not wanting to ruin their moment. It was spoiled anyway as Rocky shouted out in panic.

“SANHA NO!” Everyone whipped around to see Sanha slowly sinking into the ground. “We’re losing him Hyungs, do something!” Rocky called desperately.

“Unless you want to try kissing him, we have to let him go.” Moonbin said with a frustrated sigh. “Whatever Sanha saw must have messed him up bad.”

Rocky hesitated before shaking his head. “Ew, no way am I kissing him, he’s a baby.”

“He’s 11.” Dongmin pointed out wiping his eyes. “Sanha’s not a baby, he’s only a year younger than you.” Rocky just scowled as they watched Sanha disappear.

The wall rumbled behind them to reveal the corridor to the boss room. Myungjun felt extremely uneasy about this one as they made their way towards the unknown.

Chapter Text

Jinwoo entered the boss room first and looked around. “There’s nothing here.” He said confused, before turning to look at the others. “You’re still here so it’s not another illusion…unless that’s not really you.” He narrowed his eyes in suspicion and Moonbin scoffed.

“Of course its us Hyung. Wait turn around!” Moonbin pointed to something in front of Jinwoo and he turned back to see a beautiful young woman materialise in the air.

“It’s a Riddler!” Dongmin said, sounding excited. “Look at the mark on her forehead. We have to solve a riddle to move on.”

When Myungjun looked closer he could see the circular symbol, and it began to glow as she spoke.

No legs have I to dance.
No lungs have I to breathe.
No life have I to live and die.
And yet I do all three.
What am I?

“What does that mean?” Moonbin asked confused. “How can you dance with no legs?”

“Wave your arms?” Myungjun supplied and made the gesture goofily until Rocky laughed.

“Stop messing around Hyung.” Dongmin chastised, holding back a smile of his own. “We need to think this through. It has no legs but can move, no lungs but it breathes and no life, but it can live and die. Maybe something unanimated? The undead? But it got its legs cut off or something?”

“Well go and guess that then, if you get it wrong, we’ll just try again.” Moonbin said with a shrug. The boys watched as Dongmin went to stand in front of the woman. He repeated his answer and screamed as the floor opened up beneath him.

“WHAT THE HELL!” Moonbin shouted, racing over to where Dongmin had disappeared. “Where did he go? Is he out? How is that fair?” He growled in frustration and launched at the Riddler. He bounced off an invisible shield and landed a few feet away with a grunt. “You old hag, give me back my boyfriend!” He shouted angrily before running towards her again. Jinwoo grabbed him by the shoulder and pulled him away.

“Stop it! We won’t get anywhere like this. He obviously got it wrong, so if he’s out then he’s out, calm down.” Moonbin yanked Jinwoos arm off his shoulder and went to sulk against the wall.

“We can’t get it wrong.” Myungjun said, beginning to panic. “If we all get it wrong, we’re out. We can’t fail here again! Our scores going to suck.”

“We won’t fail Hyung.” Rocky said, moving over to give his arm an encouraging squeeze. “We just need to think carefully about it. Can we hear the riddle again?” He asked, turning to the Riddler.

No legs have I to dance.
No lungs have I to breathe.
No life have I to live and die.
And yet I do all three.
What am I?

“What breathes but doesn’t have lungs?” Rocky wondered aloud.

They were quiet for a moment before an idea hit Myungjun. “I think I got it!” He said eagerly and the others turned to listen. “My flowers dance in the wind and they have no legs. They also breathe without having actual lungs.” He looked at their faces feeling excited but stopped when Jinwoo frowned his way.

“That’s true Junnie but your flowers do have life, right? You always talk about how they’re alive, so it can’t be the answer.”

“Well do you have any better ideas?” Myungjun sulked, feeling his excitement fizzle away.

“Maybe it’s the wind? I guess you could say the wind dances and breathes as it blows. I wouldn’t say it has life either.” Moonbin piped up from the side of the room and moved to join them. “Might as well give it a go. At least I’ll see Minnie quicker if I’m wrong.” No-one stopped him as he went to answer the Riddler and they looked on in disappointment when the floor opened up beneath him.

“This is too hard.” Myungjun whined. “We’re never going to get it.” They sat in silence for a long time, individually thinking about the riddle and throwing random guesses out to each other but nothing was piecing together quite right.

“Maybe you should just go and answer with your idea about the plants Hyung.” Rocky said to Myungjun. “It’s the best answer we’ve had.”

Myungjun looked over to where Dongmin and Moonbin had disappeared and shivered. He really didn’t want to go. Jinwoo saw his hesitation and sighed before getting up.

“I’ll do it Junnie. If it’s wrong, you better think of the right answer with Rocky and get to the next floor.” He smiled gently to ease the threat and stepped up to answer.

“Plants.” Jinwoo said boldly before cursing as the floor swallowed him whole. Myungjun groaned and hid his face in his hands. They were doomed. He laid back down on the floor and closed his eyes. He listened as Rocky Jr garbled on in the background until Rocky clapped his hands enthusiastically.

“Hyung I got it!” He sounded so certain that Myungjun shot up to look.

“What is it?” He asked, a spark of hope igniting in his chest.

“Well I was thinking about the types of magic. We already said plant and air but that didn’t work. Water wouldn’t make much sense either because I can’t imagine water breathing but FIRE Hyung.”

Myungjun laughed as he realised where Rocky was going with this. “Fire dances, it needs air like we need air but without lungs and its technically not alive. Rocky you’re a GENIUS!” He gestured for Rocky to go answer and the boy did so proudly. The Riddler accepted his answer with a smile and disappeared, revealing two different pathways.

“Two?” Myungjun asked confused but shrieked in joy when Dongmin, Moonbin and Jinwoo came stumbling out of one that closed behind them. “You’re not out!” Myungjun said, rushing over to give them all a hug. “Why aren’t you out?”

“If we all failed, we’d be out.” Dongmin said with a grin. “I guess it was a tactic to make the remaining ones nervous so they couldn’t answer properly either, very sneaky of them. What was the answer anyway?”

“Fire.” Rocky said happily. Jinwoo looked at him in surprise.

“Why didn’t I think of that?” He asked with a laugh and pulled Rocky into a hug. “Good job.” Rocky beamed when he pulled away and pointed towards the remaining opening.

“Should we go now?” They all agreed and rushed down the corridor, eager to face the next challenge.

*

The fourth floor was creepy, but they cleared it easily enough. Giant spider webs hung from floor to ceiling and Jinwoo used his magic to burn them all down. The spiders scattered at the fire and hid until it was over. They attacked afterwards but the boys were ready. They defeated them swiftly and moved on to the boss room. They made a plan before making the first move and brought the giant spider down. Myungjun gave them an energy boost before moving to the fifth floor.

“We’re getting the hang of this.” Jinwoo said confidently, as they moved out into what appeared to be a tropical jungle. “It’s warm in here, I like it.”

Moonbin made a noise of approval. “The airs moist, my water magic will work well in here.” They moved through the trees quietly, waiting to hear any sign of movement. Myungjun looked up into the trees to see vines hanging down. He reached up to touch one and hear the whispers. He wanted to know if these plants were fake too. His fingers brushed across them and he heard nothing. He sighed and went to move away before the vine hissed and fell to the floor. He screamed and jumped backwards, that was definitely not a vine, that was a very angry looking snake. The jungle was suddenly filled with hisses as the snakes rained down on them from the trees.

Myungjun pulled his swords free from the scabbards and started to defend himself. He’d never seen snakes so large and wondered if they’d been magically enhanced. He heard Jinwoo grunt behind him and turned to see him struggling to push one off of himself. It had fallen and crushed him under its weight. Myungjun dived towards him and stabbed his swords straight through the snake’s body. It turned to hiss menacingly at him and Jinwoo managed to get free before stamping on its head until its skull crunched.

“Thanks Junnie.” He said breathlessly before pulling his pole free from his back and swinging it towards Myungjuns head. Myungjun ducked just in time and Jinwoos pole connected with a snake that was dangling above him. “Sorry I should have yelled duck first.” Jinwoo said, pulling Myungjun away. They stood back to back and fought as many of them off as they could. It seemed to be never ending.

Rocky cried out in pain as a snake coiled around his leg and squeezed. Myungjun saw a bright light from the corner of his eyes and watched as Dongmins bolt of frost hit the snake and froze it solid. Moonbin raced towards him and used his wooden pole to smash the frozen snake to pieces. It broke away from Rockys leg and he fell to the floor with a gasp. His leg was purple and beginning to swell.

“I have to help him!” Myungjun yelled back to Jinwoo who was struggling to hold off his own snake. Jinwoo signalled for him to go and Myungjun felt heat at his back when he left. He rushed over to Rocky and heaved his vines through the soft jungle floor to create a shield around them. Rocky sat back with a whine and reached over to touch his leg.

“Stop.” Myungjun commanded. “It could be fractured. Give me your pole.” He held it against the floor at an angle and brought his foot down on the wood hard. It broke in half with a crack and Myungjun set to work on Rockys leg. He made a quick splint out of the broken pole and his left-over bandages. “Eat this for the pain.” He said to Rocky gently before handing him over one of his plants. “I’m sorry I can’t do anything more; you’ll have to wait until we get out of here. I can always knock you out if you want to go now?” He offered with a kind smile. “No-one will blame you if you want to.”

Rocky just shook his head and chewed on the plant, with barely contained pain written all over his face. “I’ll be fine hyung.”

They heard Jinwoo calling them through the vines. “It’s over guys, you can come out.” Myungjun pulled his vines back and Dongmin and Moonbin rushed in to help Rocky to his feet. Rocky assured everyone that he was fine and hesitantly put weight on his bad leg. His eyes widened in surprise and he looked up at Myungjun.

“It doesn’t hurt anymore, whatever you gave me has really worked. Thanks’ Hyung.” Myungjun smiled and looked around for the opening to the boss room. He spotted it through some trees and led the way. Rocky put an arm around Moonbins shoulders and let him help keep the pressure off his leg. Even though it didn’t hurt, it could still undergo further damage if he wasn’t careful. The stairs leading down to the boss room took a long-time as he could only hop down them one at a time.

Myungjun took the opportunity to talk to Jinwoo. “Hey how are you feeling? I’m sorry I left you alone back there, but I needed to make sure Rocky was okay.”

Jinwoo just smiled and pulled him in close by the waist. “Don’t apologise, its your job to heal for a reason. You did a good job Junnie, I think he’ll be fine for a few more floors at least. We could always just incapacitate him if he wants to go now though.”

Myungjun sighed and looked up the stairs to see Rocky hopping down another one. “I did offer but he’s so stubborn. He wants to keep going no matter what.”

“We all do.” Jinwoo said, guiding Myungjuns face back to look at him. “We have a giant snake to deal with now, so let’s get in there, make a plan and use our first move wisely, so we can move on as quickly as possible yeah?” Myungjun nodded and leaned forwards to kiss him.

They turned when Rocky sighed in relief as he reached the bottom. “Let’s go Hyungs, fight now and make out later.”

Chapter Text

They entered the boss room on the fifth floor and helped Rocky sit down against the wall. “I’ll use my magic from here.” Rocky said with a smile and patted the floor.

Myungjun heard Jinwoo making a plan with Dongmin and Moonbin and turned to look at the boss. The giant snake was slowly uncoiling from its place in the middle of the giant cavern. Its black scales glistening in the torchlight.

“Uhhhh guys?” Myungjun said slowly. The others continued speaking and Myungjun watched in horror as the snake turned its giant head to look at him. “Guys…guys listen to me…GUYS STOP IGNORING ME.” Myungjun shouted as the snake lunged his way. He dived to the side and the snake crashed into the wall. The walls shook from the extreme force and rocks crumbled from the ceiling.

“What’s going on?” Dongmin asked panicked, looking around to see Myungjun on the floor.

“If you guys actually listened to me, you’d know the snake was already moving dammit.” Myungjun cursed and rolled away as the snake lunged at him again, fangs bared.

“What happened to us making the first move?” Moonbin asked, standing still in shock. “We always make the first move.”

“HELP ME YOU BUNCH OF IDIOTS.” Myungjun screamed at them as the snake lunged and landed on top of him. He brought one of his swords up to block his face and the snake bit right through it, splintering the wood into pieces. He tried to struggle free, but the snake was too heavy, and he could hardly breathe.

He heard Rocky shouting something and suddenly Rocky Jr was standing over Myungjuns face protectively and taking the next bite from the snake. Myungjun felt hands under his arms and was pulled free from underneath its giant body. He looked up to see Jinwoo and Moonbin above him.

“Are you okay?” Jinwoo asked, bending down to look at him in worry. Myungjun scowled and climbed to his feet.

“No thanks to you lot standing there doing nothing! Next time listen to me Jinwoo, bloody hell.” Myungjun turned away from him angrily and watched as Dongmin blasted the snake with his ice magic. He got ready to distract it, from turning to attack Dongmin back, but was shocked to see the snake still only looking at him. It slithered around Rocky Jr and aimed at him again. He barely dodged it and ran across the vast cavern, luring the snake away from the others. Why is it only after me? Myungjun thought, fear fluttering in his chest. He heard it slithering behind him and chanced a look over his shoulder. The snake was closing the distance and he saw Jinwoos green fire licking against its tail, as he was too far behind to attack it properly. The snake didn’t seem affected and Myungjun screamed as it launched, covering the remaining distance between them, and sinking its fangs into his arm that was already bandaged from the rat scratch on the first floor. Pain shot through him and he stumbled to his knees.

He heard the others calling out to him from afar, but his head was spinning. The ground started to rumble as Rocky used his magic. An awful noise rang through the air as the ground was split open. Rockys magic had gotten much stronger since the last dungeon run, and he pulled the ground apart with ease. Myungjun looked back to see Jinwoo dive to the side, barely avoiding plummeting off the edge. He saw the crack shoot towards him next and he tried to yank his arm free. If the snake still had a hold of him when it reached them, he’d fall through it too. He used his free hand to clumsily pull his remaining sword from its scabbard and stabbed at the snake’s eyes. It let go with an angry hiss, but it was too late. Myungjun felt the ground give way beneath him and suddenly he was falling.

His arm flailed around, looking for some sort of grip and he cried out in relief when he found purchase on a rock that was sticking out. He heard Jinwoo shouting his name and Moonbin shushing him and telling him that Myungjun was out.

“I’M DOWN HERE.” He called out desperately, dangling from one hand over an endless abyss. He heard footsteps running over and looked up to see Jinwoos shocked face looking down at him.

“Junnie hold on we’ll get you!” He said panicked, looking around for something to help. “Help me guys I can’t reach him!”

“Your pole!” Dongmin said helpfully. “Let him grab it and we’ll pull him out.”

“I can’t.” Myungjun said through gritted teeth. His energy was giving out and his battered arm hung uselessly by his side. “I won’t be able to hold on, I can’t move my arm. I think the snake was poisonous.”

Jinwoo growled in frustration before being pulled away by someone and they muttered furiously. Rocky poked his head over a few seconds later and smiled down at Myungjun. “Hold on Hyung, I’ll get you out.” He placed his hands on the stone and his birthmark began to glow. Myungjun heard rumbling below him and a circular piece of ground rushed up to meet his feet. He let it carry him up to the others and Jinwoo pulled him to safety. Myungjun rolled onto his back with a groan and reached down into his pouch, he could feel the poison spreading across his chest and needed to find an antidote. He was glad he’d prepared for every situation.

Jinwoo saw him fumbling and opened it for him. “The purple one.” Myungjun croaked out. “Hurry Jinwoo.” He closed his eyes, trying to hold onto consciousness, until he felt something pressed to his lips. He forced himself to chew and groaned in relief as the poison receded. Jinwoo helped him to stand and looked down at his injured arm.

“Junnie it looks terrible, we need to get the old bandage off and wrap it again to stop the bleeding.”

Myungjun pulled his arm out of Jinwoos grip and walked away to check on Rocky. He was angry at Jinwoo and the others for not listening to him, they could have avoided this all together if they hadn’t ignored him in the first place.

He crouched down next to Rocky and pushed the boy’s sweaty hair from his forehead. “You shouldn’t have moved from the wall.” He scolded him lightly. “Did you walk over here?”

Rocky shook his head and winced as the pain relief plant he had taken before started to wear off. “I crawled here, dragged this stupid leg behind me. I hate being crippled.”

“Me too.” Myungjun said, looking down at his unmoving arm. “We seem pretty useless now right?” Rocky laughed tiredly and nodded. Myungjun moved back to inspect Rockys leg and was happy to see the splint still in place. What worried him the most, was the blood seeping through the bandages, and he sighed in frustration after realising he had no clean bandages left.

“We should just jump off the edge here and get proper medical treatment.” Rocky said jokingly, trying to lighten the mood.

“Don’t tempt me.” Myungjun mumbled. “I can’t re-wrap your leg Rocky, I’m sorry. I should have brought more bandages.”

“It’s fine Hyung, I’m okay. You need bandages more than me anyway, what are you going to do?” the younger boy asked, looking at his arm. Myungjun could feel the blood dripping down his fingers and tried to ignore it.

“Rocky do me a favour and rip the bottom of my shirt off. I need the material.” Myungjun said. “I’d do it myself, but I can’t really do it one handed.” Rocky reached forwards and was stopped by Jinwoo who came up behind them.

“Don’t ruin your clothes Junnie.” He said softly. “Take mine instead.” He moved to pull his shirt off but Myungjun ignored him.

“Rocky, rip it now, listen to Hyung.” Rocky looked torn between the two but decided to listen to Myungjun after seeing his stern expression. He ripped the bottom half of Myungjuns top off messily, the sound of tearing fabric filling the cavern and handed it to Myungjun, the tips of his ears burning.

“You’re stomachs exposed Hyung.” He said, avoiding looking his way. Myungjun just smiled at his bashfulness and moved to wrap up his arm.

“Let me do it Junnie.” Jinwoo said dropping down next to him. Myungjun tried to resist but he took the fabric from his hand forcefully. “Stop being stubborn Myungjun. I know you’re angry that we ignored you, and you probably blame us for getting hurt but your injury is more important then any of that. Let me wrap it, you know you’re terrible at bandaging anyway.” Myungjun snorted but let him take over.

Jinwoo worked quickly and quietly, apologising whenever Myungjun would flinch. When he was finished, he kissed the back of Myungjuns hand gently. “I’m really sorry Junnie, we should have listened to you. You’re right to be angry. I told you I’d protect you, but you ended up getting hurt anyway.” His eyes begged Myungjun for forgiveness and Myungjun gave in with a sigh.

“We’re sorry too Hyung.” Moonbin said cautiously, pulling Dongmin around into view. “We should have listened as well.”

“It’s fine.” Myungjun said, struggling to his feet. “We need to keep going. Help Rocky up so we can move on.” Myungjun looked around for the opening to the sixth floor and groaned. It was on the other side of the large chasm Rocky had made. He walked over to the edge and looked down; it was a long drop. He considered a running jump, but realised Rocky wouldn’t make it, so he thought for a few seconds before coming up with an idea. He’d never attempted making a bridge with his vines before but decided it was a good time to try.

He only had one good hand to use, so he focused hard on moving all his magic to it. He pictured a bridge connecting the two sides of the chasm and forced his vines through the stone. It broke noisily around him, and he felt a thrill of achievement as they connected firmly to the other side. He tested how much weight it could take and set off carefully. He made it to the other side and called the others. The vines dipped dangerously when Moonbin helped Rocky over, but they didn’t break. Jinwoo and Dongmin quickly followed and soon they were walking through the corridor to the sixth floor.

*

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Myungjun said faintly, looking across a lake of water. There was a small island in the centre, but if they wanted to reach it, they’d have to swim. “Please don’t tell me we have to go in there.”

“Looks like it.” Moonbin said, sounding way too happy for Myungjuns liking. “I have something that can help.” Moonbin used his magic to manipulate some of the water and created six big bubbles. He stuck his head inside one and to everyone’s surprise it didn’t pop.

“Bubble helmets?” Dongmin asked curiously. “Smart.”

Moonbin made sure they all had one before diving into the lake, followed closely by Dongmin. Myungjun helped Rocky lower himself into the water and a look of relief flashed over the younger boy’s face as the water made his bad leg weightless. Before Myungjun could get in, Jinwoo stopped him. He took his head out of his bubble and gestured for Myungjun to do the same so they could talk.

“What’s up JinJin?” Myungjun asked, looking at the water impatiently. “We need to get in there in case the others run into trouble.”

“Junnie I won’t be able to use my magic down there. The water will put it out if I try, I just needed to warn you. Also, we won’t be able to talk, so if you need to tell me anything, just hold onto my hand and use what we learned in communications okay? The telepathy thing.” Myungjun nodded and put the helmet back on. He jumped into the water and looked around. The others were up ahead, and he swam after them. The water was dimly lit by something Myungjun couldn’t locate and he looked down to see thick weeds growing at the bottom. He looked back at Jinwoo and grabbed onto his hand.

*Watch out for the weeds, anything could be in them* He thought hard and Jinwoo gave him a thumbs up. Myungjun turned to look when he saw a flash of light. Dongmin was up ahead, shooting bright blue bolts at something swimming towards him.

*Sirens* Jinwoos voice rang ominously through Myungjuns head. Fear gripped at his heart when he remembered Jinwoo laying in the infirmary, chest wrapped in bandages after spilling siren venom on himself. He recalled the teacher telling him it eats through skin and he kicked harder through the water to catch up.

*I don’t have an antidote for siren venom JinJin. Don’t let it bite you* Jinwoo gave him another thumbs up before letting go of Myungjuns hand and swimming ahead. He’d make faster progress with two arms than Myungjun would with one. Myungjun watched helplessly as Jinwoo swam towards danger. We need to get to the island, Myungjun thought, we don’t stand a chance under the water. He looked ahead to see Jinwoo pull the pole from his back. He swung it towards the siren descending on Dongmin. His muscles flexed with the effort, but the pole moved slowly, dragging against the water. When it connected, the siren turned towards him and bared its fangs. It moved much quicker under the water with its tail and had Jinwoo by the throat in seconds. He let go of the pole he was holding in favour of clawing at the monster’s arm.

Myungjun watched as Moonbin moved behind it, birthmark glowing. The water started to swirl chaotically, a whirlpool of energy that ripped the siren away. Myungjun gestured desperately to the island ahead and everyone made their way towards it. We’re going to make it, Myungjun thought, hope surging through his chest as he saw Moonbin climbing out and pulling Dongmin and Jinwoo out after him. That hope died as another siren flew out of the weeds below to grab at Rockys legs. The young boy opened his mouth in a silent scream as the siren dug her claws into his bad leg, blood billowing out in clouds. Myungjun tried to get to him but had to watch helplessly as he was dragged down into the weeds to disappear. He felt a surge of water as Moonbin dived back in. He saw Myungjuns face and started to swim down to the weeds but Myungjun stopped him. He couldn’t let Moonbin disappear too. They swam together to the island and Myungjun collapsed on the rocks with a groan as his bubble popped.

“Where’s Rocky?” Dongmin asked apprehensively. “Did he get caught?” Myungjun nodded tiredly and shivered as his clothes stuck to his skin. Dongmin cursed and swept the wet hair from his forehead. “What are we going to do? We don’t know how many of those things are down there.”

“I’ll use my magic to create a giant whirlpool and pull them all up to the surface.” Moonbin said. “That should make it easier to fight. Hyung do you think you could use your magic to burn them?”

Jinwoo shrugged. “I need to dry my hands at least; my fire won’t be so effective if I’m wet.” He closed his eyes and his birthmark began to glow. Myungjun watched in interest as his body started to steam.

“You need to try and freeze any you see Minnie.” Moonbin said, turning to the distressed boy. “I would ask you to try and freeze the water but that would take too much energy.”

“Creating a giant whirlpool will use a lot of energy too.” Dongmin said with a scowl. “I know what you’re doing. You’re trying to be heroic and sacrifice yourself again but you’re just an idiot who’s going to leave me behind.”

“Minnie don’t be like that. You know we don’t have any other choice. Unless you want me to go back in the water? I can’t guarantee I’d make it out that way either and I’d much rather get incapacitated by using all my energy then being dragged into the weeds like Rocky.”

Dongmins face crumbled and he sat down hard to cry. “This is so stupid. Why would they even put us in this situation to begin with?”

“To help us get ready for the outside world Minnie.” Moonbin said gently, sitting down next to him. “When we leave the academy, we won’t have a safety net to fall back on. It will be staring actual death in the face and this is to help us prepare for that. An incredibly smart person once told me those words. Do you remember who that was?” Dongmin whined in embarrassment and hid his face behind his hands.

“I wish I’d never said that.” He said sounding muffled and Myungjun watched them in amusement before standing up.

He turned to look at Jinwoo who had stopped steaming and looked near enough dry. He opened his arms and Myungjun let himself be cuddled, making a happy noise in the back of his throat when Jinwoo warmed up, attempting to dry him off too. Myungjun shivered when he felt Jinwoos hands travel to his waist. He’d forgotten he was exposed from tearing his shirt and having Jinwoos hands caress his bare skin made his brain go fuzzy. He pushed him away weakly and said he was dry enough. Luckily Jinwoo didn’t question the blush on his face and turned to face Moonbin when he spoke.

“Let’s get on with it. I’m hungry and I need a nice nap.”

*

Myungjun watched as Dongmin and Moonbin both collapsed with exhaustion and were sucked through the floor. The lake around them slowly drained away and the walls closed in to form the opening to the boss room.

“We can do this Junnie.” Jinwoo said tiredly and threaded their fingers together. Myungjun hadn’t been much help during the fight and had instead spent the time trying to sort through his pouch. It wasn’t waterproof so everything had gotten wet and he was sad to see that he only had one more energy reviver left. He gave it to Jinwoo now and watched his expression change as the tiredness faded away before he turned to stare at Myungjun expectantly.

“What?” Myungjun asked innocently.

“Why aren’t you taking anything? You look tired too, you need it.” Jinwoo said. He groaned in annoyance as Myungjun revealed that he didn’t have any more. “Why did you give it to me? You should have taken it!”

“You’re stronger than me Jinwoo. You can get us further with your magic then I can with mine. You know I’m right so stop looking at me like that, we should go.” He didn’t let Jinwoo reply and just dragged him down the corridor. “We don’t know if the boss will just attack like the snake did, so let’s make a quick plan before we step through.”

“Let me burn it to a crisp. That’s it, that’s the plan.” Myungjun rolled his eyes but stepped inside. There wasn’t a body of water in sight. Instead the siren had legs in place of a tail and was standing still in the middle of the room, holding a large trident.

It didn’t attack so Myungjun guessed they were allowed to make the first move again. He used some of his magic to heave his vines through the floor, to wrap around the creature’s legs. It screamed, a sound that pierced Myungjuns ear drums and he fell to the floor clutching his ears as pain ripped through them. He felt something dripping through his fingers and he pulled his hands away to see blood. He realised he couldn’t hear anymore and exchanged fearful looks with Jinwoo, who’s ears were also bleeding. He looked up to see the Siren slash through his vines with its trident and descend upon them. He felt heat and rolled to the side, away from Jinwoo, as he attacked. The fire engulfed the siren and it opened its mouth in what Myungjun guessed was a scream.

Myungjun was ready to celebrate their easy victory when the siren launched its trident his way, in a last-ditch attempt to incapacitate him. He tried to dodge but wasn’t fast enough. He flew backwards and was pinned against the wall, a sharp pain wracking his body and he looked down in disbelief to see one of the tips of the weapon pierced through his stomach, holding him up. Blood was oozing out, a scarlet river, drenching the floor beneath him and he coughed up something warm and metallic tasting. He looked up to see Jinwoo running his way and reached out his good hand shakily, so Jinwoo could grab it tight.

*It hurts JinJin, get it out* He felt warm tears spilling from his eyes and Jinwoo looked down at his stomach, face drained of colour. He let go of Myungjun to try and pull the trident free, but it was stuck fast. Jinwoo gave up and grabbed his hand again.

*I can’t Junnie, I don’t know what to do! Surely this is you incapacitated, why aren’t they pulling you out?*

Myungjun groaned in pain as he sagged against the metal. His legs had finally given out and the trident was dragging inside of him painfully. Jinwoo moved quickly to hold him up.

*Junnie you’re coughing up blood its really bad*

*Way to state the obvious JinJin* Myungjun thought sarcastically and felt Jinwoos body vibrate gently against his. He felt the edges of his mind go numb and shivered violently, making Jinwoo pull back to look at his face. His eyes held so much emotion it took Myungjuns breath away.

*What’s happening Junnie? Why does it look like you’re dying?* He heard the whisper of Jinwoos frantic voice in his mind as everything faded to black.

“I’m sorry JinJin.” He said aloud, forgetting Jinwoo couldn’t hear him and felt himself be sucked back into the wall, leaving Jinwoo behind.

Chapter Text

Myungjun opened his eyes and groaned in pain. He was in the academy infirmary and looked down to see his stomach covered in bandages. He also had a new bandage wrapped around his arm, which he was happy to see he could finally move again. He looked around and saw Jinwoo fast asleep on the bed next to him. He was in different clothes and looked pale. It worried Myungjun because Jinwoo always had healthy colouring to his face from his fire magic. He got up shakily and shuffled over to lay down next to him, closing his eyes and allowing sleep to pull him back under.

He woke up groggily, a while later, to someone shaking him. The nurse was standing above him, mouthing words he couldn’t hear. He sat up in a panic, realising he was still deaf and winced as a pain shot through his stomach. Jinwoo stirred beside him but he didn’t wake. The nurse helped Myungjun off the bed and led him back over to his own. A man Myungjun didn’t know approached him and showed him his badge. He was a healer from the king’s court and got to work on Myungjun immediately. He placed his hands over Myungjuns ears and mouthed some words. Myungjun sat up straighter in shock as his hearing came back to him. Everything seemed too loud, the squeak of shoes against the floor, the drip of water for a nearby tap, Jinwoos soft breathes. Everything was amplified and he felt overwhelmed. The healer seemed to understand and slid something soft into his ears to muffle the noise before getting to work on the rest of him.

Myungjun lay back in silence as he felt the pain fade. The healer cut away his bandages to see the wound on his stomach. It was closed now, bright pink and puckered slightly but still felt sensitive. The man moved to his arm and cut away the bandages there. He also had a scar under his wrist from the deep rat scratch and two large fang holes on his forearm from the snake bite.

“If you want to get rid of the scarring, I can take you back to the castle to see a specialist.” He said kindly but Myungjun shook his head quickly. There was no way he was leaving his boyfriend right now. The man seemed to understand and got up to leave.

“Wait, aren’t you going to help Jinwoo?” Myungjun asked and the man turned to look at him.

“I already helped him earlier. He used an enormous amount of energy, dangerous levels in fact, so he’ll be asleep for a while.” He left and Myungjun climbed back into bed next to the sleeping boy. Myungjun snuggled against his chest and felt tears prick at the corners of his eyes. He hoped Jinwoo would be okay.

*

Jinwoo didn’t wake up for three days and when he did, Myungjun was in class. The teacher received a note and dismissed him, as he had insisted he be told first when Jinwoo finally woke. He raced from the room and ran as fast as he could to the infirmary, bursting through the doors to see Jinwoo looking up with a relieved smile. He promptly burst into tears and climbed onto the bed shaking, looking for comfort. Jinwoo pulled him down for a hug and they cuddled for a long time without speaking.

“I can’t believe you’re okay.” Jinwoo said with a raspy voice. “I thought you really had died, there was so much blood. I woke up and you weren’t here either, so I really thought you had gone.” His voice cracked at the end and he squeezed Myungjun tight. “Don’t scare me like that ever again do you understand?” Myungjun nodded and pulled away to look at him.

“You slept for so long, the healer told me you’d used dangerous amounts of energy, what happened?”

“I saw you get pulled through the wall and I was so angry. They’d taken so long to get you out and like I said; I thought you’d really died. I lost it, my fire just exploded and all I remember is running down corridor after corridor and killing over and over again. I don’t even know how many floors I cleared but I think it was a lot, so I guess that a good thing came out of it at least. It was like my energy levels were limitless, but it hit me eventually and I was knocked out cold.” Jinwoo explained quietly.

“No wonder you were out for three days.” Myungjun said in disbelief. “I’m glad you’re okay though, its been hard without you.”

Jinwoo asked him to sit up and he did so quickly, afraid that he was crushing him. “How’s your stomach?” Jinwoo asked, playing with the hem of Myungjuns shirt. “Can I see?”

“Are you sure?” Myungjun asked, feeling self-conscious. “It’s really gross.”

“I’m sure.” Jinwoo said rolling his eyes. “Nothing could look gross on you, so don’t be shy.” Myungjun leaned back to let him lift his shirt up and watched as Jinwoos eyes widened slightly.

“Does it hurt?” Myungjun shook his head. “Its really big, are you sure you’re still alive?” Myungjun just laughed and pushed his hand away to let his shirt fall back down.

“I’m sure I’m still alive. I got told I was lucky it didn’t hit anything important. The scars really pink now but it will fade to my skin colour eventually. It gets itchy sometimes.” He added with a frown.

“Is it itchy now? I’ll scratch it for you.” Jinwoo said, wiggling his fingers mischievously and Myungjun scrambled away to avoid being tickled.

“You stay away from my stomach Park Jinwoo or you’ll face the consequences!” He tried to sound intimidating but was squealing the next second as Jinwoo pulled him back up the bed by the waist.

“Why do I have to stay away? It’s cute.” He pouted and Myungjun nearly choked from how adorable he looked. His pout should be illegal he decided.

“I’ll just keep it covered so you can’t look.” Myungjun said childishly and Jinwoo laughed before leaning in to whisper in his ear.

“You didn’t have a problem showing off in the dungeon.” He pointed out cheekily, hinting to Myungjuns torn shirt. Myungjun remembered how exposed he had been and tried to squirm away, blushing fiercely, but Jinwoo held on tight. “You looked ridiculously good Junnie, don’t be embarrassed.”

Myungjun burned from the praise and he opted to hide his face in Jinwoos neck instead. “Stop JinJin, I don’t like compliments.”

Jinwoo scoffed in disbelief. “You thrive on compliments Junnie, I see the way you react when I call you pretty, that should be proof enough.” He laughed when Myungjun whined and continued. “You looked so strong and heroic fighting alongside me in there and helping everyone heal but all it took was one look at your stomach and I remembered how soft and cute you really are. It gave me all kinds of whiplash.”

Myungjun tried to cover his ears but Jinwoo held his wrists away. “I’m serious Junnie. Do you realise how much willpower it took for me to hold back from reaching out to touch you?”

Myungjun sat up fast at that and glared at him. “You did touch me don’t lie, on the island in the lake. You pretended you were drying me didn’t you?”

Jinwoo had the grace to look guilty and gave him a cheeky grin. “My willpower isn’t very strong it seems. I admit, I did use drying you as an excuse, but I won’t apologise.”

Myungjun remembered the way his hands had caressed his bare skin and he shivered. He looked up, when he felt Jinwoo tense, to see a hunger burning in his boyfriends’ eyes, almost predatory and he pulled away. “I need to get back to class. I’ll bring you some dinner later, bye!” He ran out of the door, heart thumping wildly and didn’t look back when Jinwoo called his name.

*

Myungjun lined up nervously, waiting to collect the results from his exams. It was the last day of July and he’d be going home tomorrow for the summer holidays. Grove handed him a roll of parchment with a smile and Myungjun rushed to sit down with his mother to open it eagerly. She had come for his results day and would be travelling home with him the next day.

1ST YEAR STUDENT EXAM RESULTS.
KIM MYUNGJUN, EARTH ELEMENTAL-PLANT MANIPULATION VARIETY.

HERBOLOGY-A
ZOOLOGY OF MAGICAL CREATURES-B
ALCHEMY-B
COMMUNICATIONS-A
BASIC COMBAT AND WEAPONS TRAINING-A
PRACTICAL SKILLS-B
HISTORY AND LAW-D
MEDITATION AND DISCIPLINE-SATISFACTORY

DUNGEON RUN OVERALL SCORE- 1310 POINTS
DETAILS:
FEBRUARY DUNGEON RUN EVALUATION
NUMBER OR FLOORS CLEARED- 2 (+100 POINTS)
NUMBER OF BOSSES ELIMINATED- 2 (+200 POINTS)
NUMBER OF LIVES SAVED/HEROIC DEEDS PERFORMED- 4 (+40 POINTS)
1. Pushing YOON SANHA to safety- Floor 1
2. Trapping the boss to save PARK MINHYUK- Floor 1 BOSS
3. Shielding PARK MINHYUK from harm- Floor 2
4. Pulling LEE DONGMIN to safety- Floor 2 BOSS
HEALER BONUS (+25 POINTS)

JUNE DUNGEON RUN EVALUATION
NUMBER OR FLOORS CLEARED- 6 (+300 POINTS)
NUMBER OF BOSSES ELIMINATED- 5 (+500 POINTS)
NUMBER OF LIVES SAVED/HEROIC DEEDS PERFORMED- 12 (+120 POINTS)
1. Shielding PARK JINWOO from harm- Floor 1
2. Shielding whole party from harm- Floor 2 BOSS
3. Breaking illusion in record time- Floor 3
4. Helping PARK MINHYUK break his illusion- Floor 3
5. Boosting PARK JINWOO from the brink of incapacitation- Floor 3
6. Saving PARK JINWOO from being crushed- Floor 5
7. Creatively healing PARK MINHYUK (wooden splint)- Floor 5
8. Sacrificing last energy boost to PARK JINWOO- Floor 6
HEALER BONUS (+25 POINTS)

CONGRATULATIONS KIM MYUNGJUN. YOU HAVE PLACED IN THE TOP 5% FOR YOUR SCORE GAINED IN THE DUNGEON EXAMINATIONS.

Myungjun read his results over and over again, not believing how well he did. He wasn’t surprised that he did poorly in history and law and just hoped his mother wouldn’t point it out when she read it. He handed the parchment to her and watched as her face lit up.

“Oh wow Junnie you did so well!” She exclaimed proudly before pulling him in for a hug. “I honestly didn’t expect you to do so good with how little experience you had before you came.” Myungjun glowed at the praise and looked up in surprise when he saw Jinwoo gesturing to him from across the room. He excused himself and hurried over.

“JinJin why are you hiding over here? I didn’t see you at breakfast today. Are you okay?” He asked worriedly.

“I’m fine, I just didn’t feel like eating.” Jinwoo said with a shrug. “Did you get good results? I haven’t been to get mine yet.” Myungjun nodded excitedly and recited all the grades he could remember. “That’s amazing!” Jinwoo said excitedly and pulled him in for a hug. He quickly let go with an awkward cough. “Your mother is watching us by the way.”

“So?” Myungjun asked with a laugh. “Can’t we even hug now?”

“Have you told her I’m your boyfriend?” Jinwoo blurted out with a blush.

“Not yet.” Myungjun said. “I will though, I just have to find the right time.” Jinwoo nodded in understanding before dragging Myungjun over to Blaze to collect his results. He wouldn’t let Myungjun see them but told him he’d done well too. Jinwoo froze in fright as Myungjun felt a hand land gently on his shoulder.

“Myungjun is this one of your friends?” his mother asked kindly. Myungjun introduced her to Jinwoo and Jinwoo bowed deeply which made his mother laugh. “Don’t be so formal Jinwoo, I’ve heard a lot about you and I’m glad we could finally meet.” He stood up quickly, blushing again and eyed Myungjun curiously. “Don’t worry, he only said good things.” His mother said lightly.

“Should we go and get some lunch?” Myungjun asked happily and led them to the hall to eat. Myungjun saw Dongmin chatting urgently to Moonbin and shooting glances to a stern looking man and woman who could only be his parents.

“That’s Dongmin.” Myungjun gestured over to them. “The dark haired one. He was the one who sacrificed himself to get me to the third floor of the dungeons in February. The pink haired boy with him is his boyfriend Moonbin.” He kept a close eye on his mother’s expression at the mention of them being boyfriends and he nearly sighed in relief when she smiled.

“I see what you mean, Dongmin is very handsome.” She said. “I should go over and thank him for helping you in the dungeon.”

“You can after we’ve eaten.” Myungjun said quickly. “They look busy right now.” He led his mother to one of the tables and spooned some food onto a plate for her. She thanked him and looked up in surprise when Sanha joined their table.

“Curly red hair, a cute face, you must be Sanha.” She said happily and cooed when he blushed.

“N..nice to meet you Mrs Kim.” Sanha stuttered, standing up to bow.

“Ms Kim.” She corrected him kindly. “I’m no longer married.” Sanha looked up in surprise but quickly went back to eating his food.

“Sanha may I ask you a question?” His mother spoke up and Myungjun turned to look at her. Sanha nodded apprehensively and she smiled. “Myungjun told me about the situation with your parents.” She ignored Myungjuns hissed words of betrayal and carried on. “I would like to know if you had plans for the summer? If not, I wouldn’t mind having you join us. I know my Junnie will get lonely over the holidays if he doesn’t see his friends, so you would be doing me a favour really.”

Sanha looked between them with wide eyes. “You mean spend the summer with you? In an actual house? Away from the academy?” Myungjuns mother nodded and Sanha looked at Myungjun. “Do you want me to Hyung?” He asked quietly.

“You’re always welcome Sanha.” Myungjun said with a smile. “I really would like the company.” Everyone turned to watch Jinwoo walk away from the table, back tense.

“Oh Jinwoo-hyung must be sad he has to stay at the academy alone.” Sanha said worriedly. “I forgot; I don’t think I can come Hyung sorry.”

Myungjuns mother scowled. “Why didn’t you tell me Jinwoo was alone as well Junnie? I would have invited him too.” Myungjun excused himself from the table and chased after him.

“Jinwoo wait!” He called out, catching up to him and pulling him back. “Where are you going?”

“I’m tired.” Jinwoo said stiffly. “I’m going to take a nap.”

“It’s not even the end of lunch yet Jinwoo. How can you be tired?” Myungjun asked. “You didn’t wait to hear what my mother had to say.”

“I heard enough. You’ll have a nice summer with Sanha. He really does deserve it; he hasn’t had a proper home for the past six years. It will be good for him. Now I really am tired, I’ll see you at dinner.” He turned to walk away but Myungjun grabbed him again, feeling stubborn.

“No Jinwoo listen to me. You’re right, Sanha does deserve it, but so do you. My mother was going to invite you too before you left.” He lied quickly. The outcome will be the same anyway, he thought. Pushing the little bit of guilt away. Jinwoo looked at him in surprise.

“She was?” He asked quietly. “Am I really invited?” Myungjun flashed him a blinding smile.

“Of course you’re invited. The more the merrier! Now come back inside and eat some lunch, you can nap later.” He said with a laugh, pulling Jinwoo back to their table.

Chapter Text

Myungjun walked up his garden path happily and turned back to see Jinwoo and Sanha trailing behind looking shy. He was suddenly struck by how overwhelming this must be for the both of them, especially Jinwoo who had never had a home. He walked back to grab each of their hands and led them inside.

“Mother, we’re going to put our bags upstairs.” Myungjun called out and gestured for the others to follow. He opened the door to his room and dumped his stuff onto his bed. “Do you want anything to eat or drink?” He asked and said okay when Sanha asked for a glass of water. He left them to look around his room and went back downstairs towards the kitchen.

“Are you boys hungry?” His mother asked. “It was a long journey. I can make you something.”

“No, we’re okay, I think the others are too nervous to eat. It’s a bit overwhelming to be inside a house again.” He moved over to the sink to get Sanha some water and his mother sighed sadly behind him.

“They’re such lovely children, so well-mannered and polite. It really is a shame they’ve had no one to look after them. We need to make sure that we make them feel at home here Junnie. Just remind them not to use their magic okay?” Myungjun hummed in agreement before taking the water upstairs.

He found the boys muttering fiercely in the middle of his room and eyed them suspiciously. They’d stopped talking immediately upon noticing his presence.

“Where are we going to sleep Hyung?” Sanha blurted out and Jinwoo elbowed him in the ribs.

“We’re fine with the floor Junnie its okay, you were already nice enough to invite us.” Jinwoo said quickly.

“Well I’m not fine with sleeping on the floor.” Sanha whined. “It hurts my back.”

“I’ll give you something else that will hurt in a minute if you don’t shut up.” Jinwoo whispered furiously at him.

Myungjun just laughed and handed Sanha his water. “You won’t be sleeping on the floor. You can both have my bed and I’ll sleep downstairs on my reading chair. Don’t look at me like that Jinwoo its really comfy.”

“Well if it’s so comfy I’ll sleep on your chair.” Jinwoo said with a frown. “I’m not taking your bed. You sleep in it with Sanha.” Myungjun sighed, realising this was an argument he wouldn’t win and accepted his defeat.

“Fine you can have the chair, I just need to remind you both not to use your magic here. The people in this town don’t accept magic users.” Myungjun said sadly. “If you feel your magic getting pent up, we’ll go out and look for a secret place to use it, okay?” The two boys nodded and Sanha held out his empty cup.

“Finished Hyung.” He said happily. Myungjun smiled at him but didn’t take it.

“Take the cup down yourself Sanha, this is your home too, so don’t be shy.” He said kindly. Sanha went to protest but Jinwoo threatened to hit him and he ran from the room.

Myungjun rolled his eyes at his boyfriends’ behaviour and went to empty out some space in his dresser for the others. He helped Jinwoo unpack before realising Sanha still hadn’t come back. He made his way downstairs with Jinwoo to look for him and found him sitting at the kitchen table eating some food his mother was cooking.

His mother turned away from the stove to smile at them. “Jinwoo sit down and have some food. Junnie said you boys might be too nervous to eat but I want you to try anyway.” Jinwoo hurried over and sat down looking shy. It made Myungjuns heart do funny things looking at his cute boyfriend. His mothers voice brought him back to reality. “Myungjun stop staring at the poor boy and sit down. If you eat something now, you can go out and show them around afterwards.”

When they’d finished eating Jinwoo dragged Sanha to the sink to help with the washing up. Myungjun watched them fondly as they splashed each other with the water and tried to come up with a plan for the afternoon. There were so many things he wanted to show them and so many things he wanted to do together, normal summer time activities that he couldn’t do before when he had no friends. Those days are long gone, Myungjun thought happily, I have lots of friends now. He got up to stop the water fight at the sink before his mother caught them.

*

They ended up spending the afternoon exploring the town. Myungjun showed them his old school and pushed the bitter memories it uncovered to the back of his mind. He also showed them the little shop he used to buy sweets from, when his mother allowed him to have them. He bought them all a lollipop and sucked on it happily as they made their way down to the river. The sun was setting but it was still warm, and he revelled in it.

He could hear the river water moving gently as they got closer and his eyes scanned the area. It looked pretty much the same as it had the last time he’d been there. He looked over to the patch where he used to plant flowers, when his magic had been suppressed, and felt a sadness wash over him. Jung-hoon really had ripped them all to shreds it seemed. He remembered how much his heart had hurt when Jung-hoon boasted about it before beating him up and he moved over to the patch quietly. He placed his hands on the soil and focused on his magic.

“Hyung you said we couldn’t use our magic here.” Sanha said, looking over Myungjuns shoulder to watch as his flowers bloomed.

“I needed to do this.” Myungjun said softly. “To replace what was taken from me.” He looked up to see the boys looking at him, clearly confused. He just smiled and made his way to the water. He slipped his shoes off and dipped his toes in. It was surprisingly warm, and he hummed happily.

“Is it safe to go in there?” Sanha asked, a hint of excitement in his voice. “I really want to swim.”

Myungjun remembered back to all the times he’d been in the river, looking for relief on a hot day and nodded happily to him.

“Please can we swim Hyung? Please please please!” Sanha begged and squealed in excitement when Myungjun said yes. Sanha was quick to remove his shoes and shed his shirt. He stumbled clumsily taking off his trousers because he was in such a rush and ran into the water. It reached up to his chest and he splashed around happily. “Aren’t you coming in Hyungs?” He called.

Myungjun grinned and moved to take off his shorts before remembering Jinwoo was there and feeling self-conscious again. He peeked over at the boy to see him already shirtless. Jinwoo didn’t seem to be paying any attention to him, only focused on getting into the water. Myungjun pushed his insecurities away and got undressed. He ran into the river and screamed as a pair of hands pushed him over. When he’d gotten up again and wiped the water from his face, he looked over to see Jinwoo grinning at him evilly before splashing him and Sanha with unrelenting waves. Jinwoo was shouting the next minute when Sanha used his air magic to propel water towards him in revenge. They played and shouted and had lots of fun until the sun disappeared completely.

Myungjun walked over to his discarded clothes and shivered. The night air was cool, and he watched jealously as Jinwoo steamed himself dry. He saw Myungjun watching and opened his arms, an offer to dry him off again. Myungjun remembered back to the lake in the dungeons and Jinwoo admitting he’d used it as an excuse to touch him and declined his offer. The thought of Jinwoo touching his bare skin again was too embarrassing. He just pulled his clothes on, frowning at the way they stuck to him uncomfortably and led them all home.

*

Myungjun woke up on Sunday morning to a face full of Sanhas hair. The younger boy whined when Myungjun untangled himself from their cuddle to get out of bed. He stretched with a groan and padded downstairs to get himself a drink. Jinwoo and his mother were already sitting at the table, drinking steaming cups of tea and Myungjun accepted his cup gratefully.

“Jinwoo was just telling me how he attends church every Sunday at the academy. There’s a church by the field behind our house, will you take him later Junnie?” His mother asked.

“Sanha attends church too.” Jinwoo said. “We can all go together, if you want to that is.” He added, looking over the top of his cup at Myungjun.

“Sure, we can go. I’ve never been inside the church before, so it will be a new experience.” Myungjun said, giving him a smile. He looked up when Sanha stumbled into the kitchen, still half asleep. He plonked himself down at the table and swept the hair out of his eyes.

“You, young man, need a haircut.” Myungjuns mother said, gesturing to Sanhas hair before looking at the other two boys. “In fact, all of you need a haircut. You can’t go to church looking scruffy. After breakfast I’ll give you all a trim.” She got up to make some food and Jinwoo leaned across the table to whisper at Myungjun.

“Does your mother know how to cut hair?” He asked, sounding slightly worried. Myungjun just laughed and assured him that she could. He had never once been to a barber shop because his mother always did a good enough job from home.

Myungjun was the first to get his hair trimmed, mainly to reassure the others that they could definitely trust his mother with theirs. Sanha was next and his mother gushed over how cute and curly his hair was. Whilst Jinwoo waited for his turn, Myungjun entertained him by cracking jokes that had the other boy groaning.

“Junnie you are NOT funny, please stop.” He said, burying his face in his hands. “If I have to listen to one more, I might just jump out the window.”

Myungjun whined and pulled his hands away. “Just one more, I have the PERFECT joke now that it’s the weekend.” Jinwoo sighed and told him to get on with it.

“What are the strongest days of the week?” Myungjun asked, looking at him in excitement. “Saturday and Sunday because the rest are week days! Get it? WEEK days, WEAK!” He laughed loudly at his own joke and was satisfied to see a smile pulling at Jinwoos lips.

“Junnie your jokes are terrible.” His mother said, shaking her head. “Jinwoo dear, its your turn. I’ll save you from my deranged son. How he could possibly think he’s funny I will never know.” Jinwoo laughed at that and poked Myungjun in the ribs to get rid of his pout before occupying the chair that Sanha had just vacated.

Sanha came over to sit next to Myungjun and asked him eagerly if he had any more. “SEE?” Myungjun said loudly. “Someone here has taste.” He continued to blurt out random jokes much to the youngers boy’s amusement.

*

When Jinwoo was finished, the boys went upstairs to change into clothes more suitable for their outing. Myungjun nearly choked when Jinwoo walked out of the bathroom, after getting dressed and styling his hair. He was wearing a white button-down shirt, that he had left open at the top to reveal the necklace Myungjun had given him, it was tucked into the black trousers from the suit that he had worn to the ball. His dark hair was pushed off of his forehead to reveal his eyebrows, one of which showcased the scar Myungjun had left. In short, Jinwoo looked incredible and Myungjun was having a hard time looking away. He barely registered Sanha brushing past him to use the bathroom next and only snapped out of his trance when Jinwoo was waving a hand in front of his face.

“Junnie are you listening to me? I asked if you could button up the cuff at my wrist, I can’t do it one handed.” Jinwoo said, looking at him with concern. “Are you okay? You look weird.”

Myungjun cleared his throat awkwardly and looked down at the hand Jinwoo was holding out in front of him. He quickly buttoned up Jinwoos cuff and stepped back. “Umm…I need to get changed, so can you leave?” He didn’t dare look up from his feet, he knew he was blushing and didn’t want Jinwoo to see. Luckily enough he left Myungjun alone and went downstairs to wait for him.

Myungjun dived onto his bed and screamed into his pillow. How was he going to survive a whole church service with Jinwoo looking that good? Is that how people usually dressed to go to church? Did Jinwoo dress like that every Sunday at the academy? Myungjun wouldn’t know. He didn’t attend the services at the academy but was rethinking that idea if it meant he could see Jinwoo looking like THAT more often.

He quickly raided his dresser for something similar to wear. He pulled on his black trousers and opted for a black shirt made from a thinner, flowier fabric than Jinwoos. He tucked it in a bit but let the rest of the material hang out, so it flowed nicely when he moved his arms. After making sure he was wearing the necklace Jinwoo had given to him, he made his way downstairs.

“I hope Myungjun has worn something decent.” He heard his mother say in the kitchen. “He’s never been to a service before, so he doesn’t know the dress code but hopefully he’s tried to copy you both.”

Myungjun entered the kitchen to see his mother fussing over Sanhas hair, who was dressed just as smartly. She looked over when she noticed him and sighed in relief. “Oh, thank the deity, you do know how to dress well after all. Come here and let me fix your hair.” Myungjun made his way over, avoiding looking at Jinwoo so he wouldn’t be distracted again.

“That’s a pretty necklace Junnie.” She said, reaching down to touch the pink heart by his throat. “Where did you get it?”

“JinJin.” Myungjun said with a small smile. His mother looked confused, thrown off by the nickname. “I meant Jinwoo.” Myungjun corrected, feeling his face heat up. He still hadn’t told his mother about their relationship, but even he knew that the nicknames and the necklaces wouldn’t go unnoticed. She studied his face before turning slightly to look at Jinwoo. Myungjun saw her eyes flicker down to his necklace and he held his breath. Is this where she puts the pieces together and finds out about them? Would she be fine with it or shout at him? She’d seemed fine when he mentioned about Dongmin and Moonbin being boyfriends, but maybe it would be different with her own son. Would she try to suppress that side of him like she had tried to suppress his magic? All these questions raced around in Myungjuns head and he held his breath.

She turned back to look at him and frowned. “Myungjun, your hair isn’t sitting right. Let me go and wet my hands to make it easier.” She left him feeling bewildered. She either didn’t put the obvious clues together or she was ignoring it. Either way Myungjun was relieved that he didn’t have to explain himself in front of the others. He finally let out a shaky breath and allowed his eyes to drift to Jinwoo, who he saw was already looking his way. He looked down at the necklace around Myungjuns throat and smiled before turning to talk to Sanha.

After his mother had fixed his hair, she sent them off, telling them to behave themselves. Myungjun led the way and presented the church enthusiastically, when they stopped in front of it a few minutes later. It was small but beautiful. The architecture outside was old and grand and the stained-glass windows threw pretty colours across the floor. The doors were open, so they stepped inside to see people already sitting in the pews, listening to the father of the church give his sermon. They sat down close to the back and Myungjun felt himself relax. It was calm in here and he let the mans voice wash over him.

After half an hour, Myungjun found himself getting sleepy and he looked beside him to see Sanha and Jinwoo praying silently. He wondered what about, but thought it would be too rude to ask. He let his gaze drift around the room, finally focusing on the people around them and felt his whole body go cold when he locked eyes with Jung-hoon. The boy had grown a lot in the past year and looked even meaner than before. His eyes narrowed when he looked at Myungjuns face before recognition settled in and he smirked.

“Junnie what’s wrong?” He heard Jinwoo whisper beside him. “You’re breathing really fast.”

Myungjun tore his eyes away from his former bully to look at Jinwoo instead. He willed himself to be calm before faking a smile. “Nothings wrong JinJin. Sorry I disturbed you.”

Jinwoo looked at him suspiciously before sitting back with a sigh. “You didn’t disturb me. I’m finished and so is Sanha. Do you want to go?” Myungjun nodded quickly. He needed to get out of there, away from Jung-hoon and he sighed in relief when they were back out in the sun. They hadn’t been walking for long before Myungjun heard his name being called. He turned around slowly to see Jung-hoon walking towards them confidently. Myungjun tensed as the boy got closer.

“Hello Myungjun, it’s nice to see you again. How have you been?” He asked innocently. Myungjun was torn between telling him to get lost or playing along with him in hopes of avoiding a conflict. He reluctantly chose the latter.

“I’ve been fine.” Even though he was trying to play nice, it didn’t mean he could pretend to care about how the boy had been, so he didn’t ask.

“Where did you run off to?” Jung-hoon asked. “I haven’t seen you around for a while.”

“I didn’t run.” Myungjun said, trying to remain calm. “I went away to a new school.”

Jung-hoons eyes darted over to look at Sanha and Jinwoo behind him and he saw his eyes search their wrists, looking for the mark he knew Myungjun had. Myungjun was glad the boys were wearing long sleeves and smiled sweetly when Jung-hoon looked back at him.

“Are we done here?” He asked, hoping Jung-hoon would back off. He was glad to see him nod before heading back to the church. Myungjun closed his eyes and took a few steadying breaths before turning back to the others.

“Who was that Hyung?” Sanha asked curiously. “One of your friends?”

Myungjun gave him a tight smile before shaking his head. “No, I didn’t have friends here.” He ignored the questioning look Jinwoo gave him and took them home for lunch. His mother had already prepared them something to eat and left a note saying she had gone shopping. So Myungjun served the food before quietly prodding at his own. Even though Jung-hoon had seemed nice enough, he couldn’t help the bad feeling that settled in his stomach.

Chapter Text

After dinner that night, Sanha excused himself early to go to bed. When he was gone, Jinwoo explained to Myungjun and his mother that Sanha always went straight to his room at the academy after service because he liked to be alone. Myungjun remembered Sanha telling him that he always prayed that his parents would come back for him and he felt a sadness settle in his chest. He wanted to go up there and comfort him but knew it was best to give him some privacy.

Myungjun suggested that they go for a walk instead and said goodbye to his mother before slipping outside. The sun was beginning to set, bringing about the usual evening chill. He shivered lightly in his thin black shirt and regretted not bringing a jacket. When the house was out of sight, Jinwoo wrapped an arm around his waist and pulled him close, radiating the heat he knew Myungjun would appreciate.

“I missed you.” Jinwoo said quietly, giving Myungjuns hip a squeeze.

“We’ve been together all day silly.” Myungjun replied with a giggle, snuggling in closer as they walked.

“I know. I just missed being with you like this, where I can hold you.” Jinwoo said, kissing the top of his head. “and kiss you without worrying about your mother seeing.” Myungjun hummed in agreement before leading them down towards the river.

There was no-one in sight and he looked over to the flowers he had grown in replacement of the ones Jung-hoon destroyed and smiled.

“There’s a tree over there, do you want to go sit under it?” Jinwoo suggested, pointing to the large willow nearby.

“Sure.” Myungjun said happily and led the way. His skin tingled as he felt Jinwoos eyes on his back. “I can feel you staring Jinwoo.” He said amused, before stopping in front of the tree and turning around.

“I can’t help it.” Jinwoo said quietly, eyes trailing slowly up and down Myungjuns body. “You look ridiculously good today.” Myungjun could have laughed. Jinwoo was saying he looked good but Myungjun thought Jinwoo looked so much better. He was still in his white shirt, unbuttoned at the top to show off his necklace but had rolled the sleeves up as well. His black hair was no longer swept completely off his forehead, it rested on one side, covering up his good eyebrow which further accentuated the scar on his other one. Myungjun thought it made him look intimidating and he shivered slightly at the thought.

“Are you cold?” Jinwoo asked with a knowing smirk. “You shouldn’t have worn something so thin.” He reached out for Myungjuns shirt and rubbed the black material between his fingers. He froze suddenly and his ears started to turn red.

Myungjun shrieked and pushed him away. “Stop thinking whatever you’re thinking Park Jinwoo.” He said, crossing his arms over his chest feeling scandalised.

“I was NOT thinking anything.” He denied hotly, looking down at his feet.

He eventually looked up and they stared at each other quietly. Myungjuns skin itched, he wanted to reach out and touch Jinwoo or have Jinwoo reach out and touch him. They hadn’t even shared a proper hug since leaving the academy and that was over a week ago. He watched as Jinwoo took a tentative step towards him again and nearly cried out in relief when he moved to hold his hand. Myungjun took it and threaded their fingers together, pulling Jinwoo closer until they were standing only inches apart.

Jinwoo looked down at his neck and smiled. “I like it when you wear that necklace. I never told you how I got it or what it means did I?” When Myungjun shook his head, he began to explain. “I left that combat class early to sneak out to Voredan. Don’t look at me like that, I’ve done it loads of times before. Anyway, you told me earlier that day that you didn’t believe me when I asked you to be my boyfriend, so I tried to think of a way to show you how serious I was. I thought getting you a necklace would be a good start. It’s made of rose quartz, a gemstone that holds unconditional love and promotes healing and comfort. The woman told me it could help with emotional trauma, but it carries a feminine energy. I carved it into a heart myself, I hope you don’t mind. If you think it’s too girly, I can always change it.”

Myungjun reached up with his free hand to hold the necklace against himself. “I don’t want you to change it. It’s perfect the way it is.”

Jinwoo smiled at him. “I’m glad you like it. I just knew it had to be yours, for more reasons than one. I want it to heal the trauma you feel being here at home. You still haven’t told me much about your life here, but I know it bothers you sometimes. Another reason I wanted to get it for you is because it matches the colour your skin turns when you blush, and it compliments your lips so well.” His eyes flickered down to Myungjuns lips and he reached up to run his thumb along them. “You have such pretty lips Junnie. It’s torture seeing them everyday and not being able to kiss you.”

Myungjuns heart stuttered in his chest and he tried to focus on breathing as Jinwoo backed him up against the trunk of the tree. The bark scratched at his back uncomfortably, but he couldn’t find it in himself to care. Jinwoo leaned down to place a kiss on Myungjuns necklace and moved back up to nose at his jaw.

He felt Jinwoos hand slip out of his and nearly whined at the loss, so he reached up to grip at Jinwoos shoulders instead, desperately needing something to ground himself. Jinwoos hands ghosted up Myungjuns sides, barely touching and he moved around to nose at the other side of Myungjuns jaw.

“You always smell so good.” Jinwoo sighed quietly. “Like the earth when it rains and flowers when they first bloom. You smell like life itself Junnie.” He finally pulled back to look at Myungjun and smiled softly. “Can I kiss you?”

“Why are you even asking?” Myungjun replied, already tingling with anticipation. Jinwoo just shrugged and leaned in to brush their lips together. It was barely a kiss, but it felt like so much more. After being so touch deprived recently, every little action felt amplified tenfold. Jinwoos hands trailed back down to Myungjuns hips and he gave them a hard squeeze, making Myungjun squeal.

“Consent matters to me Myungjun.” Jinwoo said, sounding uncharacteristically serious, before brushing their lips together again.

Myungjun whined irritably. Jinwoo was teasing him and it was FRUSTRATING. “Jinwoo you always have my consent to kiss me. So do it properly now or I’m going home.”

“You don’t really want to go home.” Jinwoo said with a smirk, before going back to lightly trailing his hands up and down Myungjuns sides and nosing at his neck.

“JinJin please.” Myungjun whined. He couldn’t believe Jinwoo was making him beg for it.

“What do you want Junnie?” Jinwoo asked, dragging his lips over Myungjuns neck lightly. “I want to hear you say it.” Myungjuns neck burned where his lips brushed along his skin and his head was going fuzzy.

“I can’t say it.” Myungjun said quietly. “It’s embarrassing.” He squeezed his eyes shut tight and waited for Jinwoo to laugh at him. Instead, he felt Jinwoos hands stop their torturous path along his torso in favour of cupping his face.

“Myungjun open your eyes, look at me.” He opened them slowly and saw Jinwoo staring at him with a frown. “There is NOTHING to be embarrassed about. You need to tell me what you want, so I know how to make you feel good. Do you understand?” Myungjun nodded weakly, feeling Jinwoos hands slip from his face. “Good. I’m listening Junnie.” He said firmly, before moving back to his neck. Myungjun was glad he wasn’t looking at his face because he didn’t think he could say it out loud otherwise. He’d probably combust.

“Kiss me properly JinJin.” He said quietly. “Touch me properly, you’re hardly doing anything and it’s driving me insane. Please just do something.”

He gasped as Jinwoos lips finally made proper contact with his neck and he felt his legs buckle. Jinwoo seemed to sense what was happening and moved his hands down past Myungjuns hips to the back of his thighs.

“Up.” He commanded gently, giving Myungjuns thighs a quick squeeze. Myungjun used his remaining strength to jump and Jinwoo pulled his legs around his waist. The bark of the tree dug into Myungjuns back and he yelped in pain. Jinwoo apologised quickly and pulled him away to cover Myungjuns back with his forearms before pressing them back against the tree for support. Myungjun briefly registered that Jinwoo had rolled the sleeves of his white shirt up, so his arms must be taking damage from the tree, but his thoughts were cut short when Jinwoos lips were finally on his own again.

He sighed happily and felt Jinwoo smile against his lips. They kissed lazily, relishing the rare alone time they had together. Jinwoo nipped at his bottom lip gently and pressed their body’s closer together. It felt divine, it felt perfect, it felt…

Totally interrupted. “Well look at this boys. Not only is Myungjun a filthy magic user, he’s also into guys. How disgusting.” Jung-hoon said, laughing loudly with his group of friends. Jinwoo pulled back in surprise and looked over his shoulder to see them standing close by. They’d been so busy being wrapped up in each other, that they hadn’t heard the other boy’s approach. Myungjun felt Jinwoo tense around him and tapped him urgently to let go. Jinwoo helped him to his feet and winced when he pulled his arms away from the bark. They were definitely bleeding.

“What the hell did you just say?” Jinwoo asked, voice dangerously low as he turned to look at them. Myungjun tried to step up around him but Jinwoo blocked his path with one arm. “I know you didn’t just call my boyfriend filthy and disgusting. You’re not that stupid surely.”

Jung-hoon bristled at his words and stepped up to face him, towering over them both. “You’re the stupid one.” He said through gritted teeth. “Didn’t you know your boyfriends a freak who talks to plants? We’ve all seen him.” His friends murmured in agreement behind him and Myungjun felt his face heat up. Jung-hoons eyes flickered down to the mark on Jinwoos bare wrist and he smirked. “Oh I see, you’re just like him. Freaks should stick together; it makes our job easier.” He cracked his knuckles and Myungjun pushed Jinwoos arm away, to step in front of him and face his former bully himself.

“You didn’t do a good enough job last time Jung-hoon, I’m still here aren’t I?” He asked, looking up at the older boy. “A broken nose and a broken arm. Is that the best you can do?” He knew he shouldn’t provoke him, but the need to take revenge was bubbling up inside of Myungjuns chest.

“It was him?” Jinwoo asked incredulous. He sounded livid and Myungjun felt heat lap at his back. He didn’t want Jinwoo to do anything he regretted.

“My boyfriend is about to combust into flames and cook you alive. I suggest you do the smart thing and leave.” He advised, never taking his eyes from Jung-hoons face. The boy was smart enough to look wary as his eyes moved between the two. Just when Myungjun thought he was going to listen, the older boy grabbed him by the shirt and pulled him away from Jinwoo.

“He won’t touch me if you’re here.” He said smugly. Myungjun just sighed and flicked his wrist. His vines burst through the soil and Jung-hoons friends yelped in surprise as they were swiftly brought to their knees and trapped. Jung-hoon looked back at them in shock and Myungjun used his chance to pull free. The thin material of his shirt tore and he looked down in annoyance. He really loved this shirt. He didn’t get a chance to speak before Jinwoo was pulling him away and punching Jung-hoon straight in the face. The older boy stumbled and looked down at Jinwoo in fear as blood poured from his nose. Jinwoos green fire finally erupted across his palms and Jung-hoon backed away fast, tripping over his trapped friends and running away. Myungjun pulled his vines back and watched as the others fled too.

Jinwoo quickly turned back to look at him. “Are you hurt?” He asked, walking over to inspect him.

“No, I’m fine, but my shirts not.” Myungjun said with a sigh. “I can’t believe he ruined it.”

Jinwoo snapped his fingers in front of Myungjuns face to get him to focus. “That’s not the important thing here Junnie. Why didn’t you tell me it was him at the church? He was the one who hurt you before you came to the academy wasn’t he? You should have told me!”

“Why?” Myungjun asked sharply. “So you could beat him up in broad daylight in the middle of town? My mother would have gone crazy!” Jinwoo opened his mouth to argue but closed it quickly when he realised he didn’t have a good comeback. “Exactly, you know I’m right Jinwoo. If anything, I wanted to be the one who punched him in the face.”

Jinwoo finally cracked a smile and pulled him into a hug. “I’m sorry Junnie, his face was just too inviting, too…punchable? He shouldn’t have looked at you in that way or called you those things and he DEFINITELY should not have touched you like that. He was lucky I stopped when I did, I could feel my magic building, it was actually kind of scary.” He finished quietly and Myungjun hugged him tighter.

“You did good JinJin. Thankyou for protecting me.” He pulled back to give Jinwoo a blinding smile and squealed as he was pushed back up against the tree.

“One more kiss.” Jinwoo said with a smirk.

*

Myungjun woke up on a Friday morning to the sound of thunder. It was storming outside, and rain was pelting against his bedroom window. The storm wasn’t the only thing that had woken him up however. He looked down to see Sanha curled up against his chest trembling. He pulled the young boy closer and ran his fingers through his hair soothingly.

“Shh, It’s okay. It’s a summer storm, they pass quickly. Let’s stay like this until its gone okay?” Sanha nodded against his chest and jumped when the next bout of thunder rumbled ominously above. Myungjun pulled the cover over their heads to block out some of the noise and covered Sanhas ears. He finally stopped trembling and they both fell back to sleep.

Myungjun woke again when he felt the cover being pulled from their heads and blinked his eyes open sleepily to see Jinwoo looking down at them fondly. “Are you two okay?” He asked quietly, looking at Sanha who was clutching Myungjuns top tightly in his sleep. Myungjun nodded and cuddled back up to the young boy, wanting to go back to sleep but Jinwoo mentioned breakfast and his stomach grumbled.

“Who needs thunder when we have your stomach?” Jinwoo asked cheekily and let out a shout when Myungjun kicked him off the bed. Sanha woke at the noise, whining cutely and Myungjun shushed him gently before helping him out of bed so they could go downstairs to eat.

“It looks miserable outside.” His mother sighed, plating up their food. “What are you boys going to do today?” Myungjun shrugged. He wasn’t sure what they could do inside. “You could always clean out the attic and find our old board games.” She suggested, and to Myungjuns surprise, Jinwoo agreed eagerly.

“Why were you so ready to say yes?” Myungjun asked a while later, pulling the ladder down.

“I read in books that people usually keep their memories in the attics of their home, and I wanted to see yours.” Jinwoo said happily, making his way up first. Every time Myungjun was reminded that Jinwoo never had a home, his heart clenched painfully.

Sanha downright refused to go up in the attic. “There could be bugs Hyung, spiders, SPIDERS. I can’t go up there.”

Myungjun just sighed and let him go back downstairs. He climbed up after Jinwoo, to see him putting a ball of fire into an empty jar he found, to create some light for them to use. Myungjun looked around, he hadn’t been up here in a long time and neither had his mother it seemed because there was dust everywhere. He moved a box and a big spider skittered away, in search of a new place to hide. Myungjun was glad Sanha wasn’t here; he would have blasted the roof off the house getting that thing away from himself.

“Whose guitar is this?” Jinwoo asked, holding it up for Myungjun to see. Myungjun shrugged, he’d never come across that in his life. He gestured for Jinwoo to hand it over and placed it near the ladder. He’d take it down and ask his mother about it when they were finished. Myungjun got to work, tidying things up and creating a clean space in the middle of the floor. Jinwoo occasionally stopped to ask what things were and positively squealed in delight when he came across Myungjuns box of baby clothes.

“Junnie you were so tiny.” He cooed, moving over to pinch Myungjuns cheeks. “A whole cutie.”

Myungjun laughed and swatted his hands away. “Get back to work Park Jinwoo.” They were up there for a long time and soon Myungjuns mother was calling them for lunch. Before Myungjun could climb down the ladder, Jinwoo cried out in relief.

“Found it Junnie.” He said, head popping out from behind one of the boxes, to present the board game they’d been looking for.

“Oh thank the deity.” Myungjun said, sharing his relief. It meant they didn’t have to come back up here after lunch. The dust was making his skin itch. He remembered to grab the guitar before stepping down and waiting for Jinwoo.

They went downstairs together and Sanha looked up from his seat at the table in interest. “That’s a cool guitar.” He observed. Myungjuns mother looked up from her food in surprise before her face relaxed into a smile.

“You found it.” She said happily. “I haven’t seen that in a long time. Pass it to me Junnie.” Myungjun handed it over and watched as she plucked at a few of the strings expertly. “It needs retuning and probably a few new strings, but it should work fine.”

“I didn’t know you played the guitar.” Myungjun said, sitting down to eat.

“I stopped a long time ago.” She replied with a sad smile. “I don’t think I’d be any good now.” She chuckled when Sanha begged to touch it and handed it over to him. He plucked at the strings randomly and hummed happily when it made a noise. “Have it.” His mother said and Sanha looked up in surprise.

“I can’t take your guitar.” He said, eyes wide. “It’s yours.”

“And now its yours.” His mother said simply. “I had the same look in my eyes when I picked it up for the first time. You’ll make a good guitarist I can tell. We’ll get it fixed up before you leave for the academy and you can take it with you. Maybe something you can use when you finish church on Sundays.” She said kindly, hinting to Sanha always wanting to be alone afterwards.

Myungjun watched in amusement as Sanha rushed over to give her a hug. “Thankyou Ms Kim.” He said quietly and she hugged him back tightly.

Chapter Text

The last weekend of the summer holidays rolled around and Myungjun had somehow convinced Sanha and Jinwoo to go camping. Sanha who was terrified of bugs and Jinwoo who was terrified of burning the whole tent down in his sleep.

“Hyung I swear these ants have a personal vendetta against me.” Sanha whined, blasting one away that was climbing up his leg.

Myungjun just sighed and pointed down at his feet. “You’re standing on an ant hill you idiot.” He covered his ears, prepared for Sanha to scream and watched him run away, back to the tent.

“Guess I’m getting the fire wood myself.” Myungjun mumbled, looking around for sticks that the trees had shed. He knew Jinwoo could just create enough heat to keep them warm but Myungjun wanted the whole camping experience. When he felt like he had a good amount of kindling, he walked back through the trees to where Jinwoo was creating a ring of stones to contain the future fire. Myungjun dumped the sticks in the middle and stretched out his aching back.

“Do you want me to light it?” Jinwoo asked, putting the last stone in place.

Myungjun shook his head. “No, how are we going to explain a green fire if someone comes past this way? I have a box of matches with me to use instead.” The sun was already setting, so Myungjun lit the fire straight away and watched in awe as the fire spread, making the wood crackle loudly.

“We should have thought about what we were going to sit on.” Sanha said. He wrinkled his nose when Myungjun suggested the floor. “No Hyung the floor is dirty!”

“Of course it is, its literal dirt.” Jinwoo said, rolling his eyes. “Junnie just use your vines, no-one will notice.”

With a flick of Myungjuns wrist, three small mounds of vines were made for them to sit on and Sanha hummed happily as he warmed his hands at the fire. They chatted about the summer they’d had and Sanha went over to the tent to collect his guitar so he could play them a few simple songs he’d learnt. Myungjuns mother had taken the guitar to be fixed and cleaned and had shown Sanha how to tune it properly. He’d spent the next couple of weeks learning songs she showed him how to play. He picked them up really quickly but still struggled with some of the longer ones.

The sun had completely set and Myungjun leaned over to cuddle into Jinwoo. He let Sanhas music wash over him, feeling safe and calm as Jinwoo pulled him closer.

“This has been the best summer ever.” Myungjun said happily. “It really feels like we’re a family doesn’t it?”

“The best family I’ve ever had.” Jinwoo said quietly. “By the way, your mother invited us back next year and we said we’d talk to you about it first.”

“There’s nothing to talk about JinJin. I’d want you and Sanha here all the time if we could.”

“Your mother really loves Sanha you know.” Jinwoo said with a smile. “I know he feels it too. He’s been a lot happier here.” Myungjun had realised that aswell. The boy looked younger, less stressed and sad and it made Myungjuns heart warm to know that his home had provided that happiness for him.

“My mother loves you too you know.” Myungjun said, pulling back to look at Jinwoo, who just shrugged.

“She treats me differently, still with the same level of kindness just…different.” He said, furrowing his eyebrows. Myungjun laughed and he looked over confused.

“Of course she treats you differently. Sanha is small and cute and his whole demeanour screams ‘look after me, I’m a baby’. You, however, are older and stronger and give off the vibe that you can look after yourself.” Jinwoo laughed loudly and it made Sanha look up from his guitar.

“What’s so funny?” He asked, looking between Myungjun and Jinwoo curiously. “Are you laughing at me?”

Myungjun shook his head quickly. “No, we just think you’re cute.” Sanha blushed, mumbling something about going to bed and quickly headed into the tent.

“Aww you embarrassed him Junnie.” Jinwoo said, pretending to scold him. “He’ll never come out of there now.”

“Should I go make sure he’s okay?” Myungjun asked, getting up to check. Jinwoo pulled him back down and pointed up at the sky.

“He’ll be fine, just sit here and watch the stars with me okay?” They sat in silence, holding hands and observing the night sky above them.

“What do you think is out there?” Myungjun asked quietly. “Beyond the stars I mean.”

Jinwoo took a long time to answer, but when he did, there was a hint of longing in his voice. “Eden, the deity will meet us there when we die. It’s what we learn in church.”

Myungjuns stomach twisted uncomfortably at the tone of Jinwoos voice. “JinJin, you don’t want to die do you?” He asked quietly, looking over at him. Jinwoo didn’t answer and carried on looking up at the stars. Myungjun gave his hand a squeeze. “Jinwoo answer me.”

He finally tore his eyes away to look at Myungjun. “Not so much anymore.” He said with a sad smile and reached up to stroke Myungjuns cheek. His eyes snapped back to the sky and he gasped. “Junnie look! Shooting stars, you have to make a wish!”

“Does it even work?” Myungjun asked sceptically. Jinwoo nodded enthusiastically and closed his eyes to make his own. Myungjun sighed, not quite believing but closed his eyes too.

*I wish I could meet my parents* Jinwoos voice rang clear through his mind and Myungjun tried hard not to let him know it had. They were still holding hands and with both of their minds so vulnerable it had just happened.

“What did you wish for?” Myungjun asked quietly, wanting to make sure Jinwoo hadn’t meant for him to hear.

“It’s a secret.” Jinwoo said with a smile. “If I tell you my wish, it won’t come true.”

Myungjun gave him a tight smile back and looked away. He didn’t want Jinwoos wish to come true, his parents were dead. He gently untangled their fingers and covered up the action by pretending to stretch.

I wish I was enough to make Jinwoo happy.

*

Myungjun woke up the next morning to the sound of birds and opened his eyes to see the sun shining through the thin material of the tent. He sat up with a groan and shook the other two awake. He had something important to do today and wanted to get it done as soon as possible.

They packed up the tent and walked the short distance home. It was the last day of the holidays and they’d be leaving after lunch. Myungjun made his way inside, claiming the shower first and washed himself anxiously. He knew this conversation with his mother was long overdue, so he got dried and dressed quickly before hurrying downstairs to find her. She was out in the garden, watering the flowers and Myungjun cleared his throat to speak.

“Mother can I talk to you?” She turned around to smile, but it faltered when she saw his face.

“Of course Junnie, would you like to talk inside?” Myungjun looked around and his eyes landed on the treehouse he’d build with the boys a few weeks ago. It was small and he’d sneakily used his magic for some of it, but it looked like the perfect place now. He gestured too it and they climbed up the rickety ladder to sit inside. Myungjun brought his knees to his chest and took a shaky breath.

“I like boys.” He said quietly, tears pricking at his eyes. “I like boys and I don’t like girls. I’m sorry.” His mother was quiet for a long time and it made him incredibly anxious. Maybe it had been a mistake to tell her.

He felt a tear roll down his cheek and his mother sighed. “Look at me Myungjun, why are you crying?”

He scrubbed the tears off his face and gulped down a sob. “I’m sorry for liking boys, I know it’s wrong and disgusting, people always tell me that and call me names, but I can’t help it.”

“Who calls you names?” His mother asked, anger seeping into her voice. “People at the academy? People here? Tell me Myungjun.”

Myungjun looked at her in confusion. Why was she only focusing on that part of the conversation? He didn’t know what reaction he was expecting but it wasn’t this. “You don’t hate me?”

His mother frowned and grabbed his hand. “Why would I hate you? Yes its…different and will probably take some time to get used to, but I’ve always had my suspicions Myungjun. You’re my son, I know you better then you know yourself sometimes. Just tell me one thing.”

“Anything.” Myungjun said, relief at her acceptance crashing over him in waves.

“Does he make you happy?” She sighed when Myungjun looked at her questioningly. “Jinwoo, does he make you happy?”

“How did you know it was Jinwoo?” Myungjun squeaked, face heating up. “I didn’t tell you that!”

His mother laughed and patted his leg. “You didn’t need to tell me, you’re very obvious with your emotions Myungjun. Just like me in that department I’m afraid. Now answer my question.”

Myungjun nodded shyly, a smile on his face when he thought about his boyfriend and his mother sat back relieved. “I’m glad Junnie. Now let’s go down and get some food, shall we?”

*

Myungjun climbed out of the carriage behind Jinwoo and Sanha and smiled. It felt good to be back. He looked up at the academy and felt a thrill go through him. He was now a second-year student and it almost didn’t feel real. He carried his bag into the hall and looked around, searching for his friends, until he spotted Namjoon sitting with Seokjin. He made his way over to them and tapped Namjoon on the shoulder. He looked around and grinned when he saw Myungjun and the others and stood up to give him a hug.

“Did you have a good summer?” Namjoon asked, looking around. Myungjun nodded happily and asked how his summer had been. “It was great.” Namjoon said excitedly. “Me and Jinnie went up north to escape the heat, I’ll tell you all about it later, but we need to go pick up our forms now, you should come and get yours too.”

Myungjun didn’t know what forms he was talking about but followed him anyway. Grove called him over with a smile when they entered the new room and he made his way over.

“I hope you had a good summer Myungjun. I need you to fill in these forms, nothing too difficult. It’s just to decide on whether you want to swap roommates or not and a few class options to choose from. If you need help let me know.” He dismissed him with a wave of his hand before turning to the next student.

Myungjun unrolled the parchment and pulled a pen out of his bag. He quickly wrote down that he wanted to room with Youngjae and Namjoon again, hoping they would feel the same, and looked at the new classes.

KIM MYUNGJUN- EARTH ELEMENTAL, PLANT MANIPULATION VARIETY
HERBOLOGY (COMPULSORY)
INTERMEDIATE COMBAT AND WEAPONS TRAINING (COMPULSORY)
INTERMEDIATE PRACTICAL SKILLS (COMPULSORY)
ZOOLOGY OF MAGICAL CREATURES (COMPULSORY)
MEDITATION AND DISCIPLINE (COMPULSORY)

DESIGN CLASS-PLANT MANIPULATION VARIETY (OPTIONAL)
INTERMEDIATE COMMUNICATIONS (OPTIONAL)
ALCHEMY (OPTIONAL)
HISTORY AND LAW (OPTIONAL)
HEALING-WEEKEND CLASS(OPTIONAL)
NUMBERS-WEEKEND CLASS (OPTIONAL)
RELIGION-SUNDAY CLASS (OPTIONAL)

Myungjun quickly ticked the boxes next to Design, Intermediate communications, Alchemy and Healing. He was so happy he could drop History and Law; he didn’t think he could survive another monotone lecture. He briefly considered Religion, just to see Jinwoo in his church clothes again before realising that was ridiculously inappropriate and shaking his head clean of those thoughts. He handed the scroll back to Grove and went to get some food.

“Junnie!” He heard a familiar voice behind him and turned with an excited squeal to see Hyungwon rushing his way. They met in the middle and hugged each other tight. Myungjun rested his head against Hyungwons chest before pulling back in shock.

“Hyung you’ve grown so much!” He said, looking up at him. Hyungwon just smiled and led him to the nearest table.

“You’ll grow too if you eat lots of vegetables.” Hyungwon said, his hyung instincts coming out as he spooned food onto Myungjuns plate. Myungjun had missed this, being looked after by the older boy and it made him happy to fall back into old habits. He ate his food happily and told Hyungwon all about the summer he’d had, even going as far as relaying the story of Jinwoo punching Jung-hoon in the face.

“He ripped my favourite shirt Hyung.” Myungjun whined. “I wish I’d been the one to hit him for that.”

Hyungwon chuckled and ruffled his hair. “If he ever comes near you again, just get in there first.”

“Don’t encourage him.” Jinwoo said, joining them at the table. “What classes did you pick Junnie?” Myungjun relayed off his choices and Jinwoo sighed in relief. “I was hoping you’d pick communications again; I didn’t want to be by myself.”

“What classes did you pick Hyung?” Myungjun asked, turning to Hyungwon who had a mouth full of food.

He swallowed it down slowly before answering. “Weather manipulation, Design-ice variety and alchemy.”

“No weekend classes?” Myungjun asked, reaching across the table for the jug of water. Sanha sat down on the other side of the table and passed it to him. “Thanks Sanha.”

“No, I didn’t want a weekend class.” Hyungwon said with a shrug. “Weekends are my time to sleep.”

Myungjun snorted and rolled his eyes. “You sleep all the time anyway. I don’t know how you manage it.” They chatted some more until they heard Hoseoks loud voice calling them from the doors and Myungjun beckoned him over to join them.

“What did you pick for classes JinJin?” Myungjun asked, whilst everyone else spoke amongst themselves. “Other than communications obviously.”

Jinwoo gave him a small smile. “Just religion again. My timetables going to be pretty empty this year. I wanted to use the free time to practice my magic more and probably train more in the combat centre.”

Myungjun thought about his own timetable and sighed. “Mine is probably going to be full, maybe I shouldn’t have picked so many classes.”

*

Myungjuns timetable was definitely full. He looked down at it with a groan when he realised he only had the evenings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday free, and they would probably be taken up by homework anyway.

He looked at his first lesson of the day and smiled. Herbology with Ms Jung. He located Namjoon and Youngjae and they made their way down to the usual clearing together. Myungjun looked around and noticed his patch of flowers from last year was gone and he let himself feel a little sad before listening to what Ms Jung had to say.

“Welcome back everyone. I hope you had a good summer and are feeling refreshed and ready to learn again. Last year you learnt how to care for and grow your own plants. You also learnt the meanings and uses of those plants, which I’m sure helped some of you greatly during your exams.” Myungjun thought back to the dungeons and smiled. It had definitely helped. “This year we are going to be focusing on accelerating growth of existing plants and simple forms of animation. There is a special trip planned for this class in the future, so I would like you to work extra hard from now until then. Do you think you can do that?” She asked kindly and smiled when everyone said yes. “Good, enough of the small talk. Let’s get started, shall we?”

She told them all to pick one of the plant pots nearby and identify what was growing in it. Myungjun raced over to pick one and sat down under one of the trees to get to work. The little green leaves always excited Myungjun and he touched them gently. It cried out for water and he sighed. The class collected water from the large plant that Jimin had introduced Myungjun to the previous year. It had soaked him back then and it had still seemed to dislike him as the herbology lessons had gone on.

He got up now and collected one of the small pots before making his way across the clearing. He stopped in front of the tall plant and eyed it warily. Its thick green stem pulsated lightly with magic and held its budding head up proudly. Myungjun prayed it wouldn’t drench him before leaning forwards to place his hand on it gently.

“Please may I have some water?” He asked quietly. The plant slowly bloomed in front of him, revealing an array of bright blue petals before leaning forwards. Myungjun held his pot under the centre of the flower and held his breath as the water trickled out. He sighed in relief when the flower pulled back. He thanked it happily and turned around to leave. He got halfway across the clearing before looking into the pot. His smile was wiped from his face when he realised how much was in there. Barely even a centimetre deep. He growled in frustration before making his way back over. He placed his hand on the sturdy stem and asked through gritted teeth. “Please may I have some more water.” The plant shook its head. “Please may I have some water.” Myungjun asked again, more forcefully this time.

He shrieked as the plant hastily bloomed and sprayed water up into the air. It showered down upon him, fat droplets twinkling in the morning sun. It soaked him through, and he whined at how cold it felt. “Thanks for that.” He said sarcastically. “You were such a big help today, as per usual.” He turned on his heel and stalked back towards his work. He watered the mystery plant with the tiny amount of water in the pot and wrung his shirt out into it to top it up some more. The plant seemed happy enough and he pulled his textbook out of his bag to get started on identifying it.

Half an hour later he cheered in relief. He’d scanned every single inch of the plant to look for clues on what it could be and spent even longer flicking through the pages of his book, before realising it was just a simple tomato plant.

He wrote what it was on a little picket that he stuck in the soil, before handing it over to Ms Jung who congratulated him on his hard work. “Well done Myungjun. Now that you have finished, I would like you to follow me.” She led him over to the edge of the clearing and touched one of the trees. The forest dissolved in front of them, to reveal sizeable glass greenhouses that glinted prettily in the sun.

“Wow.” Myungjun said, eyes alight with wonder. “I never knew these were here!”

Ms Jung chuckled at his childlike demeanour and began to walk between them. “There’s around fifty greenhouses here, the smaller ones can be found at the front and the larger ones can be found at the back. I will be assigning you a greenhouse so you can plant your own food. It is a lot harder then planting flowers and will take a lot more of your time. The tomato plant you identified is your first project.” She led him towards one of the smaller greenhouses and he was surprised to see his name engraved prettily on the glass door. “This is yours for now, everything you need is inside. I will leave you to it and if you have any questions just come and find me. Many of your questions may be answered in your new textbook however, so look there first.” Myungjun thanked her before hurrying inside.

The greenhouse was warm and smelled earthy. There was a huge pile of soil in one corner, an array of gardening tools lining one of the walls and a large empty wooden planter, pushed up against the back wall, that was begging to be filled. Myungjun pulled down a shovel and began transferring the soil from the pile, into the planter. It was hard work and he quickly began to sweat. He liked hard work though, it kept his body busy and allowed his brain to shut off. Only one thing mattered and that was filling the planter so he could transfer his tomato’s.

The last shovel of soil made its way over and Myungjun groaned in relief. His back was sore, and his arms ached as he put the shovel back on its hook. He stretched until his back clicked and he quickly made his way over to plant his tomatoes, desperate for a break. They were happy in their new home and Myungjun turned in surprise when someone knocked gently on his door. He looked over his shoulder to see Youngjae peering in and went to open the door for him with a smile.

“Lessons over Junnie, lets go wash up and get lunch.” He said tiredly, offering Myungjun his arm before leading them back to their treehouse.

Chapter Text

Myungjun made his way to his first ever design lesson filled with excitement, he couldn’t wait to find out what they would be learning. Namjoon and Youngjae hadn’t picked this optional class, so he walked there with Jimin instead. They had to climb three flights of stairs in the Academy to get there and saw only a handful of people waiting outside.

“Not very popular is it?” Myungjun asked, not deterred in the slightest. They filed inside the room when a tall, slim man opened the door. He introduced himself as Mr Lee and asked them to take a seat. Myungjun sat closest to the wall covered from floor to ceiling in large bolts of fabric, that could be easily rolled down and cut. He ran a hand over the one closest to him. It was bright orange and fluffy and he squealed in delight.

“Welcome everybody!” Mr Less began enthusiastically, clapping his hands. “Design is my passion and I hope I can pass that passion onto you.” He laughed loudly and Myungjun grinned. He liked happy people, they made him want to be happy too. “I will be giving you each a folder to build your own artistic portfolio in, which you will be keeping upon leaving the Academy, so you can show it to future employers. Design of the plant variety is very special. You have no doubt learned how to grow and manipulate your own plants already and luckily those skills are transferrable here. Does anybody want to take a guess as to how?”

Jimin’s hand shot up in the air and Mr Lee gestured to him with a smile. “You can shape plant fibres to create different items.” Jimin began, eyes shining with excitement. “Like clothes and bags. My grandmother used to make me clothes all the time.”

“Excellent!” Mr Lee said joyfully. “You are indeed correct young man. Plants can be used for a multitude of things in the design field, clothes and bags included, and we will be learning about all of those things this year. Today unfortunately, will be a theory lesson, based on the techniques of plant craft and their uses. However, if we can get it all done in this lesson, then we can move onto the fun stuff next time! So please come up and grab a textbook from the cabinet and find the first chapter.”

*

In conclusion, plants can be used in many different ways in the art of design, including and not limited to; clothing, upholstery and other miscellaneous items.

Myungjun put his pen down with a satisfied sigh and flexed his wrist. It was the end of class and he’d written a whole sheet of parchment. He never knew plants could be used for so many things and was excited to start his practical design lessons.

Myungjun went down to dinner with Jimin and sat at an empty table. None of his friends were here yet so he chatted to Jimin about the class they had whilst they ate their food. He felt a pair of arms wrap loosely around his neck from behind and smiled as Jinwoo pressed a soft kiss into his hair.

“You smell extra earthy today Junnie.” Jinwoo said before slipping into the seat beside him. “Did you have herbology?” Myungjun nodded happily and told him all about the greenhouse he was given and the tomato’s he had planted inside.

“What classes have you had today?” Myungjun asked, pushing his empty plate away. He quickly turned to say goodbye to Jimin when Taehyung dragged him away from their table.

“My timetables really empty, I didn’t have a class this morning.” Jinwoo said when Myungjun turned back to look at him. “I just spent the morning in bed, it was nice, but I wish you were there to cuddle with.” He finished with a pout and Myungjun quickly leaned over to kiss it away.

“You said you’d use your free time for extra practice.” Myungjun reminded him before pretending to sigh in disappointment. “I should have known it was just an excuse for you to be lazy.” He squealed when Jinwoo tickled him in the ribs, telling him not to be so cheeky.

Hyungwon sat down in Jimin’s empty seat with a groan. “I thought design class of the ice variety, was going to be learning how to make pretty ice sculptures, not writing thousands of words on the history of the damn thing.”

Myungjun laughed and turned to pat his shoulder sympathetically. “I understand, I wrote so much about the uses of plants I thought my hand was going to fall off.”

Slowly the table around them filled up as everyone came to eat and Myungjun watched in amusement as Rocky Jr crunched on a plate of stones that Rocky gave him.

“You should stop feeding him, he’ll get too big to sit with us otherwise.” Dongmin pointed out. Over the holidays Rocky Jr had grown from knee height to waist height and could finally see over the table top when he sat on one of the chairs. Myungjun thought it was cute that he was finally sitting at the table with them and listened quietly as Rocky spoke.

“Would you ever stop feeding Moonbin?” He asked, watching Dongmin give Moonbin the rest of his dinner.

“No but Moonbins not a pet, he’s a human and needs the food.”

Rocky gasped and stood up with a scowl, pushing his chair back loudly. “Rocky Jr is NOT a pet!” He said angrily. “He’s my son and I love him, so I’ll feed him whenever I want! If he gets too big, we can just push you off the table you jerk.” He grabbed Rocky Jr’s stony hand and helped him down from the chair before storming from the hall.

“That was mean Dongmin.” Hoseok said with a frown. “Go and apologise.”

“Why should I?” He retaliated huffily. “It’s a rock for crying out loud, its only animated, it doesn’t have feelings!”

To everyone’s surprise, Moonbin was the one to speak up. “Minnie don’t be like this, even if Rocky Jr doesn’t have feelings, which is debatable by the way, Rocky still does and you stepped over the line talking to him like that. So do what Hyung said and go apologise to him.” He sighed as Dongmin stood up angrily. “Minnie please, I know you’ve had a bad day but don’t take it out on us.”

“Don’t bother following me.” Dongmin said coldly, walking out of the hall and towards the lake.

Myungjun turned to Moonbin, concern welling up in his chest. “What’s wrong with him? Should I go talk to him?”

Moonbin just shook his head with a sigh. “I can’t tell you; he doesn’t want anyone else to know. Just leave him to sulk, he’ll feel guilty soon enough and find Rocky to apologise.”

Myungjun frowned into his cup. He hoped Moonbin was right, he didn’t like seeing his friends fight.

*

“Today was a good day.” Myungjun said with a satisfied sigh, laying back against the grass by the lake and looking up at the night sky. Jinwoo rubbed his thumb comfortingly over the back of Myungjuns hand and hummed in agreement. “I wonder if Dongmins apologised to Rocky yet.”

“Probably.” Jinwoo said unbothered. “That’s their problem though, not ours.”

“They’re our friends Jinwoo, don’t you hate seeing them argue like that? We should do everything we can to help.”

Jinwoo rolled over on the grass to look down at Myungjun and gave him a soft smile. “We’ll be more help by staying out of it. I know you want to fix things, but you can’t.”

“I can, I just have to find a way.” Myungjun said stubbornly. Jinwoo laughed and poked Myungjuns nose.

“I’m sure if anyone could find a way, it would be you. However, that doesn’t mean you should.” Jinwoo stared down at his boyfriend’s pout and sighed. “There is one thing you could do though Junnie.” Myungjun looked up at him expectantly. “Give your boyfriend a cuddle.”

Jinwoo repositioned himself so his head was resting on Myungjuns chest and whined until Myungjun wrapped his arms around him. “I don’t know why we say Sanha is the baby.” Myungjun mumbled grumpily. “You’re the biggest baby of them all.” He felt Jinwoos body vibrate against his own in silent laughter and shook his head fondly. “Stop laughing and let’s have a nap. You’re really warm and it’s making me sleepy.”

*

Myungjun was eating his breakfast when he felt something nudging his thigh. He was ready to scold Jinwoo when he remembered he’d left early to go to class. He looked down and smiled when he saw it was Rocky Jr looking up at him.

“Hey buddy.” Myungjun said patting his head. “You look different. What did Rocky feed you this time?” He laughed when he got nothing but gravelly nonsense in return. “Wow that’s great. Wanna sit with me?” The rock nodded and lifted up his arms, wanting to be picked up. Myungjun gripped him under the arms and tried to lift but he was too heavy. “What are you made out of? Rocks?” Myungjun asked and laughed at his own joke. Rocky Jr made a scratchy noise that Myungjun guessed was a laugh of his own before lifting his arms up again. “I can’t buddy, you’re too heavy.” He just lifted his arms up higher, insistent, so Myungjun sighed and tried again. To his surprise he could lift him easily. “Did you make yourself lighter?” He asked and nearly fell off his chair when Rocky Jr made himself heavy again.

“He recently learnt how to do that.” Rocky said proudly, sitting down at the table with his breakfast. “Make yourself lighter again and stop fooling around so you can sit with Hyung.” He told Rocky Jr firmly and seemed pleased once Myungjun settled the animated rock between his legs on his chair.

Myungjun wrapped his arms around Rocky Jr loosely and looked up to speak to Rocky. “He looks different.”

Rocky laughed and sipped his drink. “He’s not different, he’s just clean. Dongmin-hyung came to apologise to me and I told him he needed to apologise to Rocky Jr too. He’d been playing in the mud so Hyung cleaned him off with his water magic. I never realised how dirty he was, I should look after him better.”

“You’re doing a good job as it is. None of us realised he was so dirty either, so don’t be too hard on yourself okay?” Myungjun said kindly and Rocky smiled at him before finishing his food. “You think he’s doing a good job too don’t you?” Myungjun asked, leaning down to give Rocky Jr a proper cuddle. He nodded his answer ferociously and his stony head hit Myungjun painfully against the chin.

“Ouch.” Myungjun said with a laugh. Rocky Jr looked back in surprise and reached up to pat his chin, garbling what Myungjun guessed was an apology. His hand was just as hard as his head, so it hurt more than it soothed but Myungjun didn’t mind. It was the thought that counts right? “I’m okay buddy, I know you didn’t mean to.” Rocky Jr gave him a toothless smile before turning back around to watch Rocky across the table.

“What classes do we have today Hyung?” Rocky asked, standing up to stretch. He waited patiently for Myungjun to dig his timetable out of his bag.

“It’s Thursday. So combat training, communications and practical skills. Let’s go together.” Myungjun helped Rocky Jr down and they made their way to their first lesson.

Chapter Text

Myungjun walked into the combat centre and halted in surprise. Rocky Jr ran around his feet, but he only had eyes for Jinwoo.

Jinwoo was fighting one of the mute combat teachers and he was holding his own. It wouldn’t have surprised Myungjun if he hadn’t realised the man wasn’t holding back. It was normal to see the teachers helping students and cutting them some slack, but he was attacking Jinwoo without mercy and his boyfriend was holding him off.

Jinwoo leaned back to dodge a spinning kick, that Myungjun knew would have sent him flying if it had made contact, and lunged forwards at the teacher with a growl. They were fighting without weapons and the harsh thuds and slaps of skin on skin contact rang around the room. Everyone had stopped to watch them, and some people were crowded around them, cheering Jinwoo on.

Myungjun stood there, mouth open in awe and found he couldn’t tear his eyes away. Since when did Jinwoo get this good? Jinwoos tank top was sticking to his back with sweat and his skin had a light sheen that made him glow. He brought up his forearms to block a hit aimed for his face and stumbled backwards off the mat. The female teacher clapped her hands to signal the end and some of the students mumbled in disappointment. Everyone had wanted Jinwoo to win apparently. He stepped back up onto the mat to shake hands with the teacher and they smiled at one another, tired but happy. Myungjun watched as they stayed like that, hands clasped and staring at one another. Jinwoo shook his head slightly and the teacher nodded before letting go and accepting some water from his sister. Jinwoo bowed politely and made his way over to the side of the room to grab a towel.

Myungjun snapped out of his trance and hurried over to him. “That was incredible JinJin!” He squealed excitedly and took the towel from his hand to dab at Jinwoos face for him instead. Jinwoo laughed and let him help so he could catch his breath.

“Thanks Junnie. I’m really tired now though. Could you get me some water?” Myungjun nodded before hurrying away to fill a cup for him and came back to see Rocky talking to him.

“Of course I’ll help, do you have any free time during the week?” Jinwoo asked, accepting the cup of water from Myungjun gratefully.

Rocky shook his head. “The only free time I have is Thursday evenings and I already spend them training with Moonbin. What about the weekend? You only have service on Sunday evening, right? We could train after lunch?”

Jinwoo gave him a smile and finished his drink with a satisfied sigh. “Sure, let’s do it Saturday afternoons then. Honestly, I don’t know how much I can teach you, you’re already really good.”

“Thanks Hyung.” Rocky said, flushing at the praise. “I’m nowhere near as good as you though. I’m going to practice now so I’ll see you guys at lunch.” He left them taking Rocky Jr with him.

Myungjun sat down next to Jinwoo and grabbed his hand to play with his fingers. “You’ll have lots of people asking for help now.” He said with a pout. “You won’t have any time for me.”

Jinwoo laughed and pulled him in for a sweaty hug. Myungjun tried to squirm away, pretending to gag and Jinwoo let him go grinning. “I’ll always have time for you silly. I’m only going to help Rocky because he’s my friend. I wouldn’t help anyone else if they asked.”

“Not even me?” Myungjun asked with a frown.

“You’re my boyfriend, you don’t even need to ask for my help. I’d do it anyway. Now stop pouting and grab a weapon, it’s time for class.”

*

Myungjun made his way to practical skills after dinner, gushing to Namjoon and Youngjae about how well Jinwoo did in combat training.

“We know Hyung.” Youngjae said with a laugh. “We were there too. Although you probably didn’t notice because you were too busy ogling him.”

Myungjun didn’t deny it. He had been staring at Jinwoo and if he was going to be honest with himself, it was for more than just observing his fighting skills. He tried not to think about that as he made his way into the practical skills classroom and set his bag down against the wall. The classroom for plant users was unique, it was large and had a floor made of dirt, with high ceilings and large open windows.

“Good evening class, for this lesson we will be attempting something new. Last year you focused on using vines for attack and defence and I was proud to see you’d all mastered that during the final dungeon examination. This year, we are going to focus on using flowers for attack and support.” The teacher, Ms Yoon, looked around in amusement as everyone started muttering. “Yes, it sounds very strange. How can we use something as delicate as a flower to attack our enemies? Well that is what we are going to learn. Now I need a volunteer, any offers?” Everyone was silent, avoiding her eyes so they wouldn’t get chosen and she sighed.

“I’ll do it.” Jimin offered in a small voice. He looked worried but Myungjun thought he was actually really brave. Jimin stepped up into the middle of the room and Ms Yoon smiled at him kindly.

“Thankyou Jimin. You won’t get hurt I promise.” She held her hands out in front of her, palms down and closed her eyes. Her birthmark began to glow and the ground beneath Myungjuns feet rumbled as a large flower pushed through the surface of the dirt. It unfurled its large white petals and stood taller than the trembling boy in front of it. Jimin looked up and gulped. Everyone held their breath and watched frozen as the flower released some type of thick cloudy pollen that washed over him. Jimin immediately fell to the floor and didn’t move again.

“Don’t worry.” Ms Yoon said, speaking over the din of panicked whispers, as she pulled the giant flower back into the dirt. “He’s just been put to sleep.” Myungjun still rushed over to him and helped Ms Yoon move him to the side of the room. They propped him against the wall, and she muttered a few words under her breath, waving a hand over Jimin’s face until he woke with a gasp. After making sure he was okay, Myungjun helped him to his feet and led him back over to the other students.

“As you all saw, you can use plants to attack with their spores. They can knock a man or creature unconscious within seconds. That was one type of plant, there are more that can poison or cause hallucinations, for example. You will not be able to create a plant as large as mine so early on because they take a lot of magical energy. You will begin by creating smaller flowers and trying to make them release their spores. It is a difficult spell and will take a lot of time to achieve so don’t be deterred if you cannot achieve it in this lesson. You can get into pairs and practice together.”

Myungjun paired up with Jimin, wanting to keep an eye on the younger boy as he still looked slightly shaken and they sat down on the floor to practice. Myungjun grew lots of different flowers around them, making Jimin squeal in delight and they got distracted looking at them all before the teacher came around to see what they were doing.

“Focus boys.” She said firmly but with a smile. “Try to recreate the flower I showed you Myungjun.” She watched with interest as Myungjun closed his eyes. He thought about the way the petals had opened and tried to remember its colouring and patterns. When he felt like he’d remember enough, he let his magic travel down to his palms and felt the ground tremble slightly.

“Excellent job.” He heard Ms Yoon say and he opened his eyes to see a smaller replica of the one she had grown. It was nowhere near as big, but it was the biggest flower he’d ever grown, about the size of his forearm and he cheered in excitement.

“Look Jimin! I did it!”

The younger boy laughed and stroked the flower gently. “Good job Hyung. I can’t believe you got it straight away, I’m nervous to try now.” He closed his eyes and Myungjun watched closely as a flower bloomed through the soil beneath Jimin’s hands. It was smaller than Myungjuns but his gave off a tiny puff of spores that Myungjun hadn’t been able to achieve.

“Well done Jimin.” Ms Yoon said, clapping her hands excitedly. “I’ve never seen anyone achieve spore distribution on their first try. Keep practicing both of you, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.”

By the end of the lesson, Myungjun hadn’t made much progress but he wasn’t disheartened. There’s always next time, he thought to himself as he helped Jimin to his feet. He said goodnight to him before finding Namjoon and Youngjae so they could go back to their room.

*

Myungjun woke up the next morning to the sound of quiet giggles.

“Jinnie shh, you’ll wake the others.” Namjoon whispered, even though he was being the louder one. Myungjun looked over sleepily, to see a giant lump wiggling around under Namjoons cover. He heard them kiss and rolled over with a groan.

“Seriously guys? It’s too early for this.” He grumbled. He heard Namjoon curse and looked back over when Seokjins head popped out from under the cover.

“Morning Myungjun.” The older boy said happily. “Sorry we woke you. Did you have a nice sleep?”

Myungjun sighed before sitting up. “I was having a nice sleep. Why are you up so early anyway?”

Namjoon sat up quickly, mouth opening and closing silently. “It’s not what you think!” He finally squeaked and Myungjun watched in confusion as Namjoons ears turned red.

“What would I be thinking?” He asked and looked over at Seokjin who was eyeing him curiously. The older boy raised his eyebrows slightly before making a noise of understanding.

“Nevermind Myungjun, it’s nothing you’d know about anyway.” Myungjun felt even more confused when Namjoon hit Seokjin lightly with a frown.

“Whatever.” Myungjun said, pushing himself out of bed. It was too early to try and figure out what they were hinting at. “I’m going for a shower, try not to wake Youngjae up.”

“Nothing could wake that boy up.” Namjoon replied, looking over to his bed. “He’d sleep through a war.” Myungjun silently agreed before making his way into the bathroom and shutting the door behind him. He honestly didn’t mind Seokjin sleeping over, he just wished he could have slept a bit longer.

He turned the shower on and shed his clothes before looking at his face in the mirror. It was still puffy from sleep and he had dried drool on his cheek. Great. He let his eyes roam lower down his body and stopped to look at the scar on his stomach. It was no longer bright pink, but it did still feel sensitive to the touch. Maybe it always would. He’d had it for nearly two months now, but it still shocked him whenever he saw it. He stepped into the shower and looked down at his arm, to inspect the scars there. The rat scratch on the inside of his wrist was fading away but the snake bite stood out still.

He heard mumbled voices outside before the bathroom door opened. He scolded himself for not locking the door and quickly tried to cover up but Youngjae wasn’t even looking his way. He just went straight over to the toilet and Myungjun quickly turned around to stare at the tiled wall.

“Nice scar.” Youngjae said, a hint of appreciation in his voice. “Makes you looks badass.”

Myungjun looked over his shoulder to see Youngjae eyeing his back. “What do you mean? I don’t have a scar on my back.”

“Umm, yes you do. You said the trident pinned you against the wall right? Of course it went through your back to do that you idiot.” He laughed as Myungjun scrambled from the shower, completely forgetting his shyness over being naked and he quickly turned in front of the mirror to see his back. Sure enough, there was the connecting scar. It was slightly smaller but still very much a thing.

“How did I not notice this?” Myungjun asked in disbelief. “How did I not even think about it?”

Youngjae just shrugged before pointing back to the shower. “Dunno but you should get back in Hyung. Seeing you naked wasn’t exactly on my to do list.”

Myungjun scowled at him before pushing him out of the door. “You shouldn’t have come in then!” He slammed the door shut and made sure to lock it, hearing Youngjae laughing outside. Why were his friends so annoying?

Chapter Text

“Welcome students, to your first healing class. I’ve met most of you before, but I’ll introduce myself anyway. My name is Mr Choi and I will be your teacher for the year.” Myungjun clapped loudly with the rest. He remembered Mr Choi taking him to the academy and felt a wave of gratitude when he remembered that Mr Choi had been the one to save him in the field after he was beaten up.

Mr Choi bent down to pick up a medical bag from underneath his desk and he placed it on the table. “I’m going to show you different medical supplies and I would like you all to tell me what they are and what they’re used for.”

He pulled out an array of items that were easily identified. Bandages, medical gloves, tape, pain relievers and energy revivers. Myungjun could name them all but was stumped when Mr Choi pulled out a bottle of clear liquid. Only one boy put his hand up to answer and Mr Choi turned to him with a smile.

“I’m not surprised you know Jaebum, would you like to tell us all what it is?”

Jaebum smiled and stood up confidently. “Alcohol, more specifically moonshine. Used to disinfect wounds if there isn’t a professional healer around. It can also get you very very drunk.” Students chuckled around him and Myungjun watched as Mr Choi shook his head with a smile.

“Thankyou for that extra information Jaebum. Please take a seat. He is correct, Moonshine is used to make sure wounds do not get infected. Obviously, it isn’t needed in the presence of an actual healer but its always useful to have for rookies like yourselves. Unfortunately, I will not be distributing any to you today because as Jaebum said, it is an alcohol and will get you drunk, and drinking is prohibited in the Academy as you already know.”

A few students began to mumble, and he shushed them all before taking out a stack of parchment. “The rest of this lesson will be used for taking notes. I’m going to give you scenarios of accidents that could happen and I would like you to write down the solution you would use to fix them. I have some spare parchment here for anyone who doesn’t have any of their own.”

Myungjun sighed before reaching into his bag for his leather book. He tore a new sheet out and got ready to give himself another hand cramp.

*

“Hey Myungjun, where’s your boyfriend today?” the voice sneered behind him and Myungjun hurried quicker down the corridor, trying to ignore them. They were the same bullies who Jinwoo had gotten into a fight with before, for dousing Myungjun in water, and he didn’t want to experience that again. “Look’s like he’s not around to protect you this time. Why do you need protecting anyway? Can’t fight back?”

Myungjun closed his eyes with a frustrated sigh before stopping and turning around to look at them. There were five in total and he didn’t even know their names. “Why are you doing this to me?” He asked, staring their leader in the face. “You don’t even know me, so leave me alone.” He turned to walk away but felt a hand on his collar yank him back. He stumbled, dropping the books in his hands all over the floor and flushed as they laughed.

“Look how clumsy you are, you made such a mess.” The boy tutted, shaking his head before letting go of Myungjuns collar and nudging the backs of his knees so he fell forwards. “Clean it up.” Myungjun burned from embarrassment, he didn’t want to do what they said but he needed those books, so he quickly scrambled around to collect them.

“Junnie are you okay?” He heard Hyungwons voice and looked up in relief to see him walking over.

“Crap its Hyungwon.” One of the boys mumbled behind him and he heard footsteps receding.

Myungjun picked up the last of his books and climbed to his feet, to look up at the older boy. “I’m okay.” He said with a strained smile. “I just dropped my books.”

“Are you sure?” Hyungwon asked, concern burning in his eyes. “You’re shaking.”

Myungjun looked down to see his hands trembling and forced himself to stop. “I’m sure, I guess I’m just hungry. Should we go get lunch?”

*

He didn’t know why he had suggested that, as he now sat in front of his food feeling sick. The hall around them was buzzing with noise and his friends sat around the table, oblivious of his inner turmoil. He knew he should tell someone, preferably Jinwoo but he couldn’t bring himself too. He was ashamed at not being able to fight back and he couldn’t let anybody know how weak he was.

He’d hoped that the bullying would have ended by the time he came back for his second year but that didn’t seem to be the case. He pushed his food around on his plate until Jinwoo placed a gentle hand on his shoulder.

“Junnie are you not hungry?” He asked, lowering his voice so the others wouldn’t hear. “Are you having nightmares again?” Myungjun shook his head and plastered a smile on his face.

“I’m fine JinJin, I haven’t had nightmares in a long time. Just don’t really feel like eating. Can we go and sit by the lake instead?”

Jinwoo looked down at his own plate, it was still half full, but he pushed it away with a smile. “Of course we can. Let’s go.” He held out his hand and Myungjun took it, grateful for the contact. They said goodbye to the others before making their way outside.

Myungjun sat down in their usual spot and started to grow flowers around them to calm himself. Jinwoo watched with a frown and after Myungjun grew his twelfth one, Jinwoo stopped him.

“Junnie you’re anxious about something. Tell me what it is.” Myungjun looked up at him surprised. How had Jinwoo known? “You always grow flowers when you’re feeling anxious or worried.” Jinwoo explained with a sigh. “What’s bothering you? I’ll try to help if I can.”

Myungjun smiled, feeling his chest warm up at Jinwoos words. He knew Jinwoo was always willing to help him in any way he needed, and he knew that ninety nine percent of the time he did it successfully. But Myungjun also knew that by telling Jinwoo that the bullying had started again, he would set him on a war path that would just lead to more detentions and eventually expulsion. He couldn’t do that to Jinwoo, so he lied instead. “I’m just anxious about taking so many classes. I’ve already gotten three pieces of homework and we’re only on our second week back.”

Jinwoo sighed and stroked one of Myungjuns flowers gently. “Maybe you should drop a class then Junnie. I don’t want to see you being so anxious over it, even though the flowers you make are always so pretty.”

Myungjun laughed and pulled them all back into the ground making Jinwoo pout. “I don’t want to drop any classes. Just ignore me I’m being silly. I’ll be able to finish all my homework in no time as long as I focus. I’ll just go to the library at dinner, but you’re not invited. You’ll just distract me.”

“I won’t!” Jinwoo protested. “I’ll be quiet I promise. I like watching you work. You have this cute habit of sticking your tongue out of the corner of your mouth a little when you concentrate and it’s just so precious, I want to cuddle you all day.” He giggled, giggled and Myungjun thought he was going to combust. Jinwoo rarely giggled and it contrasted heavily with his tougher appearance. Myungjun tried so hard not to coo at him, because he knew Jinwoo hated it, and shuffled over on his hands and knees to kiss his boyfriend.

Jinwoo made a noise of surprise but kissed him back softly. Myungjuns problems faded away and he pulled back with a happy whine. “Thankyou JinJin, I needed that kiss.”

“No problem Junnie, it was my pleasure.”

*

The next few weeks went past without incident, Myungjun had been able to avoid getting himself into trouble and had finally settled into his new timetable.

He walked into the clearing for herbology and opened up the magic path to the greenhouses. He could already see some students going in and out of their own, covered in dirt and carrying tools and he rushed over to his eagerly. He ran his fingers over the engraving of his name on the door before pushing it open. He squealed when he noticed the new development to his tomato plant and quickly pulled out his textbook to see what stage they were at now.

Apparently, they were close to flowering and needed extra nutrients to ensure their growth. Myungjun moved to one of the shelves in his greenhouse to look at the different jars he had been provided. There was one helpfully labelled as ‘Tomato plant food’ but he wanted to try making his own. It was risky and he could fail the project if it went wrong but he decided to just go for it. I won’t learn if I hold back and use shortcuts, he thought to himself before picking up a little bucket and filling it with the ingredients the book stated that he could use.

He walked over to his plant and touched it gently to see what it wanted. He quickly took one of the things out of the bucket, feeling glad he’d asked first and sighed when he realised it needed more water. Myungjun crushed the remaining ingredients into a fine powder before taking the bucket to his least favourite plant.

“Please may I have some water?” He asked it nicely, holding his bucket out in front of him. “I’m growing some tomatoes and I want to make sure they’re looked after.” The plant unfurled its bright blue petals and leaned forwards over the bucket. Myungjun could almost believe it was looking inside of it, to see if he was telling the truth, if he didn’t already know that flowers didn’t have eyes. The water started to trickle out and pattered noisily against the bottom.

“Hello Myungjun.” Jimin said coming up behind him. “How is your plant coming along?”

Myungjun turned back to give him a smile. “It’s good, I’m just getting some water. This plant still hates me though.”

Jimin leaned over to look in his bucket. “It doesn’t look like it hates you.” Myungjun looked down in disbelief to see that his bucket had been filled the perfect amount and he looked up at the plant in suspicion.

“Its only being nice to me because you’re here Jimin.” Myungjun huffed and walked away, leaving Jimin giggling behind him and greeting the flower like long-time friends.

Myungjun made sure to mix the powder into the water properly before pouring it into the soil around the tomato plants stem. He touched it once more to make sure that it was happy and put the bucket back with a satisfied sigh. He still had an hour left of the lesson, so he got some parchment and documented the newest developments, drawing pictures of the little buds and adding notes about what he had fed it. When he was finished, he tucked it safely into his bag and made his way to dinner. He had design class next and couldn’t wait to make a start on the blanket he had drafted.

*

“Myungjun you don’t need scissors to cut the fabric.” Jimin said kindly, pulling them out of his hand. “This fabric is made out of plant fibres so you can manipulate it with your magic like this.” Jimin ran his finger across the fabric and it fell away like it had been cut.

“Wow!” Myungjun said, awe lighting up his features. “Let me try.” He shouted happily when it worked, and Mr Lee came over to them with a big smile on his face.

“Well done Myungjun! You picked that handy bit of advice up quickly. Can I see the plan you drew up last lesson?” Myungjun handed over the parchment and the teacher scanned it quickly. “This is very adventurous and will take a lot of time to make. Are you sure you want to do this?”

Myungjun nodded enthusiastically before reaching across the table for the long ruler. “It’s a Christmas present, I’m starting it now, so hopefully it’s done in time.”

“For a fire user I’m guessing?” Mr Lee asked, pointing to the little note Myungjun had made, reminding himself to make it fireproof. He planned to take it to the enchanter Jinwoo told him about on their yearly trip to Voredan. He knew Jinwoo spent most mornings in bed now because of his empty timetable and he was always complaining about not having Myungjun there to cuddle. So, he was making him something he could cuddle instead.

“Yes.” Myungjun said happily, taking the parchment back to look at the measurements. “He’s special to me, so I want to do it well.”

Mr Lee left them to it, with wishes of good luck, before moving on to the next table. Jimin was making himself a cardigan using a fluffy yellow fabric that made Myungjun smile every time he touched it.

“I’m going to use some of the flowers I preserved to decorate the cuffs.” Jimin explained excitedly before pulling out a little box and showing Myungjun the flowers inside. They were brilliant white in colour and perfectly preserved.

“You have a lot of hidden skills.” Myungjun observed before going back to his fabric. “Can you teach me how to do that?” Jimin readily agreed and told him they could do it that night after class. It was the last class of the day and Myungjun hadn’t made any plans to see Jinwoo or go to the library, so he was happy to accept.

“We have about an hour left, so let’s concentrate.” Myungjun said, slicing off strips of black fluffy fabric.

Chapter Text

October flew by and soon enough Myungjun was presented with the news of another ball for hallows eve. This time the theme wasn’t masked, the theme was magical creatures and Myungjun groaned at the thought of having to decide on a costume idea. At least last year, he’d just been able to throw on a suit and fluff up his hair. He hadn’t even needed to make the mask himself because Jimin had done it for him. He flicked through his zoology textbook, trying to find a creature that looked interesting enough to base an outfit around.

“How’s about we all just dress up like the mythical creature assignments we had last year?” Youngjae suggested. Everyone was sitting around one of the big library tables, discussing their own ideas.

Myungjun perked up at the thought but Sanha started protesting about clashing with Rocky as their assignments had been the twin tigers. “It would be cute for you two to go together.” Myungjun said, watching as Sanha made a noise of disgust and Rocky looked at him offended.

“I am NOT going with Rocky. He’d want to dance all night and I hate dancing.” Sanha grumbled.

“I wouldn’t want to go with you anyway Sanha.” Rocky said back childishly. “You’d just embarrass me. I’d rather go with Rocky Jr.” They started to bicker backwards and forwards until Hyungwon hissed at them both to shut up.

Myungjun excused himself from the table and walked down the colourful rows of books before stopping at the section on dragons. He liked Youngjaes idea and decided an outfit based around the dragon he had raised would be a nice tribute to her. He saw an interesting book on one of the shelves higher up and stood on his tiptoes to reach it. He was still too short and sighed in frustration as his fingertips barely brushed the shelf it was sitting on.

“Let me help cutie.” Jinwoo said coming up behind him. Myungjun was going to point out that Jinwoo was short too before feeling a strong pair of arms wrap around his hips and lift him off the floor. He squealed but managed to grab the book and Jinwoo put him back down gently.

“JinJin you shouldn’t have done that, I’m too heavy!” Myungjun whined, turning to look at him.

“Are you saying I’m weak?” Jinwoo asked, crossing his arms over his chest so his muscles were purposefully made visible. “Because I’m pretty sure you’ve said otherwise on multiple occasions.” He smirked as Myungjun flushed and stammered for an excuse. “I’m only joking Junnie. You’re not heavy at all either, I can pick you up without a problem. You should know that by now.”

Myungjun remembered the way Jinwoo had picked him up easily, to kiss him against the tree during the summer, and he blushed even harder. “JinJin keep your voice down people could hear!” Myungjun whispered furiously, looking left and right down the row of books they were in.

“There’s no one here Junnie.” Jinwoo said quietly, backing Myungjun up against the bookcase, his book on dragons pressed between them. “Do you need help remembering?” His asked, hands travelling down Myungjuns waist slowly. He laughed and took a step back when Myungjun brought the book up between them to hide his face. “Another time then, let’s go back and sit down.”

He didn’t give Myungjun time to reply before he was walking away. Myungjun lowered the book shakily, taking some deep breathes in an attempt to calm his beating heart. Jinwoo knew how to get him flustered and he always teased him mercilessly. One of these days he’d get Jinwoo back.

*

“Myungjun you look FINE.” Youngjae said with a sigh. “You look better then fine, if Jinwoo wasn’t your boyfriend, I’d want to be your boyfriend at this point. Please just stop fussing.”

Myungjun whined irritably as he tried to fix his eye make-up for the third time. He’d learned that what Jinwoo had used to make his eyes smoky last Halloween wasn’t charcoal, which Myungjun had previously thought, but something called eyeliner and apparently girls wore it all the time. Myungjun wouldn’t know this because he didn’t look at girls often. Unless it was to glare at them when they stared at his boyfriend for too long.

He cursed when he poked himself in the eye and slammed the pencil down on the bathroom sink. That will have to do, he thought irritably and moved to stand in front of the big mirror to inspect his outfit. It had taken a long time to plan and even longer to make. Jinwoos Christmas present hadn’t been touched since he started making it and he felt a bit guilty. However, he knew it had been worth it when he looked at the reflection in front of him.

He was wearing a crimson silk shirt, covered in embroidered black scales that had taken him a lot of time to do and even more black thread. It was tucked into a pair of tight, high-waisted leather trousers that he’d borrowed from Jimin and they sat further up his waist then he was used too but it wasn’t uncomfortable. The things that had taken him the longest to make however, were his wings. They were sewn individually to the back of a harness he’d designed; with the inspiration of the ones the others had worn in the dungeons to hold their poles. He had thought Rocky looked cool in it, so he wanted to wear one too. The wings rose just above his shoulders, where they travelled back down his arms to be cuffed comfortably at his wrists. He’d spent two hours cutting out the individual black and scarlet scales for the wings and spent another six hours sewing them all on. He flapped his arms happily and turned around to see them sparkle in the light. He let his eyes roam back up his chest. He’d purposefully left the first four buttons of his shirt undone, dangerously low cut and he almost buttoned them back up out of sheer embarrassment but stopped himself. There were going to be loads of people showing off much more skin then this and it wasn’t like it was anything shocking; he was always taking off his shirt to get changed in front of Namjoon and Youngjae.

Yeah but it’s not them you’re trying to impress tonight, the little voice at the back of Myungjuns mind said and he scowled pushing it away.

He was sad about not being able to wear Jinwoos necklace because the pink didn’t match but he replaced it with a thin strap of black material that rubbed less comfortably at his throat. He ignored the uncomfortable feeling to look at his face. His eyeliner wasn’t as good as Jinwoos had been, but it still made his eyes stand out well. However, Myungjun knew the thing that would stand out the most was his hair. He’d asked Moonbin to dye it for him and it was a deep rich red like his petals. He’d styled it so it was slightly curled and topped it off with a pair of curly horns he’d asked Rocky to make out of some stone. He was lucky Rocky was taking a craftmanship class and could fulfil his request.

His outfit seemed complete enough, so he left the bathroom to face Namjoon and Youngjae. “I’m done.” He said, giving them a twirl.

“Wow Youngjae was right. You do look much better then fine. You look gorgeous Hyung.” Namjoon said with a smile. Myungjun returned it and went to sit on his bed so he could put on his shoes.

Youngjae cleared his throat excitedly and Myungjun looked up to see him holding a bottle of clear liquid. It took his brain a few seconds to register what he was seeing before he gasped. “Youngjae is that moonshine?”

“How the hell did you get that?” Namjoon asked, reaching forwards to take it. “Alcohol is prohibited in Academy grounds; you could get into so much trouble for having this.”

“One, don’t ask, you don’t want to know.” Youngjae began, making Myungjun laugh. “and two, WE could get into so much trouble. You’re both drinking it with me.”

Namjoon shook his head quickly, thrusting the bottle back into Youngjaes hands. “No way Youngjae you’re crazy. That stuff is so strong even my parents get wasted off of a glass and they’ve had a lot of time to practice drinking.”

Youngjae laughed and opened the bottle with a flourish. “Now’s a good time to start practicing Namjoon. Just take a sip it wont kill you. Plus, I think you need the liquid courage. I heard Seokjins wearing something pretty daring tonight and you know how much body confidence that boy has. Think about his shoulders Joon.”

Myungjun snorted when Namjoon ripped the bottle out of Youngjaes hand. He took a gulp and grimaced at the taste before holding it out for Myungjun. “Your turn, it doesn’t actually taste that bad I guess.”

Myungjun took it hesitantly and tried a small sip. The unfamiliarity of the alcohol made him grimace too, but like Namjoon had said; it wasn’t that bad. He thought about the amount of courage he’d need to face Jinwoo looking like this, with some skin exposed, and tipped his head back to drink as much as he could.

“Myungjun stop it you idiot!” Youngjae said, pulling the bottle away. “Look Joon he drank so much! We’re screwed.”

Myungjun rolled his eyes and wiped at his mouth with the back of his hand. “Don’t be so dramatic, I feel fine.” He wasn’t lying, he felt great, perfectly normal. The moonshine had left a warm feeling in his chest and he stood up to leave. “We should go, we don’t want to be late.” He waited for Youngjae to drink some before they made their way outside.

Myungjun still felt perfectly fine as he watched Namjoon climb down the ladder. He still felt perfectly fine when he began to climb down the ladder next. However, he didn’t feel so fine when he got about halfway down and looked up to see where Youngjae was. His mind started to go cloudy and his body went pleasantly numb. He tried to climb down the next rung, but his foot slipped and suddenly he was falling.

The ground rushed up to meet him and he landed hard with a grunt of pain. He heard a panicked voice and looked up to see Namjoon above him and Youngjae scrambling down the ladder calling his name. Why are they so worried? Myungjun thought and began to giggle.

“Why are you laughing Myungjun? You just fell like fifteen foot!” Namjoon said angrily, pulling him to his feet. “You could have been seriously hurt; you need to be more careful.”

Myungjun narrowed his eyes and poked him in the chest. “I’m a dragon Namjooooon. I didn’t fall. I flew! What are you my mother?” he asked and giggled again. “Wow I love my mother did you know?”

Youngjae groaned in annoyance at the side. “He’s drunk. Bloody hell I got him drunk, we’re in so much trouble, what are we going to do?”

“He can’t go, let’s just get him back up to bed.” Namjoon said with a sigh. Myungjun backed away fast when he tried to grab him.

“I’m not going to bed.” He said stubbornly. “I spent ages on this outfit! I’m not drunk, I’m just happy. Let’s play a game. It’s called catch me if you can.”

“Myungjun don’t you dare.” Youngjae warned, but it was too late. Myungjun had already set off running through the trees.

He heard them calling his name behind him, but he didn’t want to go back to bed. He wanted to see the rest of his friends and dance and have a good time. He also wanted to kiss his boyfriend and get him back for being such a tease all the time. He was glad he was faster than the others because he made it out of the forest and across the grounds before he had to stop to catch his breath. He froze when he spotted Grove walking out of the academy doors but sighed in relief when he walked straight past.

Myungjun made his way into the academy and followed the sounds of music, past students dressed in an array of costumes. He realised that a lot of the students had hardly tried with their outfits at all and felt a bit out of place in his, but he gained confidence when they turned to stare at him in awe. Some complimented him and he nodded politely before sweeping past them into the dimly lit hall. He looked around but he couldn’t see Jinwoo anywhere, probably due to the fact the whole room seemed to be spinning. He did notice however, that the room had been decorated tastefully. The ceiling was enchanted to look like the night sky, and something was creating a thick mist that travelled eerily along the floor. Barren trees were scattered around the room, with thick spider webs hanging between them. Myungjun watched as a girl got her headdress caught in one of the webs and she screamed as a big spindly leg reached towards her. Myungjun made a note not to get caught in any of them.

Students were dancing in the middle of the room, mist swirling up around them in clouds as upbeat music vibrated around the room. It looked too enticing. He made his way over and moved his body lazily to the music. Jinwoo will find me, Myungjun thought happily, he always does. He felt a pair of hands on his shoulders and looked up with a smile to see Hyungwon staring down at him.

“Junnie you look incredible.” He shouted over the music, leaning down so Myungjun could hear and he pulled back in surprise when Myungjun planted a kiss on his cheek.

“Thanks ‘wonnie.” Myungjun slurred happily. “Have you seen my incredibly attractive boyfriend? I need to kiss him.”

Hyungwon laughed before stopping abruptly and leaning down to sniff him. “Junnie…why do you smell like alcohol?” He asked slowly, pulling away to stare wide eyed as he took in Myungjuns moonshine induced flush. “Bloody hell Myungjun, where did you even get it?”

“It’s a seeeeeeecret.” Myungjun said with a giggle. “Dance with me ‘wonnie.” He grabbed Hyungwons wrists and pulled him deeper onto the dance floor. The older boy protested the whole time but Myungjun drowned out his voice, focused only on dancing and waiting for Jinwoo. Lights flashed around him and the mist made everything hazier. It felt like time was suspended and he never wanted it to begin again.

He didn’t have to wait much longer before Hyungwon was shouting to him that Jinwoo had arrived. Myungjun eagerly pushed his way out of the mass of sweaty bodies before spotting Jinwoo himself and nearly passing out there and then from how breathtaking he looked. Jinwoos outfit was inspired by his phoenix assignment and he glowed, surrounded by all the reds and yellows and oranges. Myungjun barely registered anything except the fact his arms were very much bare, and he desperately wanted to touch them.

He walked towards him slowly, trying to remember to act normal and shivered in joy at the expression on Jinwoos face when he noticed him. Myungjun closed the distance and gave him a twirl. “Do you like it?” He asked, feeling a lot bolder thanks to the moonshine. Jinwoo looked him up and down a few times, taking in all the details and nodded wordlessly, shock still evident on his face.

Myungjun leaned forwards to whisper in his ear. “I want you to tell me how much you like it. I did this all for you, don’t be embarrassed.” He pulled back with a smirk to see Jinwoo opening and closing his mouth without a sound, clearly shocked at Myungjuns complete change of demeanour.

“Uhhh…” He began dumbly, stopping to visibly gulp. “You look great Junnie, I…I like it a lot.” Myungjun felt dizzy from the praise but tried not to show it, he was going to get Jinwoo back tonight, for all the teasing and flustering he’d put Myungjun through.

Myungjun wet his lips with his tongue, making sure Jinwoo was watching him and leaned forwards to kiss him. He saw Jinwoos eyes flutter shut, clearly expectant and dodged at the last second to kiss his neck gently instead. He heard Jinwoo whine and he pulled back with a smile. “Let’s dance.”

*

Myungjun watched Jinwoos patience slowly unravel as the night went on. He danced against him on the dancefloor, swaying his hips from side to side and continuously putting Jinwoos hands back on his shoulders when they tried to roam lower. Whenever Jinwoo would moan at him for it, he’d silence him with a finger on the lips.

“Just dance JinJin.” He’d say, before pressing up against him further and burying his face in Jinwoos neck, breathing in the intoxicating scent of his skin. He would get brief sobering thoughts that he’d never have the courage to do this usually but pushed them all away to focus on the task at hand.

Jinwoo finally snapped when Myungjun dragged his lips from his collar bone to his ear to nip at it gently. He pushed Myungjun away with a frustrated growl and dragged him from the room. Myungjun felt his blood sing in his veins from anticipation and silently congratulated himself on his victory. He stumbled behind him, letting Jinwoo take him wherever he wanted, grinning like an idiot.

His mind was starting to clear but it wasn’t enough to worry him. He realised after they’d been walking for a few minutes, where Jinwoo was actually taking him, and tried to set his face into an expression of innocence when Jinwoo pulled him through the door to the storage room. He slammed the door shut behind them and turned to face Myungjun, eyes dark. The moon shone in through the window and lit up half of his face, he looked furious.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing Myungjun?” He asked. Yep, definitely furious. “You come here dressed like this.” He backed Myungjun up a step. “You don’t let me touch you all night.” Another step. “and then you tease me like that?” Myungjuns back hit the wall and he felt excitement claw at his chest. “Do you have any idea what you’re doing to me?” Myungjun shook his head slightly and Jinwoo closed his eyes to take a deep breath. “My magic already spiked the moment I laid eyes on you tonight, but its beating under my skin now I can feel it.”

Myungjun had thought he was just feeling warm from the moonshine but now he realised it was something more.

“I’m dangerous Myungjun.” Jinwoo said quietly, looking him in the eyes. “What if I hurt you huh? How do you think I’d feel?”

Myungjun bit his lip, guilt welling up inside of him. He should have thought about how hard it was for Jinwoo to control his magic. Jinwoos eyes flickered down and he groaned, reaching up to drag Myungjuns lip from his teeth with the pad of his thumb. “Don’t do that either, it’s making things worse.”

“I’m sorry JinJin. I didn’t think about what I was doing.” Myungjun whispered. “But I trust you. I know you won’t hurt me.”

He watched as emotions warred endlessly on Jinwoos face. “You might trust me Myungjun, but I don’t think I can trust myself.” He moved to pull back but Myungjun grabbed him.

“Please JinJin, I need you.” He knew he sounded desperate, but he didn’t care. By teasing Jinwoo all night, he’d unknowingly wound himself up too. The thought of Jinwoo leaving now was excruciating.

Jinwoo let out a shaky breath and pressed their foreheads together. “Myungjun this is stupid and reckless, and my body is screaming at me to release my magic.”

“You won’t JinJin I promise. Please just kiss me.” Myungjun said close to tears. “I feel like I might die if you don’t.”

Jinwoo made a noise of pure pain before surging forwards and kissing him fiercely. The tension that had been building within Myungjun all night exploded. He didn’t even warn Jinwoo before jumping up to wrap his legs around his waist. Jinwoo stumbled forwards and Myungjuns back hit the wall, he was glad there wasn’t any bark like the last time they were in this position. He felt his horns slip out of place in his hair but couldn’t find it in himself to care. Jinwoo put both of his hands under his thighs to hold him up and Myungjun clumsily unclipped the heavy cape of fire coloured feathers from around Jinwoos shoulders. It fell to the floor with a sigh and Myungjun gripped at Jinwoos bare arms. They felt strong and solid and made him whine happily.

Jinwoo flexed his muscles under Myungjuns hands and laughed into their kiss as he whined happily again. “Do you like it Junnie?” He pulled back slightly to ask, mocking Myungjuns voice from earlier when he’d asked about his outfit.

“Yes.” Myungjun said breathily, not hesitating in the slightest. “You’re so attractive Jinwoo, I’ve been dying to touch your arms all night.” His confession stunned Jinwoo and he stared at Myungjun in shock before blushing.

“I like it when you touch me.” He said quietly and Myungjun grinned.

“Do I have your permission to touch your arms more often then?”

“Always Junnie. Now shut up and kiss me.” Their lips crashed together, messy and desperate. Myungjun squeezed Jinwoos biceps until he moaned and reached down to tug at the hem of his vibrant sleeveless shirt.

“Lift your arms Jinwoo, I want this off.” Myungjun ordered when Jinwoo pulled back, confused at his insistent tugging. His eyes widened and he gripped Myungjuns thighs tight.

“Why do you want my shirt off? You can see my arms just fine.” He seemed nervous and Myungjun frowned.

“Why are you suddenly acting shy? You’re never shy when you change your shirt in front of me. I’m always the one who closes my eyes.”

Jinwoo was quiet for a few seconds before lifting his arms and letting Myungjun awkwardly pull it off. The angle wasn’t great and Myungjun giggled when it got caught on Jinwoos chin. When it was off completely, he threw it to the side and Jinwoo had to hoist him up to stop him slipping off his hips. Jinwoo held him up firmly and watched with a blush as Myungjuns eyes raked over his chest.

Myungjun had gotten glimpses of Jinwoos chest before but he’d never looked for long. He stared now, eyes trailing down from his collar bones to the top of his stomach and he reached out shakily to trace the dips of Jinwoos abdominal muscles.

“You’re perfect.” Myungjun said, looking up at Jinwoos tense face. “You’re so perfect JinJin.” Jinwoo finally relaxed into a smile and kissed him again. Myungjun ran his hands all over Jinwoos bare skin. His shoulders, his arms, his chest, his back, he caressed it all until Jinwoo pulled him away from the wall and carried him to the battered desk on the other side of the room. He placed him down gently and moved his hands to the tops of Myungjuns thighs instead; kneading them through his leather trousers and making him squirm.

“Your thighs look sinful in these Junnie.” Jinwoo muttered against his lips. “Don’t ever wear them in front of anyone but me.” Myungjun giggled at his protective behaviour and pulled back to look at him properly.

“Don’t ever take your shirt off in front of anyone but me then.” He leaned back on his hands to look at Jinwoos body some more. The moon shone directly on him now and Myungjun could see all the little details he’d missed before. A little scar here, a freckle there. He burned it all into memory before looking up at Jinwoos piercing gaze.

“Your turn.” Jinwoo said quietly, unclipping the harness strap around Myungjuns waist and the two straps around his shoulders. Myungjun sat confused, his turn for what? Jinwoo pulled the cuffs off of Myungjuns wrists and placed the wings gently behind them on the desk. He reached up to trail his fingers down Myungjuns chest, which the four undone buttons exposed, making Myungjuns skin burn. Jinwoo moved to unbutton the fifth and Myungjun slapped his hand away with a shriek, finally understanding.

“No way Park Jinwoo, I am NOT taking my shirt off.”

Jinwoo laughed and pulled away. “You will one day Junnie, you undoing all these buttons just to tease me proves it.”

Myungjun blushed and hid his face in his hands. Why did he always fall into Jinwoos trap?

Chapter Text

Myungjun stood in the shower, watching the spray on hair dye paint the floor red. He remembered watching his blood pool at his feet after being impaled by the sirens trident during the last dungeon run and shivered.

“You doing okay in there Hyung?” He heard Namjoons voice drift through the bathroom door and he shouted back a confirmation. It was the morning after the ball, and he was burning from embarrassment. He’d taken off Jinwoos top and actually touched him. The thought alone was enough to make him groan in shame and he rested his head against the tiled wall with a thump.

“I’m never touching alcohol again.” He whined to himself before furiously scrubbing the rest of the dye from his hair and getting out of the shower, the cool air hitting his skin and making him shiver.

Namjoon was waiting for him on his bed and handed him a clean change of clothes. “How do you feel? Any better?”

Myungjun remembered the whole reason for the shower in the first place and felt the nausea come back to him. “Not really. Why did no one tell me hangovers could be this bad?”

Namjoon laughed and went over to his own bed to give Myungjun privacy to change. “You’ve not been sick yet, so that’s a good sign. Do you have a headache?”

Myungjun sighed and pulled his clothes on. “Not really, just a dull ache that will go away soon enough. What classes do we have today?”

“Herbology, then you have design and we can meet up at dinner to go to zoology with the water users.” Namjoon said, putting on his glasses and fluffing his hair. “I said I’d meet Jinnie for breakfast. So I’ll just see you at herbology okay?” He said goodbye, leaving Myungjun to collapse on his bed with a groan.

He really didn’t feel like going to classes today but at least he had none with Jinwoo, so he could hide his shame for a time and pretend last night didn’t happen. Part of him was secretly glad it did, he got to see his boyfriends chiselled body dammit, how could he not be at least a little bit satisfied? However, the things he had said ’Do you like it? I did it all for you.’ made him want to jump off the treehouse and plummet to his death. He whined loudly, kicking his feet before jumping out of bed to find his shoes. He was just going to face the day and hope Jinwoo didn’t mention anything.

*

Myungjun sat in his greenhouse, counting how many buds on his tomato plant had flowered. There were a lot and he congratulated himself on making his own tomato plant food successfully. He looked up when someone knocked on the glass door, to see Ms Jung peering inside. He quickly let her in, and she shuffled over to inspect the plant herself.

“Myungjun I’m very impressed. Your plant is coming along nicely, and I know it will produce many tomatoes for you to enjoy. As it’s flowering already, I can give you your next project.” Myungjun watched curiously as her frail hands patted the soil gently. A new little seedling sprouted, and she stepped back with a smile. “This is another mystery vegetable that I would like for you to grow. If you succeed with this one as well, I will consider moving you on to something harder.” She bid him farewell before leaving him to his work.

When the door closed behind her, Myungjun moved over to inspect the little plant. It looked so cute and tiny and he stroked the miniature leaves delicately, promising to look after it well. Luckily enough he didn’t need to make a trip to the watering flower for it yet, so he sat down to draw the new plant instead. It was still too early to hazard a guess as to what it might be, but Myungjun still checked his textbook anyway. After deciding he really had nothing else to do, he set off to find Youngjaes or Namjoons greenhouse, looking for company.

He walked through the rows of sparkling glass until he spotted Namjoon walking towards him with a bucket of water. He watched in horror as Namjoon tripped and spilled the contents all over the grass.

“Joonie are you okay?” Myungjun asked, rushing over to help him to his feet. Namjoon groaned and looked down at the grass stains on his trousers before picking the empty bucket up.

“This is the second time I’ve tripped today.” He whined, frowning down at his feet. “Now I have to go all the way back to collect more water. Can you give this to Youngjae for me whilst I’m gone? He’s three greenhouses down from here.” He held out a glass jar and Myungjun took it before telling him to be careful.

He knocked on the door to Youngjaes greenhouse and walked inside. The younger boy looked stressed and cried out in relief when Myungjun handed the jar over. “Where’s Namjoon?”

“He fell over and dropped all his water, he’s gone back to get more.” Myungjun explained. “What’s up anyway?”

Youngjae sighed and reached up to pull a pestle and mortar down from the shelf. “I forgot to close the door to my greenhouse properly and some hornworms got in and started feeding on my plant. Go and look, its terrible.” He got to work grinding up whatever was in the jar Namjoon had given him and Myungjun went to survey the damage. He could see the visible damage to the leaves and stem and felt sad for Youngjae. He reached out to touch it and listened to what it needed.

“Youngjae what are you grinding up?” He asked, turning back to look at him.

“Oiliare bark. Joon told me it would help.” Youngjae answered, crushing the bark to dust.

“Your plant wants malorn root instead Youngjae, you should have some on your shelf.”

Youngjae turned to look at him with wide eyes. “How do you know what it wants? I thought you could only hear jumbled whispers?”

Myungjun smiled and looked down to stroke the damaged plant. “I can hear them well now. They tell me when they need something and let me know how they feel.”

“I wish I could do that.” Youngjae sighed. “I barely even hear them whisper at all. You must have a gift.”

Myungjun laughed and looked for the malorn root for him. “This one should do it. I’ll wait for you to use it and then we can go to lunch together okay? I want to eat quickly though.”

Youngjae took the jar from Myungjun and smirked. “Why? Still avoiding Jinwoo?”

“I’m not avoiding him.” Myungjun grumbled. “I’m just making sure I’m finished before he gets there.”

Youngjae laughed and ground up the new root. “That’s avoiding Hyung. I’m guessing you did something embarrassing again.” Myungjun made a noise of offence and he laughed louder. “You always do embarrassing things and avoid talking about them. Spill it, what did you do this time?”

Myungjun sat down on the floor with a defeated sigh. “I said some things that are making me want to curl up in a ball and die…then I took his shirt off.” Youngjae gasped and forgot what he was doing to stare at Myungjun instead.

“You didn’t!” He said, sounding genuinely shocked. “I didn’t know you were like that Hyung, wow.”

“I’m not like that!” Myungjun denied hotly. “It was the moonshine. You know I get shy and embarrassed about those things normally! I don’t even know why I did it and now I can never see him again.”

Youngjae rolled his eyes before going back to his work. “You have to see him, he’s your boyfriend. If he didn’t want you to do it, he would have stopped you.”

“He did try to stop me! He got all tense and was like ‘Why do you want my shirt off?’” Myungjun said, doing a poor voice imitation of Jinwoo that was at least three octaves lower than his normal voice. “but I still did it anyway! Oh bloody hell, just take your shovel and hit me with it. Bury me so I don’t have to go out there.”

Youngjae saw how genuinely mortified Myungjun was about the situation and shuffled over to give him a cuddle. “You’ll be okay Hyung. Just go and talk to him about it. If you really feel like you forced him to do it, then you need to ask what he thinks about the situation. I’m sure he didn’t mind anyway. With the way you looked yesterday, I’m sure he would have wanted to take your shirt off too.” Youngjae added cheekily with a wink.

Myungjun thought back to Jinwoo unclipping his harness and trying to unbutton his shirt and groaned, burying his face in Youngjaes neck. “Never let me touch moonshine again.”

*

Myungjun walked into the hall for dinner and froze. He’d managed to avoid Jinwoo at breakfast and lunch, but he was there now, sitting in front of an empty plate and playing with the necklace around his throat. Myungjun thought about running away but right when he moved to leave, Jinwoo looked up and spotted him.

“Junnie!” He called out happily, patting the seat beside him. Myungjun internally cursed at being caught before walking over to him with a strained smile. “Where have you been? I haven’t seen you all day.” Jinwoo pouted, reaching over to grab his hand. He frowned when Myungjun pulled away, pretending to grab a drink instead.

“I’ve just been busy in my greenhouse and making stuff in design class.” By stuff Myungjun meant Jinwoos Christmas present but he wasn’t going to tell him that.

“So you’re not avoiding me then?” Jinwoo asked bluntly, still staring at Myungjun with a frown.

Myungjun hesitated before answering. “Of course not, what would make you think I’m avoiding you?” In his nervousness he overfilled his glass with water, spilling it all over the table. Jinwoo sighed and steamed the water away with his magic.

“You’re acting weird Myungjun. Weirder than usual and I haven’t seen you all day. I know you’re avoiding me, but I don’t know why. Is it because of yesterday?”

Myungjun blushed fiercely and quickly shook his head. “No not at all. I really was just busy, there was a lot of stuff to do in my greenhouse.”

“I thought you finished there early today Hyung?” Namjoon asked, sitting down at the table, oblivious to what he’d just revealed.

Jinwoo scowled and stood up. “I see. Come and find me when you decide to stop lying to me Myungjun.” He took off out of the room and Myungjun buried his face in his hands with a groan.

“Did I say something wrong?” Namjoon asked, watching Jinwoos retreating back.

*
Myungjun lay in bed three days later, watching the sun rise through the trees. He hadn’t spoken to Jinwoo properly since he stormed out of the hall and if they did speak, it was for Jinwoo to ask if Myungjun was ready to tell the truth and always ended in him walking away annoyed when Myungjun didn’t answer.

He felt guilty about lying to Jinwoo and it made it all the more harder for him to speak to him. However, he was beginning to miss him terribly and decided that today was the day to talk to him before things got any worse. He pushed himself out of bed and had a quick shower before hurrying straight to his first lesson. He didn’t feel like eating breakfast and he had combat training with Jinwoo first, so he decided to get his adrenaline pumping before he turned up.

Myungjun was in the middle of a sparring match with the male teacher when he saw Jinwoo walk through the doors. He narrowly dodged a blow to his shoulder and brought his swords up quickly to block the swing aimed for his head. He felt the familiar tingle of his skin whenever Jinwoo was looking at him and tried hard to focus on the match instead. The teacher swung his pole and it connected painfully with Myungjuns wrist. His sword was knocked into the air and he rolled to the side to catch it before it hit the floor. The teacher nodded at him encouragingly and Myungjun stood up swiftly to attack him.

Five minutes later and Myungjun was on his back, panting like a dog. The teacher held out his hand and Myungjun allowed himself to be pulled to his feet.

*Good work Myungjun* The mute teachers voice rung through his head and Myungjun smiled at him before stepping away. He finally turned to face Jinwoo but looked on in disappointment when he saw him sparring with Rocky. He went and sat by the wall to wait for them to finish.

Rocky Jr saw him sitting by himself and ambled over to sit beside him. Myungjun leaned against him with a sigh and smiled when he garbled. “I’m okay buddy. I just need to talk to Jinwoo.” He sat up in surprise when Rocky Jr sprung to his feet and raced towards the two fighting boys.

Myungjun watched as he grabbed Jinwoo by the leg and dragged him forcefully off the mat. He wanted to curl up in a ball when Jinwoo was dragged towards him looking confused.

“I’m not hurting Rocky, why are you taking me away?” He heard Jinwoo ask. Rocky Jr pointed at Myungjun and pushed Jinwoo towards him before running back to Rocky.

“Umm I didn’t ask him to do that.” Myungjun said, scrambling to his feet. “but I umm…I need to talk to you, please.”

Jinwoo nodded stiffly before walking away to place his weapon on the rack. He came back and held out his hand, which Myungjun took nervously. Jinwoo led them out of the combat centre and towards the lake. They sat in their usual spot and Jinwoo stared at him expectantly, arms crossed, and eyebrows raised. “I’m listening.”

Myungjun took a deep breath before speaking. “I’m sorry for avoiding you, I just felt guilty.”

Jinwoo frowned and uncrossed his arms. “What do you mean guilty? Have you done something wrong?” Myungjun heard a sharp intake of breath when he nodded. “Is this the part where you tell me you cheated on me?”

Myungjun looked up at him confused. “What? Why would I do that?”

He saw Jinwoo relax and shake his head. “Never mind. Just tell me what you did wrong.”

Myungjun squirmed, embarrassment welling up inside of him again when he thought about it. He knew he had to just say it though, he didn’t want to be away from Jinwoo any longer. “I’msorryItookyourshirtoffwhenyoudidn’twantmetoo.”

“What?” Jinwoo asked, eyebrows furrowed. “Speak slower Junnie, I can’t understand you.”

Myungjun whined and pulled his knees up to his chest. “I’m sorry I took your shirt off when you didn’t want me too.” He said again, quieter this time. He looked up after a few moments of silence to see Jinwoo staring at him, expression blank. “Say something Jinwoo, I’m dying of embarrassment here.”

Jinwoo was quiet for a few more seconds before bursting out into laughter and falling back on the grass.

“This isn’t funny Jinwoo! Stop laughing at me.” Myungjun scowled, burying his face in his knees. Jinwoo didn’t stop laughing, not for along time. He was still laughing when he pulled Myungjuns face up to look at him.

“I can’t believe you.” He said, tears in his eyes from laughing so much. “You really avoided me because of that?”

“I touched you Jinwoo.” Myungjun squeaked, ears bright red. “I touched yourchest Jinwoo. Do you know what’s on your chest? Nipples Jinwoo, nipples

He whispered the last word and Jinwoo shrieked out another laugh, falling back again and clutching his stomach. Myungjun whined and got up to leave. “I’m going to go and throw myself into the lake now, goodbye cruel world.” He made it to the edge of the water before he felt Jinwoos arms wrap around his waist from behind, body still shaking from laughter.

“Please don’t jump in the lake, I don’t fancy getting wet today jumping in to save you.” Jinwoo said, gasping for air as his laughter died down.

Myungjun wiggled out of his grasp to turn around and look at him. “I can swim and save myself Jinwoo. No-one asked you to save me.”

“Just think though Junnie. If I get wet, I’ll just have to take my shirt off again.” He waggled his eyebrows and gave an overdramatic groan of pain when Myungjun hit him. “Don’t hit me. I thought you liked me shirtless. You certainly didn’t mind when you were groping me.”

“I do not grope Park Jinwoo! That’s it, we’re breaking up. I can’t stand you.” He finished with a shriek as Jinwoo tackled him into the water. It was the beginning of November, so the water was freezing. He thrashed around, trying to throw Jinwoo off but got pulled up to the surface instead.

“What the hell was that for?” He asked angrily, shaking from the cold and gripping onto Jinwoo like a lifeline.

Jinwoo just shrugged. “If you’re going to break up with me, we might as well die right now. I don’t want to live without you, and I don’t want anyone to take you away from me. So I thought I’d just drown you instead.”

“You’re crazy.” Myungjun said, a smile tugging at his lips. “You’re lucky I know you’re joking.”

“Well…mostly.” Jinwoo replied, flashing him a smile.

“Can we get out now JinJin? Just because you don’t get cold doesn’t mean I don’t. Its FREEZING.” Myungjun asked, as a violent shiver wracked his body.

Jinwoos eyes widened in shock. “Junnie I forgot, I’m so sorry! Here, get on my back.” He turned around so Myungjun could climb on and got them back on dry land. He started to steam off and Myungjun clung to him, desperate for warmth. Jinwoo set him down gently and pulled him into a hug, running his steaming hands through Myungjuns wet hair.

“Junnie can you look at me?” He laughed when Myungjun whined, not wanting to let go of the warmth. “Just for a minute and then I’ll dry your back.” That made Myungjun pull away to look at him. His front was now dry, but his back was dripping, it was a weird combination.

Jinwoo smiled at him and kissed his nose. “You didn’t MAKE me take my shirt off before. I took it off because I wanted too. So stop feeling guilty and stop avoiding me. You’re my boyfriend, if I was going to take my shirt off in front of anyone it would be you. I didn’t mind you touching me either, I liked it, loved it in fact and I wish you’d do it more often.” He blushed as he said the last words and quickly turned Myungjun round to dry his back. “Let’s just go back to how things were between us. I hate eating alone.”

“Okay.” Myungjun replied quietly. “I’m sorry for not being there.”

Chapter Text

Myungjun climbed into the carriage with Jinwoo beside him and squealed in excitement. It was the annual trip to Voredan and Myungjun was finally getting the chance to explore the city with his boyfriend. Myungjun had his bag on him, which contained Jinwoos finished Christmas present and a new medical herb pouch that he’d made for himself to use in the dungeons. He was going to take them to the enchanter after finding a way to distract Jinwoo.

Hyungwon climbed into the carriage after them and sat opposite Myungjun, knocking their knees together. “This feels familiar, doesn’t it Junnie?” Hyungwon asked with a smile.

Myungjun remembered back to the carriage ride he had taken with Hyungwon and Hoseok after leaving home. Hyungwon had knocked their knees together and apologised. It was the first thing he had said, and it made Myungjun grin. “Yeah, we’ve come a long way since then haven’t we?” He asked, reaching over to grab Hyungwons hands and hold them tight.

“You look a lot better now.” Hyungwon said with a laugh and pulled one of his hands away to poke at Myungjuns nose. “Your nose looked awful before.”

“I’m glad Mrs Ko could fix it. I would have looked scary otherwise.” Myungjun said, going cross-eyed trying to look at it.

Hyungwon laughed and ruffled his hair. “You couldn’t look scary if you tried. You’re too cute.”

Jinwoo cleared his throat noisily, reminding them of his presence. “Please refrain from flirting with my boyfriend in front of me.”

“Complimenting isn’t flirting Jinwoo. It’s called being nice. I’m his best friend for a reason you know.” Hyungwon said, fiddling with the friendship bracelet around his wrist that Myungjun had made him last Christmas. Myungjun looked down at his own wrist to see the matching one and wondered if Hoseok still wore his. He leaned against Jinwoo and closed his eyes, only half listening to the two boys bickering. The carriage door opened one final time and Sanha came stumbling in, carrying his guitar.

“Why are you bringing that?” Jinwoo asked, cutting off what Hyungwon was trying to say to him. Myungjun opened his eyes to see Sanha drumming his fingers against the wood.

“Myungjuns mother told me the best place to learn songs is in a tavern. She said that there’s always other guitarists in there who are willing to teach.” Sanha said happily.

“Umm Sanha, I think my mother was a bit older than you when she went into taverns. The guitarists were probably only willing to help her because she was a lady. You are neither of those things.”

“It’s not like I’d be going in there to drink Hyung.” Sanha said sulkily. “and you always tell me how cute I am. People might help me if they think that too.”

Hyungwon sighed and rested his head against the window. “You’re too innocent Sanha. Looks like we’re on babysitting duty today.”

Sanha made an indignant noise. “I am NOT a baby! Why do people keep calling me that?”

*

Hyungwon pointed to a sign dangling above an open door. The Silver Marigold. “This is the place.” He led the way inside and Myungjun looked around the tavern. It was basically empty, only a few people occupied the tables and they turned to look their way.

“A bit young to be in here aren’t you boys?” A tough looking woman asked from behind the bar. She was cleaning out a metal cup and chewing on something that painted her teeth blue.

Hyungwon walked up to the bar with an air of confidence. “Don’t worry, we’re not here to drink.” The woman laughed and put the cup down.

“I like you kid; you remind me of my son. He’s a bold bastard too. If you’re not here to drink, then why are you here?”

Hyungwon gestured to Sanha behind him and the young boy quickly looked down at his shoes. “My friend here is learning how to play the guitar and got told to find a tavern. Apparently, there’s always someone around who would be willing to teach a song or two, but it looks like that’s not the case today.” Hyungwon finished looking at the lack of patrons.

“That might have been true twenty years ago, but people don’t often come here looking for a show anymore. Guitarists are rare to come by nowadays. You’re free to stay but he won’t be learning anything.” The woman said, gesturing to a nearby table.

The boys went to sit down and Sanha sighed unhappily. “What else are we going to do today then?” He plucked a few of the strings at random and began to play one of the songs Myungjuns mother had taught him. It was light and playful and Myungjun watched him with a smile.

“It’s going to be Christmas soon.” Jinwoo said, watching Sanhas fingers move. “If you want to get gifts, now’s the time to do it.”

Myungjun looked up in surprise when the woman placed a drink in front of him. He watched as she gave them all something before speaking up. “We didn’t order anything, we’re too young to drink.”

“Non-alcoholic.” The woman said gesturing to the cups. “On the house if your friend goes up and plays us a song.” Myungjun looked around and saw the few customers present looking their way, obviously enticed by Sanhas tune.

Hyungwon took a sip of his drink and groaned happily. “That’s so good. Sanha go play, now.”

“I can’t go up there!” Sanha whined, looking at the little stage. “Everyone’s going to look at me.”

“I’ll go with you.” Myungjun offered, seeing how nervous the boy looked. “You can focus on me or just focus on the guitar. You play for us all the time; you can do this.” Sanha thought about it for a moment before giving him a small smile.

“Okay hyung, I don’t really have spare money to pay for my drink anyway. Can we just go and get it over and done with?”

Jinwoo and Hyungwon cheered Sanha on as he made his way to the stage. It was a raised wooden platform, marked and dented with years of use. Myungjun pulled up a chair and waved enthusiastically as Sanha fiddled with the tuning keys to calm himself down.

Then he started to play. It was nothing like the upbeat playful song he’d played before. This time it was soft and emotional, a melody that tugged at Myungjuns heart strings, like he was the one being played instead. Everyone in the tavern had fallen silent, as if a spell had been cast upon them. Sanha exuded an older, more mature vibe and Myungjun felt his sadness through his song. His curly hair covered his eyes as he looked down at the guitar, never looking up to see the reactions of the others around him.

Myungjun felt a hard nudge on his leg and looked down in surprise to see Rocky Jr. “Hey buddy, what are you doing here? Where’s Rocky?” He whispered, not wanting to break the magical atmosphere. He turned around in his chair to look behind him when Rocky Jr pointed to the tavern door.

Rocky was standing there, eyes wide as he watched Sanha play. It must be his first-time hearing Sanha play the guitar, Myungjun thought. He tried to wave Rocky over, but he didn’t appear to see him. Sanha played for a minute more before finishing with a sweet drawn out note that gave Myungjun goose bumps. He stood up to clap enthusiastically, feeling like a proud mother and Sanha beamed at him before hurrying off the stage. Myungjun turned back to the door to point Rocky out but he was no longer there. Rocky Jr had disappeared too. Myungjun shrugged it off before taking Sanha back to their table.

“Wow Sanha that was beautiful.” Jinwoo said, giving him a smile. “You seem different on stage, like you were born to be there.”

Sanha blushed and quickly sipped on his drink. “Mmm that is good.” He said, smacking his lips happily. “Totally worth it.”

Myungjun laughed before trying his own. It was fruity and danced happily on his taste buds. “Thank you for the drink Sanha. You should play more often.”

*

Myungjun opened the door to the enchanter’s shop and looked around. There was a short queue of people at the counter and he quickly went to stand in it. He didn’t have long, he’d asked Hyungwon to distract Jinwoo, but it was only a matter of time before he noticed Myungjun was missing. He waited as patiently as possible, tapping his foot and letting his eyes roam along the colourful, leather-bound books on the walls and the odd trinkets on the shelves.

“Can I help you?” The man behind the counter asked kindly and Myungjun looked at him with a smile before stepping up.

“Hello, I have two items that need enchants.” He said, pulling Jinwoos Christmas present out of his bag. Myungjun looked down at the blanket in his hand and smiled. It was the perfect size for Jinwoos bed, made from bright green fluffy fabric to match his fire and edged with black fabric that Myungjun embroidered his initials on. P.J. It had taken so long to make because he had filled it with soft preserved flower petals, a skill Jimin had taught him, to make the blanket comfier to cuddle and give it the scent he knew Jinwoo would like the most, Myungjuns own. Jinwoo always told him how he smelled like flowers freshly bloomed, so he spent countless days expending his energy to create flurries of petals to use. It was tiring work, but he knew it was worth it. He handed it to the man carefully. “This one needs a fire-proof enchantment and this one needs a water-proof enchantment.” He said, pulling out his new medical herb pouch from his bag. He had made it out of a thick yellow material, because the colour made him happy, and he had embroidered flowers over the front. It was made to strap across his chest instead of hanging from his belt like before. It was too big to go on his belt now and the new position would still allow him to wear his dual swords comfortably.

The man took them both and got to work. Myungjun kept throwing worried glances over his shoulder at the door. He didn’t want Jinwoo to walk in, even though it was unlikely he’d be able to find him in such a large city. Luckily, he didn’t have to wait long, it was a surprisingly quick process. The man ran his hands over every inch of the blanket, muttering under his breath. The blanket glowed bright red before fading back to its normal colour. The man moved to his herb bag next, making it glow bright blue. When he was finished, Myungjun handed over the correct amount of coins and thanked him, quickly putting them back into his bag before exiting the shop. He hurried back the way he had come and heard Jinwoos raised voice down past the next corner.

“…don’t tell me where my boyfriends gone, I’ll fry you to a crisp you oversized ice noodle.” Jinwoo sounded angry and he heard Sanha laugh.

“What did you just call me?” Hyungwon asked insulted. “At least I’m not a fiery little midget with anger issues. Myungjuns always going on about watering his plants, maybe he should water you instead to dampen that temper of yours or at least see if you’ll grow a little.”

“Stop arguing!” Myungjun shouted, running over to them. “I’m back.”

Jinwoo whipped around to look at him with a scowl. “Where the hell were you? You just disappeared, I thought something had happened to you. I nearly used my birthmark to alert the teachers!”

“I just went to the toilet Jinwoo, calm down.” He reached out to take Jinwoos hand. “I’m okay, I’m sorry if I worried you, but I was really desperate.”

“Next time tell me.” Jinwoo mumbled, pulling him into a hug. “Being your boyfriend is so stressful sometimes.”

Myungjun giggled and hugged him tighter. “Let’s go get some ice-cream to cheer up yeah?”

“It’s the middle of December Hyung.” Sanha pointed out.

“Your point is?”

*

Myungjun laughed loudly when he looked at Sanhas hair. The ice-cream parlour they were in sold all kinds of magical and non-magical treats for people to enjoy and Sanha had chosen one that was making his hair flash every colour of the rainbow. It eventually went back to his normal colour but started flashing again the moment he took another lick.

Myungjun looked down at his own ice-cream in excitement before tasting it. The effect was immediate, a high-pitched whining noise began building at the back of his throat and he opened his mouth to see little fireworks whizz forth and explode prettily in front of him. His eyes widened in surprise when Jinwoo quickly leaned forwards to kiss him.

“Now I know why people say that you see fireworks when you kiss the person you like.” Jinwoo said with a cheesy grin and Myungjun giggled as Hyungwon groaned from his seat across the table.

“Jinwoo-hyung your jokes are nearly as bad as his.” Sanha said, nodding towards Myungjun before licking his ice cream again.

“I thought you liked my jokes!” Myungjun said offended, feeling betrayed. Sanha just grinned at him before excusing himself to go to the toilet.

“We’ve got about an hour left here before we need to go back to the carriages. Is there anything else you want to do?” Jinwoo asked, biting into his ice-cream and shivering as snowflakes fell around him. “Wow, so this is what it’s like to be cold.” He said, eyes wide with wonder. “I like it.”

Myungjun cooed at how cute he was, earning a scowl in return and sat back to answer him. “I’m finished here for today. I managed to get everyone a Christmas gift…except you.” He pretended to be sad and watched as Jinwoo was quick to shake his head and take his free hand.

“I don’t need anything for Christmas Junnie so don’t worry.” He said, trying to reassure him. Myungjun decided Jinwoo was too kind and innocent for this world. “I have everything I could ever want right here.”

“Seriously guys? Right in front of my ice-cream?” Hyungwon asked with a look of disgust. “I literally cannot stand you two. I’m leaving.” He stood up huffily and left as Sanha came back to the table.

“Where’s Hyung going?” He asked. “Why does he look angry?”

“He’s just being his usually moany self.” Jinwoo said and yelped as Myungjun elbowed him in the ribs.

“Don’t be mean.” Myungjun scolded him. “You two need to stop arguing all the time, it’s frustrating.” He looked up when he heard the bell above the door tinkle, expecting to see Hyungwon coming back but saw Rocky enter instead.

Rocky went up to get two ice-creams and turned around to find a table. Myungjun waved at him and he made his way over to sit in Hyungwons empty seat. Rocky Jr climbed into his lap and waited patiently for his ice cream.

“I didn’t think Rocky Jr could eat human food.” Myungjun said curiously as he watched the rock devour it eagerly, creating a mess.

“It’s a special ice cream.” Rocky said happily. “For animated companions only. I found this place the last time we came here and decided I’d treat him today. Oh no look at the mess your making!” Myungjun quickly grabbed him some napkins and watched amused as Rocky cleaned Rocky Jr up, wiping the ice cream from around his mouth and off his stony fingers.

“Where did you go earlier anyway?” Myungjun asked, leaning up against Jinwoo. “I saw you at the tavern door, but you disappeared.”

Rocky shrugged nonchalantly. “Just remembered I had something important to do. I only stopped by because I heard the music. You play really well.” He added, turning to look at Sanha.

“Thanks’ Hyung.” Sanha said with a shy smile.

Myungjun thought it was a nice change from the two younger boys bickering all the time.

Chapter Text

Myungjun woke up Christmas morning in Jinwoos bed. He hadn’t wanted to wake up alone again, like last Christmas, and decided the risk of getting another detention would be worth it. Jinwoo was still fast asleep, clinging onto Myungjuns hand and snoring softly. Myungjun quietly shifted across the bed, trying not to jostle it too much, to reach beneath it for his bag. It was awkward doing everything one-handed, but he was determined.

He had brought his bag into Jinwoos room, with the excuse that he wanted to wear his own pyjamas and do his morning routine in Jinwoos room for a change. Jinwoo didn’t question it but seemed upset that Myungjun didn’t want to wear his clothes to sleep in like usual. He’d quickly cheered up when he realised Myungjuns ‘pyjamas’ were actually articles of clothing he’d taken from Jinwoo in the first place.

Myungjun unzipped the bag slowly, the noise seeming painfully loud to his ears in the quiet of the room and reached inside to pull out Jinwoos blanket; the real reason he had brought his bag. He lifted it up onto the bed and quickly wiggled back over to the sleeping boy, heart pounding wildly from the anxiety of not wanting to be caught. He unfolded it and placed it over the top of them before cuddling back up to Jinwoo and closing his eyes.

He hadn’t meant to fall asleep but woke sometime later to the sound of Jinwoos confused noises. “Junnie wake up, what is this?”

“Merry Christmas JinJin.” He said sleepily with a smile, opening his eyes to see Jinwoo sitting up and running his free hand through the fluffy green fabric. “I made it for you, do you like it?”

“You said you didn’t get me anything!” Jinwoo said, his scratchy morning voice mingled with shock and awe. “It’s so pretty…wow it even has my name on it! Junnie its perfect, thank you.” Myungjun made a happy noise in the back of his throat when Jinwoo leaned down to kiss him. “I’ll have to be extra careful not to destroy it.” Jinwoo said quietly after pulling away.

“No need.” Myungjun reassured him, mentally patting himself on the back for already thinking that particular concern through. “It’s fire-proof.”

“How...wait a minute.” Jinwoos eyes narrowed in suspicion and Myungjun gave him a cheeky grin. “You little lair!” Jinwoo said with a laugh. “You snuck off to the enchanters instead of the toilets, didn’t you?”

Myungjun nodded happily and pulled Jinwoo back down for another kiss to distract him. It worked, Jinwoo just sighed before letting it go. “I guess I forgive you, it was worth it after all.”

“Thanks JinJin, now come over here and kiss me properly.” Jinwoo laughed and shifted around under the covers until he was straddling Myungjuns hips and pressing him down into the mattress.

“I’d do anything for you, you know that right?” Jinwoo said softly, reaching up with his free hand to brush the hair from Myungjuns face. Myungjun nodded happily and pursed his lips, waiting for his kiss. Jinwoo laughed and closed the distance to give him what he wanted. It was soft and gentle and made Myungjuns heart do funny things. He knew this was the best Christmas ever, even if it had barely just begun.

Myungjun reached up to wrap his arms around Jinwoos neck and pulled him closer, making Jinwoo readjust himself so he was no longer straddling Myungjuns hips and instead laying his full body weight on top of him. Myungjun didn’t mind, Jinwoo never felt too heavy and even if he did, Myungjun didn’t think he’d want him to move off anyway. Jinwoo kissed him again and swept his tongue across Myungjuns lower lip, looking for entry.

“I need to brush my teeth JinJin.” Myungjun mumbled. Jinwoo just sighed and pulled back.

“I don’t care. You asked me to kiss you properly, so that’s what I’m trying to do.”

“I forgot.” Myungjun whined. “Let me go, I’ll be quick. I don’t want you to kiss me with my morning breath.”

“Myungjun bloody hell I’ve kissed you with morning breath before. When you first told me you liked me remember? I didn’t care then, and I don’t care now. So please stop talking.” Myungjun whined as Jinwoos lips met his own and he tried hard to forget about it, but he couldn’t.

“Jinwoo stop.” He said, pushing him away gently. “I really can’t kiss you without brushing my teeth, I’m too embarrassed.” Jinwoo looked down at his blush and groaned.

“Fine, but you better be quick.” He pulled Myungjun from the bed and grabbed his bag for him. “Bathrooms through here.” He opened the door and hurried Myungjun inside. They helped each other put toothpaste on their brushes and Myungjun laughed at Jinwoos eagerness. Jinwoo was scrubbing his teeth furiously and failed to wait patiently for Myungjun to finish when he was done.

“You’re taking too long, give it here.” Jinwoo complained, taking Myungjuns toothbrush out of his hand and brushing his teeth for him. It tickled and Myungjun giggled at the feeling, dribbling toothpaste down his chin. “You’re so cute even when you’re being disgusting.” Jinwoo said shaking his head. “How is that even possible?”

Myungjun rolled his eyes and spat the toothpaste into the sink, letting Jinwoo rinse his toothbrush for him whilst he washed his face.

“Right you’re done, back to bed.” Jinwoo said quickly, picking Myungjun up from behind and waddling awkwardly out of the room.

“Put me down!” Myungjun squealed, smacking the arms around his waist. Jinwoo waited until they were by the bed to put him back on his feet and used his free hand to pull the covers back.

“Get back in. We’re finishing what we started.” Myungjun scrambled in eagerly and pulled Jinwoo back down on top of him, bringing their lips together and immediately granting Jinwoos tongue access to his mouth. He tasted minty and it made Myungjun happy. Jinwoo pulled the covers back over them and brushed his tongue gently over Myungjuns. It sent shivers down his spine and he wrapped his legs around Jinwoos waist, hooking his feet together behind his back and was surprised to hear Jinwoo moan, low and desperate.

“Junnie, get your legs off me now.” He said sounding strained.

“Why?” Myungjun pouted and squeezed his legs to pull Jinwoo closer. “I thought you liked it.”

Jinwoo whimpered, a noise that made Myungjuns skin burn and he reached down to press Myungjuns hips into the mattress, away from his own. “Its fine when we’re standing up but not when we’re laying down. Seriously Myungjun let go.”

Myungjun unhooked his legs with a sigh and sulked. Why was Jinwoo being so weird about it? So what if they were laying down, how did that change things? His body felt cold when Jinwoo pulled away to hover over him, despite the room being warm and Jinwoo radiating a steady heat. “Where are you going?” He asked, looking at Jinwoos scrunched up face. He seemed to be concentrating really hard.

“Nowhere.” Jinwoo replied through gritted teeth. “I just need…to stay like this for a minute.” He leaned down to bury his face in Myungjuns neck but didn’t press their bodies together like before. He just held his weight up with his arms, muscles strained. Myungjun waited, feeling more confused than ever.

“You smell really good today.” Jinwoo finally said, pulling back to give him a small smile.

“It’s not me, it’s the blanket.” Myungjun explained, staring down at Jinwoos lips, desperate to feel them on his own again. “It’s full of my petals.”

Jinwoos eyes widened and he reached back awkwardly to pull the blanket towards his face. Myungjun heard him give it a good sniff before pushing it away with a groan and letting his head fall heavily onto Myungjuns shoulder.

“I’m never going to be able to get out of this bed again. Every morning is going to be such a struggle.”

Myungjun laughed and pulled Jinwoos face back up to look at him. “If you don’t get out of bed, you won’t be able to see me.”

“Oh yeah you’re right…better make the most of this time then.” He said cheekily and pretended to be in pain when Myungjun hit him. Myungjun started to argue back but he was cut off when Jinwoo kissed him again. Finally pressing their bodies back together.

*

“Myungjun what’s that on your neck?” Moonbin asked at breakfast. Jinwoos head snapped around to look, a blush forming on his face before he realised nothing was there. Moonbin dodged the food thrown his way and laughed.

“What would be on my neck?” Myungjun asked, curious as to why Moonbin was laughing and why his boyfriend was so flustered.

“Nothing.” Jinwoo said firmly, putting more food onto Myungjuns plate. “There’s nothing on your neck, just ignore that idiot.”

“Love bites Hyung.” Moonbin said, ignoring the insult. As Moonbin and Jinwoo started to argue, Myungjun leaned over to talk to Sanha.

“What’s a love bite?” Myungjun asked and Sanha just shrugged. Myungjun turned to Dongmin next. “Dongmin what’s a love bite?” To Myungjuns surprise, the boy flushed and quickly excused himself to go to the toilet.

Myungjun jumped when Jinwoo slammed his fist down on the table, shaking the cutlery. “He doesn’t need you corrupting him, he’s as innocent as Sanha, so shut your mouth Moonbin.”

Moonbin laughed and sipped on his drink. “Okay Hyung. I won’t tell him, but it looks like you’ll need to.” He quickly stood up from the table and rushed from the room.

“Jinwoo what’s a love bite?” Myungjun asked for the third time. Jinwoo groaned and hid his face in his hands. Sanha and Rocky leaned forwards eagerly to listen too but they were all left disappointed as Jinwoo shook his head.

“No way, we are not having this conversation on Christmas morning in front of literal children.” Sanha and Rocky started to protest but Jinwoo silenced them. “I said no. It’s not something you need to know about anyway. It’s just Moonbin winding me up, so let’s drop it.”

Myungjun pouted and sat back in his chair. “I’m older than all of you! You should tell me if I ask.”

“If Hyungwon-hyung was here, he’d tell you that you didn’t need to know either.” Jinwoo said, finality in his voice as he turned back to his food, ignoring Myungjuns whines.

Myungjun eventually quietened down and thought about the situation. Jinwoo and Hyungwon bickered all the time and hardly ever agreed on anything, so if they would both agreed that he shouldn’t know, then he should probably just accept it.

His mind was immediately distracted when Jinwoo mentioned Christmas presents. “Junnie your present is already set up. Its in your greenhouse, I asked Jimin to put it in there before he left for the holidays. Do you want to go see it?” He stood up with a smile and held out his hand. Myungjun nodded eagerly and told Sanha and Rocky that they’d be back soon.

He followed Jinwoo outside, into the snow and led the way to the clearing he had herbology in. Jinwoo gasped when Myungjun opened up the secret path to the greenhouses, which were unaffected by the icy weather. In fact, the weather was completely different, it was as warm as a summers day when they walked down the rows of glistening glass. Jinwoo admired the way Myungjuns door was engraved with his name before it was being pushed open to reveal Myungjuns plants. There was one plant that hadn’t been there before and Myungjun squealed when he realised what it was.

“Wow Jinwoo thank you!” He exclaimed happily, hugging him tight before dragging him over to inspect it. It was a smaller version of the water plant that hated him so much. Now he could collect water without a fear of being drenched.

“You’re welcome.” Jinwoo said, a big grin on his face after seeing how happy his present had made him. “Obviously I couldn’t plant it, so I asked Jimin to. Now that its actually in your greenhouse, you don’t have to go far for water, so it should save you time.”

“How did you even get it?” Myungjun asked, reaching over and stroking the fuzzy stem gently.

“I have my ways.” Jinwoo said mysteriously and laughed when Myungjun pouted at him. “It doesn’t matter how I got it. The point is you have it now.” Myungjun reluctantly agreed and moved to show Jinwoo his tomato plant. He’d been able to identify the second mystery plant the previous week. It was a bell pepper plant and Ms Jung had praised him before promising to move him onto something harder after Christmas. Myungjun was excited thinking about what the next lesson was going to be.

Jinwoo watched him fondly as he spoke about his plants with endless enthusiasm and only interrupted him to remind him that they’d left the two youngest behind.

*

Myungjun trailed into the library with a full stomach from his dinner and flopped down into one of the plush reading chairs by the fire with a groan.

“Move over Junnie.” Jinwoo said sleepily, nudging Myungjuns leg with his foot. Myungjun whined loudly but did it anyway, giving Jinwoo enough space to curl up against him. “I ate so much food I don’t think I can move for at least a week.”

“Hyung, before you go to sleep can you light the fire?” Rocky asked, sitting down in a chair of his own and pulling Rocky Jr up for a cuddle. “It’s cold in here.”

Jinwoo opened his eyes slightly to locate the large open fireplace and lifted up one hand to shoot a ball of fire at the empty grate. It immediately lit and the wood crackled noisily before settling down. Rocky thanked him quietly and hummed appreciatively at the heat.

“This has been a good Christmas.” Dongmin said happily from his seat on the floor. Moonbin had his head in Dongmins lap and was already fast asleep. “It will be even better if you played us a song Sanha. Do you know any Christmas ones?”

“Not really.” Sanha said with a frown. “I probably should have learnt at least one.”

“Play the one from the tavern.” Rocky said quietly. “The slow one.”

Sanha nodded diligently before pulling his guitar up into his lap. Myungjun immediately relaxed further into his chair when the first few notes of the song were played. He looked down at Jinwoo, who had his legs in Myungjuns lap and his head on his shoulder. His arm was wrapped loosely around Myungjuns waist and he was snoring softly, a peaceful look overtaking his features. Myungjun pressed a kiss into his hair and looked up to watch as Sanha began to quietly hum along to the song.

Yes, this was definitely the best Christmas ever.

Chapter Text

“What do you mean we have Zoology in a classroom?” Myungjun asked confused. “We never have Zoology in a classroom, it’s always outside.”

Hyungwon shrugged. “Dunno, that’s what I was told. Must be a theory lesson I guess. Finish your dinner so we can go.”

Myungjun quickly shovelled his food down and kissed Jinwoo goodbye, before accepting Hyungwons hand and being dragged from the hall. They climbed a set of stairs and followed the students making their way to the new classroom. Everyone looked just as perplexed at the change of location and Myungjun entered the room to notice their teacher, Ms Lee, standing beside the last person he wanted to see.

His father’s eyes found his own and he gestured to the table in front of him. Myungjun ignored his offer and dragged Hyungwon over to sit at the table furthest away, anger already spiking. Youngjae and Namjoon filled in the last two seats and they all looked up at the two adults, oblivious to Myungjuns discomfort.

“Welcome back everyone, I hope you had a good Christmas.” Ms Lee began. “Many of you are probably wondering why we are here, instead of outside. As you can see, we have a very special guest speaker today.”

“Is it really him?” One of the boys on a nearby table asked his friends excitedly. Myungjun frowned and leaned over to listen.

“It is! Look at his emblem, it’s a dragon. That’s definitely him.” A girl squealed excitedly before sighing happily. “He’s so handsome in person.”

Myungjun pulled back with noise of disgust. It was just plain weird hearing them talk about his father like that. He wondered what the dragon symbol meant but didn’t have to wait long as Namjoon spoke up.

“I can’t believe our guest speaker is the Dragon Knight! We’re so lucky, I have so many questions. Do you think we’ll be able to ask any at the end?” He pushed his glasses up to stop them slipping off his nose and turned around to look at the man, not waiting for their answer.

Why is everyone so excited to see my disappointment of a father? Myungjun thought bitterly, and what sort of name is the Dragon Knight? He scoffed haughtily and brushed Hyungwons questioning look off.

“It’s nice to meet you all.” His fathers deep voice travelled around the room. “For those of you who do not know, I am the Dragon Blades guild master, many people call me the Dragon Knight, but you can call me Mr Kim.” Everyone clapped for him enthusiastically.

Look at him, trying to be all friendly and allowing us to use his name like it’s doing us a great favour, Myungjun thought scornfully.

“Wow.” Youngjae said, with a grin on his face. “Dragon Blades is one of the biggest guilds, right?”

Namjoon nodded excitedly. “He’s the main man. Guild master is the highest rank, he either founded the guild or was deemed worthy of the title when the previous guild master stepped down.”

Hyungwon and Youngjae were clearly impressed and it made Myungjun angrier. They didn’t know what he was really like. He was a man who abandoned his family, not some hero.

“Excuse me, Mr Kim, is it true you’ve killed a dragon with your bare hands?” someone asked and Myungjuns father laughed. It completely transformed his features and Myungjun was taken aback at the change.

“The truth often gets blown out of proportion.” He began. “It’s true I’ve killed a dragon, countless in fact, but never with my bare hands.”

Myungjun bristled at his words. He thought back to the dragon he had raised, and a new sort of hatred boiled in his chest. He couldn’t help but speak up. “I’ve raised my own dragon. They’re beautiful creatures, you’re a murderer.”

Everyone turned to look at him in shock and Ms Lee cleared her throat. “Myungjun that is a terrible accusation. I would like you to apologise.”

“No it’s fine.” His father said with a smile. “He’s right. Dragons are beautiful creatures, but I have to point out that raising a copy of a dragon for a few months doesn’t compare to the real thing. Real dragons grow larger than houses and are more dangerous then your assignment would have been. I kill dragons, amongst other creatures, to protect people and their families from harm.”

“Maybe you should consider putting your own family first for a change.” Myungjun said, feeling embarrassed at being schooled.

“Myungjun that’s enough.” Ms Lee said firmly. “You’re being rude and its very unlike you, do I have to give you detention?”

“Go ahead.” Myungjun said, feeling his anger spike again. He stood up, chair slamming against the wall and grabbed his bag.

“What the hell are you doing?” Hyungwon hissed, grabbing his arm. “Sit down you idiot.”

Myungjun yanked his arm away and turned to look at him. “Sorry ‘wonnie, but I can’t stay here. I’d rather get the detention then sit here and listen to this rubbish.” He navigated his way through the tables, amidst shocked whispers and walked to the door.

“Myungjun.” His father’s voice using his name stopped him in his tracks, hand hovering over the door handle. “You’re going to miss a very important lesson; I suggest you stay.”

“If it’s coming from you, it’s not important to me at all.” Myungjun replied, opening the door and stepping outside.

“Kim Myungjun get back here right now!” Ms Lee said angrily. Myungjun slammed the door behind himself and set off running. He knew he was going to be in serious trouble for this, but nothing mattered right now. His palms were burning with the need to release his magic and he knew he needed to get outside to use it.

He ran down the stairs, across the large lobby and out of the academy doors. He made it halfway to the forest before his magic erupted. Vines tore through the ground around him, sharp and fast, spearing at the sky. He fell to his knees and screamed in frustration. I hate him. I hate him. I hate him. He screamed until his throat was sore and his vines slowly stopped their endless assault around him. The ground was torn to shreds, mounds of soil sprayed all over the place and he took great heaving breaths, looking towards the night sky.

“Why are you here?” He asked angrily. “Why can’t you just leave me alone? Go back to your stupid guild and pretend to be the hero there.” The stars twinkled overhead, ignoring his words.

*

Myungjun was sitting on a chair, on the decking of their treehouse, when Youngjae and Namjoon came up the ladder.

“Hyung why did you leave like that?” Namjoon asked, moving over to sit on the chair opposite him. “Ms Lee was really angry; you were being so rude.”

Myungjun watched as a group of fireflies passed by overhead and sighed. “Let’s not talk about it Joonie. I had my reasons, but I don’t feel like sharing them right now.”

Namjoon watched with a frown as Myungjun got up. He walked to the ladder and gave his two friends a small smile. “Don’t wait up for me.” He ignored their questions and climbed swiftly down the ladder. He knew them, Namjoon might accept that he didn’t want to talk about it but Youngjae wouldn’t. He walked through the trees, the lanterns hanging on the lower branches lighting the way, until he was out of the forest. He didn’t know where to go. The pond where Jinwoo had asked him to be his boyfriend? The library? He made up his mind and walked towards the combat centre instead. Maybe burning off some steam against one of the wooden dummies would be the best idea.

When he opened the doors and stepped inside, he was greeted by the sight of Jinwoo placing a pole back onto the weapons rack, looking sweaty and tired. He turned at the sound of the doors opening, and his eyes widened in surprise.

“Junnie, what are you doing here? Why are you covered in dirt?” He rushed towards him, rubbing his sweaty hands on his shorts before leading Myungjun over to the nearest bench. “Are you okay?”

Myungjun looked down at his clothes to see that Jinwoo was right. He was filthy. “I lost control earlier.” He said quietly. “I guess I made a bit of a mess.” He laughed weakly and looked up to see Jinwoo staring at him.

“What do you mean you lost control? Did someone hurt you?” He gave Myungjuns hands a squeeze. “Tell me Junnie.”

Myungjun quickly shook his head, not wanting Jinwoo to go on a rampage. “Its not like that. Its my father, he’s here JinJin. He was teaching my class and acting all high and mighty. Everyone was positively gushing over how amazing he is for killing dragons and being a stupid guild master. No-one knows what he’s really like. It made me so angry. I’m in so much trouble now, I stormed out of class and was so rude to Ms Lee, but I couldn’t help it. I hate him, more than I’ve ever hated anyone before and I don’t like it. I don’t like how this feels.”

Jinwoo sighed and pulled him in for a hug. “I’m sorry this is happening to you Junnie. Hopefully he was only here for the one lesson. I’m proud of you for getting out and not losing control in front of everybody though. If you do end up getting detention, I’ll just do something crazy and get detention with you.”

Myungjun laughed, finally feeling a bit better and pulled back to look at him. “Okay sounds like a deal. Were you just finishing up here?”

Jinwoo nodded. “Yeah, I’m done for the day, unless you’d like someone to spar with? I’m guessing you came here to expend some of that anger.”

“I can just spar with one of the dummies if you’re too tired.”

“I’m never too tired for you, come on.” He helped Myungjun to his feet and patted him down, getting rid of most of the dirt. “Would it have killed you to shower before you got here?”

Myungjun laughed and pushed him away. “I didn’t even realise I was so dirty. Are we going to fight or are you just going to moan?”

Jinwoo grinned and dragged him over to the nearest mat. “Weapons or no weapons?”

Myungjun thought about it for a few seconds before deciding on no weapons. If he was expending anger, he didn’t want to be equipped with something that could cause more harm. Jinwoo got into position and beckoned for Myungjun to attack first.

“Don’t hold back Junnie. Let it all out.”

Myungjun stepped forwards and jabbed at Jinwoos raised arms. It connected loudly and Myungjun dodged the returning punch. He kicked out, aiming for Jinwoos stomach and Jinwoo knocked his leg away painfully. He stumbled and growled in frustration when Jinwoo tackled him to the floor.

“I said don’t hold back.”

He pulled Myungjun to his feet and got into position again. Myungjun shook the hair from his eyes and tried again. Jinwoo blocked most of his punches and delivered a few of his own. One hit Myungjun painfully on the collarbone and he backed away, feeling anger bubble up inside of him. That’s Jinwoo, not your father, he tried to remind himself, thinking back to what he had done in the arena. His eyes flickered to the scar on Jinwoos eyebrow and he clenched his jaw.

“Jinwoo, this isn’t a good idea.” He said through gritted teeth, feeling himself slipping into his other mindset.

“Why?” Jinwoo smirked. “Scared of getting hurt? I didn’t hit you that hard Myungjun, don’t chicken out now.”

Myungjun closed his eyes, willing himself not to rise to the bait. “That’s not-“ He got cut off short as Jinwoo pulled him off his feet. He opened his eyes when he hit the floor and snarled up at the boy above him. Jinwoo realised his mistake after seeing the look in Myungjuns eyes and backed away fast.

“Myungjun wait, I’m sorry.” He tried to get up but Myungjun grabbed him by the collar of his shirt with both hands and flipped them over roughly. Jinwoo gripped his forearms, trying to pull him off. “Junnie I can’t breathe.” He choked out, as Myungjun pressed him further into the floor.

Myungjun wasn’t listening. All he could feel was the anger coursing through his veins and everything else seemed unimportant. Whoever this boy was below him, had hurt him, and it was the final straw. His hands slipped around his neck and he squeezed, fascinated by the way he spluttered beneath him. He had all the control here, not his father and it felt great. He felt high on the control, on the power.

“Junnie…Junnie stop.” The boy begged, clawing at his arms. “Its me. Its Jinwoo.”

Myungjun squeezed harder, trying to shut him up. “Junnie please.” The boy’s face was changing colour and the way he begged made Myungjun smile. Beg all you want, he thought indifferently, I’ll still make you pay for hurting me.

The boy’s nails finally clawed through Myungjuns skin, in his desperate struggle for air and the sharp pain cut through his anger-induced haze. He saw Jinwoo staring up at him, red in the face and fear evident in his eyes.

“JinJin?”

“Its me. Let go Junnie.” Jinwoo choked, patting his wrists firmly. Myungjun ripped his hands from Jinwoos neck and scrambled to his feet, backing away.

“Junnie wait.” Jinwoo said hoarsely, sitting up to cough. Myungjun shook his head feeling numb. He’d done it again. He’d let his father get to him and hurt Jinwoo as a result. “Junnie don’t go.” Jinwoo was coughing loudly and trying to get to his feet. “It’s not your fault.”

“I’m sorry.” Myungjun said quietly, panic clawing at his chest. “Jinwoo I’m so sorry.” He backed up a few more steps before turning on his heel and running from the building.

Chapter Text

Myungjun sat in Groves office feeling sick. Grove was watching him with a frown, listening to him talk. “I can’t control myself. I tore up the Academy grounds with my magic and I nearly choked Jinwoo to death. I can’t stay here.” Myungjun finished shakily, fresh tears running over the tracks of his old ones. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

Grove sighed and sat back, running a hand over his tired face. It was well past midnight, Myungjun had gone straight to see him after running from the combat centre. “Myungjun you need to calm down first. You’ve been shedding for the past ten minutes.”

Myungjun looked down to see the floor littered in dark red petals. He barely registered that they were darker than usual before looking back up at the man in front of him. “Please help me. I can’t carry on like this. If I hurt him again…”

“You did the right thing coming here.” Grove said. “The fact you came here willingly means you’re not a threat.”

“But I nearly killed him!” Myungjun said, sitting forwards in his seat. He was dangerous. He needed Grove to understand. “I came here so you could kick me out.”

“I’m not going to kick you out Myungjun.” Grove said slowly. “You just asked me to help you and now you’re asking me to kick you out, you’re not thinking straight. Let me get you something.” Myungjun waited impatiently, tapping his foot on the floor as Grove bustled around the room. He eventually sat back down with a pot of tea and poured some into a cup before handing it to Myungjun. “Drink this, it will help.”

Myungjun thought it was a waste of time but felt the panic recede into the background as he took a sip. He nodded when Grove asked if he was feeling better and listened carefully as the man spoke. “This is the second time this had happened?” Myungjun nodded. “And both times it has happened after seeing your father?” Myungjun nodded again and Grove sat back to think. He was quiet for a while before speaking. “Myungjun I would like for you to see a therapist.”

Myungjun sat up straighter in his chair and put the cup down. “Why do I need to see a therapist?”

“It may help you to talk to someone about this, about your father and why this is happening to you. A professional will be able to do more for you than I will. Go back to your room now, get some sleep and I’ll come and find you tomorrow.” He got up and opened the door, giving no room for argument and Myungjun reluctantly left, feeling like nothing had been settled at all.

*

Myungjun woke up the next morning feeling groggy. He sat up, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and looked down to see his bed covered in tissues. He hadn’t slept much, spending most of the night crying quietly and trying not to wake the others instead. He collected all the evidence and slipped into the bathroom, disposing the tissues down the toilet before turning to look in the mirror. He looked terrible. His eyes were puffy and had dark circles beneath them. His cheeks and his nose were red from constantly wiping them and his lips were dry and cracked.

He quickly washed his face and brushed his teeth before going to get changed. He grabbed some clothes at random, only focused on getting out. He pulled on his trousers and the oversized shirt he had taken from Jinwoo and jumped at the sound of Namjoons voice.

“Hyung?” Namjoon called out sleepily. “Why are you up so early?”

“Just going for an early breakfast.” Myungjun said quickly, scared of crying again if he waited around for too long. “Go back to sleep Joonie.”

“You can’t go out in that, its too cold.” Namjoon said, looking over at him. “At least put on a jacket.”

Myungjun nodded and made his way over to the door, pulling his coat down from the hook. “I’ll see you later.” He stepped outside into the crisp winter air and hurried down the ladder and out of the forest. He didn’t know when Grove would come to find him, but he couldn’t sit around in bed any longer.

He sat at an empty table in the hall and poured himself some water. It felt heavenly against his dry throat, that was scratchy from crying and screaming so much the day before. He waited, rolling the cup between his hands and tensed as Hoseok came in, dragging a tired looking Hyungwon behind him. Hyungwon perked up when he saw Myungjun and they hurried over to sit with him.

“Hey Junnie. Have you already eaten?” Hyungwon asked, before peering closely at his face. “You look like crap; have you been crying?” He sat back startled when Myungjun burst into tears, too upset to hold it back anymore. “Junnie shhh, it’s okay.” They both moved around to give Myungjun a hug and it felt like the first day Myungjun stepped foot on the Academy grounds again, having both his best friends comfort him.

Hoseok rubbed his back and handed him some napkins. “Who do we need to beat up today? No one gets away with upsetting our Junnie.”

Myungjun laughed weakly and blew his nose. “You don’t need to beat anyone up. I mean you could always beat me up, I won’t mind I deserve it.” He started crying again, softly this time and Hyungwon whined sadly.

“Junnie I hate seeing you cry.” He said, pulling him closer. “Tell us what’s wrong. We’ll sort it out for you.”

Someone cleared their throat behind them, and they turned back to see a girl holding out a letter. “Kim Myungjun? Grove asked me to give this to you.” Myungjun took it and thanked her before wiping his tears away and opening it eagerly. It was a letter telling him the time for his first therapy session and Hoseok made a surprised noise over his shoulder.

“You’re going to therapy Junnie? Since when?”

“Since today.” Myungjun said, putting the letter down on the table and snuggling back into his friends. “I did a bad thing yesterday and I need help.”

“Do you want to talk about it?” Hyungwon asked cautiously.

Myungjun sighed. They’d know soon enough anyway. “I hurt Jinwoo again. He was trying to help me, and I lost control, I nearly killed him.” His voice broke but he held back the tears. “I can’t do that again; I went to Grove and he told me to see a therapist.”

The others were silent for a while. “How’s Jinwoo now?” Hoseok asked quietly. “Have you seen him?”

Myungjun shook his head sadly. “I needed to get away from him, to keep him safe. I’m not going to hide away this time though. I’ll wait to see if he comes for breakfast and talk to him.”

“Good idea.” Hyungwon said, pulling away to get himself some food. “Let’s eat something first.”

*

Jinwoo didn’t come to breakfast but he came for lunch. Myungjun was too busy pushing his food around on his plate to notice him approach.

“Woah Hyung, what happened to your neck?” He heard Sanha ask and looked up quickly to see Jinwoo slipping into his usual seat beside him.

Jinwoo didn’t answer Sanha, he just poured himself a drink and drank it down greedily. Myungjun wanted to be sick when he saw the angry purple bruises wrapped around his throat. Jinwoo noticed him looking and gave him a small smile.

“Its nothing Junnie. Wanna go to class?” His voice still sounded hoarse and it hurt Myungjuns heart.

“Seriously Hyung, what the hell happened to you?” Moonbin asked, leaning forwards to get a better look. “Did someone do that to you?”

Jinwoo scowled and turned to look at everyone around the table in turn. “Nothing happened to me. Just drop it.”

“It was me.” Myungjun said quietly, looking up at everyone’s surprised faces. “I hurt him.”

Jinwoo looked back at him and lowered his voice. “Myungjun what are you doing?”

“I lost control and I did that to Jinwoo.” Myungjun continued. “but it’s okay because I’m going to get help.”

“Hyung how can you say it’s okay? That’s not okay at all!” Dongmin said, disbelief lacing his voice. “Look at his neck for crying out loud. Why did you do that to him?”

“Dongmin I told you to drop it.” Jinwoo warned him through gritted teeth. “I’m fine, nothing happened.”

“Are you crazy?” Moonbin asked incredulous. “Do I need to get you a mirror and show you what he did? This is the second time you’ve done this.” He said, turning to Myungjun. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

“I didn’t mean too.” Myungjun replied quietly, staring down at the table top.

“That’s so messed up Hyung.” Dongmin said angrily. “You’re right, you do need help.”

Myungjun knew he deserved their anger; he deserved their harsh words, so he took it without saying anything in return.

“Don’t talk to him like that!” Jinwoo said, voice strained. The table erupted as they began to argue and Myungjun quickly felt overwhelmed. He stood up and tapped Jinwoos shoulder. “Let’s go JinJin, I want to talk to you outside.” Jinwoo nodded stiffly before getting up and taking his hand.

“Try not to hurt him again.” Moonbin interjected and Myungjun flushed, pulling Jinwoo from the room so he wouldn’t start a fight. Myungjun led them towards their next class and sat in his usual seat with Jinwoo.

Their communications teacher wasn’t in yet so Myungjun took the chance to speak. “JinJin they’re right. It is messed up what I did. I know you’re trying to defend me, but you shouldn’t.”

“It’s not you though Myungjun. I saw the way your eyes changed, you’re like a different person and I pushed you to that. It’s my fault, I should have listened to you and stopped but I provoked you instead.”

Myungjun buried his face in his hands. He didn’t want Jinwoo to feel guilty for this, especially when he was the one who was bearing the bruises. “JinJin don’t say that. I should have said no when you offered to spar with me. I knew how angry I was but accepted your help anyway.”

Mr Seo entered the classroom and asked for everyone’s attention as he began the lesson. Myungjun felt his hands being pulled away from his face and he looked over to see Jinwoo watching him.

*You said you’re getting help? What help?* Jinwoos voice rang around Myungjuns mind and he relayed everything that had happened after entering Groves office the night before. Jinwoo nodded every now and then. *That’s great Junnie. I was offered therapy before, to help deal with my parents’ death, but I didn’t take it. I regret that now, so please don’t make the same mistake I did*

*I won’t JinJin. I want this…I NEED this because I can’t hurt you again* He squeezed Jinwoos hands before letting them go and turning to focus on the lesson. They had finally gotten the hang of sensing each other’s true emotions and now Mr Seo was moving them on to something harder.

“For the next few weeks, you will be working in groups based on your elemental type, to send messages using your specific brand of magic. All of the fire users will work together, and all of the air users will work together. However, as there are two forms of water magic and two forms of earth magic, the groups will be even smaller. All the ice users will form a group, the water users will form a group, the plant users will form a group and lastly the ground users will form a group. Is that clear enough for everyone?” Myungjun nodded along with the rest and reluctantly left Jinwoo to sit with the others of his kind.

Myungjun sat down with the other plant users, who eyed him warily. “You’re the one who stormed out of zoology yesterday right?” One of the boys asked. Myungjun nodded but didn’t offer an explanation. “How did the Dragon Knight know your name? He said it when you went to leave.” Myungjun shrugged and scratched at the snakebite scar on his arm absentmindedly. He didn’t want to talk about it, especially with a stranger. “If you don’t want to talk about it with a stranger then let’s be friends.” Myungjun looked up in surprise, he hadn’t planned on saying that out loud, but the boy didn’t seem offended. He smiled and held out his hand instead. “I’m Lee Minhyuk, nice to meet you.”

Myungjun took his hand after a moment’s hesitation and smiled back. “I’m Kim Myungjun. We might as well be friends; we’ll be working together for a while.”

“That Park kid is glaring our way.” Minhyuk said, looking over Myungjuns shoulder at Jinwoo.

“He’s my boyfriend.” Myungjun said happily, not needing to look back. He could already feel Jinwoos gaze on him. “He gets jealous easily.” Myungjun laughed when Minhyuk quickly pulled his hand away.

“Fire users have bad tempers.” Minhyuk said conversationally. “I could never date one.” Myungjun listened to him talk for a long time after that, barely getting a word in but he didn’t mind. It was nice to sit back and listen for a change.

Chapter Text

“Would you like a glass of water?” The woman asked kindly, after letting Myungjun into the brightly lit room. He nodded quickly and she poured him some, before leaning forwards in her chair to talk. “It’s nice to meet you Myungjun. My name is Bora and I’m going to be your therapist for the foreseeable future. This is a space where you can talk to me informally and freely. Have you ever seen a therapist before?”

“No.” Myungjun said quietly, watching the cold water condense against the sides of his glass. “I’ve never needed one before.”

“That’s perfectly fine.” Bora said, pulling out a leather-bound book and a pen from a drawer in her desk. “If you don’t mind, I’m going to ask you some questions and take notes about what you say, so I can keep it fresh in my memory for our next session. Please feel free to interrupt me at any time or move this conversation in the direction you would like it to go. Firstly, I would like to know what brings you here to see me today?”

Myungjun shifted awkwardly in his seat, the dark leather squeaking beneath him, as he tried to gather his thoughts. He was eager to get help, but it was incredibly awkward now that he was faced with it. “Umm…I guess the main reason I came here is because I can’t seem to control my emotions. I get angry and hurt the people I care about.”

Her pen scratched noisily across the paper and she hummed thoughtfully. “How does it make you feel when you hurt those people?”

Myungjun thought about the fear in Jinwoos eyes and felt a lump form in his throat. “Terrible. It makes me want to die when I see the way he looks at me.”

“Is this boy a friend?” she asked, pen poised above her paper.

“My boyfriend.” Myungjun replied softly and watched as the pen made notes.

Bora looked up at him and smiled. “That must come with its own challenges. Being gay I mean.”

Myungjun thought it was a strange thing to say but shrugged. “I guess. Not everyone is so…nice about it.”

“Myungjun I have to ask you a question which may upset you.” He froze, not entirely sure he wanted to hear it. “I’ll only ask if you allow me to.” After a few seconds, he nodded stiffly and took a quick sip of his drink. “Myungjun, are you being bullied?”

The effect was almost immediate. Myungjun had been hiding it for so long, that the thought of revealing the truth was too much to handle. The glass slipped from his hand and smashed across the floor, spilling water across his shoes. He stood up quickly, fists clenched and tears pricking the corners of his eyes. “I’m sorry I have to go.” She didn’t stop him as he fled from the room.

*

“That was quick.” Jinwoo said, giving him a smile as he walked into the combat centre, the class not even halfway done. Myungjuns combat classes on his timetable had been replaced with therapy sessions, to avoid putting him in an environment that could make him angry. It had been Myungjuns idea and Grove had reluctantly agreed. Grove had also voiced his opinion that he was worried about Myungjun falling behind in the class, but Myungjun promised to train against the wooden dummies if he ever had time after therapy. Which is what he wanted to do now. “How was it?” Jinwoo asked, following him to the weapons rack.

“I ran away.” Myungjun answered with a sigh. “I’ll try again on Thursday.” He pulled one of the poles down, not wanting to use the dual swords today and twirled it around, getting used to the weight again. “You’re not supposed to be near me during this class JinJin, I’ll talk to you after okay?” He stepped away from him, not waiting for his answer and made his way over to the dummies on the other side of the room. He felt Jinwoo watching him but ignored it.

Swinging the pole felt awkward. He hadn’t used it in a long time and his form was off. The female teacher came over to help him correct it, before giving him an encouraging thumbs up and moving on to help someone else. Myungjun closed his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to empty his mind. It didn’t work.

Myungjun, are you being bullied? Bullied. Bullied. Bullied.

He growled in frustration and swung the pole hard. It cracked loudly against the wooden dummy and he spun to the side to hit it again.

Well look at this boys. Not only is Myungjun a filthy magic user, he’s also into guys. How disgusting.

Myungjun changed hands and swung the pole towards the dummies head, missing it completely. The force of his swing sent him stumbling.

Hey Myungjun, where’s your boyfriend today? Looks like he’s not around to protect you this time. Why do you need protecting anyway? Can’t fight back?

Myungjun got back into position, feeling the anger bubble in his chest. He swung the pole, connecting it with the dummy over and over again until a loud noise filled the air. The pole snapped in half and he tossed it to the side harshly. Multiple faces flashed in front of him. Jung-hoon. Jung-hoons thugs. His mother. His father. The five faces of the bullies currently tormenting him. His own. He lunged forwards, snarling angrily and punched himself in the face. Except it wasn’t himself, it was the wooden dummy and his hand crunched against the solid material, sending a sharp shocking pain through his hand and up his arm, pulling him out of his haze. He cursed loudly and stumbled backwards, clutching his hand to his chest as fresh tears sprung to his eyes.

“Junnie?” He heard Jinwoos cautious voice behind him and he spun around, making his boyfriend flinch. “Junnie you’re hurt. Let’s go to see the nurse okay?” His eyes were searching Myungjuns own, making sure it was still him and Myungjun nodded hesitantly before stepping forwards. Jinwoo gave him a relieved smile and wrapped an arm around his waist to lead him out of the room.

*

“It’s definitely fractured. You need to be more careful Myungjun.” The nurse waved her hands over his own, and he gritted his teeth as the bones vibrated back together, the pain being siphoned off slowly. He sighed in relief when it was over and thanked her quietly. “You need to wrap your knuckles before sparring Myungjun. I already told you this last time.”

“That’s my fault.” Jinwoo said, offering her a sheepish smile. “I always wrap his knuckles, but I forgot today. I’ll make sure to do it next time.” She nodded, seemingly satisfied before dismissing them.

Myungjun threaded his fingers through Jinwoos and they made their way outside, the cool night air making Myungjun shiver. Jinwoo looked over at him and his birthmark began to glow gently as he radiated heat.

“Thanks JinJin.”

“No problem cutie. What do you want to do now? Wanna take a slow walk to the pond?” Jinwoo asked, already leading them in that direction. Myungjun just nodded and followed him.

The pond was just as beautiful as it had been the night Jinwoo had asked him to be his boyfriend. The moonlight lit up the surface of the water and flowers littered the floor around it. They sat on the flat rocks and Myungjun cuddled up to him, needing the warmth but needing the comfort more. He made a happy noise as Jinwoo ran his fingers through his hair, soothing all the tension he felt in his body.

“Don’t fall asleep.” Jinwoo said amused. “If you sleep now you won’t sleep later.”

“I feel like I could sleep all the time.” Myungjun answered, closing his eyes. “I’m always so tired.”

“I used to be like that.” Jinwoo said quietly. “Back before I met you. I used to sleep all day just to be alone at night, but even then, I slept most of the night away. You should tell your therapist how tired you get the next time you see her. I think that’s an important bit of information.”

Myungjun hummed in acknowledgment but didn’t answer him any further. He didn’t want to speak about that right now, he just wanted to cuddle and take a nap. He moved his head down into Jinwoos lap and looked up at him. The moonlight shone down on him prettily, making Jinwoos dark hair glow around him like a halo, he looked ethereal.

“Have I ever told you that you’re beautiful?” Myungjun asked, smiling at the blush spreading across Jinwoos cheeks. “I’m the luckiest person alive to have you as my boyfriend. Please don’t leave.” He added quietly.

Jinwoos eyebrows knitted together in confusion. “Of course I won’t leave. We can stay here as long as you like.”

Myungjun shook his head and reached up to stroke Jinwoos face. “No JinJin, I meant don’t leave me. I know it’s a selfish thing to ask, I’m difficult and clingy and I hurt you, but I don’t want to be alone. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I don’t want to be without you, ever.” Myungjun felt Jinwoos warm tears hit his face, mingling with his own and he pouted sadly. “Don’t cry JinJin. You never cry and it hurts me when you do.”

“I’m sorry.” Jinwoo said shakily. “You’re just so cheesy, I’m in physical pain.”

Myungjun laughed loudly, startling the wildlife by the serene pond. It was so like Jinwoo to cover up his emotions with a joke. “You’re a jerk. I’m baring the very depths of my soul to you here.”

“Well keep it covered.” Jinwoo said, voice strained with barely contained laughter. “It’s terribly cringey, I actually feel quite sick now.” He pretended to gag and Myungjun sat up quickly to scowl at him.

“JinJin you’re being mean!”

Jinwoo grinned at the look on his face and patted his lap. “Come here and let me make it up to you then.” Myungjun wanted to say no, just to spite him, but being away from Jinwoo meant he was exposed to the cool air and he didn’t want to catch a cold. That was the excuse he used at least, as he shuffled over to sit in Jinwoos lap, facing him with a pout. Jinwoo kissed it away, a quick peck that left Myungjun wanting more but he stopped when he noticed the bruises around Jinwoos neck. He reached up slowly and placed his fingers over the marks. A perfect fit. Jinwoo was still, watching him quietly and he didn’t appear to be breathing.

“Does it hurt?” Myungjun asked, pressing down on them gently.

Jinwoo nodded and closed his eyes. “Its sore. It hurts when I talk or when I eat.”

Myungjun moved his magic down to the palm of his hand that was wrapped around Jinwoos throat. He tried to remember what Mr Choi had taught him and focused hard on pulling Jinwoos pain away. He knew it was working when he felt a soreness in his own throat, it faded away slowly, and he watched as Jinwoo opened his eyes in surprise.

“Junnie what are you doing?”

“Taking away the pain.” Myungjun said hoarsely. “I learnt how to do it in my healing class, I can’t take it all away yet and it hurts me to do it, but it’s the least I can do. Does it feel better?”

Jinwoo nodded, frowning slightly. “What do you mean it hurts you to do it?”

“Healers feel the same pain they take away, it’s the price to pay for using light magic. Its only temporary, so stop frowning at me. I can’t take the bruises away though, I’m sorry. I wish I had them instead.”

Jinwoo was quiet for a while, lost in thought, before leaning forwards and nosing at Myungjuns neck.

“What are you doing?” Myungjun squeaked, flustered at the sudden affection.

“Giving you a bruise.” Jinwoo said softly. He moved down and placed a gentle kiss on Myungjuns collarbone.

“That’s not a bruise that’s a- ouch Jinwoo that hurts.” Myungjun squeezed his eyes shut, feeling a dull pain where Jinwoos lips were. He quickly got used to the feeling and decided it wasn’t so bad after all. When Jinwoo was finished, he covered the area in kisses and pulled back to stare at his work proudly.

“What did you do?” Myungjun asked, reaching up to touch it. It hurt when he pressed down on the sensitive area and it made him squirm.

“Love bite.” Jinwoo said, looking up at him with a smile. “That’s what a love bite is. Go and look at your reflection in the pond.”

Myungjun followed his instructions and climbed awkwardly from Jinwoos lap to go and see what he’d done. He gasped when he saw the dark mark against his skin. “JinJin why did you do that?”

“You said you wished you had bruises instead.” Jinwoo answered him with a shrug. “I gave you a little one, so we’re even.”

Myungjun went back to sit in his lap and wrapped his legs around Jinwoos waist. “That’s what Moonbin was talking about at Christmas. Why would I have had one on my neck back then?”

Jinwoo looked uncomfortable as he thought about what to say. “People usually give love bites when they’re…in the heat of the moment.”

“What does that mean?” Myungjun asked, happy that he’d finally learnt what it was.

“Think back to how you felt when we kissed on Christmas day…in my bed.” Jinwoo added with a blush. “Or in the storage room on hallows eve. That’s what I mean by the heat of the moment. Moonbin said it back then because he wanted to wind me up. He knew there was nothing there but said it to see how I’d react. I fell for it, thinking I’d actually done it without realising.” He was quiet for a moment. “I’m sorry for doing it now, I should have asked first.”

“It’s okay.” Myungjun said with a shy smile. “It wasn’t so bad.” He cuddled up against Jinwoos chest and sighed happily at the warmth. “We should go soon, it’s getting late.”

“Whenever you’re ready Junnie.” Jinwoo said, pressing a kiss into his hair.

Chapter Text

The first of February rolled around and Myungjun walked down to breakfast to see the hall buzzing with excitement.

“What’s going on?” He asked, slipping into the empty seat between Hyungwon and Hoseok.

“The notice is out for the February dungeon run examinations. The first years are nervous.” Hoseok said, pointing to a table surrounded by younger children who were whispering furiously. “Do you think we looked like that last year?”

“Probably.” Myungjun said with a laugh, reaching back to take some food from the trays that floated past. “I guess we’ll be getting new timetables today like last year. We cut out the majority of our classes and only had combat training and practical skills before. I had herbology as well though and I’m sure I’ll still be doing healing this year.”

Hyungwon leaned forwards and lowered his voice. “Junnie are you sure you can handle the extra combat classes?” His concern made Myungjuns chest warm.

Myungjun turned to him with a smile. “I’ll still be going to therapy during two of the classes and I’ve been feeling a lot better since I began seeing Bora. Now that she knows everything about me, she promised to start the actual therapy tomorrow.”

“That’s great Junnie, I’m proud of you for going. You’ll be better in no time.” Hyungwon said, pulling him in for a hug. “How are things between you and Jinwoo?”

“We’re fine. He’s been really busy lately though, so I haven’t seen him much. But he always comes to check on me at dinner. He’s training too hard; he’ll make himself sick if he’s not careful.” Myungjun pouted and snuggled closer, earning himself a small chuckle from the older boy.

“I’m sure Jinwoo knows what he’s doing.” Hoseok piped up. “Is he training his body or his magic?”

“Both.” Myungjun said with a sigh. “I always see him dashing between the combat centre and the fire users’ practical skills room. He always has this determined look in his eyes and one day last week he walked straight past me without even noticing me, he was so focused.”

“I wonder why…” Hoseok said with a frown. “No one else is training as hard as him, there must be a reason.”

“We’ll find out soon enough.” Hyungwon said, giving Myungjun a reassuring squeeze before letting him go. “You have herbology first Junnie, you better get a move on.”

*

Myungjun sat in the herbology clearing after tending to his greenhouse. Everything went so much quicker thanks to the watering plant Jinwoo had given him for Christmas. He waited patiently for Ms Jung to finish talking to another student before making her way over to him.

“Have you made much progress today Myungjun?” She asked kindly, sitting down in front of him. Myungjun shook his head and sighed. Ms Jung had kept her promise and had moved him on to something harder after Christmas. It was so hard that a month later he still hadn’t managed to get the hang of the spell. “It’s not easy to animate plants Myungjun, so please don’t be disheartened. Have you ever seen an animated companion?”

Myungjun was quick to answer. “Yes, my friend Rocky created a rock golem in his first year, he’s really cute.”

Her eyes widened slightly. “That’s an impressive feat for someone so young. He still has this golem?”

“He was smashed during the first dungeon run but Rocky still had the original rock, so he made him again. Rocky Jr grew larger over the summer, he’s waist height now.” Myungjun said proudly, as if he was the one responsible for his growth spurt.

“Companions are usually animated for short periods of time for combat purposes. I don’t often hear of them being animated continuously in such a way. Your friend must be using huge amounts of magical energy to keep him going, so you should watch over him to make sure he doesn’t push it too far.” Ms Jung reached forwards to pat the soil between them. “Now with what I just told you, I would like for you to try animating a plant again. It runs on magical energy Myungjun, keep that in mind.” She moved to get up and Myungjun quickly helped her to her feet. She thanked him gratefully and shuffled away, leaving him to his work.

Myungjun kneeled down on the dirt and placed his hands against it firmly, closing his eyes and moving his magic down to his palms. He didn’t stop there however, he took her advice and forced his energy out of himself and into the ground, picturing a bright red flower. The ground rumbled ominously, and he opened his eyes when it broke away around him. He watched, stunned, as a large flower broke free, growing in size before him. It only stopped growing when he pulled his hands away and it turned its budding head towards him.

“Hello.” The flower said in a delicate, high-pitched, tinkling voice and Myungjun fell back in shock.

“I did it.” He whispered, staring up at the flower in front of him. “I can’t believe I did it.”

“I can’t see very well Myungjun. Why didn’t you let me bloom?” The flower asked, swaying its budding head from side to side. “You didn’t even let me unroot myself.”

Myungjun stared at it, not really understanding. “You were growing so big; I didn’t know when to stop.”

The flower sighed, a breezy noise that felt pleasant to his ears. “However much energy you put into the ground, decides on how big I will be. If you start off with a lot, then I will be bigger but if you start off with a little, I will be small. The most important thing is finishing what you started. Now please give me more magic, I hate being blind and I can’t walk.”

“You’re awfully bossy for a flower.” Myungjun grumbled, reaching over to touch the ground around it.

“I’m an extension of you Myungjun.” The flower said smartly and Myungjun laughed.

“I guess I can be a bit bossy sometimes too. Now be quiet and let me concentrate.” He focused hard on pushing more magic into the ground and it rumbled loudly again. Myungjun watched as the flower bloomed, six bright red petals fanning out prettily with two waxy green leaves sprouting from its sides and he didn’t stop until it had pulled its roots free from the ground. When he was finished, he stood up to see that the flower was nearly his height. “I think I used too much magic.” He said, feeling drained.

“To keep me animated, I need to stay close by you and I’ll feed off of your magical energy. I’m quite big so I’ll need a lot. Make sure to eat lots and get lots of sleep.” The flower said, taking its first shaky steps on its roots.

“Wow you really do sound like me.” Myungjun said, thoroughly impressed. “Let’s go.”

Students gasped and stared as Myungjun walked past them, flower in tow. “Hyung that’s so cool!” Jimin squealed, running over to take a look. “How did you do it?” Myungjun quickly explained and watched amused as Jimin bent down to try, face scrunched up cutely in concentration.

“The more energy you force out, the bigger it will be. Don’t use too much though because it feeds from you.” Myungjun advised him. “I’m going to get lunch, so I’ll talk to you later.”

His stomach was already grumbling as he made his way out of the forest. People pointed and whispered when he walked past and Myungjun couldn’t help but wonder how Rocky had put up with the attention. It was making his skin crawl uncomfortably.

“I can feel your anxiety Myungjun.” The flower said lightly behind him. “Can you slow down a bit? My roots are too short.” Myungjun quickly apologised and stopped briefly to walk alongside it.

“Can you do anything special?” He asked. “and how can you see? You don’t have eyes.”

“I’m not sure. Why don’t we go to the library later and look it up?”

“You read my mind.” Myungjun said happily with a wide grin.

“Literally.” The flower replied, swaying in the light breeze as it walked.

Myungjun entered the hall and looked around. He wasn’t surprised that Jinwoo was nowhere in sight and he briefly considered going to find him, to force him to take a break, but realised he wouldn’t be able to stand much longer himself if he didn’t get something to eat. He made his way over to the table where Seokjin and Namjoon were sitting and collapsed in one of the chairs with a sigh.

“Cool companion.” Seokjin said, less fazed by its appearance then the other students had been.

Namjoon looked around and made a noise of surprise. “You finally made it.” He said, putting his glasses back on to inspect the flower properly. “Did Ms Jung tell you how?” Myungjun nodded tiredly and gestured to the empty plate in front of himself. Seokjin seemed to understand and filled it up with food.

“Thanks Hyung.” Myungjun said, taking a bite of some of the chicken and groaning loudly. “I never knew food could taste so good.”

“Your flower is bigger than Rocky Jr.” Namjoon said, still focused on it. “but it looks weaker.”

His flower made an offended noise. “I am NOT weak. Do I need to prove it?”

Myungjun sighed. “You’ve insulted her now.”

“Her?” Namjoon asked, finally tearing his eyes away to look at Myungjun. “How can it be female? It’s an extension of your magic, it should be male if anything.”

Myungjun shrugged. “I don’t know how either, but I know its female. It has a feminine voice.”

“You understand it?” Namjoon asked curiously, before snapping his fingers excitedly. “Of course you do, its like how Rocky can understand Rocky Jr but we can’t.”

Myungjun thought about Rocky Jr and his gravelly garbled nonsense and wondered how his flower sounded, so he asked.

“It’s sort of like…windchimes.” Seokjin answered him thoughtfully. “It’s a pleasant sound. Have you thought of a name for her yet?”

Myungjun shook his head, that hadn’t even crossed his mind. “I guess I’ll name her after whatever flower she is.” He turned around to look at her. “Do you know what flower you are?”

“Of course I do, I’m not stupid.” She snapped haughtily, still offended from Namjoons remark. “I’m a Red Camellia, like the petals you shed.”

“I was always curious as to what my petals were.” Myungjun said, feeling enlightened. “I guess that settles it, Camellia it is.” She hummed appreciatively at the name and Myungjun turned back to the table to eat his food.

*

“Hello Myungjun, it’s nice to see you again.” Bora greeted him kindly, letting him inside and leading him to his usual seat.

Myungjun sat down, feeling nervous but excited to finally begin proper therapy. He stroked one of Camellias waxy leaves absentmindedly as she stood beside his chair, tall and proud. “What are we doing today?”

Bora shuffled the pile of parchment on her desk and cleared her throat. “I have analysed your notes since our last session, piecing together everything you have told me over the past month.” Myungjun leaned forwards eagerly to listen. “This isn’t happening to you because of your father. Not completely anyway.”

“What do you mean?” Myungjun frowned feeling confused. “Of course it’s because of him. I’ve only ever snapped after speaking to him.”

“Your father is what we like to call a trigger. He triggers these violent outbursts, but they have always been there, laying under the surface and waiting for a reason to break free.” She explained slowly. “You have dealt with many traumatic things in your short life Myungjun. Having your magic suppressed for five years at a crucial stage of your physical and mental development, facing a near death beating, finding out you were abandoned by your father and being bullied here still, to name a few. It’s all piled up slowly because you’ve never dealt with these things or found a healthy release.”

Myungjun was stunned. He knew all those things had negatively affected him in some way, but he didn’t realise he had to deal with them. He always just tried to forget and move on. “If that’s true…how am I supposed to deal with it?”

She smiled sadly and he felt his stomach clench with dread. “I think it would be best for you to attend one of these therapy sessions with your parents. They do not have to come together, it can be separate if you-“

“No.” Myungjun interrupted firmly. “No way in hell am I sitting in the same room with him.” Camellias roots started to creep up the chair towards him. “I never want to see him again, you said he’s a trigger. Why would you want me near him?” Boras eyes followed the progress of the roots and she tensed.

“Myungjun it was just a suggestion. You do not have to do anything you don’t feel comfortable doing. I just think it’s in your best interest if you do. Maybe hearing his side of the story-“

“NO.” Myungjun answered angrily, the thought of his father setting him on edge. The roots crept across his waist and Bora sat back in her chair. “I don’t want to hear his excuses! He left me, he left me and let my magic be taken from me whilst he played happy families with his guild. He wasn’t there to stop my mother giving me those pills, he wasn’t there to take me to school, or tuck me in at night or teach me all the things a father is supposed to teach his son.” Myungjun felt his magic thrum, empowered by Camellias roots as they dug into his waist, fusing with his very skin.

“Myungjun you need to take some deep breaths.” Bora said, taking some deep breaths of her own as an example and waiting patiently until Myungjun copied her. “That’s better.” She said relieved as Camellias roots slowly receded. “I said you hadn’t dealt with those things or hadn’t found a healthy release. I can see you are not yet ready to deal with them, so I think we need to focus on finding an outlet instead, one that doesn’t involve physical violence.”

Myungjun breathed out shakily and nodded his head. “I’d like that.”

“When these outbursts occur, have you noticed anything that helps pull you back to your usual self? Something that makes you realise what you are doing and allows you to stop?” she asked, twirling the pen between her fingers.

Myungjun thought back to the arena and frowned. The only thing that had stopped him was Hyungwon knocking him out. He changed his direction of thought to the combat centre and remembered how the sharp pain of Jinwoos nails had cut through the haze of his anger. That’s strange, Myungjun thought, the only thing that stopped me from attacking that wooden dummy the third time was the pain I felt in my hand after it fractured. He cleared his throat awkwardly and nodded. “Pain. Pain always brings me back.”

Bora sighed and shook her head. “I was afraid you’d say that.”

*

“Do you have any questions for me before we finish this session Myungjun?” Bora asked, watching him hesitate.

“Why Jinwoo? I always hurt him. I understand why I did the second time I snapped; he was the only one there. But the first time, in the arena, I was fighting with Hyungwon against Youngjae as well, but I only attacked him. Even when they pulled me away, I was only trying to get back to him…to hurt him. I never recognise him when I snap, it’s like he’s nothing to me.”

Bora was quiet for a while, thinking it through. “Jinwoo means a lot to you, you have strong feelings for him and there’s a fine line between love and hate. When you snap, your brain steps over that line and makes you believe you hate him. It turns the love you feel for him against you.”

Myungjun flushed and coughed awkwardly. “I don’t think I love him. You don’t hurt the people you love…but I like him a lot though.”

“Well whatever you feel for him is strong enough to invoke an equally as strong hatred when you’re triggered by your father. Do you have any more questions? No? Okay. Just think about what we discussed here today, and I’ll see you next week. Good luck with your examinations this weekend.”

*

Myungjun looked up the ladder to his treehouse, then back down at Camellia. “Umm…how is this going to work? Do I have to carry you up?”

If a flower had eyes to roll, she would have done, Myungjun could just sense it. “I can climb myself Myungjun, I’m not incapable.” Her roots extended to reach the first rung and when she had a good grip, she decreased their length to pull herself up. Myungjun thought she looked like a yoyo and wanted to laugh. “I’m glad you’re finding amusement in my struggle.”

“I did offer to carry you.” Myungjun pointed out. “Are you sure you want to come up? There’s no soil up there. How do you sleep anyway?”

She halted her ascent and turned her flowery red head towards him. “I have to be near you to stay animated. Unless you want to summon me another time?”

Myungjun thought about it for a few seconds before nodding. “It would be cruel to make you sleep so far up with no soil. How can I summon you again? Rocky has the original rock he made Rocky Jr from, to bring him back if he gets smashed, but I didn’t make you from anything.”

“Your petals. We’re the same. If you want me, just create one and infuse it with your magic.” Her roots extended towards him. “Pull your magic back in.” He held her root delicately and closed his eyes, focusing on taking his magic back.

When he opened his eyes again there was only a flurry of red petals left behind.

*

Myungjun woke up the morning of the dungeon run examinations feeling anxious. He wasn’t anxious about the exams themselves; he was used to them by now. He was unsettled at the thought of somehow snapping in there and turning against Jinwoo. Maybe I’ll even hurt the others as well this time, Myungjun thought panicked before realising how ridiculous he was being and shaking his head clear of those poisonous thoughts. He grunted in pain when Youngjae dived onto his bed, kneeing him in the stomach.

“Hyuuuuung, Wakey-wakey!” Youngjae shouted excitedly.

“I was already awake.” Myungjun whined, pushing him off. “I’ve been mortally wounded, and we haven’t even stepped foot in the dungeons yet.”

“Sorry.” Youngjae said with a grin, not sounding apologetic at all. “Are you too injured to get breakfast?”

Myungjun sat up quickly, ignoring the dull pain in his stomach and shook his head. “I’m never too injured for food. Let’s go.” Youngjae laughed loudly at his eagerness and pulled him from the bed.

“You look cute when you first wake up, your face is all puffy.” Youngjae said, poking Myungjuns cheeks. “You have a baby face Hyung.” He cooed when Myungjun tried to pull away blushing. “Come on, you’re my baby today, let’s get you dressed.”

Myungjun shrieked as Youngjae grabbed him and attempted to pull his shirt off. Namjoon woke abruptly at the noise and fell out of his bed. “What’s going on?” He asked, scrambling to grab his glasses off the nightstand and kicking the blanket away. When he put them on, he looked up at them in confusion. “Youngjae why are you undressing him?”

“He’s a baby.” Youngjae said. He quickly went back to forcefully yanking Myungjuns shirt up and Myungjun screamed.

“JOONIE HELP ME!”

Namjoon sighed, a smile tugging at his lips before he lunged at Youngjae and pulled him away. “Stop it you creep, he’s capable of dressing himself and stop calling him a baby, he’s the oldest one here.” Youngjae laughed as Namjoon tickled him and Myungjun took his chance to escape. He locked himself in the bathroom and leaned up against the door listening to them play fight.

“Joon wait.” He heard Youngjae whisper breathlessly and pressed his ear closer to listen, not wanting to miss anything. They may plan to gang up on him after all. “I was just trying to cheer him up. I walked past his bed and he looked like he was on the verge of having a panic attack. I wasn’t really being a creep so can you let go?”

Myungjun listened to his words and a warmth spread across his chest. Youngjae was worried about him and had only tried to make him feel better. It worked. He quickly unlocked the door and ran over to give Youngjae a tight hug. “Thankyou for being my friend.” Youngjae seemed surprised but hugged him back all the same.

Chapter Text

“Why does he keep failing here?” Rocky asked, anger seeping into his voice as they watched Sanha be sucked into the ground on the third floor. Sanha had failed breaking free from his illusion again and they watched unhappily as their youngest was taken from them. “What if we get to a floor where we’re in desperate need of air magic? We NEED him, why does he keep messing up?”

Myungjun moved over to pat Rockys shoulder comfortingly. “We’ll make do without him. Whatever Sanha is seeing must be too much for him, please don’t be mad at him.”

Rocky sighed and relaxed under Myungjuns touch. “Fine. Let’s go solve this riddle and get off this stupid floor.” He swept ahead of them into the corridor leading to the boss room and everyone followed.

“Do you think it will be the same as last time?” Myungjun asked Jinwoo hopefully, hurrying over to walk beside him.

Jinwoo shrugged. “I dunno, we’ve had the same illusions as last year, so maybe we’ll get the same riddle.”

“You never told me what you see when we come down here. You told me you’d tell me last time, but you never did.” Myungjun remembered the way Jinwoo had broken from his illusion last year, sweating and shaking and in desperate need of a boost.

“I see my parents.” Jinwoo said quietly. “Or what’s supposed to be my parents, they don’t have faces because I don’t know what they looked like. I see myself burning down a little stone hut with them inside. I’m only able to break out of the illusion because I think about what you told me that day by the lake, about it not being my fault and that they wouldn’t want me to blame myself forever.”

“Well it’s the truth.” Myungjun said, happy to know his words had helped him. Jinwoo smiled at him and they walked into the Riddler’s room together.

“What have you got for us this time then?” Moonbin asked, staring up at her defiantly. “We’ll solve it straight away and you won’t be able to take Minnie from me again.” Dongmin laughed, shaking his head at Moonbins bad attitude.

What is greater than the Deity,
more evil than the Prince of Darkness,
the poor have it,
the rich need it,
and if you eat it, you'll die?

“Nothing.” Jinwoo answered straight away and the Riddler bowed her head and opened up the pathway to the next floor.

Everyone was silent for a few seconds, staring at Jinwoo open mouthed.

“I’m sorry but what the actual hell.” Moonbin said weakly. “I barely even registered what she said.”

Jinwoo shrugged and walked down the corridor, leaving everyone stunned. Myungjun finally snapped out of it and chased after him. “JinJin how did you guess that so fast?”

Jinwoo looked over at his excited face and laughed. “Nothing is greater than the Deity. I knew that straight away and everything else she said fell into place.” He lowered his voice and leaned closer to Myungjun, so only he could hear. “Did I look cool back there?”

Myungjun snorted and pushed him away. “Is that all you care about?” Jinwoo grinned at him and he sighed. “Yes, you looked extra cool JinJin. The coolest. My boyfriend is so smart, I’m going to brag about you to everyone now.”

“Don’t be sarcastic.” Jinwoo whined, nudging Myungjuns shoulder with his own. “I didn’t get us to the next floor for this disrespect.”

“Well get us through this floor as well and I might start to respect you again.” Myungjun said simply. When everyone was inside and the wall sealed shut behind them, Myungjun stood back proudly to watch Jinwoo burn all of the giant spider webs down. They got ready for the spiders to attack and when the first one exposed itself from its hiding place in the shadows, Myungjun raced forwards first to kill it.

“Maybe it’s a good idea Sanha isn’t here.” Rocky called out from somewhere behind him. “You know how much he hates spiders.” Myungjun laughed and pulled his vines through the floor to wrap around a spider that was skittering towards Dongmins exposed back. When the vines were secure, he sent his magic through them to crush the spider to pieces. It exploded and blood sprayed up Dongmins shirt making him squeal.

“EW.” Dongmin said in disgust, reaching around to touch the back of his shirt and looking at the warm red liquid that coated his fingers. “That’s so disgusting Hyung. Did you have to kill it right there?”

Myungjun rolled his eyes and pulled his swords free. “Sorry for ruining your appearance your majesty. Next time don’t leave yourself exposed.”

“Moonbin you’re supposed to have my back!” Dongmin turned around angrily to find him.

“I’m a bit…tied up right now.” Moonbin said, struggling to pull his leg free from a thick spider’s web. Myungjun raced forwards to cut through it with his swords after realising Moonbins blunt pole wouldn’t help.

“Sorry.” Jinwoo said, cutting down the last spider. “Guess I missed that one.”

*

Myungjun stared across the lake on the sixth floor and shivered. He hated sirens. He accepted his bubble helmet from Moonbin before they all jumped in surprise at Rockys happy shout.

“What?” Dongmin snapped, a hand over his heart from the shock. “You scared the life out of me.”

“Sorry.” Rocky said sheepishly. “I just had a good idea. Stand back.”

They all listened to him and pressed themselves up against the recently sealed wall. Rocky knelt down and placed his palms on the ground. His birthmark began to glow and the ground split open in front of him. Myungjun watched as the crack disappeared under the surface of the water.

“You’re draining the lake?” Jinwoo asked, eyes wide. “Why didn’t you do that last time?”

Rocky wasn’t listening, he was focused on making the crack wider, to drain the water faster and his hands began to tremble from the strain. He’s going to pass out, Myungjun thought worriedly, he’s using too much energy.

“Rocky stop!” Myungjun said, stepping forwards to pull him away. Rocky fell back with a gasp as the connection between his magic and the floor broke, face pale. Myungjun quickly opened the herb pouch on his chest and found an energy reviver before forcing it into Rockys mouth. “You didn’t have to push yourself that far Rocky, we can wait for it to drain slowly, we’re in no rush.”

Rocky groaned as his energy came back and he stood up shakily. “Sorry, I got a bit impatient.”

“Impatience can get you incapacitated.” Jinwoo said wisely. “I learnt that the hard way the first time we did the exams, I wanted to kill the rat boss as quickly as possible and expended all of my energy because of it. Its better to do things slow and steady then fast and reckless.”

Rocky accepted his scolding and patted Rocky Jr’s head when he garbled up at him. “Let’s just wait then.”

They sat down against the wall, watching the large expanse of water drain away.

After a few minutes of silence, Myungjun cleared his throat to speak. “I have to give you all something.” He rooted around in his bag for the ear plugs he’d made from thick plant fibres and went to sit in front of Jinwoo. He slipped them in Jinwoos ears and placed his hands against them. His birth mark began to glow as he made the fibres expand, to completely block out any sound.

Jinwoo reached up to grab his wrist. *Thanks Junnie*

Myungjun smiled and moved to each of them in turn. When they were done, he gestured for them all to stand in a circle. He held the two hands on either side of him, Jinwoos and Rockys, and thought hard. *Grab their hands so we can link. I forgot we needed to make a plan before I put those in your ears*

*You’re an idiot Hyung* Rocky’s voice rang through his head and Myungjun scowled.

*Yah you brat! I thought I was helping* Rocky rolled his eyes but grabbed onto Dongmins hand. A second later, Dongmin grabbed Moonbins and Moonbin finished connecting the circle by grabbing Jinwoos other hand. *Can everyone hear me?* Myungjun thought hard, focusing on pushing it along the link.

*Yeah it’s working* Moonbins voice travelled to him, quieter then Rockys had been. *Guess we’re making the plan whilst we wait for the lake to finish draining? Why do we have these in our ears anyway?*

Myungjun looked over his shoulder to see the water nearly gone. *This boss burst our eardrums last time* He looked over to see Jinwoo nodding a confirmation. *I made these so it wouldn’t get a chance to do it again. As you all know, this boss is where I got incapacitated, you can’t let your guard down. We thought we’d killed it, but it launched its trident at the last second. It could aim for any one of us today, so we need to watch it carefully*

*Got it Hyung, let’s go* Dongmins voice floated through the link and they let go, breaking it off. Luckily enough, Rockys magic hadn’t completely cut off the path to the next corridor like last time in the snake boss room, so Myungjun didn’t have to use any of his energy creating another bridge.

The siren stood there, eerily still and holding its trident. Myungjun felt nauseous as he remembered the way it had impaled him and stepped closer to Jinwoo. Jinwoo grabbed his hand and smiled. *It’s okay Junnie, you won’t get hurt this time I promise. Just step back and let me burn it okay? If it comes towards you…duck* Myungjun laughed and nodded before stepping away.

Jinwoo erupted into flames and channelled it all towards the siren. It opened its mouth in a silent scream and Myungjun breathed a sigh of relief as his ear plugs blocked it out completely. He tensed when he saw the trident rise. It switched between them all at lightning speed, Myungjuns eyes could barely keep up. Dongmin. Moonbin. Himself. Rocky. Jinwoo. Himself. Moonbin. The siren launched it hard and fast and Myungjun heaved his vines through the floor in front of the pink haired boy. The trident impaled his vines and was stopped, millimetres from Moonbins chest.

Moonbin was frozen, face pale as he looked down at the tips of the sharp weapon and Myungjun and Dongmin both rushed forwards to pull him away. Myungjun made him sit down against the wall and put his hands over Moonbins ears, pulling the ear plugs out with his magic. He quickly did the same to himself and Dongmin before grabbing Moonbins face.

“Bin, its okay.” He said quietly, trying to get him to listen. Moonbin just stared ahead without saying a word.

“What’s wrong with him?” Dongmin asked, beginning to panic. “Why isn’t he talking?”

“He’s going into shock.” Myungjun said, noticing the signs. “It’s terrifying having that thing thrown at you. Bin can you look at me? You’re okay, you’re not hurt I promise. It didn’t touch you.”

Moonbin slowly looked up at him, skin clammy with sweat and he made a strangled noise. “I’m not dead?”

Myungjun laughed and shook his head. “No, you’re still here. It didn’t touch you at all, I stopped it.”

“Thankyou” Moonbin said weakly. He was quickly engulfed in a hug from Dongmin so Myungjun stepped back to remove the plants from Rockys and Jinwoos ears to give them some privacy.

“Is he okay?” Jinwoo asked quietly when he could hear again. “He looks terrible.”

“He’ll be fine, luckily he didn’t slip too far. Going into shock is really dangerous.” Myungjun eyed his herb pouch with a frown. “Next time I’ll bring something to help calm us down. Grove gave me something like that when I went to his office after hurting you. I’ll ask him what it was for the next exams.”

“We’re ready to go.” Dongmin said, coming up behind them and pointing to the new corridor. “Let’s go see what’s on the next floor.”

*

“It’s so hot in here.” Rocky whined, looking across the barren desert. The sun was beating down on them mercilessly and the only two who didn’t seem affected by it were Jinwoo and Dongmin.

Myungjuns shoes crunched against the sand as he walked further ahead. Huge brown sand dunes rose up around them in the distance and there was nothing else in sight. Just brown sand, blue skies and a scorching hot ball of fire that was making Myungjun sweat.

“How did we go from a lake of water to a waterless desert.” Moonbin complained. “My magic won’t be very good in here.”

Myungjun heard a rumbling noise in the distance and shushed them all. They all stopped to listen and Jinwoo pointed at one of the sand dunes up ahead. It was vibrating and sand was spraying up in clouds. Myungjun watched as multiple winged creatures burst free and flew rapidly towards them.

“Is that a chicken?” Rocky asked incredulous. “Since when do chickens have dragon wings?”

“Oh no, it’s a cockatrice!” Dongmin shouted, voice laced with panic. “Don’t look them in the eyes, you’ll turn to stone!”

“How can we fight something we can’t look at?” Moonbin asked angrily. “This is a joke.”

Rocky Jr garbled something, and Rocky started shouting out commands. “Myungjun to your left!” Myungjun pulled his swords free and closed his eyes, turning to his left and swinging wildly. His swords connected with something solid that shrieked at him. “Moonbin duck!” Myungjun heard Moonbin grunt in pain and worry burned in his chest. Rocky Jr garbled again, and Rocky told Jinwoo to move.

“How do you know where they are Rocky?” Dongmins voice came from behind him.

“Rocky Jr can see them without being affected.” Rocky shouted back.

Myungjun thought about Camellia and gasped. He needed to summon her; she could help. “Rocky ask him if there’s any more of them near me.” Myungjun said, swinging his swords around randomly.

Rocky asked and confirmed that Myungjun wasn’t in danger. Myungjun quickly focused on expending his magic and felt petals fall down around him. He chanced looking down at his feet to pick one up and forced his magic into it. Camellia appeared before him and landed on the sand with a tinkling noise as he snapped his eyes shut.

“Myungjun you summoned me? Oh dear you’re in trouble.” She observed; a lot calmer than Myungjun felt.

“Tell me where they are.” Myungjun commanded, not interested in her small talk.

“Would it kill you to say please?”

“Yeah probably!” Myungjun replied exasperated. “I don’t have time to say please.”

“Interesting, you had time to say all of that but not the one word that matters. Above you Myungjun.” Myungjun raised his swords quickly and felt a heavy weight collapse on him as a cockatrice impaled itself on them. Hot blood trickled down his arms and he stumbled to his knees. “You probably should have moved.” Camellia pointed out. Myungjun growled angrily, pushing the creature off of himself and yanking his swords free.

“Jinwoo is in danger. He’s surrounded.”

“Are the others near him? Moonbin, Rocky, Dongmin?” Myungjun asked quickly. When she confirmed they were out of reach he quickly turned to where he thought Jinwoo was. “JinJin you’re surrounded! Use your fire now.”

The air heated up and Myungjun jumped back when pain licked across his hand. He opened his eyes reflexively, to see Jinwoo a lot closer to him than he thought and stumbled backwards, trying to get away from the fire. The wooden sword he was holding in that hand fell to the sand, unburnt from its enchants.

“Junnie what’s wrong?” Jinwoo called out, hearing Myungjun scream.

Myungjun couldn’t answer him, afraid of how Jinwoo would react after realising he’d done the one thing he was terrified of doing; hurting people. Myungjun looked around, forgetting he shouldn’t and saw the others in the distance, standing in a circle and fending off a barrage of attacks. Cockatrices were dying noisily around Jinwoo as they burned to death and Myungjun used the distraction to put his other sword back into its scabbard and reached around in the pouch on his chest, with his good hand, for some bandages.

“Myungjun answer me!” Jinwoo shouted, panic seeping into his voice. “Did they get you? Are you still here?”

“Yes.” Myungjun gasped out in pain as the bandage pressed against his burning flesh. “I was scratched but I’m fine. There’s one above you.” There wasn’t but Myungjun needed him to focus on something else. Myungjun whimpered in pain and gritted his teeth, pulling the bandage taut and taping it into place. It stung terribly and he cursed himself for forgetting to put some aloe paste on it beforehand. It was too late to do it now anyway, Myungjun watched as Rocky cut down the last Cockatrice and the walls rumbled into existence around them.

Jinwoos eyes snapped open and he pulled his fire back, running over to see if Myungjun was okay. “How bad is it? Did it scratch you deep?” He took Myungjuns hand gently but even the lightest touch was enough to make Myungjun shout out in pain.

“JinJin don’t touch it.” He gasped as tears rolled down his cheeks. “It hurts.”

Jinwoo quickly let go. “I’m sorry Junnie. Is it really that painful?” When Myungjun nodded, he reached forwards, into Myungjun pouch, and started pulling things out at random. “Is this the pain relief plant? No? What about this one?” He went through a few more before Myungjun nodded and Jinwoo pressed it against his lips. “Eat it Junnie.”

Myungjun chewed quickly and sighed in relief as the pain faded. “Thanks JinJin. I forgot I had those.”

Jinwoo smiled at him and gestured to Myungjuns hand. “You’ve gotten better at bandaging I see.”

Myungjun smiled back, glad that he didn’t need Jinwoo to re-wrap it. He’d rather die then let Jinwoo know he’d burnt him.

“Are you guys okay?” Rocky asked, jogging over to them with the others in tow. Myungjun noticed blood dripping onto the floor beneath the younger boy. “Dongmin-hyung got hurt, can you check on him?” Myungjun quickly pushed his own problems aside to check on their injuries instead.

Chapter Text

“Let’s get into the corridor and away from this sand.” Myungjun said, leading them towards the opening in the wall and making sure to pick up his abandoned sword on the way. “I don’t want you to get any in your wounds.”

Myungjun led them underneath one of the blazing torches that lined the walls for some light. He checked on Dongmin first as he was closest and crouched down to view the wound on his leg. His right trouser leg was torn at the thigh and soaked with blood. “Dongmin I need to cut the material away or I won’t be able to treat it properly.”

“Just do it Hyung, I don’t care much for these trousers anyway.”

Myungjun ran his finger along the fabric, just above the tear itself, cutting it away with his magic until it fell to the floor. The wound wasn’t too deep, but Myungjun didn’t want him to bleed out so he bandaged it swiftly before turning to Rocky.

“You next.” He said, waving him over.

“I don’t have any injuries.” Rocky said confused, looking down at his arms and legs. He made a noise of surprise when he saw the blood dripping at his feet. “Where’s that coming from?”

Myungjun reached over to pull him into the light better and made him turn around. There was a massive tear in the back of his shirt and Myungjun gasped at the wound. It went diagonally from his left shoulder blade to his right hip and looked to be a few centimetres deep.

“How are you not feeling that?” Moonbin asked in disbelief as he got closer to look. “It’s terrible!”

Myungjun shushed him, not wanting him to scare the poor boy and quickly cut the remainder of Rockys shirt off. I don’t have enough bandages to cover his entire back, Myungjun thought panicking slightly, I’ll have to sew it up. The thought of piercing Rockys skin with a needle made him feel sick but he didn’t have any other choice. He reached around into his pouch for a pain reliever and made Rocky eat it.

“This might sting a little.” Myungjun warned him quietly, pulling out a needle and some thread that he’d taken from the design room on a whim.

“Oh bloody hell.” Dongmin said faintly, moving away as he realised what was about to happen.

Rocky tried to turn back to look at what Myungjun was doing but Jinwoo quickly stepped up to grab his face. “Look at me Rocky. Nothing else okay?”

“What’s going on?” Rocky asked, trying to turn back again but Jinwoo held him firmly.

“Just do it Myungjun,” said Jinwoo. “the quicker the better.”

Rocky hissed in pain as the needle pierced his skin and he tried to squirm away, so Moonbin moved over to help keep him still and muttered encouraging words to him. Myungjun tried to work quickly, but he’d never done this before, he was just going off what Mr Choi had taught him in one of his theory healing lessons.

After five minutes, Rocky began to cry softly above him, and it tugged painfully at Myungjuns heart. He hated that he was hurting him further.

Ten minutes later and he was finished. The stiches zigzagged messily down Rockys back and the bleeding slowed to a trickle. He picked up Rockys torn shirt and asked Moonbin to wet it with his magic so he could gently clean up some of the blood. After that, he pulled out a tub of plant paste to put over the top of the stiches, in an attempt to stop it from getting infected. Lastly, he pressed another pain reliever into Rockys mouth and wiped the young boys tears away.

“You were so brave for me Rocky. Its all over now okay? I’m sorry for hurting you.”

Rocky sniffled and shook his head. “It’s okay Hyung, you had to do it.” He chewed on the plant and relaxed.

“Be careful not to move too much, you could tear the stiches. We’ll protect you okay?” Myungjun said kindly, offering him his hand. “Let’s go kick some butt.” Rocky laughed and threaded his fingers through Myungjuns, letting himself be led gently into the boss room.

Myungjun looked across another desert, to see the giant boss curled up on the sand. It was the biggest boss they’d faced so far and Myungjun couldn’t help the fear that burnt in his chest.

"We can’t look at it.” Dongmin reminded them. “Rocky Jr will have to help us.”

Myungjun suddenly thought of Camellia and looked around. She was nowhere to be found. “Guy’s, I have something else that can help.” He said, creating a flurry of petals.

They had never seen Camellia before. The only friends of his who had were Jimin, Namjoon and Seokjin. They hadn’t been able to see her in the previous desert either because they all had their eyes closed. I should have mentioned it before, Myungjun thought with a sigh, they’re going to be so shocked.

He plucked one of the petals out of the air and summoned her. She fell to the floor with a tinkle and unfurled her deep red petals. He heard gasps around him and opened his eyes to see them staring at her.

“Myungjun what is this?” Jinwoo asked, reaching forwards to touch her. She backed away fast on her roots and bumped into the wall.

“He burnt me to a crisp!” Camellia said angrily. “I won’t let him touch me.”

“Its your fault!” Myungjun hissed at her. “You told me Jinwoo was far away from the others when I asked.”

“You didn’t ask about us though.” She replied, turning her flowery head towards him.

Myungjun growled irritably. “You read my mind, don’t you? You should have known what I was going to tell him to do!”

Jinwoo cleared his throat and Myungjun turned back to look at his friends. “Junnie what are you arguing about?”

Myungjun sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “Nothing. I know you’re all confused but this is my companion, Camellia. I summoned her for the first time a few days ago so I haven’t really had time to introduce her. She can help us in this room, but she doesn’t like being touched.” Jinwoo quickly retracted the hand he was moving towards her again and stepped away.

“Well two is better than one.” Moonbin said happily, looking between her and Rocky Jr. “Let’s fight this thing, we’ve been down here for too long already.”

*

Myungjun realised three things fighting the cockatrice boss. One, it was immune to fire. Two, it breathed fire. Three, it was confusing listening to Rockys commands and trying to give his own.

“Bloody hell guys which way?” Dongmin shouted in frustration before being slammed against the wall by the cockatrices scaly tail. “Left.” Dongmin choked out, winded from the blow. “It was left.”

“Told you.” Rocky called out. Myungjun heard a wooden pole thump against the creature and it screamed in annoyance.

“Camellia why did you tell me it was right?” Myungjun asked angrily. He felt something brush past his face and swung his swords. The creature screamed again, and he felt heat. He dived to the side as it blasted its fire, narrowly missing his shoes.

“It moved too fast.” She said back just as angrily. “Use your vines, take out its eyes.”

“That’s easier said than done when I can’t see.” Myungjun grumbled irritably.

“To your right Myungjun. For real this time. Also, tell Jinwoo to open his eyes, he’s been fighting the wall for the past five minutes, the creature hasn’t even looked at him once.”

Myungjun pulled his vines through the floor and blasted them to his right. “JinJin open your eyes.”

“I can’t. It’s too close!” Jinwoo called back.

“That’s the wall you idiot.” Myungjun said, pulling his vines back into the ground.

“What the…why did no one tell me?” Jinwoo whined, sounding embarrassed. Moonbin laughed somewhere to Myungjuns left and Jinwoo told him to shut up.

“Myungjun jump.” Camellia commanded and Myungjun did so quickly, feeling something brush beneath his feet. “It’s in front of you now, swing higher.”

Myungjun swung as hard as he could and felt his swords get lodged in the Cockatrices body. He screamed as he was pulled off his feet, the monster running around wildly trying to dislodge him. He was too scared to let go of his swords; he didn’t know how high up he was and didn’t fancy breaking a leg on the way down.

“Camellia is it safe to open my eyes?” He shouted, desperately holding on.

“Yes, just don’t look up.”

Myungjun opened his eyes and looked down instead. He was dangling from the creature’s feathery neck, high up off of the ground and he squeaked in fear. He tugged at one of the swords, pulling it free and stabbed randomly at the creature’s face above him. His sword found its mark and the Cockatrice gave one final scream before stumbling forwards.

“Camellia help me!” Myungjun shouted as it fell, the ground rushing up to meet him.

“I got you Junnie.” Jinwoo said, rushing forwards to catch him. Myungjun knocked him off his feet and they both fell down with grunts of pain.

“Thanks JinJin.” Myungjun said breathlessly, rolling off of him. “Are you okay?”

Jinwoo groaned before sitting up. “Yeah I’m fine. I thought catching you would make me look cool again, but it didn’t go as planned.”

Myungjun laughed and helped him to his feet before turning to look at the others. “Everyone okay?” They all nodded tiredly, and he threw them all an energy reviver. “Rocky how’s your back?”

“Fine hyung.” Rocky said, turning around to show him. There was fresh blood oozing from it through the stitches and mingling with the paste, but not enough to make Myungjun worry. “What floor are we moving onto now anyway? Has anyone kept count?”

“The next floor is number eight.” Dongmin said happily. “We’ll be at floor ten before you know it.”

*

The eighth floor boasted another endless forest. The trees were silent as Myungjun brushed past them, but he was used to all the plants being fake in the dungeons by now.

“HALT.” A loud voice boomed through the forest and Myungjun froze. A man came out from behind one of the large trees and Myungjun stared at his body. He wasn’t an ordinary man. Ordinary men didn’t have the bodies of horses.

“Centaurs.” He whispered to the others, as more of them revealed themselves from behind the trees.

“You speak our language?” Dongmin called out boldly, making them all look his way.

“Only I speak your language.” The centaur said, gesturing to the others behind him. “My brothers do not.”

“Well are you going to let us pass?” Dongmin asked, with a confidence Myungjun wasn’t feeling. There’s no way it would be that easy, he thought. He felt Jinwoos hand slip into his and his voice entered Myungjuns mind.

*Junnie they have weapons, bow and arrows* Myungjun looked at the centaurs closely, to see the things he had missed before. They were lightly armoured and had big wooden bows strapped across their backs. Their arrows were held in leather quivers at their flanks and Myungjun tensed at the sight. If they were armoured it meant they were expecting a fight.

“We will let you pass on one condition.” The centaur began and Myungjun perked up to listen. “One of you must sacrifice yourselves to let the others go free. If not, we’ll kill you all.”

Myungjuns blood ran cold and he felt Jinwoo clutch his hand tight. “Is this some sort of joke?” Jinwoo whispered with a scowl.

“I’ll do it.” Rocky said, stepping forwards. “I’m the liability here with my back.”

“NO!” Dongmin shouted angrily. “We’re all getting through this floor.”

“Its fine Hyung.” said Rocky, turning back to smile at him. “I’ll only hold you back anyway. Give the boss hell for me okay?” He walked towards the centaurs and their leader pulled his bow off of his back and notched an arrow.

“Rocky wait!” Dongmin said, racing forwards to grab him. “You don’t need to do this, we can-”

He didn’t finish his sentence. The centaur let his arrow fly and it landed in Dongmins chest with a thump. He looked down in disbelief, coughing up blood before falling forwards and being sucked into the forest floor.

Moonbin screamed in anger and shot a powerful cannon of water at the centaur. It was blasted backwards and knocked over two of its brothers. Myungjun used the distraction to race forwards and grab Rocky, pulling him behind the nearest tree. “Stay here.” He commanded firmly before looking down at Rocky Jr who looked scared. “Make sure he stays here.”

Myungjun didn’t wait for an answer before running away from the fight through the trees. He ran out as far as he could before circling back to come up behind the centaurs. He saw an arrow pierce Moonbins shoulder, but the angry boy kept attacking, waves upon waves of water that flooded the forest floor. Another one pierced his thigh and he stumbled, crying out in pain. Myungjun panicked at the sound and heaved a massive wall of vines through the floor, blocking Moonbin from more harm. The centaurs turned around confused and he heard Jinwoo shouting from the other side of the wall.

Myungjun realised his mistake and took off running. He heard the sound of hooves thundering behind him as the centaurs charged his way. Arrows whistled past his head and he dived from side to side dodging them, before spotting Camellia stumbling through the trees to his right, running as fast as her short roots would let her. He changed direction and raced towards her. An arrow thudded into the tree behind him and he squeaked in fear.

“CAMELLIA!” He shouted out. “PUT THEM TO SLEEP.” He didn’t know if it would work. He didn’t even know if she could possibly do that. He still hadn’t achieved proper spore distribution in practical skills either, but he dived behind her and forced a huge amount of energy into her stem. He watched as the centaurs charged towards them, arrows tearing through her delicate petals and he closed his eyes, preparing for the worst.

The sounds of bodies hitting the floor made him open his eyes a second later and he screamed in excitement when he realised it had worked. A thick cloudy pollen swept through the forest and incapacitated all of his enemies. Camellia disappeared in a puff of petals and Myungjun turned when he heard his name being called.

“Myungjun!” Jinwoos voice floated through the trees. “Junnie, where are you?”

The walls rumbled to life and closed in around them, forcing Myungjun towards the others. “I’m over here JinJin!” He shouted back and Jinwoo turned to him, with a look of pure relief in his eyes.

“Myungjun why did you do that! You completely blocked us off, we couldn’t get past.” Jinwoo finally noticed the walls closing in and opened his mouth wide in shock. “You did it?”

Myungjun nodded proudly before remembering Moonbin and dashing past Jinwoo to find him. Moonbin was laying down, breathing shallowly, with two arrows sticking out of him and Rocky was kneeling down beside him, pushing Moonbins sweaty hair from his forehead.

“He’s used a lot of energy Hyung.” Rocky said, looking up when Myungjun approached. “Boost him first before you take the arrows out.”

Myungjun quickly dug out the plant he needed and pushed it into Moonbins mouth, helping him chew with a hand on his jaw. Moonbin moaned in pain as he tried to move, so Myungjun held him down with a hand on his chest. “Stop moving Bin. Let me get the arrows out first.”

Myungjun put his hands around the wooden shaft that was sticking out of Moonbins thigh and pulled experimentally. Moonbin screamed and the arrow didn’t budge an inch.

“Push it through.” Jinwoo said softly. “You can’t pull it out, you need to push it all the way through.”

Myungjun felt faint at the idea but nodded. Jinwoo lifted up Moonbins leg and held it in place. “This is going to hurt Moonbin, eat this plant and then bite down on this stick.” Myungjun handed him a pain reliever and then picked up one of the sticks off the floor, making sure it was clean enough before handing it over. Moonbin bit down on it with determination in his eyes and nodded. Myungjun counted down in his head, to calm himself more then anything and pushed the arrow through with all his might. Moonbin dug his fingers into the forest floor and squeezed his eyes shut, but he didn’t scream and Myungjun was grateful. When it was out, he took out the last of his bandages and covered it up, before helping Moonbin to sit and moving to inspect the arrow in his shoulder.

“I don’t think we can push this one through.” Myungjun said, prodding the area gently. “It might be lodged in his bone.”

Moonbin spat the stick out and whined. “This is the worst day ever. My boyfriend was shot in the chest right in front of me and now I have a stupid arrow lodged in my bone. Just rip it out if you can’t push it through. The plant you gave me is working, so do it now before it wears off Hyung.”

Myungjun grabbed hold of it hesitantly and pulled. It didn’t budge.

“Let me try.” Jinwoo said, stepping up to help. “I’m sorry Moonbin.” He added before ripping it free. Moonbin lurched forwards and grunted in pain.

“Okay nope it still hurt.” Moonbin choked out, reaching up to grab his shoulder.

“Bin I need your shirt so sit up and let go.” Myungjun ran his finger down the middle of Moonbins top to cut the fabric away so he could use it as a makeshift bandage. “Bloody hell, I brought more bandages this time around, but we still used them all. I can’t wait to learn how to fuse skin back together. It will make things so much easier.” When he was done, Jinwoo helped Moonbin to his feet and they turned to find the corridor to the boss room.

“Here we go again.”

*

“Could you repeat that?” Myungjun asked the boss, wondering if he’d heard it right.

“You have three minutes to incapacitate me. If you do not succeed, I will choose one of you to die. You have four people left on your team, so that’s four chances.” The centaur stated, staring down at them with his arms crossed. He looked old but tough, with his greying hair and his scarred body. Myungjun was glad to see he was unarmoured and without a weapon.

“Two of us are badly injured.” Jinwoo pointed out. “That’s not exactly four chances.”

The centaur shrugged. “That is not my problem. The time will count down when you attack. Good luck.”

Myungjun exchanged worried looks with Jinwoo before turning to see Rocky leaning against the wall, eyes closed and pain evident on his face. The pain relief plant he had taken had worn off but Myungjun didn’t have any left to give him. Moonbin was sitting by his feet, unable to stand for too long on his leg.

“I’ll trap. You burn.” Myungjun said, turning back to Jinwoo. “We can’t ask them to help.”

Jinwoo nodded determinedly and gestured for Myungjun to make the first move. Myungjun closed his eyes and steadied his breath. He focused on his dwindling magic and pulled the vines through the floor. The centaur sprung backwards immediately, away from the trap and charged away through the trees. Myungjun watched him disappear, mouth open in shock.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Jinwoo growled angrily. “Moonbin, Rocky stay here.” He set off running through the trees, with Myungjun close behind. They spotted the centaur up ahead and Jinwoo sped up, green flames licking across his palms. He shot his flames ahead of them and the centaurs tail caught on fire, the smell of burning hair wafting back to greet them. The centaur suddenly jumped and Myungjun realised at the last second that it was jumping over a wide chasm. The centaur landed on the other side and turned around to wave at them. Jinwoo skidded to a halt, dangerously close to falling off the edge and shouted angry curses towards the laughing creature. Myungjun didn’t stop though, he just sped up and jumped, hearing Jinwoo scream his name behind him. He realised halfway through the jump that he wasn’t going to make it. There was no way he could cross a chasm so large without a centaur’s body.

Myungjun fell and aimed his hands towards the ground beneath the centaur’s feet. It broke apart as his vines shot out and he grabbed for them desperately. He found his grip with a shout of relief and the vines dipped down with his weight. He swung forwards on them, the wind whistling through his hair, until he crashed into the side of the cliff painfully. We don’t have a lot of time left, he thought, before pulling himself up out of sheer determination. He heaved himself up onto the grass and quickly climbed to his feet. The centaur took one look at him before bounding off through the trees again. Myungjun sighed irritably and tore after him, ignoring Jinwoos confused shouts.

He shot his vines over and over again at the centaurs back legs, trying to trap him but the creature danced around them laughing. Myungjun gave an angry shout before heaving his vines through the floor one final time to create a wall in front of it. The centaur crashed into it with a grunt and Myungjun pulled his swords free from their scabbards. He drove them hard and fast through its body, blood spraying out like a shower as he cut and dragged a long line through its flank. Myungjun collapsed to the floor when he was finished, lungs burning from exertion.

“Congratulations.” said the centaur weakly. “Three minutes and fifteen seconds. Only one of you has to die.” Myungjun heard a guttural scream in the distance and scrambled to his feet.

“No!” He shouted angrily. “That’s not fair!”

“Nothing ever is.” The centaur said before disappearing.

Myungjun raced back through the trees, ignoring his painful lungs and saw the Chasm had closed. He ran over the new ground and spotted Jinwoo racing ahead, trying to reach the other boys. Rocky was still screaming, and it sounded agonising. Myungjun watched as Jinwoo dived towards something and he entered the clearing soon after to see Rocky being dragged through the floor, his stiches breaking every inch he sunk. Rocky Jr was desperately trying to pull him out and Moonbin was using his one good arm to help. Jinwoo gripped Rocky under the arms and pulled, it stopped his descent briefly, but he soon started sinking again.

Myungjun did the only thing he knew would help. He stepped forwards and pushed the others away to give himself some space. He placed his hands on Rockys back and began to siphon some of the pain away. He felt Rockys pain in his own back and gritted his teeth to stop himself from screaming. Rocky looked over his shoulder and gave him a weak smile. “Thanks Hyung.” He croaked out through his tears before disappearing into the floor and taking Rocky Jr with him. Moonbin stumbled backwards and ran into the trees to be sick.

“Why did he go like that?” Jinwoo said quietly, shaking with rage. “That’s so messed up, this is so messed up. Did you hear him? That was cruel, so damn cruel. I’m sick of this place, we’re never coming in here again!”

Myungjun stared at the floor where Rocky had disappeared, his screams still ringing in Myungjuns ears. He’d never heard anything like it before. “This is all my fault.” He squeaked and Jinwoo turned to face him. “This is all my fault; I was fifteen seconds late. I could have stopped this from happening.”

“This is NOT your fault Myungjun.” Jinwoo said fiercely, stepping in front of him to grab his face. “You saved us all by jumping over that chasm. We didn’t know Rocky would go like that. This is all their fault, whoever made this stupid floor. I’m going straight to Blaze and sorting this out when we get out of here.” Myungjun allowed himself to be pulled in for a cuddle and stood there trembling in Jinwoos arms until they heard Moonbin stumbling back over.

“There goes all my lunch.” Moonbin said weakly and wiped at his mouth. Myungjun quickly moved towards him and held him up to take the strain off his leg. “Thanks Hyung.”

*

Myungjun watched Moonbin get sucked through the ground of the ninth floor. One of the large, smelly trolls had knocked him aside with its fist and the pain it caused his shoulder made him pass out on the spot. Jinwoo was swinging his pole around expertly knocking trolls down left and right and Myungjun fought one of his own off weakly. His energy was nearly drained, and he couldn’t even summon Camellia for help. The troll knocked his swords out of his hands and Myungjun collapsed to his knees, feeling ready to leave.

“Junnie no!” Jinwoo screamed from behind him. Myungjun turned to look over his shoulder and watched as Jinwoos pole was ripped from his hands in his distracted state. The trolls swarmed him and Jinwoo disappeared under the sea of their bodies. Myungjun looked back up to face the troll above him defiantly.

“Give it your best shot.” He spat, as the troll roared and brought its gnarled fist down on top of him.

Chapter Text

Myungjun walked up to Groves office and knocked on the door. He waited patiently for the door to open and looked up at Groves smiling face.

“Hello Myungjun. How can I help you today?” He asked, inviting him inside.

Myungjun sat down and unwrapped his hand carefully. It had been a week since the dungeon run and he was tired of hiding the burn scars all the time. He’d run out of excuses to give Jinwoo as to why it was still bandaged. “I need to go to the scar specialist in Voredan. Preferably today, this weekend at the latest.”

Grove took his hand and turned it from side to side, looking at the damage. “Jinwoo did this to you and you’re worried about how he will react if he finds out?”

Myungjun nodded and pulled his hand away. “It will kill him to know he hurt me. When I first came here, he was terrified of using his magic again after what he had done to his parents and because he was scared of how dangerous it was, but he’s been working so hard recently. I know he’ll go back to how he was before if he see’s this. So please let me go, for both of our sakes.”

Grove sat back with a sigh and reached for some parchment and a pen. He wrote down a quick note and placed it on the floor, where it was sucked into the ground by little vines. This method of communication didn’t faze Myungjun. It was what he was learning to do with the other plant users in Communications class, which is why they’d all been put together.

“I have sent a summons to the scar specialist. He will be here tonight to sort you out. I do not want you to waste a day’s lessons travelling to and from the castle and I understand why it would be hard for you to wait until the weekend. Just keep your hand covered for the rest of the day. I do not wish to see Jinwoo spiral back down into his depressive state, he’s been looking a lot better recently.” Myungjun could only agree and thanked Grove profusely before re-wrapping his hand and stepping out of the room.

He made his way towards his first lesson of the day and walked into the combat centre, looking around for his boyfriend. He saw Jinwoo sitting on one of the mats stretching, so he went to join him.

“Hey Junnie, where were you? I didn’t see you at breakfast.” Jinwoo asked, sitting back up straight and looking over at him.

“Just had some things to sort out.” Myungjun said, bending down to try and touch his toes. He got halfway before groaning and giving up. “I’m not very flexible today.”

Jinwoo patted the mat. “Sit down and let me help.”

“Thanks.” Myungjun said gratefully, plonking himself down and stretching his legs out straight in front of him. He reached out his arms and Jinwoo grabbed them, pulling him forwards. He felt the familiar burn of his muscles stretching and whined. “I hate doing this it’s so uncomfortable.” Jinwoo loosened his grip, letting Myungjun sit up temporarily to catch his breath before pulling him forwards again, harder this time. Myungjun reached further down his legs and groaned at the pain.

“If you touch your toes, I’ll give you a kiss.” Jinwoo offered and laughed as Myungjun sat back up eagerly.

“Pull harder then JinJin.” Myungjun said impatiently and he squealed as Jinwoo stretched him to his limit. His fingertips brushed his toes and he gave an excited shout before sitting up and diving forwards to tackle Jinwoo to the ground. Myungjun kissed him once, twice, three times until Jinwoo was laughing and holding him at arm’s length.

“I only said one!” Jinwoo pretended to scowl but broke out into a grin when Myungjun pouted.

“But I like kissing you JinJin. Stop pushing me away and let me do it again.” Myungjun tried to lean forwards but Jinwoo held him back firmly.

“Junnie look at where we are. We’re in the middle of a class, don’t be so shameless.” Myungjun quickly looked up, remembering his surroundings and flushed when he locked eyes with one of the teachers across the room. He quickly rolled off of Jinwoo and climbed to his feet.

“This is your fault! You shouldn’t lure me in like that.” Myungjun turned on his heel and stalked away to the weapons rack to get started on the lesson, hearing Jinwoo chuckle behind him.

*

Myungjun was in the practical skills classroom after dinner, showing Jimin how much his spore distribution had improved. He demonstrated with a white flower first, like the one Ms Yoon had showed them before, then demonstrated with Camellia. Jimin clapped his hands enthusiastically and Ms Yoon made her way over smiling.

“That’s a lovely companion Myungjun. How did you know you could make her distribute spores like that? It wasn’t something I taught you.”

“I learnt it during the dungeon examinations. I took a chance when I was in danger and it worked, she knocked a group of centaurs out cold.” Myungjun said proudly, stroking one of Camellias waxy leaves and hearing her hum happily.

“Well now that you have learnt how to put others to sleep, I suppose it is time for me to teach you how to make others hallucinate. Would you please stand over here? It won’t be painful at all.” Ms Yoon said encouragingly, pointing to an empty space on the floor.

Myungjun made his way over, feeling oddly excited and watched in awe as Ms Yoon pulled a large flower through the floor with bright yellow petals. It released a thick cloud of pollen that engulfed him completely, making the practical skills room disappear. He was looking out across a vast body of water and the sun was setting prettily. Birds cawed overhead and he looked around in wonder. Suddenly it dissolved around him and he was standing in front of Ms Yoon again. “Where did I go?” He asked. “It was so pretty!”

“You physically did not go anywhere. Although I’m sure it felt like it.” Myungjun nodded quickly, he had felt the sun on his face and the breeze as it ruffled his hair. It was almost hard to imagine that he’d stayed in this classroom the whole time. “I made you believe you were by the sea. Have you ever been there before?”

“No.” Myungjun said, feeling slightly sad at missing out. “I’d love to go for real one day though.”

Ms Yoon chuckled and nodded her head towards her yellow flower. “I’ll show it to you one more time and then I’ll teach you how to do it okay?”

Myungjun squealed in excitement and promised he’d work hard before being engulfed in the pollen one last time.

*

Myungjun raced up to the infirmary, not wanting to be late. He burst through the doors and saw a stern looking man, covered in scars, pacing around the room. “Are you Myungjun?” He asked and Myungjun nodded before stepping inside and closing the door. “I’m very busy today so let’s do this quickly.” Myungjun was happy to oblige and went to sit on one of the beds. “Is it just the one scar?” The man asked, unwrapping his hand and inspecting it.

Myungjun hesitated. He did have others, including the big one from the siren’s trident, but maybe getting rid of them all would make Jinwoo suspicious. “Yes, just the one.” Myungjun decided and watched curiously as the mans birthmark began to glow. He covered Myungjuns hand in his own and Myungjun gasped when an exact replica of his burn appeared on the man’s skin. “What’s happening?”

“Scar removal is light magic. I can sense that you’ve used light magic too, so I’m sure you know there is always a price to pay. This will fade in a few days’ time, so I’m not bothered. You’re free to go.” The man said, pulling his hands away to reveal Myungjuns clear skin.

Myungjun took in all the scars that littered the man’s body and couldn’t help the question that came tumbling from his lips. “If they fade in a couple of days, why do you have so many?”

“I told you I was busy.” The man said simply. “A lot of people call for my help, it’s a demanding job. So try not to call me again okay?”

Myungjun squeaked in surprise as the man disappeared before his eyes and waved his hands around in the empty space to see if he was really gone. “What the hell was that?” he asked the empty room faintly. He’d never seen anyone do that before.

*

“Your bandage is off.” Jinwoo pointed out the next day at breakfast. “Did you finally take my advice and see the nurse?”

Myungjun nodded happily before shovelling some more food into his mouth. “Yep, good as new.” He said, spraying little bits of food across the table.

“Bloody hell Myungjun, don’t speak with your mouth full.” Hyungwon scolded him and grabbed some napkins to wipe the table down. “You’re not a toddler.” Myungjun grinned at him before opening his mouth to show Hyungwon his chewed-up food, feeling extra childish. “Ew Myungjun stop it!” Hyungwon gagged and stood up to leave. “Sort your disgusting boyfriend out Jinwoo, he’s put me off my food.”

Jinwoo laughed and closed Myungjuns mouth with a hand under his jaw. “Eat it now before I tickle you to death.” Myungjun quickly chewed his food and turned around to show Hyungwon his empty mouth but realised he was already gone.

“It astounds me how you’re the eldest at this table now Hyung.” Dongmin said with a sigh, taking a sip of his cold water. “Even our maknae is more behaved then you.” Dongmin turned to see Sanha making two pieces of meat fight each other on his plate with his air magic and rolled his eyes. “Okay maybe not.”

Myungjun giggled and went back to eating, properly this time. “I don’t have a lesson after dinner today JinJin, do you want to do something together?”

“Of course cutie. Anything in particular?” Jinwoo asked, reaching forwards to wipe away a grain of rice at the corner of Myungjuns mouth.

Myungjun thought about it for a few seconds before shaking his head. “We can just do whatever we feel like doing at the time. I just want to be with you. You’ve been really busy over the past few weeks, especially before the dungeon exams.”

“Sorry.” Jinwoo said with a small smile. “I was training extra hard to get better so you wouldn’t have to fight so much because…you know.” He finished quietly, hinting to Myungjuns violent outbursts.

Myungjun frowned and grabbed his hands. “You don’t have to push yourself so much for me JinJin. I was fine in there wasn’t I?” When Jinwoo nodded Myungjun flashed him a smile. “Thankyou for thinking about me though. You really are the best boyfriend ever.”

Jinwoo leaned forwards and kissed him slowly until Sanhas ungodly screech pulled them apart. “WE SAID NO KISSING AT THE TABLE!”

*

Myungjun walked to the fire user’s practical skills classroom with Jinwoo after dinner. Jinwoo had told him he wanted to show him some new things he’d learnt and Myungjun was happy to accept the invitation because he rarely saw Jinwoo use his magic outside of the dungeons.

“If you sit back over here, it will give me enough space to use my fire safely.” Jinwoo explained, pulling Myungjun into the empty room and leading him to one of the chairs that was pushed up against the wall. Myungjun sat on it and looked up to see Jinwoo watching him with a smile tugging at his lips. “I wore the wrong shirt by accident Junnie, it’s not fireproof.”

Myungjuns face heated up and he closed his eyes with a squeak as Jinwoo moved to take it off. “JinJin what are you doing?”

“Showing you my magic.” Jinwoo said innocently, his voice getting quieter as he moved away to stand in the middle of the room. “You need to look, or you’ll miss it.”

Myungjun heard the barely contained laughter in his voice and scowled. “Fine. But just so you know, you being shirtless doesn’t affect me at all anymore.” He opened his eyes and stared determinedly at Jinwoos face. Don’t look down, Myungjun ordered himself, don’t look down and you’ll be fine.

Jinwoo finally laughed at the look on his face and shook his head. “You’re so cute.” Myungjun didn’t have time to reply before Jinwoos flames erupted from his hands. He created a ball of fire and closed his eyes, muttering under his breath and letting it go. The fire stayed suspended in mid air and Myungjun leaned forwards in his seat in shock. How was that even possible? Jinwoo did it over and over again, getting quicker as the time passed by before stopping completely and opening his eyes. Little balls of bright green fire hung in the air around him and he reached up to move them around. He used them to create a picture in the air and Myungjun flushed when he realised it was a heart.

“Ew Jinwoo, you’re so cheesy.” said Myungjun, pretending to be disgusted as Jinwoos face appeared in the middle of it to blow Myungjun a kiss. He secretly squealed inside; it was so cute. Jinwoo laughed and snapped his fingers, the fire disappearing immediately in a puff of smoke, which was almost as cool as suspending the fire in the first place. When the smoke cleared, Jinwoo moved on to something else.

He walked over to a large cupboard on the opposite side of the room and Myungjun couldn’t help but stare at his bare back. His muscles flexed invitingly as he reached inside to search for whatever it was that he was looking for and Myungjuns fingers itched. He wanted to race over there and trail his fingers down Jinwoos skin like he had done during the moonshine incident. He wanted to feel how strong and sturdy he was. He wanted Jinwoo to push him up against that cupboard and kiss him until he was breathless. He wanted-

“Myungjun you’re drooling.”

Myungjun quickly snapped back to reality and flushed as he saw Jinwoo watching him. He looked amused and was fiddling with a box of matches in his hand. Myungjun wiped at his face before realising there was nothing there. “I’m not drooling!”

Jinwoo just laughed and made his way over to crouch down in front of him. “Let me show you something first and then you can tell me all about what you were thinking okay?” Myungjuns insides burned with embarrassment and he tried to push Jinwoo away, regretting it instantly when his hands met the solid expanse of his chest, failing to move him at all. Bloody hell he’s so strong, Myungjun thought weakly, that’s so attractive.

*Thanks Junnie* Jinwoos voice rang through his head and Myungjun pulled his hands back with a shriek.

“Stop listening to my thoughts!” He whined. His face was so hot he was sure it could give Jinwoos magic a run for its money.

Jinwoo ruffled his hair before standing up. “You shouldn’t have tried to push me away then.” He walked over to grab a chair and placed it facing Myungjun so he could sit down in front of him, before pulling one of the matches from the box and lighting it. Myungjun pushed his embarrassment away to watch Jinwoo instead.

Jinwoo brought the match to his pursed lips and breathed in softly. Myungjun watched in awe as the little flame detached itself from the match. It floated towards Jinwoos mouth…and he ate it.

Jinwoo laughed at the look on Myungjuns face and grabbed the rest of the matches. He lit them all and did it again, eating the bigger ball of fire and smacked his lips happily afterwards. “I learnt that eating fire empowers my magic.” He explained when Myungjun could only stare at him in shock. “Don’t worry it doesn’t hurt me.”

Myungjun stumbled for his words. He didn’t know what to ask first but settled on what he thought was the most important. “Can’t you just get more powerful by eating your own fire then?”

Jinwoo made a noise of disgust and sat back, looking at Myungjun like it was the stupidest thing he’d ever heard. “Ew Myungjun, hell no. Would you eat your plants? Your vines? Camellia?” Myungjun thought about it and shivered, not a chance. “Exactly.” Jinwoo said after noticing his reaction. “That’s just weird.”

“What does it taste like?” Myungjun asked, curiosity overriding the initial shock.

Jinwoo hummed in thought for a few seconds. “Smoky. Purer flames taste better then the impure ones. The impure ones are nasty but they still do the same thing. The bigger the flame I eat, the more I’m empowered. Now that I have a fire in my belly, I want to show you something else.”

Jinwoo stood up excitedly and put the chair back before making his way to the centre of the room. He started to slowly turn in a circle, arms outstretched and palms facing outwards. A ring of fire slowly rose from the floor around him until it was shielding him completely. A deadly, impenetrable green wall of flames that heated up the room. Myungjun pressed himself against the chair, trying to escape some of the heat but he felt himself sweating soon enough. He heard the snap of Jinwoos fingers, and the fire disappeared completely around him.

“How cool is that?” Jinwoo asked excitedly, racing over to make sure he was okay. “Was it too hot?”

Myungjun shook his head, grinning up at him. “It was manageable from over here but that’s so cool JinJin! You’ve learnt so much this year, I’m kind of jealous. Is there anything else you can show me?”

Jinwoo shook his head. “Not yet anyway. I’ll save some things for another time.” He leaned over and placed his hands on the wall behind Myungjuns head, caging him in. “Right now, we have other things to discuss. Specifically, what you were daydreaming about when my back was turned.”

Myungjun gripped the sides of his chair hard and felt his heart hammer against his ribs. There was no way he was telling Jinwoo what he had been thinking about. He’d rather die.

Jinwoo smirked down at him and Myungjuns stomach flipped at the look in his eyes. “I can take a guess as to what you were thinking, if you’re too shy to say it out loud.” Myungjun couldn’t speak, he just stared at him, frozen with anticipation. “I know you want to touch me Myungjun. I could feel the way you were watching me.” He said quietly.

Myungjun understood what he meant; his skin always tingled whenever Jinwoos eyes were on him too.

Jinwoo pulled a hand off the wall and trailed it down Myungjuns arm, his touch making him shiver, until he reached Myungjuns hand and pulled it off the edge of the chair with a gentle firmness.

Jinwoo placed Myungjuns hand on his bare chest and Myungjun had to bite back a whine. He could feel the heat of Jinwoos tan skin under his fingertips and pressed them down gently to feel the solidity of his muscles. “Touch me Myungjun.” Jinwoo commanded, voice barely above a whisper. “I want you to touch me again.” He let go of Myungjuns wrist, to place his hand back against the wall, giving Myungjun his control back.

Myungjun hesitantly ran his fingers over Jinwoos chest. I’m only doing this because you want me too, he thought hard and watched as a smile tugged at the corner of Jinwoos lips. Jinwoos eyes fluttered shut and he breathed out heavily as Myungjuns hand travelled down to the top of his stomach. Myungjun was hit with the heady scent of Jinwoos skin and whined quietly.

It hadn’t been quiet enough because Jinwoos eyes snapped open immediately at the sound to look at him. They stared at each other for a few seconds before Jinwoo surged forwards to kiss him hungrily. Butterflies erupted in Myungjuns stomach and he brought up his other hand to join in on the journey across Jinwoos skin, until they ended around Jinwoos neck, pulling him closer. The angle was awkward, with Jinwoo bent down in such a way, so Myungjun let his hands travel back down to grip the waist band of Jinwoos shorts, pulling him forwards and onto his lap, making Jinwoo straddle his thighs. Jinwoo made a noise of surprise, pulling back to look at him and then down at Myungjuns hands that were still hooked around the top of his shorts. Upon realising what he had just done, Myungjun pulled his hands away quickly.

“Sorry JinJin.” He said, flushed and avoiding his gaze. He felt Jinwoos hand on his face a second later, guiding it back up to look at him and Jinwoo looked down with a smile.

“Don’t apologise. The position was awkward before, this is so much better, thank you.” He leaned down and kissed Myungjun again. His lips were soft and sweet and Myungjun felt like he might melt into a puddle if Jinwoo wasn’t careful. Jinwoo moved his hands away to grab Myungjuns and put them back on his waist. “I didn’t say you could stop touching me though.”

Myungjun felt a surge of confidence and squeezed Jinwoos hips harshly. They both froze when Jinwoo moaned loudly into his mouth and Jinwoo pulled back quickly, a blush dusting his cheeks. “I don’t know why I did that.” He said, sounding strangled. “Please forget that ever happened.”

Myungjun knew he’d never be able to, no matter how hard he tried, and he said as much. “I want to hear that again.” He pulled Jinwoo further up his thighs roughly and squeezed. Jinwoo dug his fingers into Myungjuns shoulders painfully hard and stayed silent.

“Myungjun that was the most embarrassing noise I’ve ever made. I am NOT making that again.” Jinwoo said, through gritted teeth. Myungjun grinned at his scowl and pulled him back down for another kiss. Jinwoo was so close to him now and everything felt too hot. Jinwoos hands travelled up from Myungjuns shoulders, over his throat, to cup his face and he kissed him passionately, pushing his tongue past Myungjuns lips.

Myungjun opened his mouth with a happy sigh and caressed Jinwoos thighs, feeling him squirm on his lap. I could do this forever, Myungjun thought feeling intoxicated. He moved his hands back up to Jinwoos hips and then further up to his back, digging his nails in and pulling him closer so their chests were flush together.

“Well this is something I didn’t think I’d see today.” A voice came from the doorway and Jinwoo pulled away with a gasp to see Hyejin smirking over at them.

Chapter Text

Myungjun and Jinwoo ran out of the academy doors and into the night, giggling and pushing each other. “Why did you do that?” Jinwoo whined, pulling him towards the forest. “I can’t believe you kissed me again, right in front of her!”

“She was staring at your naked chest Jinwoo. I had to do something.” Myungjun huffed. Jinwoo stopped and kissed him fiercely again. When he pulled back Myungjun gasped for air and felt wobbly on his legs.

“I like it when you get jealous. Does that make me crazy?” Jinwoo asked, grinning at him and sounding just as breathless.

Myungjun snorted and carried on moving them across the grounds. “Probably, but then that would make us both crazy because I like it when you get jealous too. Bloody hell my legs are weak. Please carry me.” He turned his killer pout on Jinwoo and watched his boyfriend cave easily. Myungjun jumped on his back happily and kicked his legs, making Jinwoo wobble. “Go, go, go!”

“We won’t be going anywhere in a minute if I fall over. Stop wriggling you worm.” Jinwoo said with a laugh, dashing towards the trees. The cool night air rushed through Myungjuns hair and he closed his eyes, breathing it in. He could almost believe he was flying if he tried hard enough. He felt pure happiness well up in his chest and left a trail of petals behind them.

Jinwoo came to a stop at the treeline and put Myungjun down. “We have arrived at your destination. That will cost you…thirty-three kisses please.”

“How am I supposed to give you that many?” Myungjun whined. “we’ll be here all night!”

“Like this.” Jinwoo said, pulling Myungjun in by the waist and peppering kisses all over his face. Myungjun giggled and did it back, whilst Jinwoo counted out every single one.

“…Thirty, thirty-one, thirty-two, thirty-three, okay you’re done. Wait what was that extra one for?”

“Your tip.” Myungjun said being overly flirtatious and winking his way before opening the pathway to the treehouses and stepping over the magic boundary.

“I know you can still hear me Myungjun.” Jinwoo called out, eyes scanning the trees after watching Myungjun disappear. “I expect a better tip then that next time!”

Myungjun giggled and ran through the trees towards his room. The lanterns overhead lit the way and he quickly climbed up the ladder before slipping through the door feeling giddy with happiness. The light was still on and Youngjae was doing his homework at his desk. Myungjun could hear Namjoon singing in the shower and he dived onto his bed with a squeal.

“Someone’s happy.” Youngjae observed, putting his pen down and turning around to look at him. “I haven’t seen you this happy in a long time. Something good happen?”

Myungjun grabbed his two stuffed birds from under his pillow and hugged them tight, failing to wipe the grin off his face. “Yes. Come here I have your favourite type of gossip.” Youngjae immediately pushed his homework away and rushed over to snuggle Myungjun under the covers.

“This gossip better be extra juicy. I have homework due tomorrow.” Youngjae warned him, with no real threat behind his words. Myungjun instantly began to relay the events of the evening and Youngjae squealed and cringed in all the right places.

“I’ve never heard something so attractive in my life JaeJae, I tried again but he kept his mouth shut. He was so embarrassed I wanted to die from how cute he was. Is that possible? To die from looking at something so cute? I think it is, my heart aches just thinking about it.” Myungjun whined and buried his head in Youngjaes chest.

Youngjae laughed and shrugged, jostling him slightly. “Who knows? If I wake up tomorrow and you’ve died, I’ll tell Jinwoo its his fault for being too cute.”

“He’d bring me back to life, just to kill me again for calling him that.” Myungjun said with a giggle. “Anyway, let’s not get distracted from the main topic here. So, we kissed again, and everything was going great, amazing in fact, I nearly passed out from how amazing it was. Is it possible to pass- Never mind I’m getting distracted now. The main point of my story is; we got caught.”

Youngjae squealed and pulled him closer. “You didn’t! Myungjun that’s so embarrassing. Why aren’t you dying of embarrassment right now? You’re usually asking me to kill you at this point.”

“It was HYEJIN. I told you about her before. The one who touched Jinwoo in that disgustingly inappropriate manner. Well she obviously came in to train her magic and she was like ‘Well this is something I didn’t think I’d see today.’” Myungjun said in a horribly high-pitched voice imitation that had Youngjae cackling. “I did the only thing I could do. She was eyeing up Jinwoos chest for crying out loud, so I pulled him back down and kissed him again.”

“Bloody hell, an actual kiss? With…tongue?” Youngjae whispered. When Myungjun nodded, he screamed. “Myungjun you’re crazy! You’ve probably scarred her for life.”

“Good!” Myungjun said back hotly, the embarrassment finally settling in after coming back down from his happiness high. “Oh no, now I’m feeling it. Hold me JaeJae, I think I’m dying.” He whined as the absolute cringe from what he had done ripped through his gut.

The cover was pulled back from their heads and Namjoon peered down at them, hair fluffed up from his shower. “Why are you dying?”

“You tell him.” Myungjun said to Youngjae weakly, burying further into his embrace to hide his blush.

*

Myungjun skipped across the grounds towards the combat centre feeling good. He’d had a nice sleep and was ready to face the day. He swung the doors open and looked around to see students scattered throughout the room, sparring with new weapons.

“Junnie over here!” Jinwoo called out to him, waving him over.

Myungjun approached him with a smile and gestured to the weapon in his hands. “This is new.”

Jinwoo flipped the dagger around to grab the blade and offered the handle to Myungjun. “Take a look at what’s carved on it.”

Myungjun took the dagger gently and peered closely at the little marking at the base of the handle. “R? What does that mean?” Jinwoo pulled another dagger out of his belt, which looked poorly made and handed it to Myungjun. “RJr? Wait, Rocky and Rocky Jr?” Myungjun asked, putting the clues together. “Did they make these?” That would explain why one of them was poorly done.

Jinwoo grinned and nodded enthusiastically. “He gave these to me earlier and told me they’d been making weapons in their craftsmanship class. Apparently, all the weapons in this room are made in that class. How cool is that?”

“So cool. Are we training with daggers from now on?” Myungjun asked, eyeing them warily. “The blades are small; I’m guessing around fifteen centimetres in length. They’ll be hard to block.”

Jinwoo made an impressed noise and Myungjun looked up at him. “They’re exactly fifteen centimetres, good guess Junnie.”

Myungjun shrugged and grinned back at him. “I work with a lot of rulers in design class. Here, you can take these ones back, I’ll get my own.”

“Only because you don’t want the dodgy one.” Jinwoo laughed as Myungjun walked up to the new weapons rack. He pulled down two more and checked the bases of their handles. No one else had taken the time to engrave them apparently and for some reason, that thought made him smile.

Myungjun stepped back up onto the mat and watched as Jinwoo twirled the daggers around lazily in his fingers. “Why are you so good with every weapon we’re given?” Myungjun asked with a pout, feeling extra clumsy looking at his relaxed boyfriend.

“I have a lot of spare time to get good.” Jinwoo said, giving him a lopsided smile. “Are you finally going to train with me again? Its been a long time since we’ve fought each other.”

Myungjun hesitated, remembering why he’d stopped in the first place, but the urge to train with Jinwoo again won him over. “Well I won’t learn much from a wooden dummy, will I?” Jinwoo cheered in excitement and Myungjun grinned at him before bowing respectfully. “Go easy on me Jinwoo. I’m not a weapons master like you.”

*

Today seemed to be working in Myungjuns favour. Not only did he have a successful combat training session with Jinwoo that morning, but he’d also been allowed to sit with Jinwoo again in communications, for the first time in weeks, after mastering the art of sending paper messages through the floor with his vines.

Myungjun snuggled up against him and waved to Minhyuk as he looked his way. He decided he liked that boy; his chatty hyperactive personality was infectious, and he never failed to put a smile on Myungjuns face. For now though, all he cared about was getting attention from his handsome boyfriend and finding out what they would be learning next. Jinwoo traced the snakebite scar on Myungjuns arm absentmindedly as they listened to Mr Seo talk.

“In your first year, you learnt how to read the thoughts of others and how to project your own thoughts into their minds. This year so far, you have mastered how to sense a person’s emotions and how to send physical messages with your specific brand of magic. The first three things you learned were all forms of attack on the mind. You had to penetrate the mind of your partners to read their thoughts, project your own and sense their emotions. Now we move onto defence. What if you do not want your mind to be penetrated? I’m certain all of you here have been to the third floor of the dungeons?” A murmur of agreement filled the room and Myungjun sat up straighter to listen. “The trickster fae on that floor penetrate your minds to manipulate your deepest darkest memories and turn them against you. What if I told you that you could stop that from happening?” Myungjun thought about Sanha and how he could never break free from his illusion and felt hope rising in his chest. He knew Sanha was taking Communications with the water users so they must be learning the same thing. Maybe Sanha will be able to join us on the later floors, Myungjun thought smiling to himself.

*Yeah maybe* Jinwoos voice rang through his head and Myungjun pushed Jinwoos hand off of his arm with a scowl. He couldn’t wait to be able to stop Jinwoo from invading his mind whenever he pleased.

The first half of the lesson passed by slowly, as they made notes about the theory behind psychic shields and Myungjun groaned in relief as he wrote the final words before putting his pen down. Jinwoo had finished a while ago and was softly snoring beside him. Myungjun looked over to see his notes were a scribbled mess and he looked down at his own neat ones proudly before prodding Jinwoo awake.

“You’re finally done.” Jinwoo said, stretching his arms upwards and making his shirt ride up to reveal a sliver of his tan skin. Myungjun quickly looked away and nodded.

“I wanted my notes to be intelligible at least.” He said smartly, rolling up his parchment and putting it away in his bag.

“Who cares about notes for this class? We learn by doing, not by writing.” Jinwoo fired back grumpily, putting his own messy notes away. He turned around in his seat, so he was facing Myungjun and grabbed his hands. “Let’s see how much your notes helped you learn. Block me out.”

*

Myungjun stabbed at his food angrily. He’d spent the last half of communications bickering with Jinwoo about his stupid notes and had failed time and time again to keep Jinwoo out of his mind. It was made worse when Jinwoo realised he was feeling flustered and dug around until he found out that Myungjun had seen his shirt ride up. Jinwoo had teased him for getting so worked up over something so small and it grated on Myungjuns nerves.

“Woah Junnie, what did that poor fish do to you?” Hoseok asked, sitting down next to him and pointing to his plate. Myungjun whined irritably when he realised that he’d massacred his dinner with his angry stabbing and pushed the plate away with a sigh.

“My boyfriend is the most irritating person on the planet. He thinks its funny to tease me for getting flustered over his exposed skin. It’s not my fault he’s so attractive I want to implode every time I see him.” Myungjun huffed. “Cuddle me Seokkie.”

Hoseok laughed and pulled him in happily. “You’re just innately shy Junnie. I’m sure one day you’ll get used to looking at him without wanting to combust, but it doesn’t have to be anytime soon. Do you want me to go beat him up, so he stops teasing you?”

Myungjun laughed and snuggled into him. “No, it’s okay, I’ll go beat him up myself.”

“I thought you were going to therapy so you wouldn’t beat up Jinwoo-hyung.” Moonbin said, sitting down at the table with Dongmin.

Myungjun rolled his eyes and pulled away from Hoseok to get some water. “You don’t even know what we were talking about so butt out.”

“Someone’s grumpy.” Dongmin muttered under his breath making Moonbin laugh. Myungjun quickly got up to leave. His dinner was already ruined, and his mood was suffering just as much. He excused himself and took a slow walk to the library, a place he knew he’d get some peace and quiet.

Chapter Text

March passed by in a blur of birthday celebrations. Myungjun was proud to boast that he was one year older and had rubbed it in Jinwoos face for the ten days between their birthdays. Then Jinwoo turned fifteen as well and he couldn’t tease him anymore.

When Myungjun woke up on the first of April, a hot stone of anxiety settled in his gut. In a weeks’ time, the Academy’s Best Fighter Competition would be back and Myungjun knew his father would be there again. I’ve had therapy now, Myungjun thought to himself weakly, he won’t be able to get to me this time.

Myungjun pushed himself out of bed and went straight down to the combat centre, where he knew the notices would be. The first-year students were crowding around the board, chatting excitedly but parted for Myungjun as he walked past.

COMPETITION NOTICE: THE ACADEMYS BEST FIGHTER. 2nd YEAR STUDENTS ONLY (SEE OTHER NOTICES FOR 1st AND 3rd YEAR STUDENTS)

MONDAY THE 10TH OF APRIL-WEDNESDAY THE 12TH OF APRIL, CLASSES WILL BE CANCELLED AS THE COMPETITON TO FIND THE ACADEMIES BEST FIGHTER WILL BE HELD. THERE WILL BE THREE CATEGORIES.

1. SINGLES MATCH 1v1, NO WEAPONS, NO MAGIC (MONDAY 10TH APRIL)
2. PAIRS MATCH 2v2, WEAPONS ALLOWED, NO MAGIC (TUESDAY 11TH APRIL)
3. GROUP MATCH 5 PER TEAM BATTLE ROYALE, WEAPONS ALLOWED, MAGIC ALLOWED (WEDNESDAY 12TH APRIL)

EVERYONE IS REQUIRED TO FIGHT IN AT LEAST ONE OF THESE CATEGORIES. THE TITLE OF BEST FIGHTER WILL BE ADDED TO YOUR ACADEMIC RECORD IF YOU WIN FIRST PLACE.

THE WINNERS OF EACH ROUND (SINGLES AND PAIRS MATCH) WILL PROGRESS TO THE NEXT UNTIL THE FINAL MATCH. THESE WILL BE ALL-DAY EVENTS AND WILL NOT BE EASY. THE COMBAT CENTRE AND THE BATTLEDOME WILL BE OPEN 24/7 UNTIL THEN FOR THOSE WHO WISH TO PRACTICE.

OFFICIAL GUILD MEMBERS AND MEMBERS OF THE KINGS COURT WILL BE IN ATTENDANCE, SO IT WILL BE A GOOD CHANCE TO MAKE A NAME FOR YOURSELF. EVEN IF YOU DO NOT WIN, THEY MAY SEE SOMETHING IN YOU THAT THEY SPECIFICALLY NEED.

YOU MUST SUBMIT YOUR TEAM OF CHOICE BY TOMORROW. FAILURE TO DO SO WILL RESULT IN TEAMS BEING MADE FOR YOU.

GOOD LUCK!

Myungjun felt a pair of arms snake around his waist and squealed, making the first years scatter. “Jinwoo you scared me.”

“Sorry.” Jinwoo muttered in his ear, hooking his chin over Myungjuns shoulder. “How are you feeling?”

“Anxious.” Myungjun admitted quietly. “I don’t think I’m going to participate in all of the categories this time. I might have been to therapy, but I shouldn’t push myself too much, especially when I know he’ll be here.”

Jinwoo hummed in agreement and kissed Myungjuns neck gently making him shiver. “Just do whatever one you feel comfortable doing Junnie. Why not the Battle Royale? We didn’t get to do the 5v5 last year and this is a new category where we’ll still be in teams of five anyway. Its not held in the same arena either because it’s not big enough. So you may not even see your father at all.”

“I need a team first to do that.” Myungjun pointed out. “I know you’re going to offer but that’s still only the two of us.”

“We’ll figure something out.” Jinwoo said happily, turning Myungjun around to kiss him properly. “Let’s go get you some breakfast first yeah?” Myungjun nodded readily, his stomach beginning to grumble and Jinwoo took his hand to lead him from the room.

“What’s a Battle Royale JinJin?” Myungjun asked curiously. Whatever it was it sounded cool. “and what’s the battledome? I read it on the notice, but I’ve never heard of it before.”

“I went and asked about those things earlier. The Battle Royale is a match where they chuck every five-person team into the battledome to fight it out, last team standing wins. The battledome itself is somewhere to train for the upcoming match and where the upcoming match will be held, for the second and third year students only. Our magic is a lot stronger than it was last year, so they needed a bigger place to put us.” Jinwoo explained excitedly. “Apparently its so big they couldn’t put it in the academy grounds, so it’s up in the sky.”

Myungjun waited until they were out of the combat centre to look up, expecting to see a big floating structure but saw nothing but clear skies instead. “Nothings there JinJin, that can’t be right.”

“Would the combat teacher lie to us?” Jinwoo asked him with one eyebrow raised. “Think about how you can’t see your greenhouse without opening the way, or how we can’t see our rooms until we use our magic to access them. That’s how the battledome works too.”

It made sense to Myungjun, but he still didn’t understand how they were supposed to get up there. “JinJin we can’t fly.”

Jinwoo laughed and shook his head. “I know, that’s what I said. I got told there’s a door in the combat centre that can be opened using a special key to get us in there. The notice said the battledome is open for training all day everyday until the competition starts, so we can go check it out after our classes today if you want?”

Myungjun nodded excitedly and looked up at the sky once more, wondering what it would be like to be up in the clouds.

*

“We need three more people.” Jinwoo explained around the table. “Not another plant user though guys, we want to be as diverse as possible, sorry.” Youngjae and Namjoon waved it off with a smile.

“There’s six branches of elemental magic but only five per team. It’s very sneaky, it means you’re always weak in one area.” Dongmin said thoughtfully.

“Well I want Sanha on our team.” Myungjun interjected making Sanha look up in surprise.

“Why Hyung? I’m at the bottom of my class for practical skills, you should ask someone better.” He mumbled, looking down at his food.

Myungjun frowned and leaned across the table towards him. “Sanha you’re my friend, I don’t want to ask someone I don’t know or trust. Your air magic has gotten so much better this year and it’s the stealthiest of all the magic types because no-one can see your magic coming, so it could give us the upper hand. Please consider it. I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t think you could do it. Also…” Myungjun began, turning to face Rocky. “I want you too. Your ground magic is incredible and Rocky Jr is an added bonus, wanna team up?”

Rockys eyes flickered towards Sanha and then back to Jinwoo and Myungjun. “Sure, I’ll join. Someone has to make up for his lack of skills.”

Myungjun sighed as the two youngest began to bicker again and turned to Moonbin and Dongmin. “We have one spot left and it would be good to fill it with water or ice. Any volunteers?”

“Count us out.” Moonbin said, threading his fingers through Dongmins on the table top. “We come as a package deal.”

Myungjun was prepared for that so he turned to Hyungwon and Hoseok next. “Any volunteers?”

“I’m already fighting in the first two categories.” Hyungwon said, sitting back and crossing his arms. “Adding another one is just too much work. It cuts down my sleeping time.”

“You’re the laziest person I’ve ever met Hyung.” Hoseok said rolling his eyes. “I’ll do it Junnie. We’ve never fought together before.”

“That’s settled then!” Myungjun said happily, looking around at his team. “We’re short on ice magic but hopefully it won’t affect us too much. I’ll go sign us up when I’ve finished eating.”

*

Myungjun walked through a door in the combat centre, that he’d always overlooked before and came out inside the battledome. Myungjun gasped, it was gargantuan in size, he couldn’t see where it ended left or right. He looked up to see a glass domed roof that revealed the sky, clouds brushing past. We’re actually in the sky, Myungjun thought with a nervous squeak. The mute female combat teacher came up behind him and placed her hands gently on his shoulders to talk.

*It’s overwhelming isn’t it? There are multiple different terrains in here. A forest, a jungle, a desert, a lake, a couple of volcanos, and an icy tundra; it has everything. You will do better fighting in the areas of lush plant life. My advice to you for the upcoming match is to lure your enemies there. Just avoid the fire users okay?* Her voice was light in his mind and he laughed nervously.

“Anything else you can tell me?” Myungjun asked aloud.

*The Battle Royale has a time limit. Five hours to eliminate the opposing teams, last team standing wins, regardless of the number of members left. Only one person still needs to be standing at the end to win for their team. You would be surprised what a time limit makes a person do. This is a test of your strategic skills just as much as it is a test of your magical and physical fighting power. That’s all the advice I can give you. Good luck Myungjun* Myungjun thanked her before she moved on to talk to the other students who had come inside.

“Crazy isn’t it?” Jinwoo asked quietly looking around. “No matter how far left or right you look, all you can see is trees but beyond that…it almost doesn’t seem real. It’s like a whole new world up here.”

Myungjun nodded wordlessly and looked over to see other students racing into the trees to train. “Let’s go explore JinJin. We should go and scout out the terrain and try to strategize. Where are the others?”

“I sent Rocky and Sanha back to get us some weapons to train with. We can use both our weapons and our magic in here, so I thought we’d get started straight away with both. I don’t know where Hoseok is though.”

“I’m here guys.” Hoseok said, jogging over to them from the door. “I went to grab some parchment and some pens so we can map the area and make notes.”

Myungjun accepted his happily and beamed at the older boy. “Good thinking Hyung. We’ll map the area first, strategize a bit and then get started on training. Let’s just wait for Rocky and Sanha to bring our weapons…Oh here they are now. Did you get my swords?”

“We got everything Hyung.” Sanha gasped, struggling under the weight of what he was carrying. The two boys dumped everything in a pile by their feet and Jinwoo moved forwards to distribute it. Rocky helped Myungjun into his complicated sword belt before moving on to help Sanha with his harness. “I can do it myself Hyung.” Sanha said huffily as Rocky took it out of his hands.

“Stop being a brat and let me help.” Rocky scolded him irritably. He made Sanha put his arms through first so he could clip it at his shoulders before moving to his waist. Sanha squealed when Rocky pulled it tight.

“That hurts you jerk!” He whined, pushing Rocky away before pulling it loose and setting it comfortably. “Next time don’t bother helping.” Rocky chucked Sanha his pole acting unbothered before moving on to help Hoseok.

Jinwoo sighed and reached down to slot two daggers into the sheaths on his thighs. “Do those two ever stop arguing?”

Myungjun shook his head and walked over to his boyfriend. “You’re going to fight with daggers? You always fight with a pole usually.”

Jinwoo shrugged and stretched with a groan. “I wanted a change. I’ll be quicker on my feet like this and my specialty is hand to hand combat anyway. Adding daggers just makes my fists more dangerous.” He started sparring with the air making his own swishing noises and Myungjun laughed.

“You’re a dork Park Jinwoo.”

*

Myungjun crawled into bed that night, bone tired but satisfied. They had spread out individually to map the battledomes terrains and had finished after a couple of hours. Afterwards, they had met up with another team and asked to train with them for extra practice. Myungjun was feeling more relaxed after realising how strong his team actually was and managed to fall into a peaceful sleep.

Chapter Text

“We’re going back to my room.” Jinwoo told the others before dragging Myungjun away. They were crammed into the storage room again, celebrating two days of success. Jinwoo had won the title of best fighter in the singles match and had teamed up with Rocky for the doubles to secure another title the following day.

Jinwoo led Myungjun towards the fire users hidden corridor and pushed him up against the wall. “Myungjun you need to stop teasing me like that in front of our friends. I can’t control myself.”

“I wasn’t doing anything.” Myungjun said faking innocence. He’d spent the last hour getting unnecessarily close to Jinwoo and brushing his lips across his boyfriends’ neck whenever their friends weren’t looking. He didn’t know where this confidence had come from either. Probably from the sheer joy of celebrating Jinwoos success. Myungjun had watched all of his matches from the stands and cheered him on noisily. Every person Jinwoo knocked down made Myungjun realise how strong he was.

“Don’t play dumb.” Jinwoo growled in his ear before pulling him off the wall and through the maze to his room. “You’re doing it on purpose to wind me up and now you have to accept the consequences of your actions.” He shut the door to his room behind them and pressed Myungjun up against it.

“Gladly.” Myungjun said, smirking at his boyfriends’ frown and pulling him in, with a hand fisted in his shirt, to kiss him. “Took you long enough to get us out of there.”

“You’re pushing it Myungjun, don’t be so cocky.”

He nipped at Myungjuns bottom lip roughly, making Myungjun yelp in pain. Jinwoo swept his tongue over it quickly, soothing the pain for him and collecting the little bead of blood that bloomed on his lip. “Sorry that was a bit harsh.”

“You better be sorry. My lips are my best feature you know.” Myungjun said sulkily with a pout that made Jinwoo laugh. “I’ll just have to tell the others that you punched me in the face if they ask about my swollen lip now.”

“Don’t you dare.” Jinwoo warned, picking Myungjun up and taking him over to the bed. They fell down on it together and Myungjuns back hit the mattress as Jinwoo landed on top of him. “Just say you walked into a door or something.”

Myungjun rolled his eyes. “Fine, but if they don’t believe that, it’s not my fault. You shouldn’t have bit me.”

“Yeah and YOU shouldn’t have wound me up.” Jinwoo said, tickling Myungjuns sides and making him giggle. Myungjun shrieked out apologies until Jinwoo stopped his attack and he grinned up at Jinwoo breathlessly. “Wow Junnie, I swear you keep getting prettier every time I look at you.”

Myungjun flushed and turned his head away. “Stop JinJin. It’s embarrassing.”

“I don’t care.” Jinwoo said simply before leaning down and kissing Myungjuns exposed neck. It was messy and wet and made Myungjun melt. Jinwoo raked his teeth down Myungjuns neck, making him shiver and pulled back to guide Myungjuns face around to look at him. “I want to mark you again. The love bite I gave you by the pond is gone.”

“Not on my neck JinJin. Everyone will see.” Myungjun whined, already blushing at the thought of someone else seeing something so intimate on his skin.

“Below your collarbone then.” Jinwoo said, tugging lightly at the collar of Myungjuns shirt.

Myungjun quickly shook his head. “That won’t work. My collar isn’t that stretchy.”

Jinwoo whined loudly and pouted down at him. “Junnie I really want to.” Myungjun really wanted him to do it too. It had been thrilling to look at the previous mark everyday and he was sad to see it was now gone. Jinwoos hand travelled down Myungjuns side to the bottom of his shirt which he tugged lightly. “If I can’t pull your collar down, let me lift this up instead.” He sighed at Myungjuns obvious reaction. “Junnie you don’t need to be so shy about it. I’ve already seen your tummy from that time in the dungeons where you had to rip your shirt, and I’ve already seen half of your chest from the shirt you wore on Halloween. Not to mention the glimpses I got from swimming with you in the river during the summer. Don’t you trust me? Do you think I’m going to make fun of you or something?”

Myungjun hesitated and slowly shook his head. “I trust you JinJin, of course I do. I’m just self-conscious about how I look. I don’t have a body like yours.”

“If you had a body like mine there would be nothing new or exciting for me to look at. I see my body every day, it’s boring.” Jinwoo said bluntly. “I won’t force you to take it off. I want you to do that in your own time when you feel comfortable. But you also need to believe what I say; I’d never make fun of your body. From everything I’ve seen so far, I think you’re perfect Myungjun.”

Myungjun was internally struggling. One side of him was screaming at himself not to do it, that he was imperfect and ugly and that Jinwoo was lying and would only make fun of him. But the other side was telling him to believe Jinwoos words because there’s no way Jinwoo would lie to him about something like this. Plus, he really did want another mark on his skin, to remind himself of Jinwoo whenever he saw or touched it. So he compromised.

“JinJin I’ll take it off but close your eyes.” He said quietly, watching the way Jinwoos eyes lit up at his words. Jinwoo got up off of him but kept a hand on his leg to share his magic and closed his eyes tight. Myungjun sat up shakily, feeling a mixture of embarrassment, excitement and anxiety bubble away in his stomach. He hesitantly reached down and pulled it up slowly. I can’t believe I’m doing this, he thought, I must have gone crazy. He pulled his shirt all the way off and covered his chest with it, so only his arms, shoulders and collarbones were exposed. That already felt like a massive amount of skin to voluntarily show Jinwoo and he squeezed his eyes shut before telling Jinwoo to open his. He heard a small intake of breath from his boyfriend before he felt Jinwoos hands on his skin, making him tense up.

“Relax Junnie.” Jinwoo whispered before moving closer to him. “Do you want to get under the cover?” Myungjun nodded quickly, his back was exposed sitting up like this and it made him feel even more naked. “Open your eyes then Junnie, we’ll get under together.” Myungjun opened his eyes slowly to see Jinwoo giving him a soft smile. “It’s okay Junnie, you’re okay. It’s safe here.” Myungjun was confused at his words before looking up to see he was shedding petals.

“Sorry.” He muttered, trying to wipe them off the bed with one hand and keeping his top up with the other.

“Don’t apologise. I know this is hard for you but you’re being so brave. Come here.” Jinwoo lifted up the covers and got under them, arms open with the offer to cuddle and Myungjun quickly followed, relishing in the way the green fluffy fabric of Jinwoos blanket felt against his skin. He snuggled into Jinwoos chest, as they lay on their sides facing one another and he tried to calm his breathing. He’s not laughing, Myungjun thought weakly, he’s not making fun of me. He felt Jinwoo place a hesitant hand on his bare shoulder and tensed again. “Can I touch you?” Jinwoo asked quietly. “I won’t touch you where you’re covering yourself up. Not if you don’t want me too.”

Myungjun gave him a small nod. “Just not where I’m covered up JinJin. I feel overwhelmed already.”

Jinwoo quickly removed his hand, making Myungjun look up at him in confusion. “I won’t touch you if you’re already feeling overwhelmed Junnie. Lets just sit here and wait until you’re ready okay?”

Myungjun was stunned. How did I get so lucky? He thought to himself as he looked up at Jinwoos concerned gaze. How did I get so lucky to have a boyfriend who’s so caring and so considerate about everything? Even I didn’t ask for permission to touch him on Halloween. The thought of that made him cringe and he snuggled back up to Jinwoos chest. “I’m overwhelmed but I want you to JinJin.”

“Are you sure?” Jinwoo asked. “You have to be sure Myungjun.”

“I’m sure JinJin, please just do it. The suspense is killing me.”

Jinwoo laughed softly, his chest vibrating against Myungjuns head and he pressed a kiss into Myungjuns hair. “Tell me if you want me to stop.” His hand felt warm against Myungjuns skin when he placed it back onto his shoulder. He stayed there for a while, kneading all the tension out of Myungjuns body before moving down his bare arm. When Jinwoo reached his hand, he threaded their fingers together and brought Myungjuns hand up to kiss it gently. “You’re so perfect.” He whispered, placing Myungjuns hand on his waist so Myungjun could cuddle him better. “So so perfect Junnie.” His hand travelled back up Myungjuns arm before trailing delicately over the top of his back, rubbing soothing circles into his shoulder blades. Myungjun hummed happily at the feeling. He felt calm, he felt relaxed but most importantly he felt safe. “Look at me Junnie.” Jinwoo said quietly, trailing his fingers delicately down Myungjuns spine.

Myungjun looked up and felt Jinwoos lips immediately find his own. Kissing Jinwoo whilst feeling his hands roaming over his bare skin was dizzying. Jinwoo gripped him firmly around the waist and pulled him up, until Myungjuns head was on the pillow in front of him. “Thanks JinJin. My neck would have hurt looking up at you if we’d stayed like that. Also, my arms going numb holding this shirt up to my chest. I want to let it go…but can we stay pressed up together?”

“Anything you want cutie. Here let me help.” Jinwoo pulled Myungjuns shirt out from between them and rolled over on top of him. “Is this okay?”

Myungjun looked up at him and gave him a shy smile. “This is fine, my arms getting some feeling back into it now.” He puckered his lips and Jinwoo closed the distance quickly, kissing him slowly and pulling the cover back over them. Myungjun wrapped his arms around Jinwoos neck, desperately wanting to wrap his legs around his waist too but stopping himself because he knew Jinwoo didn’t like that when they were laying down.

After a while, Jinwoo pulled back to look at him, lips kiss swollen and a light blush on his face. “I want to mark you now. Can I?” When Myungjun nodded, he leaned down slowly and peppered soft kisses across the top of his chest, just below his collarbones. Myungjuns breathing got heavier every kiss he left, and he threaded his fingers through the hair at the back of Jinwoos head, clutching the soft strands tight with anticipation. He tried to look down, to see what Jinwoo was doing, but it was too dark under the blanket. Myungjun was glad, it meant Jinwoo couldn’t see any further down either. He gasped lightly and let his head fall back down on the pillow when Jinwoo started nipping and sucking on his skin. It always came with a certain amount of pain, but he realised he actually enjoyed it and felt almost sad when Jinwoo was finished a few minutes later. Jinwoo lavished soft kisses all over the bruising skin and rested his head against Myungjuns chest, whining happily. “You smell even better up close like this. Thankyou for letting me give you more love bites Junnie.”

“You’re the one who did all the work.” Myungjun said with a giggle. “I should be thanking you instead.” He stroked Jinwoos fluffy hair slowly until they both fell into a peaceful sleep.

*

Myungjun woke up the next morning being spooned by Jinwoo. His arm was around Myungjuns waist and his nose was nestled in Myungjuns neck whilst he snored softly. It was warm and comfortable and Myungjun didn’t want to move. Unfortunately, he had too. Today was the Battle Royale and he didn’t want them to be late.

“JinJin.” He said softly, turning around to look at him. He realised suddenly that he was still shirtless and quickly pulled the covers back up to their chins. Jinwoo woke up suddenly with a snort that made Myungjun giggle.

“Wha’s goin’ on?” He slurred, looking over at Myungjun. “Oh hello cutie. Did you sleep well?” Myungjun nodded happily and cuddled up to him, looking for some attention. Jinwoo pulled him closer before freezing and clearing his throat nervously. “Umm…Junnie, you’re still shirtless. Do you remember where your shirt went? I’ll get it for you.” Myungjun shook his head with a pout, making his boyfriend sigh. “Take mine then.” He pulled his off, careful not to jostle the cover too much and put it over Myungjuns head for him before closing his eyes and letting Myungjun pull it on properly.

“Thanks JinJin.” Myungjun said quietly. “Let’s get up and get some breakfast. We don’t have long until the match begins.”

Jinwoo pulled him out of the bed, still looking half asleep with his puffy face and fluffed up hair and all Myungjun wanted to do was coo and giggle at him but he held it in. Jinwoo located Myungjuns top, discarded by the side of the bed and picked it up to pull it over his own head. They had to swap the hands they were holding for Jinwoo to get both arms through the sleeves and Myungjun felt a strange possessiveness wash over him. He must feel this when I wear his clothes too, Myungjun thought with a smile, no wonder he makes me wear them all the time.

Jinwoo pulled him into the bathroom and took their toothbrushes from the cup on the shelf. Myungjun had slept over one day and forgotten his toothbrush from his room, utterly refusing to kiss Jinwoo in the morning at all. Jinwoo had naturally been annoyed at being denied his morning kisses and the next time Myungjun slept over there was a sparkly new one right beside Jinwoos that hadn’t been there before. He’d asked Jinwoo where he had gotten it but received silence in return. He just knew Jinwoo had snuck off to Voredan again and sighed inside, hoping that Jinwoo was careful enough not to get caught, as he didn’t know what sort of punishment would await him otherwise.

Present day Myungjun went through his morning routine with Jinwoo and after spitting his toothpaste in the sink, he looked up into the mirror to see Jinwoos baggy shirt slipping down to reveal the scattering of marks along the top of his chest. He rinsed his toothbrush quickly before giving it to Jinwoo and used his free hand to tug the collar around, finding every single love bite Jinwoo had left on his skin.

“Do they hurt?” Jinwoo asked quietly, voice still scratchy from sleep. He turned Myungjun towards himself and away from the mirror so he could look at them too.

Myungjun shook his head with a smile. “Only if I press down on them. I think you got a bit carried away though JinJin, I thought you were only going to give me one.”

“Have I upset you?” Jinwoo asked, his eyes searching Myungjuns own. When Myungjun assured him that he hadn’t, Jinwoo smiled back, visibly relaxing and pulled him in for a kiss. “Good. I’m sorry for getting carried away. I just lose myself when I’m with you, and seeing you that way last night…” He sighed softly and pulled away. “Let’s go Junnie. We have a competition to win.”

Chapter Text

Myungjun watched the teams in front of them be let through the door into the battledome one by one. Every time a team entered; the door would close behind them, before reopening to let the next team through.

“Why are they doing that?” Myungjun asked, watching the door close behind the last team in front of him.

“Probably to change the destination of wherever we enter in the battledome. They wouldn’t want to put everyone in the same place to begin with.” Hoseok answered, adjusting the harness he was wearing that carried his pole on his back. “Ready guys?”

The door opened in front of them and Myungjun followed Jinwoo inside, the others trailing closely behind. They’d been placed in the desert to begin with and Hoseok groaned unhappily. Heat rolled off of the ground in waves, making everything in the distance ripple hazily. What little plant life existed in this terrain was scorched brown and bone dry to match the endless expanse of sand, that stretched for miles in every direction. “My water magic will be rubbish here, it’s too hot. If we get attacked here, I’ll be the liability.”

“If we stick to the plan, we’ll be fine.” Jinwoo said with confidence, looking down at the map in his hand. “According to the map we made, we just need to get over that big sand dune over there to see the icy tundra. Rocky and Myungjun will be the liability there because the ground is made purely of snow. When we made this map, I tried to dig down as far as possible to see where it ended but I gave up after five minutes. There’s no ground for you to manipulate there Rocky and there’s nowhere for you to grow your vines Junnie.”

“What if we went the other way then?”