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Till Death Do Us Part

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    It was lonely all by himself. Jimin felt like he was always in pain with what was basically death coursing through his veins. No one was allowed to see him, except Healer Min. The High Lord had ordered it himself in fear of starting another epidemic. The kingdom was barely recovering from the last one. 

    Even though he knew it was for everyone else’s good, Jimin still felt pity for himself. Pity because he couldn’t see his brother or mother ever again, pity because he was getting sicker every miserable minute. He already lost both his wings to it. They had basically rotted away, constantly cracking open like chapped lips and pouring out blackened blood all over the cot and floor until they were nothing but long, black sticks. It was happening to his arm, too. Blood was soaking through the bandage, drying and making it very uncomfortable. 

    Jimin coughed quietly in the empty room. He was so lonely. There wasn’t anything that he could hold on to except the thought that maybe, just maybe, he could see his family again. Quite painfully, Jimin rolled onto his side. His red hair fanned over his eyes as he stared at the wall. He was tired but he couldn’t sleep. His stomach was crying out in hunger but whenever he tried to eat something, he’d throw it back up. Jimin nestled his face into the soft cushion, wincing slightly. A burning feeling started up through his body again, making Jimin groan. He moved his arm and let out a whimper when a cut reopened along his shoulder. It hurt. A lot.

    He went limp and drew in a ragged breath. Jimin was tired but he couldn’t sleep. Over the past week, he had only slept around two and a half hours. His eyelids were heavy and he couldn’t keep them closed. Whenever Healer Min came to give him her concoction of herbs and broth to battle the symptoms, it’d keep some of them off for a few hours before he’d heave it all up again. She would try different mixtures for him and spend hours on them. Jimin knew because he would hear her moving around outside the room. The only reason she was able to treat him and not contract the illness as well was because she immune. Only a handful of people out of thousands were like her. It was a genetic thing, whatever that meant. Jimin never got the chance to go past the ninth year. 

    Personally, Jimin liked to think it was a big handful, like when he would make a mountain of bird seed in his cupped hands and laugh as birds flocked to him. Or how he could fit dozens of wildflowers in his fist. Jimin liked to think it was a big handful in a big hand. It made him feel less lonely. Less like a threat.

    Patterns of light moved on the wall above him and trees rustled outside. Jimin didn't bother to look. He had seen the view in every season, the way the light fell on the floor in the early morning. Jimin used to be able to sit next to the windowsill and watch the birds flutter about. A deerling even stalked by once. It had a big, fluffy, white coat and a large tuft of fur around its neck. Beautiful golden antlers sprouted from its head and curved elegantly. Jimin had waited for it to come back for three months after that, but it never did. Healer Min had found him curled up in a ball, crying. 

      Jimin let out a small cough, feeling bile rise in his throat. He pursed his lips, feeling too hot but too weak to push off the sheet covering him. His lips cracked and started bleeding. Jimin sighed and forced his eyes shut. His eyes felt too hot and it was uncomfortable. Jimin whimpered, rubbing his irritated eyes.

    Someone was coming up to the door. It was a bit louder than usual, but Jimin didn't care. When he was younger, he would excitedly wait by the door because every single time. Jimin believed one of his friends was coming to see him. And every time, he was disappointed when only Healer Min came to the door. Jimin knew how hard she worked for him. She would stay with him at night when he would vomit up nothing and burn up with fever. She would tell him stories and bring him things she could afford. Healer Min was a wonderful lady. But Jimin really only wanted to go outside and talk to his family. Spend a few hours with his friends that he had not seen in a long time.

    The illness he had was slow. Jimin had had it for eight blooming seasons, symptoms developing sluggishly as he aged. It was terrible. His chest was starting to hurt. Jimin grimaced, but made no move to try to make himself feel better. He heard the door creaked open, so he rolled over. The skin on his arm started cracking open, making him wince. Healer Min was in the doorway with someone behind her. She gave him a warm smile and stepped towards him.

    "Hello, Jimin-ssi," she said, touching his small hand. "How are you feeling?" Jimin glanced at the person behind her that he couldn't really see.

    "I'm fine," he rasped, throat screaming in protest with each syllable. The person behind her shifted. 

    "Drink some water, dear," Healer Min said in a kind but firm tone. She held the wooden bowl full of water to his lips and patiently waited for him to start drinking. Jimin was able to see the person behind Healer Min better. The person was male, with light blue hair and curved black wings. He looked very uncomfortable. Jimin couldn't blame him. Healer Min pulled the bowl away and took his bleeding arm into her grasp.

    "W-who's that?" Jimin mumbled, staring up at the male. Healer Min chuckled softly as she started undoing the blood-soaked bandage. "Oh, him? That's my son. His name is Min Yoongi." She turned and ushered him forward. "Yoongi, dear, come say hello."

    Yoongi just stared at him. His eyes were shaped like haelun nuts. Jimin’s mother used to make stew with them. They grew all over the Syu Kain woods because the haelun tree was most common there. Jihyun’s eyes would light up when their mother made it for them. It was his favorite. Jimin didn’t know if he still liked it now. After all, he hadn’t seen him in eight blooming seasons. Healer Min frowned at Yoongi and nudged him with her ivory wings. The man gulped and hesitantly held out his hand. There was a silver band around his wrist, something carved into the metal. “Yoongi,” Healer Min warned, giving him a stern look. He inhaled sharply and mumbled, “Hi.”

    Instead of giving a coherent answer, Jimin coughed violently. He sputtered dark blood all over Yoongi’s extended hand. He jerked back, quickly wiping the blood off onto his trousers. Jimin wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, smearing it everywhere. Yoongi moved back, face twisting up into an expression of disgust. His mother glared at him and smacked his arm. Yoongi opened his mouth to protest, but Healer Min interrupted him.

    “You came here to help me, not run away from a patient. Now sit down and change Jimin’s bandages before I hit you,” she hissed. Jimin flinched, while Yoongi just looked at her. He reluctantly sat on the small stool next to his cot and started undoing the rest of the bloody bandages. Jimin cringed at the blackened skin that was oozing blood and puss. Yoongi just stared at him for a second, holding the soaked bandages in his palms. He blinked a few times and silently reached for the basket Healer Min left on the floor. She was off fixing something on a small desk. Jimin bit his lower lip as his left leg started spasming violently. Yoongi reluctantly rubbed medicine into the splitting skin, stretching the skin and causing it to start bleeding. Jimin hissed in pain. Yoongi pulled his hands away and wrapped bandages around his arm hastily. He collapsed onto the bed, red blossoming onto the off-white. Yoongi inched away and looked over at his mother. Jimin whimpered, digging his nails into his rotting palm.

      Healer Min turned around and glared at her son. She got up, settling down next to him. Jimin felt his throat start to close up, making him squirm. Healer Min lift a bowl to his lips again. Yoongi watched from the side, shifting his black wings that glimmered in the light. It tasted like minesa and sugar clovers. Jimin used to collect the clovers for his mother because she liked them with her tea. He tensed as tears started pricking at his eyes. Jimin wouldn't cry. He'd done it one too many times and he refused to do it again. Yoongi tilted his head and shuffled forward. 

Jimin started to feel sick, like his stomach had been burned and was bleeding from the inside. He made a soft noise, tightly gripping the sheet. Healer Min pulled away, giving him a small smile. Yoongi put a hand on his shoulder, making Jimin flinch. The skin started to flake and break away. The male just looked at him, which made him a little uncomfortable. Only having contact with one person for eight blooming seasons messes with your social skills, duh, a voice in Jimin’s head whispered bitterly. He pursed his lips, fidgeting with the stiff sheet. His arm started to hurt intensely, so he attempted to shrug off Yoongi's hand. Yoongi raised a brow and retracted. Jimin let out a sigh of relief, feel blood start to drip out of thin cuts where Yoongi had touched him.

"Um…" the other male mumbled awkwardly. "Are- wait, uh- are you feeling… um, alright?" His brown eyes darted up to look at Jimin and then quickly looked down. Jimin coughed and mewled, "M'fine." Healer Min gave the younger a subtle smile before clearing her throat, getting the two's attention.

"I have a few more patients to tend to. Yoongi, dear, please look after Jimin-ssi for me," she said, setting a few bottles and jars of ointments and herbs on the small desk. Yoongi nodded wordlessly. Healer Min picked up her basket and turned to the doorway. "You remember everything I told you, right, dear?" Yoongi nodded again. She gave Jimin a small wave and left the room.