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Dissonance

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An omega sits in the shallows on the beach, his pretty blonde-green hair blowing in the light breeze. He digs his feet into the sand, letting the waves lap gently at his heels as he basks in the moonlight.

 

Most of the people in the city have been asleep for ages by this late hour, but Min Jimin is wide awake.

 

He snuck out past his guards, stealing away to the private, secluded beach by the castle, a place that he often frequents when his thoughts start to grow too loud and slumber eludes him.

 

But tonight it’s not any negative thoughts that keep him wide eyed and twitchy, but the looming arrival of one alpha in particular.

 

“Couldn’t sleep, petal?”

 

Jimin doesn’t jump at the sudden voice, knowing the sound and scent of his father well. He simply shakes his head, and Yoongi sits down next to him in the soft sand.

 

“Sorry if my absence startled you…”

 

“Nonsense.” Yoongi grins easily at him. “My wolf knew you were near and that you were not harmed. You are not the only Min who comes down to the sea in the late night to find solace. What troubles you, Jiminie?”

 

The omega sighs, leaning into his father’s embrace when he wraps an arm around his shoulder. “I am not troubled appa, but I admit I am… unsettled.” His father stays silent, which is actually a comfort to him; one of the things Jimin loves most about him is his ability to know when to push and when to stay quiet. He has always been close to his father, but after their time together on the road and watching each other’s backs in battle, their relationship has blossomed even more.

 

Yoongi gently rubs at his wrist, scenting him as they sit together on the beach, listening to the waves retreat back into the sea.

 

A few minutes later Jimin finally speaks up, his voice small and unsure. “I just— have you ever thought that you had something… someone figured out, and then they manage to take you completely by surprise?”

 

Yoongi smiles to himself as the pieces start to fall into place. “This is about Jungkook-ah, yes?”

 

The omega nods. “Before… when we were in the camps I heard stories about him. I knew he was maturing into a great warrior; Jin Jin has been training him personally for years. But to actually see it; to know that someone like you considers him worthy of joining my guard… I feel proud of him and his accomplishments, but I also don’t know how this will change… us. Our friendship.”

 

“You are not children any longer… the both of you have grown into fierce, smart young men. I know there was been distance between you two… physically and emotionally, but that’s normal. It’s part of getting older. You shouldn’t feel stress about that.”

 

“But Jungkook was my dearest friend for so many years… I confess I am happy that he is moving back, that he is coming home, that he considers protecting me a legitimate enough reason to uproot his entire life… but I am unsure if that is selfish of me.”

 

Yoongi shakes his head. “It is not, my son. I know sometimes it might be strange for you to think about, but you truly are one of the most important people in Seoyong. You are the prince, and one day the crown that sits atop my head will rest upon yours. Jungkook is a talented soldier, and there is no doubt he will make a fine guard. His service under your helm will not be years wasted, that I can promise. It is a noble undertaking to join the royal guard, an honor that not many have. Over the years I have only trusted the best and most capable warriors to protect you and your mother. Jungkook will not be an exception.”

 

“But what if… what if my excitement for him coming here has less to do with him being my guard, and more to do with him being my… my…” He struggles to define his relationship with Jungkook, his eyes casted down.

 

The king holds him steady. “Jimin… there is nothing wrong with being close to those who dedicate their lives to serving this kingdom. As you very well know, for many years Namjoon played both the role of my advisor and my closest friend.”

 

“I just… I know Jungkook is moving here for a job, to join the royal guard and to protect me… but I can’t help but wish that maybe he has other reasons for coming too. That he misses our friendship as much as I do. That he wishes to become close once more.”

 

Yoongi knows this will not be an issue; he saw the way that Jungkook looked at his son, and it was obvious how much of the younger alpha’s world revolved around the prince.

 

“I do not think this be a problem for you, petal. I’m sure that Jungkook missed your friendship just as much as you did. He will jump at the chance to get to know you all over again.”

 

“But that’s just the thing.” Jimin purses his lips. “I thought I knew all there was to know about Jungkook. But ever since my pajong… I just feel like Jungkook is an entirely different person, and I confess I am a bit afraid that this new version of my friend won’t be nearly as interested in who I’ve become.”

 

“Jimin.” Yoongi looks at him very seriously. “In the past couple years, you’ve only become more special. You’ve gone to battle; you’ve become an omega; you’ve grown up.” He smiles at him, always feeling proud of seeing just how far Jimin has come in just a few short years. His son’s time abroad during the Songtan conflict had matured him, not only as a fighter but as a person. Presenting as an omega was just the final piece of the puzzle clicking into place; Jimin is a lot more sure of himself now, and he feels happy to see that his son is finally coming into his own.

 

“I know you feel nervous because your relationship with Jungkook is changing, but that doesn’t mean it’s changing for the worse. In fact, it could be changing for the better.” He pats Jimin’s shoulder. “I know sometimes as we grow older, it can be a struggle to redefine our relationships with those closest to us, but at the end of the day petal, Jungkook has always adored you.”

 

This is something that is simply a fact to Yoongi; he would have never agreed to Jungkook protecting his son if he did not think Jungkook would take the job seriously. But all it takes is a few mere minutes in the younger alpha’s presence to know just how much Jungkook valued Jimin’s well being. He doesn’t doubt that Jungkook will be one of, if not the most loyal guard assigned to protect his precious son.

 

“And if he didn’t long to be your dear friend once more, he would have never requested this assignment. You must remember that it was Jungkook who asked to join your protection detail; not the other way around. You didn’t make him move away from Junseong, you didn’t force him to leave his home behind. Jungkook wanted this. You shouldn’t just respect his decision, you should trust it. Trust in Jungkook.”

 

“I just couldn’t sleep… I was laying in bed and thinking about Jungkook… I know that he arrives tomorrow and I just wasn’t sure…”

 

“Wasn’t sure of what, petal?”

 

“Part of me wishes to greet him at the city limits… to show him how excited I am that he has returned. But then I fear that I will come across too eager, or that he will take it the wrong way, or a thousand other things that could go wrong.”

 

“Jiminie, nothing is going to go wrong.” Yoongi chuckles. “I promise you, if you were to meet Jungkook tomorrow and personally welcome him, I’m positive he would be thrilled.” He squints at the younger. “And furthermore, what do you have to gain from hiding from your emotions? If Jungkook’s arrival makes you feel happy, then be happy. Trying to hold it in or pretend that you are unaffected will only cause misunderstandings.”

 

The king shrugs his shoulders. “I have always found that the clearest path to happiness is living your truth. Even when it’s hard, even when things don’t go the way that you wish them to, if you are true to yourself then you will find inner peace much easier to achieve. But when you start to hide your feelings, or begin to pretend your heart doesn’t feel what it does, that’s when you will get into trouble my son.”

 

He places his hand on Jimin’s chest. “You have your mother’s heart, Jimin. Do you know what that means?” The younger shakes his head and Yoongi smiles, big and gummy at the mere thought of his treasured mate.

 

“It means that you are capable of great love… that you will care for people deeply and endlessly. That not only your compassion, but your genuine kindness will bring immense joy to all of the people around you. There is a reason why people are so willing to sacrifice for you and your mother, and it’s because you are blessed by the Gods, because you are undeniably good. You are pure hearted in a way that so very few are.”

 

“Appa…”

 

Yoongi strokes his hair softly. “I know it is difficult for you to comprehend, petal. I know that it is hard for you to make sense of Jungkook wanting to devote himself to you, but Jimin… you are his prince . He treasures you, and I am quite certain that he is delighted to be able to dedicate himself to you, to serve you.”

 

“Am I really worthy of such devotion?” The prince asks quietly, and Yoongi hugs him tightly.

 

Yes. Jimin… you are worthy of everything. You deserve the entire world.” The king looks into his eyes. “Do not build up walls around your heart, my son. Because with age and time and experience, they will only be more difficult to break down. And I want you to be like your mother, I want you to live and love to the fullest, because you deserve nothing less.”

 

It’s difficult for Jimin to understand how he feels, because the majority of his thoughts concerning Jungkook are changing and evolving in ways that he can’t explain.

 

He doesn’t know why the younger alpha makes him feel on edge in one breath, but safe in the next. He doesn’t know why the younger alpha’s scent is enough to calm him during his darkest times, when thoughts of battle and dangerous enemies start to consume him.

 

He doesn’t understand why the simple act of wrapping himself up in Jungkook’s cloak is enough to make his heart calm and his breathing come easier.

 

But he wants to figure it out.

 

He wants to know what this connection with Jungkook means. He knows his father is right; the only way he will ever be able to make sense of it is if he is honest with himself and he stays true to his heart.

 

“So you think I should go to him?”

 

“I think you should be true to your feelings, and trust your instincts. If reestablishing your friendship with Jungkook feels right, then it is.”

 

His father says it so simply, like it is easy even though Jimin knows it is not.

 

But he wants it to be.

 

And maybe that’s all that matters.




Jimin greets Jungkook at the city limits, sitting on an elegant jet black horse with a brilliant smile. “Yah, fire boy! Nice of you to finally show up!”

 

“I’ve only been gone a little over a week!” Jungkook leans out the window of the carriage, smiling. “You miss me that much?”

 

The prince rolls his eyes, deflecting the question entirely. “You want a ride?”

 

“Sure.”

 

Jimin calls the carriage to a stop so Jungkook can hop out and mount the horse behind him. “Hold on tight, Kookie.” The prince giggles before clicking his heels, the horse taking off in the direction of the castle.

 

The alpha immediately wraps his arms around Jimin’s thin waist, his face falling forward to linger at the prince’s neck. The smell of the omega is just as tantalizing as ever, and secretly he’s a little happy he has the excuse of the ride to snuggle up so close to Jimin.

 

But sadly it ends almost as quickly as it begins. They dismount and leave the horse at the stables, but the prince surprises him once more when he takes Jungkook by the hand to lead him into the castle.

 

Hoseok greets them in the foyer, the blonde smiling and jumping when he sees the redhead. “Jungkook-ah! You’ve finally made it! Jiminie has been going out of his mind, waiting for you to arrive.”

 

Jungkook looks at the prince who flushes, shaking his head. “That is an exaggeration.”

 

The king rolls his eyes but pulls the alpha into a hug anyways. “I am pleased to know you have arrived safely. I will send word to your parents. Are you weary from your travels? Do you need some food or rest—”

 

Eomma.” Jimin cuts in, looking a little sheepish. “ I will make sure Kookie gets whatever he needs.”

 

“Well then.” Hoseok looks at the younger alpha, brushing off his shoulders. “It appears that Jimin will see to your settling in personally. ” He winks, making the younger boy blush. “Your father and I will be busy for the majority of the evening; the diplomats from Jageun are still in town. Can I trust that you’ll look after our newest guard, Jiminie?”

 

“Yes, eomma.” Jimin starts to tug the alpha away — his hand still locked onto Jungkook’s — who waves at the king as he’s pulled towards the stairs. “Sorry, you know how he gets.”

 

“It’s fine. I’ve always loved your mother. He’s been nothing but kind to me.”

 

“I know, but he can be a bit overbearing at times. He’s been teasing me about your arrival this entire week.” Jimin complains, making the younger boy pause.

 

“My arrival has been a topic of conversation?”

 

Jimin stops halfway up the stairs, turning to look at Jungkook. “Kookie… you’ve finally come home to me.”

 

The choice of words makes Jungkook feel a little weak in the knees. “I have returned to Seoyong, yes. But I didn’t think it would be of great concern to you—”


Jungkook.” Jimin is taller than him, standing up on the step above the alpha. He brings his arm up to run a hand through his friend’s distinct red hair that he adores, to this day. “It has been over a decade since we have resided within the same city, and now we get to live under the same roof. We finally… we finally get to become close again. Aren’t you excited about that?”

 

Jungkook has to physically grip the banister to prevent himself from flinging forward to wrap his arms around the prince. He is… beyond excited at the prospect of getting to know his friend all over again. “Yes, Jimin-ssi.”

 

“I missed you, Kookie. I really did.”

 

“And I missed you.”

 

Jimin beams, his hand coming down to cup Jungkook’s cheek. “You don’t have to miss me anymore, fire boy.” He bends down, pressing his lips to Jungkook’s cheek. “I’m right here.”

 

With that he turns and continues his way up the stairs, leaving a dazed and fumbling alpha trailing behind him. The prince shows him his chambers — just down the hall from Jimin’s, his mind notes — and introduces him to a few other members of the guard, but Jungkook doesn’t really have the presence of mind to do anything more than nod and smile.

 

All the alpha can focus on is the omega’s hand in his and the lingering kiss on his cheek.

 

 

Jungkook wakes before dawn to one of the royal servants gently shaking his shoulder. He blinks through his sleep and sits straight up.

 

“What? Is something wrong?” Panic courses through his body at the thought that something could have happened to Jimin while he was off duty.

 

“No, sir. The prince just told me to wake you and deliver this.” She holds out a neatly folded note, and Jungkook blinks and takes it, dismissing her before sitting on the edge of his bed and opening it.

 

Fire boy,

 

Meet me out on the training fields at dawn. I wish to see how skilled in combat you truly are.

 

Jimin

 

Jungkook launches himself out of bed, freshens up, and dresses quickly, rushing because he can already see the sun beginning to rise over the sea. He laces his boots briskly and quietly, slipping through the hallway and down through the gardens out to the training fields.

 

Jimin is of course already there when he arrives, sitting atop a boulder looking bored. He smirks when he spots Jungkook approaching.

 

“Took you long enough.”

 

“I came as soon as I could,” Jungkook laughs. “I only awoke probably like… ten minutes ago.”

 

Jimin stands and tosses him some practice armor along with a wooden sword. “Right. Well I’m eager to get some sparring in before I’m expected at breakfast, and I thought… what better partner than the fearsome red haired hero from Junseong?”

 

Jungkook straps the armor to his chest and chuckles. “Hero sounds like an exaggeration.”

 

“From what I’ve heard, it isn’t; but you’ll have to prove it to me first. Although I do hope this will be a bit more exciting than our archery duel. I admit I was hoping for a challenge there, but I bested you quite easily.”

 

This, of course, is an exaggeration; he had just barely beaten out Jungkook, his arrows the tiniest bit more accurate at a long range, but he wasn’t going to be letting the younger boy forget about that fact anytime soon.

 

Jungkook stretches his neck and grips the wooden handle of the sword, smirking. “Am I truly meant to best the feared omega prince of Seoyong? I heard stories on the front lines too, you know. Almost every alpha wishing they could find themselves at the other end of your sword just for a glance at you.”

 

Jimin rolls his eyes dramatically. “What bullshit. They’d be dead before they could even blink.”

 

“So what is our objective here?” Jungkook asks. “You are aware I am your guard and I am meant to protect you, not cause you harm.”

 

“You’d better not go easy on me, fire boy. If you do, I’ll call your bluff. And I won’t be pleased.” Jimin pouts. “You don’t want to upset me, do you Jungkook-ah?”

 

Jungkook stretches out his shoulders before crouching in a ready position. “Not at all, your Highness .”

 

Jimin grins wickedly when he hears the playful tone in the alpha’s voice.

 

“Don’t hold back, Kookie. Give me your best.”

 

Jungkook has never been one for denying Jimin what he wants.

 

Soon, they’re launching at each other, their swords meeting in the middle with a loud hollow clunk before they truly begin.

 

It’s like a dance, and it’s different than any other sword fight he’s ever been in, real or practice. Jimin is lightning quick and flexible, finding clever ways to dodge his perries and launch his own attacks. He keeps Jungkook very much on his toes as the two of them go at it, neither holding any blows or reserving their strength.

 

Jungkook doesn’t use his alpha strength, and Jimin matches him; the both of them meeting every single attack with one of their own.

 

It goes on for some time, neither of them relenting. Jungkook tries to maintain his focus, his stamina, but after one swing he catches a strong whiff of the prince’s scent and meets his beautiful doe eyes, and then he’s falling, Jimin having knocked into him with his full weight. The two of them topple over and Jimin straddles the alpha’s waist, holding the wooden sword against his neck with both hands and grinning wickedly.

 

The two of them stay like that for a long moment, panting heavily and simply existing together. Jungkook can’t help himself — he stares greedily up at the most beautiful face he’s ever seen and will ever see and let’s his eyes scan over every inch of it: the point of his nose, the slope of his cheekbones, his plump lips, his gorgeous eyes… all of it is enough to make him lose himself momentarily. Jimin’s nostrils flare as the both of them register their scents changing, becoming headier and more potent.

 

“I win,” Jimin says, his voice a bit deeper and throatier than it normally is.

 

“I let you win,” Jungkook lies, which only makes Jimin press the wooden blade harder against his neck.

 

“Say it.”

 

“Say what, Jimin-ssi?”

 

“Say I beat you fair and square.”

 

Jungkook wants to laugh and refuse, because Jimin’s beauty and its effect on the alpha aren’t fair. But he knows that if he admits he was bested, then Jimin will get off of him, and if he’s being completely honest with himself, he isn’t entirely sure how long he can keep himself from getting hard in this position, with the prince pressed up against him so intimately. “Fine. You beat me fair and square. Now get off.”

 

Jimin giggles wildly as Jungkook pushes him off, and both of them lie on their backs and breathe heavily as they look up at the foggy sky. “Let’s go eat,” Jimin says suddenly, hopping up to his feet and yanking Jungkook up as well. “I requested the bacon hash that you like so much for breakfast today.”

 

“You know I’m meant to eat in the barracks, right?” Jungkook laughs.

 

“Oh please. You’re not just any guard, Kookie, you’re practically family. You eat with me when I say you do.”

 

Jungkook chuckles and shakes his head. “The rest of your guard is already wary of me for being so young.”

 

“I am the prince. If they are rude to you, tell me, and they will be punished. I’m allowed to choose favorites.”

 

Jungkook looks over at him and lifts an eyebrow. “And am I your favorite, Jimin-ssi?”

 

Jimin smiles slyly, looking up at the sky. “Perhaps.”

 

Jungkook nudges his shoulder and both of them laugh, heading back toward the grand entrance to the gardens.

 

 

It’s two months later when Jungkook is awoken from a deep sleep once again, only this time, it’s with the prince’s hand over his mouth.

 

Jungkook jolts, eyes wide, but Jimin puts a finger over his mouth, signalling for him to be quiet.

 

“It’s just me, Kookie. It’s okay. Nothing is wrong.”

 

Jungkook lifts an eyebrow as Jimin carefully removes his hand.

 

“Then why are you in my bed, covering my mouth, like some sort of rogue assassin?”

 

“Because,” Jimin rolls his eyes at the accusation, but smiles anyway. “I wanted to take a little midnight walk down to the beach, and I thought you’d like to join me. I couldn’t sleep.”

 

Jungkook’s first instinct is to ask why he didn’t ask one of his night guards to accompany him, but then he realizes that he’s glad he didn’t. He’d do anything for Jimin, for his happiness, and the fact that he chose him to accompany him makes him feel incredibly warm.

 

“Alright, give me a moment,” Jungkook says, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and sitting, pulling his scabbard around his waist and tightening it. Jimin waits patiently before grabbing his hand and hurrying him out of the castle.

 

It’s bright out; the moon a sliver but still somehow managing to illuminate the whole land in silver-white light. Jungkook can’t help but smile. He always feels close to his Namjoon appa when he’s bathed in moonlight.

 

Jimin takes him on a familiar route from their childhood, out behind the gardens and down a sandy path out to a long stretch of beach. Jungkook feels an overwhelming sense of calm come over him at the gentle sound of the waves lapping against the shore.

 

Jimin releases his hand and walks ahead of him, kneeling just where the water turns into foam as it stretches over the sand and bowing his head, reaching out to graze his fingertips against the sea.

 

Jungkook watches, fascinated. This is not something Jimin would do when they were children, but he does recognize the motions from Yoongi.

 

Jimin closes his eyes in a silent prayer before taking a deep breath of the salty air in and smiling, standing back up.

 

“The sea has missed you, Jungkook-ah.”

 

“You’ve always been blessed, but are you and the sea on speaking terms now?” Jungkook teases, kicking off his shoes and sitting, burying his toes in the sand.

 

Jimin slides down next to him and shrugs a shoulder.

 

“Ever since I found my inner wolf, I’ve been closer to the sea than ever. I tell her all my deepest, darkest secrets.” The prince smiles and looks out to where the moon casts a white shimmering glow on the surface.

 

“Did you tell her one just now?”

 

Jimin smiles, sliding his bottom lip against his teeth and looking down at the sand.

 

“Perhaps.”

 

“And you aren’t going to tell your oldest friend?” Jungkook fake complains.

 

Jimin giggles and shoves at his shoulder. “We’re all allowed to have our own secrets, fire boy. Even from each other. I’m sure you have secrets from me.”

 

Only one , Jungkook thinks sadly, but shakes his head anyway.

 

“None that are important.”

 

“How about this: one day, before we both die, we shall tell each other all of our secrets. Then, we can die well, and know that nothing has been hidden between us. Deal?”

 

“Your death will not be for a long time, Jimin-ssi .”

 

Promise me anyway.”

 

“I promise.”

 

Jimin smiles then, satisfied. In the distance, the waves crash against the rocks further out to sea, the spray flowing like the Gods are sprinkling their magic dust out over the night.

 

Jungkook watches Jimin; watches the moon in his eyes, and tries his hardest to keep his inner wolf at bay. All he wants is to touch him, to hold him, to love him and give him everything.

 

“I am so glad you’re here, Jungkook-ah,” Jimin says wistfully. “Do you remember the day we were children and you left to move to Junseong? I cried and cried and cried and almost did not get to say goodbye.”

 

“But you did,” Jungkook reminds him. “You did.”

 

“Thank the Gods. I would never have forgiven myself otherwise. I thought that you leaving meant that we would become strangers to each other. I did not want to lose my most precious friend. And yes, in some ways we have grown apart. But… still… I feel as if our connection is stronger than ever. The distance has not ruined our friendship, but I am glad you are back with me. It has been truly a pleasure to me.”

 

Jungkook smiles. “I am glad that you are happy.”

 

“I am happy. You make me happy.” Jimin leans over and pecks his cheek, and Jungkook fights the urge to reach up and touch the spot in shock. Jimin’s little cheek kisses always catch him off guard but make his heart do somersaults in his chest.

 

“I am happy too,” Jungkook assures him, because he can sense that Jimin wants to ask. “I am happy to be here.”

 

With you.

 

He leaves the last part unsaid, because it doesn’t need to be said. It is as true as anything; it is as true as the sky is blue. Being with Jimin makes him shine with joy, and anyone, even a blind man, could see that.

 

They stay until the dawn begins to peek over the horizon, then return to their beds to get a couple of hours of sleep before they both have to start their days.

 

Jungkook doesn’t sleep, however. He lays awake and replays in his mind how the moonlight had made Jimin’s unique hair look like he was a mermaid or some equally mythical creature from fables.

 

He isn’t asleep, but it still feels like dreaming anyway.

 

 

“Oh to be young and in love…” Hoseok sighs wistfully, finishing the last of the wine in his goblet before motioning for it to be refilled. Yoongi lifts an eyebrow and glances over at his mate.

 

“An interesting outburst, sunflower.”

 

“Just look at them,” Hoseok sighs dreamily.

 

Yoongi follows his omega’s gaze down the table to where Jimin and Jungkook are sitting together. Jimin talks animatedly with a happy flush to his cheeks, sneakily spearing the broccoli on his plate and placing it in front of the younger boy. Jungkook dutifully eats whatever Jimin gives him, looking at him like he’s the greatest thing he’s ever seen. Yoongi smiles. “Ah. I think I see what you mean.”

 

“They remind me of us, back in the day,” Hoseok says happily.

 

“Only we were never in denial of our feelings,” Yoongi reminds him. “Upon our first meeting, I fell to my knees and bared my neck to you, and your legs gave out…”

 

“And then you scented me all over, right in front of my father!” Hoseok giggles.

 

“Your poor father… I have apologized for that profusely, many, many times over the years.”

 

“He understands. When two souls meant to become one find each other, there’s hardly anything that can keep them apart.”

 

“Then why do Jungkook-ah and Jiminie continue to pretend there’s nothing between them?” Yoongi muses.

 

“Because it’s complicated,” Hoseok sighs. “Because if Jiminie were to outright just mate with Jungkook, he would have to surrender his claim to the throne. Which, by the way, is a ridiculous rule.”

 

Yoongi sighs. “Yes, but it is not my rule to change. I would if I could. I see no reason a commoner should not be able to marry a monarch if they are in love. But these laws are ancient… and the council would never allow it.”

 

Hoseok frowns. “There is a way around this, though, right? Alpha, tell me there is…”

 

“Jungkook is a royal guard. His station is already above most soldiers. I could grant him lordship if I so chose. If that is what Jimin and Jungkook truly want. I will not allow my son to abdicate his throne, but I will also not allow him to suffer without his true mate. I may have to fight with the council to even allow that , but if it must be done, it can be done. Laws are laws, but I am still the king.”

 

Hoseok looks back at the two oblivious lovebirds and sighs wistfully. Yoongi reaches over and takes his mate’s hand, stroking his thumb against his wrist soothingly.

 

“We will cross that bridge when we come to it, sunflower. Worry not. Things always have a way of working themselves out in the end, especially when it comes to love. But they are still young yet. Perhaps Jungkook will earn a title another way. He is an incredible fighter, and devotedly brave when it comes to our son.”

 

Hoseok can’t help but smile. “He’s always been so infatuated with Jimin, ever since the first day they met. When they were little he would follow our Jiminie around like a moth drawn to a flame. I think Jiminie is still oblivious to his own feelings… but I have no doubt he will soon realize what it all means. I was not surprised even a little when Jungkook asked to become a guard. I spoke to Seokjinnie hyung afterward… and he hinted at Jungkook’s devotion to our son.”

 

“His devotion is obvious. I trust Jungkook more than I’ve ever trusted anyone else with our son’s safety.” He looks back to them just in time to see Jimin laugh wildly, smearing sauce on Jungkook's upper lip like a mustache. “And his happiness.”

 

Hoseok leans close and steals a kiss from his alpha’s lips. “His happiness is the most important thing in the world to me, alpha. I want our baby to be happy.”

 

Yoongi nods. “He will be.”

 

Jimin leans his head on Jungkook’s shoulder, and Yoongi notices the way his son leans up to very subtly rub his nose against his neck, scenting him. It’s something no one would even have noticed if Yoongi had not been glancing over at such an intimate moment. It fills him with warmth and hope. He does not know what the future holds, he does not know how Jimin and Jungkook will end up together, but he knows that they have the potential for something as potent and powerful as what he shares with his mate.

 

He trusts them to figure it out.

 

“He will be.”

 

 

Wednesdays are Jungkook’s days off, and no matter where Jimin ends up in the castle, he seems to never catch even a single glimpse of red hair.

 

He’s fresh out of the morning meetings, something that he’s started attending with his father since their return from the Songtan conflict, and he’s eager to see his friend.

 

It’s been nice, being able to spend so much time together lately. Even if Jungkook is his guard and there is a certain level of professionalism, once his duties are over for the day they usually find some time for each other.

 

But on Wednesdays Jungkook is always curiously absent, and today Jimin has decided he’s going to get to the bottom of it.

 

“Eunjung, I’m thinking about heading into town today. Keep a wide berth, alright?”

 

“Okay, your Highness.” Eunjung follows him dutifully out of the castle as he scents the air.

 

Jimin hadn’t detected Jungkook’s scent inside of the castle, so he figured he must be somewhere in town. Eunjung is nice enough to give him at least the illusion of privacy, keeping a large amount of distance between them as he walks through the city streets.

 

He carries a picnic basket on his arm, filled to the brim with fresh picked fruit from the apple trees on the castle grounds.

 

The people are elated to see him as always, a few children running up and taking apples with gleeful grins. Jimin makes his way through the market square leisurely, but his nose is scenting the air, looking for any sign of his friend.

 

He finally gets a hint of it after about half an hour; his basket is empty and the sun is shining in the sky. The prince follows it carefully, and when he finds himself standing in front of a familiar bricked building, he can’t help but smile.

 

The orphanage has changed in the years that Jungkook has been gone, but definitely for the better. It’s bigger, not because there are more children, but because each child has been given more space to grow. The person in charge was hand picked by his mother and Namjoon, a loving beta woman who the kids have an extreme affectionate for.

 

The prince makes his way inside, bowing politely to the staff who point him in the right direction. It’s not hard to recall a man with bright red hair, after all.

 

He stands outside a doorway of what appears to be a classroom, watching as Jungkook sits in front of children, reading from a storybook.

 

The alpha speaks animatedly, one of his large hands holding the book open while the other makes large gestures. The prince doesn’t know how long he stands there, listening to the smooth cadence of Jungkook’s voice and the happy giggles from the children.

 

Of course he recognizes the tale, having spent many nights years ago reading the very same story to Jungkook, and the choice of book manages to make him feel endeared and nostalgic, all at once.

 

He’s snapped out of his reverie by one of the staff appearing, blushing as she passes by him, letting Jungkook know that storytime has come to a close for today.

 

All the kids whine and groan, but Jungkook promises to come back next week. They all run up to him, hugging his legs and touching his hair before settling down for snack time.

 

Jungkook finally stands to leave, looking towards the door and smiling when he sees the prince. “Jimin-ssi. I would think you had better ways to spend your afternoon.”

 

“You knew I was standing here the whole time?” The prince asks as they make their way outside, making the younger boy laugh.

 

He taps against his nose, looking at Jimin with a teasing grin. “I know your scent, Jimin-ssi. I would recognize it anywhere.”

 

Behind the orphanage is a small pond and some picnic tables, so the two of them take a seat, enjoying the warm fall weather. “Did you recognize the story?” Jungkook asks, placing the book gently on the table top.

 

“How could I not?” The prince laughs, pushing his blonde-green hair back. “When we were children, how many days did I spend reading it to you?”

 

“Countless.” Jungkook smiles at the memory. “You were so determined to help me learn to read…”

 

“And look at you now. Helping to mold the next generation.”

 

Jungkook looks down a bit sheepishly. “Don’t make fun of me.”

 

“I’m not!” The prince says seriously. “It’s honestly… it’s very sweet. I was wondering what you got up to on your days off and I was surprised to find you here.”

 

“I know things are better at the orphanage, large in part to your mother’s influence but… it’s nice, to be able to see it for myself. It is a much different place then it was when I lived here. It makes me happy… to see the kids learning and to see how much the staff cares for them.”

 

Jimin smiles at him, reaching out to take his hand. “I’m sad we couldn’t spend more time together as children, and I still remember the sorrow I felt that day you moved away but… I am so, so happy that you found your family.”

 

“I love my parents… and I truly believe that the Gods brought us together. I miss them, every day.”

 

“Do you ever wonder about your real parents?”

 

“My real parents?” Jungkook scoffs. “The only parents I care to know are the ones I already have. Namjoon appa, Seokjin appa, and Taehyung eomma.”

 

“I meant your birth parents.” The prince clarifies, but Jungkook shakes his head resolutely.

 

“They abandoned me, Jimin-ssi. They created me and instead of loving me, they only had space in their hearts for each other. I was a mere child and instead of protecting me they let me believe that I was cursed.”

 

“I’m sorry, I spoke without thinking—”

 

“It’s alright. The scars they left healed a long time ago, because of my real parents. And because of you too.”

 

The prince blinks, a bit caught off guard. “Me?”

 

“I’m sure you’ve forgotten… but that first day we met? You told me you liked my hair. You told me I should be proud of it. That helped me... so much more than you will ever realize.” Jungkook looks at him honestly. “Your opinion has always meant the world to me, Jimin-ssi.”

 

The prince runs his hand up and down Jungkook’s forearm, lingering at his wrist. “You miss your parents terribly but you still chose to come back…” Jimin says curiously.

 

Jungkook looks at the prince, fondness and something else that Jimin can’t quite place shining in his eyes. “Becoming a part of the prince’s guard has been my goal for a long time. It brings me much joy, to be by the sea… and to be near you, Jimin-ssi. Even during the more rocky periods of our friendship, I have always considered you to be my closest companion. And now, it is my duty to protect you… to keep you safe. I could think of no better purpose.”

 

For some reason Jungkook’s words make the prince feel blissfully happy. “My own personal knight in shining armor.”

 

“I told you long ago that I’d slay dragons for you.” Jungkook laughs, tapping on the storybook. “Just like the fairytale says.”

 

The Lovers and the Dragon…” Jimin reads the title, noticing the frayed edges and well worn cover. “Is it…?”

 

“Yes. The one you gifted to me, all those years ago.” Jungkook looks at the book adoringly. “It was a great sense of comfort, during the darkest times. A personal gift from the prince… from my best friend.”

 

Jimin scoots closer to the alpha on the bench, leaning his head against his shoulder, his thumb rubbing at Jungkook’s wrist. “I am sorry that you suffered. I wish I could take away all of your pain.”

 

“You already have, Jimin-ssi.” Jungkook rests his head on top of the prince’s, closing his eyes and breathing in his sweet scent. “You already have.”

 

 

Usually, Jungkook’s shift on guard occurs during the afternoon, but for some reason he is told to watch over Jimin overnight on this particular day. He realizes quickly that the prince has an ulterior motive with this change of plans.

 

“My usual night guard threatened to tell my father about our little nighttime adventures out of the castle. So I decided that when I want to sneak out with you, I will simply put you in charge of my security for the night.”

 

Jungkook laughs fondly. “Would your father truly stop us?”

 

“No… but he doesn’t like when I do such things. He’s overprotective, which I understand, but still …”

 

Jungkook nods. “As long as he won’t have my head for this.”

 

“If he finds out, I will tell him the truth.”

 

“And what is the truth?”

 

“That this is all my fault and I ordered you to come with me. You cannot disobey me, so therefore, you are not in the wrong. No harm, no foul!”

 

Jungkook can’t help but grin. “You have it all under control, don’t you?”

 

“Some days,” Jimin says. Together, hidden by the shadows of the full moon, they sneak out of the castle and head back down to the beach.

 

They’ve done this dozens of time now, and Jungkook has noticed a pattern. It’s almost always days where Jimin seems distant and distracted during the day that they embark on these little getaways together. Jimin never talks about what’s bothering him, and brushes Jungkook off when he asks.

 

Jungkook feels as if this is a private, intimate part of Jimin’s life that he’s been openly invited into. He doesn’t know what to do with that fact, but it makes his heart sing nonetheless.

 

Tonight, Jimin seems especially distracted. There are long bouts of silence between them as Jimin looks off into the distance, his eyes glossy and unfocused.

 

“Jimin-ssi,” Jungkook says softly. “What is it?”

 

“What do you mean?” Jimin asks softly, blinking over at him as his beautiful eyes come back into focus.

 

“Whatever’s on your mind… you look a million miles away. I wish… I wish you would just talk to me about it. We could figure it out together.”

 

Jimin sighs, smiling fondly and reaching over to brush his thumb against Jungkook’s cheek.

 

“My sweet, selfless, kind Kookie,” Jimin muses. “What did I ever do to deserve a friend such as you?”

 

Tonight, Jimin is clad in silky cream-colored robes that flutter in the ocean breeze around his legs, unlike the usual outfit of a white shirt and brown breeches that he typically wears on their beach excursions. He looks ethereal —otherworldly. Like one of the Gods themselves had simply descended from the heavens to light up the earth with their presence.

 

No — Jimin is better than any God. More beautiful, more powerful. Jungkook is always in awe of him, but tonight, he can barely keep himself from staring at the long lines of his tan legs, or the outline of his profile.

 

“I am the one who does not deserve you,” Jungkook whispers it like a secret.

 

Jimin looks over at him then, and Jungkook doesn’t know why , but when he meets the prince’s piercing eyes, he does not look away. He can’t. Looking into Jimin’s eyes is like staring straight into fate and destiny and purpose. He feels alive; like his life has meaning, and its meaning is this .

 

“Come with me,” Jimin says, standing and holding out his hand for the alpha. Jungkook blinks but obeys, interlocking their fingers so the omega may pull him to his feet.

 

Jimin keeps their fingers tangled as he tugs him out toward the sea. Jungkook doesn’t stop him to question what he’s doing, simply follows, because his heart is feeble and he’d follow Jimin anywhere .

 

Together, they wade out into the dark waters, the waves gently bumping against them until they are both waist deep.

 

The prince turns to face him, taking his other hand as well and looking up at him. His robes fan around them in every direction, floating on the surface like sails do before a ship sinks to the bottom of the sea.

 

Jungkook blinks. “Jimin-ssi… what are we doing?”

 

“I have whispered many secrets to the sea, recently. She hasn’t had very many answers that have made sense to me. I’ve been distracted because I have been confused… because things have changed. I have changed. But tonight… tonight she is telling me something, and I think I finally understand.”

 

Jungkook blinks. “What is she telling you, my prince?”

 

Jimin licks his lips, leaving them glistening in the bright moonlight.

 

“She is telling me that change is not scary, but rather is a sign of destiny. And that I should stop denying myself what I want because it is new to me…”

 

Jimin moves closer, standing on his tiptoes so that he’s closer to Jungkook’s face, his eyes never leaving the alpha’s. Jungkook’s inner wolf howls restlessly.

 

“And what do you want?” Jungkook whispers roughly, afraid to move even a fraction of an inch.

 

Jimin’s eyes flicker down to Jungkook’s lips, just once, before finding his eyes again.

 

“Kiss me, fire boy,” Jimin whispers.

 

Jungkook feels every fiber of his being light aflame. Jimin’s scent is so strong and so close he’s dizzy with it, and the prince’s lips are there, asking to be kissed and loved and treasured.

 

Jungkook knows he shouldn’t. He knows this, but his heart is weak, and Jimin makes him forget right and wrong and everything in between. In that moment there is only them, their hearts beating in tandem, and the sea; lapping around them as if encoring them gently to close the distance between them.

 

Jungkook has always given Jimin what he wants.

 

Soon, his lips are crashing into Jimin’s. The prince’s lips are warm and giving and his mouth tastes intoxicatingly sweet. Jimin deepens the kiss immediately, releasing Jungkook’s hands in favor of wrapping his arms around his neck, tangling his fingers into his red hair and pulling him closer. Jungkook immediately wraps his arms around Jimin’s waist and pulls them flush against each other. Jungkook’s mind is empty except for Jimin, and Jimin, and Jimin . He thinks of nothing — feels nothing but the beautiful boy in his arms.

 

The moment seems to last forever. Jungkook realizes that his entire life has been leading up to this very moment, and even though every rational fiber in his body screams at him to stop, he allows himself this. Allows himself Jimin .

 

Eventually the prince pulls back, resting his forehead against Jungkook’s, his eyes still closed. Jungkook’s eyes scan over his face, taking in every emotion and reaction like oxygen.

 

“Jungkook-ah…” Jimin whispers.

 

“I’m here, Jimin-ssi. I’m here.”

 

Jimin kisses him again, this time even deeper than before, and Jungkook feels the boy’s legs wrap around his hips. He wraps his arms around him to support his weight as he walks them back to shore before gently laying them both back down on the sand, their lips never leaving one another’s. Jimin’s scent is strong and potent , and Jungkook feels his blood pump hot with an alpha’s need.

 

It might be minutes, or even hours, before Jungkook eventually pulls back. He’s on top of the omega, their bodies slotted together and pressed into the wet sand. He takes a moment to just look down at the beautiful sight below him. Jimin is thoroughly debauched, his lips swollen and red and his green hair smeared across his forehead. He’s the most beautiful thing Jungkook has ever seen, and he wants to ravish him.

 

But he can’t. He knows he can’t.

 

“I need to get you back to your chambers,” Jungkook whispers, reaching up to brush Jimin’s bangs off of his forehead. “You need your sleep. I know your father has a day full of meetings planned tomorrow that you must attend.”

 

Jimin pouts. “No, I don’t care about those, I want you, kiss me again alpha…” Jungkook feels a shiver run violently down his spine at the word, but somehow, he keeps control of himself.

 

“Come. We must go back. It is very late.”

 

“No, please, alpha, alpha…”

 

Jungkook moves away, pulling Jimin to his feet as well, ignoring his powerful pout in lieu of escorting him back to the castle. Jimin hangs onto his arm. They make it halfway through the gardens before Jimin pulls Jungkook under a canopy of peonies and kisses him silly once more.

 

It’s hard to resist the prince, because he is all Jungkook has ever wanted, and when they kiss it just feels right. It’s pure instinct, his lips tasting Jimin’s and their bodies slotting together. In those moments when Jimin is kissing him all rationality flies out the window, and the only thing that matters is how natural it all is. Like they’ve been destined to do this for years, and the two of them are finally giving in to the inevitable.

 

But the longer he kisses him the more dangerous it feels, and he feels his wolf growing restless, wanting and needing more, which he knows he cannot take at the moment. So eventually he forces himself away from the sultry, soft lips, holding the prince’s hand as he walks back with him to the castle. He deposits the prince back into his room, only able to leave him with promises that he’ll see him in the morning.

 

“You’d better, fire boy,” Jimin whispers with a smile, leaning up to nip gently at the younger boy’s lips before the door closes.

 

Jungkook rests his forehead against the cool wood and takes a deep breath, the weight of what he’s done crashing down on top of him, stronger than any wave they saw that night. Something  just changed between the two of them, and he’s frightened, because he doesn’t know if it’s for the better or worse.

 

He doesn’t return to his chambers; instead his heads straight towards the lunar temple, praying for guidance — hoping for reassurance — on whether or not he just made a huge mistake.

 

 

Jimin wakes and the sun feels warmer against his skin than it ever has. He feels invincible; he feels like everything finally makes sense.

 

He had been so confused for so long about his feelings for Jungkook, but now that he’s felt the alpha’s lips on his, he feels as if the Gods have finally revealed his true path to him.

 

The prince gets out of bed with a spring in his step, washing up and dressing in something a little fancier than necessary — soft pink robes with a golden embellished belt — taking extra care to style his hair just so.

 

Jungkook is on duty this afternoon, which means they will get to spend more time together. The alpha doesn’t attend breakfast that morning in court, but Jimin doesn’t pay it any mind; he knows that Jungkook often goes out on the training grounds early to get in some practice, so he’s sure he’ll see his alpha sooner than later.

 

But the day drags on and Jungkook is conspicuously absent; usually even if Jungkook has other duties to attend to, he’ll at least find Jimin to say a hello. His teeth worry at his lips but he tries not to stress about it too much; either way, even if Jungkook is busy right now, he’ll be sure to see him during the guard’s shift.

 

So when Woongil arrives in the afternoon with a bow and a sheepish explanation that he will be covering Jungkook’s duties, the slight apprehension in his belly turns into full blown worry.

 

He keeps an eye out for the alpha all day, but he never comes across him. The sun sets and dinner is served and Jungkook is nowhere to be found.

 

“Something the matter, Jiminie?” Hoseok asks over their meal, his mint eyes appraising his son.

 

“I’m just— not really hungry at the moment. I think I’ll retire early this evening.” The prince delicately wipes his mouth with his handkerchief and stands. His parents wish him well as he exits the grand room, his feet leading him not to his chambers, but to somewhere else.

 

His nose picks up the scent of the alpha, growing stronger as he gets nearer to his room. He knocks quickly and enters without waiting for an invitation, locking the two of them inside.

 

Jungkook looks up at Jimin’s sudden appearance, but instead of a smile his mouth twists into something more similar to a frown.

 

Jimin is a little too relieved to see him to pick up on the alpha’s discomfort, and he climbs into bed next to him promptly. “I have missed you all day. You skipped out on your shift…”

 

“I’m sorry, my prince.” Jungkook murmurs, still not quite looking at the omega. “I was at the lunar temple; praying with the Fates.”

 

“The Fates?” Jimin blinks, confused. “Are you well? What did you need their advice for?”

 

Jungkook looks down at his feet. “I am well… I just…” The alpha sighs and shakes his head. “It is nothing. Do you… need me for anything, my prince?”

 

“Jungkook-ah,” Jimin says softly, reaching up to cup his face. “Kookie… I have missed you…” The omega brushes his thumbs against his mouth, offering up his lips. “Kookie, kiss me .”

 

Jungkook’s eyes flicker down to Jimin’s lips, his brow furrowing in what appears to be pain.

 

“Jimin-ssi… I can’t. We can’t.”

 

Jimin frowns. “What do you mean? Don’t be silly, fire boy. C’mon.” He leans forward and connects their lips, but in an instant, Jungkook’s hands are on his shoulders, pushing him back.

 

“Jimin-ssi, please. Don’t make this harder than it needs to be. Please.”

 

Jimin looks at the alpha as if he’s been struck, feeling an ache in his chest that feels like his heart beginning to shatter in places he didn’t even know existed. “I don’t understand… last night was….”

 

“Last night was a mistake,” Jungkook supplies, his voice upsettingly calm.  

 

Jimin automatically tears up, never having been one to hide his emotions well. “I was going to say incredible. Kookie… I know you felt what I did last night. I know you felt me… you felt my wolf. Don’t deny it. Please don’t deny it.”

 

Jungkook doesn’t meet his eyes, and Jimin shakes his head desperately, crawling into his lap and taking his face into his hands.

 

“Kookie, look at me. Look at me. Last night happened. Neither of us can deny that. Are you trying to tell me you felt nothing?”

 

“Of course I didn’t feel nothing ,” Jungkook breathes, finally meeting the omega’s eyes. “But what I feel doesn’t matter because it cannot happen again. For your sake, Jimin. It cannot.”

 

What on earth do you mean?!” Jimin sits back, shaking his head, his eyes wild. “I am the prince. If I say we can be together, then it will be so!”

 

“Your word does not override ancient law, Jimin-ssi. You wish to be with me? It’s pointless. You would have to give up your claim to the throne to properly mate with me. I would never ask that of you. And even if that is not your intention… I care for you too deeply to allow you to use me as a plaything. It would cause me more pain than I am already in… so please , just forget last night. Forget it, and let us return to as we were.”

 

Jimin is off of him in an instant, backing up as he shakes his head in disbelief.

 

“You truly think I would use you?! Do you think so little of me? Be honest.”

 

The prince’s tone is verging on hysterical, and Jungkook clenches his fists on top of his knees and stares at the floor.

 

“I do not wish to make presumptions…”

 

“But you just did!” Jimin shouts. “I would never use you. I… I have never felt more right than after what we did last night. Kookie… I want you . I want to give myself to you. Is that… is that not good enough?”

 

“We can’t , Jimin-ssi! We just can’t!” Jungkook explodes. “Please, please stop making this harder than it already is!”

 

Jimin lets out a bark of indignant laughter, turning to wipe the tears from his cheeks. He’s feeling cruel in this moment. Cruel and selfish in his vulnerability.

 

“I could simply order you to be with me, you know. I could order you to kiss me. I am your prince and you swore an oath to obey me.”

 

Jungkook grimaces when he looks up at him with tear stained cheeks.

 

“Then I would commit treason and go against your wishes, because I also promised to do everything in my power to protect your throne and your birthright. And even if that means you’d throw me in the dungeons for the rest of my days, I would still do it.”

 

Jimin turns and faces the door, wrapping his arms around his middle and holding himself in a gesture of comfort. He’s never felt anything like he felt the previous night… the passion, the want, the desire … it was all so new and exciting and now he feels as if he’s being robbed of it, because he doesn’t want anyone else but Jungkook. He’s never wanted anything else, and that fact is glaringly obvious now.

 

Jungkook looks up at him with sad eyes.

 

“Jimin-ssi… please do not think I am doing this to hurt you. Hurting you is the last thing I ever want to do. Just please… you should move forward as if nothing ever happened. Forget about me; court others and enjoy their company.”

 

“Court others?” Jimin repeats in disbelief. “Maybe you are not understanding me; for months I have been struggling with myself… trying to define my feelings for you, trying to understand what it all meant. I may have looked happy on the outside but on the inside… I was troubled and confused. I went to the sea almost every day, praying for guidance, waiting for a sign and then there was you.

 

“Jimin-ssi…”

 

“Can’t you see Jungkook? You were meant to come back to Seoyong, to come back to me . We were meant to find one another, here and now —”

 

“It is pointless.

 

“How can you say that? How can you toss aside my feelings so easily?”

 

“I am not! Because I was never confused, Jimin-ssi! I’ve known how important you were to me since the very start; I have loved you for years. ” The alpha says passionately.

 

Jimin’s hands fist in the alpha’s shirt. “Then take me. Make me yours, let us be together—”

 

No.” Jungkook denies him firmly. “I love you, Jimin-ssi. I always have. But that means that I cannot be selfish; I must protect you, even from myself.”

 

Jimin shakes his head angrily. “You would never hurt me—”

 

“I already am, my prince.” Jungkook smiles at him bitterly. “Last night was a mistake; I should have never crossed that line with you, I should have kept my distance. But I wanted you so badly and for a little while, it was nice to pretend.”

 

“But we don’t have to pretend.” Jimin argues. “We care for one another, we can be together.”

 

“No, we can’t.” Jungkook cups his face delicately. “I want you to be happy , Jimin-ssi. I want you to become the king you were always meant to be someday. I’m not worthy of being by your side—”

 

“But you love me. You said it yourself!”

 

“I do. Unconditionally.” Jungkook wipes away a few of his stray tears. “But I could never truly have you; not in the way that each of us wants. And you deserve the entire world, Jimin-ssi; you shouldn’t have to compromise for anything, especially me.”

 

“So what? You’re just going to stay by my side and suffer? You love me, but you won’t give me what I want. Tell me in what world does that make sense?”

 

“There isn’t any other way, my prince.” Jungkook says sadly, his amber eyes wet. “And I wish we there could be, I wish that more than anything , but I know it is not true. You will find another alpha, a royal or a noble you can be proud to stand beside—”

 

“This is madness. This is madness.

 

Jungkook continues on, trying his best to stay strong despite the fact that his own heart is breaking. “You will meet someone worthy of your station, and you will forget about me. It doesn’t matter how much I long for things to be different; no matter how hard I pray for change, my status will stay the same. I am your past, and together we have no future.”

 

“Don’t do this Jungkook; please, do not do this to me.”

 

“I love you, Jimin-ssi.” The alpha leans forward, pressing a soft kiss against the prince’s forehead, before leaning back to separate from him. He grabs Jimin’s hands, forcibly pushing him away, letting the walls spring up around his heart. “I love you enough to let you go.”

 

Jimin looks up at him tearingly, his expression reading more sorrow now than anger. He wants to ignore Jungkook’s words, he wants to be reckless and selfish, but he also knows he has to respect the alpha’s choice, even if he absolutely hates it.

 

“If I court others, then you must be free to as well. If this is truly what you say it is… for my crown and not because you do not want me.”

 

Jungkook nods once. Internally, he knows he will not bother, he has no desire to take any other lover that isn’t the prince, but in this moment he cannot confess that out loud; he knows it would only hurt Jimin more.

 

“Find happiness, Jimin-ssi. That’s all I’ve ever wanted for you.”

 

Jimin wants to argue more — wants to crawl back into Jungkook’s lap and grip his red hair and kiss his stupid mouth absolutely swollen and silly, but he knows he cannot force Jungkook to do anything, and it was childish for him to even consider it as he did.

 

“Very well. If this is your choice… then I can’t change your mind.”

 

Jungkook nods. “You won’t.”

 

“If you do this, things will change between us. Even if we cannot be lovers, I am not sure our friendship will recover from this rejection.”

 

The alpha bites his lip, knowing it to be true, but it hurts to hear it out loud all the same. “I understand.”

 

“If you deny me, deny us what is so clearly meant to be, then I cannot be close to you anymore. It is too painful for me.”

 

Jungkook is crying now, but he forces himself to agree. “Yes, Jimin-ssi.”

 

“You will be my guard, and nothing more.” Jimin throws down the ultimatum, a final, desperate attempt to try and sway the alpha, but Jungkook resists him once again.

 

“Yes, my prince.”

 

“I am not yours.” Jimin stands from the bed, his hands balled into fists. “You made sure of that.”

 

“I know.”

 

“Then address me with respect.” Jimin demands, and Jungkook feels his heart truly breaking. He watches as that flawless mask falls onto the omega’s face and Jimin’s eyes go cold. The passive indifference that the omega has spent years practicing. He understands Jimin’s anger, he knows he deserves it — for making the prince think they could be something the previous evening when he had known all along that it couldn’t truly happen — but it still hurts like hell to be spoken to as if he is nothing, just another nobody to the prince.

 

But that is exactly what he is ; a nobody , a commoner , and Jimin’s station is miles above his own. To pretend otherwise was nothing but the dreams of a fool. For so much of his life, Jimin was the one who made him feel special, who made him believe in himself, and now he feels the entire structure of his world starting to collapse, right along with the remains of his friendship with Jimin.

 

“Well?” The prince demands once more, and Jungkook lowers his head respectfully.

 

“I understand, your Highness.”

 

“Then that’s that.” Jimin straightens his posture. “See you tomorrow then guard. Eat in the barracks with the others, and do not seek me out unless you are reporting for your duty.”

 

“Yes, your Highness.” Jungkook answers brokenly, his hands shaking behind his back, clenched so tightly that his nails break skin as he keeps his eyes lowered and his head bowed.

 

The prince moves towards the door, one of his hands on the handle. “You want to know the worst part, guard?” His voice is full of bitterness as he looks at Jungkook with nothing but betrayal. “I love you.”

 

Jungkook chokes on a sob, his lip quivering.

 

“I love you.” Jimin repeats, a single tear falling down his cheek. “Or maybe I should say I loved you; you said so yourself, you are nothing but my past.”

 

The alpha feels like he can’t breathe, the confession making him feel like his heart is shattering all over again, his wolf howling in pain on the inside.

 

“Goodbye.” Jimin says it with such finality, in a way that makes Jungkook wonder if he will ever be alone with the prince like this again. He takes one last look at the omega, trying to remember all the reasons why he was making the right decision when it felt like his heart was being ripped directly out of his chest.

 

But Jimin doesn’t linger or wait for him to answer, turning to promptly leave the room. He keeps a brave face all the way to his chambers, but once he’s alone, it all comes crashing down, crumbling around him like the foundations of a house against a hurricane with no reinforcements. He feels his heart splintering off like it’s being used as target practice.

 

“Jiah,” Jimin calls, and his guard comes rushing in.

 

“Yes, my prince?” she says concerned.

 

“I wish for you to inform the other guards that I will no longer be turning away suitors. If someone delivers me a courting gift, bring it to me.”

 

She nods once, giving him a strange look before disappearing out the door with a muttered Yes, my prince .”

 

Once she’s gone, Jimin throws himself down onto his bed and does everything in his power not to cry fitfully. He isn’t used to not getting what he wants. The rejection leaves him feeling stupid and worthless.

 

He can only hope that he will be able to numb the pain through the company of others, though he doubts he will.

 

Now that he’s tasted his fire boy… he isn’t sure he will ever be able to crave anyone else.

 

 

It has been one hundred days since Jungkook kissed Jimin’s lips.

 

The alpha knows this, because every day that he wakes, every day that he does his job — looking after the prince and ensuring that he is safe — he feels that absence, that ever present longing that makes him feel like he is slowly going to lose his mind.

 

He reminds himself that he wanted this, that he chose this, but it’s so, so difficult.

 

Especially when he has to personally sit back and watch Jimin attempt to move on.

 

Jungkook knew that Jimin would have no shortage of suitors, he is the prince and he is beautiful, but it still feels like a dagger is being slowly pressed into his heart every single minute he has to observe Jimin on these little ‘dates’.

 

He’s courting multiple people, mostly male alphas, and Jungkook is starting to think this is the prince’s way of torturing him for daring to tell him no.

 

Each time he has to deliver a gift from Jimin’s suitors, whether it be something as simple as a flower or something elegant like jewelry, he feels a rage building inside of him that he knows isn’t healthy. But he can’t help it, because this is the path he chose to take.

 

In his weaker moments, about a month into their separation when Jimin took his first official suitor, Jungkook considered running away.

 

He knew he could return to Junseong, that his parents would welcome him back with open arms, and sometimes — when he’s watching alphas subtly scent Jimin, watching them touch his soft skin, and whisper in the prince’s ear — he is tempted to pack his things and just leave, ignore any and everything that has to do with Min Jimin.

 

But he can’t, he can’t ; not just because he took the oath, but because there is no one he trusts more than himself to look after Jimin. And deep down he knows that he chose this suffering, that by loving Jimin and seeking out this position in his guard, he basically guaranteed himself a future of misery. But he endures it, he’ll endure anything, if it means that Jimin is safe.

 

Today they are out in the gardens, this particular alpha — Byungho — someone that Jungkook specifically loathes. He always looked down on Jungkook, like he was a piece of trash to be stepped over. He’s a purebred, his blood brimming with nobility, the perfect choice for Jimin on paper.

 

It makes Jungkook want to scream.

 

He stands off to the edge of the gardens, giving the two of them a wide berth — less for the prince’s privacy and more for his own sanity. He tries not to look at them, just focusing on his wolf and Jimin’s, making sure nothing was amiss.

 

Jungkook can hear them laughing, Jimin’s high pitched distinct giggle gracing his ears as the alpha tells another joke.

 

“Oh guard! Come here please!”

 

Jungkook fights the urge to roll his eyes; he has a name, one that Byungho knows but refuses to use, a little jab at their difference in their stations.

 

If Jungkook is aware of anything these days, it’s his station.

 

“Yes Byungho-ssi?” He puts on the polite voice, pointedly not looking at Jimin even though he knows the omega is staring at him, practically daring Jungkook to make eye contact. The guard hardly ever does these days, the anger and the spite in the prince’s gaze too painful for him to witness.

 

“Go and fetch my satchel; it is on my horse. There is a velvet box inside. Bring it to me now.”

 

Jungkook goes dutifully, following the noble’s orders even though he wants to do anything but. They had started their little date by going horseback riding, and then they had moved onto their picnic in the gardens. Jungkook was beginning to wonder if this date from hell would ever end. He just wanted to get away from this stupid alpha and his insufferable stench.

 

But Jimin liked Byungho, and everything he does is in the hopes of making the omega happy, so he finds the box and delivers it with a polite bow.

 

A few seconds later there’s a delighted squeal, and when he chances a quick glance he sees Byungho wrapping an elaborate diamond necklace around the prince’s neck.

 

It’s gorgeous; it shines enough on its own, but Jimin’s beauty seems to make it even more glamorous. Jimin looks like something straight out of a painting, with his lilac robes and glittering necklace, his hair tousled from the wind.

 

Jungkook’s heart aches at the beauty of him.

 

But he turns back around because Jimin’s beauty is not his to admire; the prince is not his omega to desire. He feels his eyes start to water and he grips his hands into fists, so tightly that he can feel the blood draw.

 

He knows he is lucky. He knows that he could have withered away in the orphanage, could’ve amounted to nothing.

 

And Jungkook knows that he is something; he was the son of the most powerful people in Junseong, and while he loved them and they loved him, while they were the only parents he would ever acknowledge, it could never change the fact that he wasn’t born from them.

 

The laws of the Gods were clear; there was a strict like between the nobility and everyone else. And Jungkook had never much cared that he wasn’t really part of the elite, until these past few months.

 

Because he doesn’t love Jimin because of his blood or his status or his royalty. He loves Jimin because he is simply Jimin. And deep down in his heart, he knows that none of these alphas can say the same, and that kills him.

 

He remembers what the prince had confided in him at the creek in Chungsu, about wanting a great love like his parents, wanting to find a soulmate who would love him with everything that they had. And Jungkook, he knows that he could give that to Jimin, that mind consuming, unconditional love, if only things were different.

 

But they aren’t. And they never will be.

 

So he prays, he prays for Jimin to move on, for him to find someone that makes him happy, makes him smile. He knows that he himself will never be able to do the same, but his happiness isn’t important.

 

So he supervises the date, purposely looks away when Jimin embraces Byungho goodbye, and even compliments the omega on his necklace before escorting the prince back to his chambers.

 

He took an oath; he made vows, to himself and to the Gods, to do whatever it takes to protect Jimin.

 

He just hates that the person he has to protect Jimin from is himself.

 

 

The prince of Junseong arrives in the spring for a quick visit to sign a trade deal, but mostly he’s eager to see his son. But instead of seeing the bright boy he’s come to know and love, he finds a shell of Jungkook in his place, the light drained out of his big amber eyes.

 

Namjoon has never seen Jungkook truly depressed, and it breaks his heart to see his son like this.

 

He dines with him privately after his business is taken care of, bringing Jungkook to the cottage to get him away from the castle — and most importantly — away from Jimin.

 

After they eat their meal they journey outside, sitting in the sands and listening to the waves crash against the shore. It’s peaceful, but Namjoon can feel the stress pouring off of the younger alpha.

 

“Talk to me son. What troubles you?” Namjoon already knows, and he expects his son to be a bit stoic about it, the younger always having been one to try and shoulder his burdens alone. But instead his son bursts into tears, reaching out for him helplessly.

 

Appa…

 

“Oh Kookie.” The older alpha pulls him close, scenting him as the redhead’s shoulders shake. “It’ll be alright.”

 

“I’m sorry— I’m supposed to be… I’m supposed to be stronger than this. But it never stops hurting .” Jungkook gasps. “I know that I chose this. This is what I wanted. I just… I just thought it would get easier in time. But I was naive, I was so stupid...

 

“You are not stupid. My son could never be stupid. Look at me, Jungkook.” Namjoon pulls him up, wiping away the boys tears. “You’re not naive, you’re just in love. And sometimes being in love is hard. You don’t have to be so tough on yourself.”

 

“I just… I just feel so helpless. I knew I shouldn’t have done it… let him get so close… let myself act on all the things I had only dared to dream of. But then… but then Jimin-ssi said he liked me too and I could tell he wanted me and I was weak… I gave in and ever since everything has been ruined.”

 

“It’s not ruined. It’s not.”

 

“Appa, we’re not even friends anymore.” Jungkook’s voice quivers. “We don’t even talk. I always knew… I knew I couldn’t be his alpha… his mate. I took this job knowing I could never have him in the way I truly wanted. But I always thought that at least I could be his friend. But now even that’s gone. I just feel like I’m losing everything and I don’t know what to do.”

 

Namjoon sighs. “I could try talking to Yoongi—”

 

“No!” Jungkook shakes his head firmly. “ No. It was one thing to request to join the royal guard, something that was already bold enough on its own. But to request a title? An ascension? Purely so I might occupy his son’s bed?”

 

The prince frowns. “Jungkook, you know that Yoongi will not see it that way.”

 

“But everyone else will!” Jungkook feels himself getting worked up as he faces the difficult truth. “You know how ruthless the court can be. I know you are aware of what some people still say about you, even after everything you have done for the kingdom. I might have fought in the Songtan conflict, but I haven’t even done one tenth of what you have! And if the King ascends me purely for his son’s happiness, what kind of message will that send? I will never be respected as Jimin’s mate, I’ll only be seen as his common whore.”

 

Namjoon hates that his son is correct, that even in a place as progressive as Seoyong, there were traditions and some things that couldn’t be avoided, no matter how much he wished it weren’t so.

 

Jungkook looks at him sadly. “You taught me the importance of reputation… of working hard and earning things on your own terms. That’s why I did what I did at the prince’s pajong, to gain the king’s approval and earn my spot on the royal guard. But if Jimin were to claim me after his father showing me and you such blatant favoritism… it would hurt their reputation and I could never, never do that to him, no matter how much my heart wants me to be selfish.”

 

Namjoon knows this all to be true, and he hates that he can’t magically change this for his son. “Do you need me to extend my stay? I was supposed to leave in the morning…”

 

“No, appa. You have your duties, and so do I.”

 

The older alpha smiles bitterly. “You sound so grown up.”

 

“I’ve had to do a lot of that, these past couple months.” Jungkook chuckles humorlessly.

 

“Do you regret your decision? Coming here?”

 

Jungkook shakes his head. “No. This is still my purpose. And I will still do my job, and I will still protect him. I just have to figure out how to get used to the disappointment.”

 

His father looks at him sadly. “Jungkook-ah… you deserve to be happy. But a lifetime living like this ? Of feeling so empty and heartbroken...”

 

“You said so yourself appa… sometimes love is about sacrifice. This is my sacrifice, and I will make it gladly, if it means Jimin gets what he wants.” He takes a deep breath. “We both have our roles to play… we both have our duty.”

 

Namjoon chuckles. “I remember when I was your age, I tried to stay away from the one I loved out of duty.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

The elder sighs. “Much before Taehyung came into our lives, I met your father on the battlefield. You know this.”

 

Jungkook nods, he first heard of that fact when he was a child and had questioned why his father had a scar on his eyebrow. His father Seokjin had replied that he had saved Namjoon’s life from an assassin during the border wars who had snuck into their tent.

 

“But there was more to it than you realize. In a time of pain and suffering, something beautiful was born. I fell in love with Seokjin, during that war. But I never made a move on him; there was a war on and there were things we had to focus on. But when it ended and the truce was in place, I traveled to Chungsu with Seokjin.”

 

“And then you got together?”

 

“Not exactly.” Namjoon smiles at the memories of that month in Chungsu; it had been a time of nothing but peace; getting to know Seokjin and falling in love with the man, not just the warrior. “You are old enough to hear this. Your father had been on suppressants during the war, so when he came off them, he asked me to spend his incalescence with him.”

 

“Oh. That must have been… intense.” Jungkook might not have first hand experience but he is aware of what omegas must deal with; Seokjin had made sure he would be educated not just in the ways of alphas, but in betas and omegas as well.

 

“It was. I knew then that he would become my mate one day. But his heat came to an end and I left him. We spent over a year apart.”

 

“But why? Didn’t you love him? And didn’t appa love you?”

 

Namjoon nods. “We loved each other very much. But like you, we were young and it was… it was difficult to be honest not only with him, but with myself about what I wanted. And we both had our duty .” The alpha nudges his son’s shoulder. “Seokjin was needed in Chungsu and I was needed in what was then Kubaek. Our lives were pulling us in different directions, but I was sure one day we’d be together again. So imagine my surprise when I discovered he wanted to court Mijoo, who was the princess at the time.”

 

“I remember father said this before Mijoo’s coronation! Eomma said it happened because you both were silly.”

 

Namjoon laughs. “That’s one way of putting it. But the truth is, we both knew we wanted to be with one another, but instead of being honest about that fact, we hid behind our ‘duty’ and the distance. We ended up causing each other a lot of pain that could have been avoided if we had just communicated with one another.”

 

The prince sighs. “I know you think you are doing Jimin a favor; by pulling away, by trying to keep your distance. You say that Jimin is the only one you’ll ever want but… have you ever considered that for Jimin, you are the only one who will ever truly make him happy?”

 

Jungkook looks down. “I know he says he loves me but—”

 

“No buts.” Namjoon rubs at his son’s wrist. “You know, much like you, I encouraged Seokjin to court others, to be with Mijoo. I was convinced she was who he deserved. Because Seokjin was beautiful and fierce and just… perfect , in my eyes. He still is.” Namjoon admits. “And Mijoo… she was the princess, she could give him a good life. Full of riches and wonder. She could ascend him to be king of Chungsu one day. She was royal, and I was just…”

 

“A commoner.” Jungkook finishes for him, and Namjoon nods.

 

“Exactly. I was convinced that only someone of Seokjin’s status could make him happy. But that wasn’t the case. He courted Mijoo but he was miserable the entire time because she wasn’t me.

 

“So what happened?”

 

“Well, the moment we were back in the same place, we couldn’t deny our feelings much longer. And it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing from there, but at least we had one another, and we never had to question each other’s love from that point there on. I just… I don’t want you to repeat my mistakes Jungkook. The Gods have a way of surprising us. Back then I was convinced I’d never be worthy of a noble like Seokjin, and now I’m the prince and my station is even higher than his .”

 

Jungkook laughs softly, wishing desperately that his own luck could change. “You and appa are good together. I’m glad you worked it out.”

 

“You and Jimin could too.”

 

“I just… I just don’t know how it would be possible. Our situations are similar but the differences are too great. But if there was a way for us to be together… for Jimin to be mine... ” His eyes glisten at the mere thought of it; if he could actually live a life in which loving Jimin wasn’t a sin. “I would love him… I would love him with everything I had.” He looks at his father with a broken smile. “It wouldn’t be eunha but… it would be pretty damn close.”

 

Namjoon hugs Jungkook close as they both stare up at the moon. He closes his eyes then, praying to the Gods, to the moon, for some sort of guidance.

 

He has to find a solution. He won’t rest until he figures out a way to make his son smile again.

 

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