Namjoon stares at his father's advisor, positive he misheard him. "You... what?"
"Your father selected you as his heir," the man sighs, cat-like eyes narrowing in irritation. His name is something with a 'Y', isn't it? Yonsu? Yoonsi? "The entirety of his territory is yours."
"Why not Seokjin-hyung?" Namjoon asks, flailing for words. "Why me?"
"If I knew," the advisor drawls, "I'd tell you. Trust me, I'm even less happy about this than you are."
Namjoon sighs, his head falling into his hands. God, he never asked to be born a prince. Honestly, ever since he was young, all he's wanted to do was to be like everyone else. To be one of the musicians in the backstreets. He never wanted this.
It was supposed to be Seokjin. It's always been Seokjin. The eldest would be the next king, and they all knew it.
Namjoon catches sight of his reflection - spiky black hair, violet eyes, not even remotely attractive - and resigns himself to his fate. This... this is his life.
(In a way, it always has been)
"And," the man grits out, as though every word pains him, "I am to be your advisor. Min Yoongi. I look forwards to working with you, Kim Namjoon-nim."
"Oh my god, please don't," Namjoon laughs, and Yoongi glares at him. "Just Namjoon-ah is fine."
Yoongi mutters something under his breath and strides off, and Namjoon thinks it sounds suspiciously like "this kingdom is doomed".
"You're really gonna be the next king?"
Taehyung pauses in his bouncing to stare at Namjoon for a moment, and the elder heaves a sigh.
"I don't know why it's not Jin-hyung," Namjoon mutters, gesturing to the man easily conversing with courtesans. "He's so much better at all this stuff..."
"Well," Taehyung states, eyes alight with that strange sort of wisdom he seems to possess, "Father must have seen something in you that you don't see in yourself."
Seokjin catches sight of them at that moment, bidding farewell to the courtesans before racing over. His black hair is, as usual, perfectly styled, and he plays the role of future king perfectly. "Namjoon-ah! I heard about Father's edict..."
Namjoon makes an incredibly undignified sound halfway between a laugh and a scream, and Seokjin's hand falls to his shoulder, rubbing it assuringly. "You're going to do so much better than I ever would, Joonie."
"Stay by my side?" Namjoon all but pleads, and Seokjin can't resist the pure fear in his younger brother's eyes.
"Can you hire Jiminie now?" Taehyung pipes up, and Seokjin and Namjoon shoot him matching glares. "Just a thought!"
Taehyung's been gushing about his cloud-eyed friend for as long as the pair can remember, claiming the so-called "Jimin" is some sort of seer. Namjoon personally doesn't believe they exist, but he hasn't met Jimin either, so who's to say?
"No," he sighs, and Taehyung's face falls. "Father's funeral hasn't even happened yet. I'm not even technically king."
Seokjin hums, reaching over to pinch a lock of Namjoon's hair between his fingers. "I wonder how it's going to look, all blond and fluffy."
Namjoon grimaces, already imagining his face added to the hall of violet-eyed, blond-haired portraits that lines the interior of the castle. "Maybe Yoongi-ssi will let me tip it red."
"Yoongi?" Seokjin asks, eyes narrowing. "Min Yoongi?"
"Yeah..." Namjoon replies, voice slow and measured. "You know him?"
"Hoseok-ah does," Seokjin sighs. "He's... something."
"Do you know him?" Namjoon asks, and Seokjin nods.
"He doesn't like you much, Namjoon-ah."
The former king's funeral is a somber affair.
Yoongi, Namjoon, Taehyung, and Seokjin are the only four in attendance, due to his unpopularity. It's raining, as is typical for funerals, and Namjoon watches as the casket is lowered into the ground, his father disappearing from view.
Seemingly as soon as the event is over, he's whisked into a side room by a boy with a heart-shaped smile who starts up a steady stream of chatter. "So, I guess it's just blond again?" he sighs, pinching Namjoon's black hair between his fingers. "Shame Yoongi-yah won't let me experiment."
"I wanted to try something new," Namjoon admits, and the boy's eyes light up. "But apparently it's tradition."
"Tradition sucks," the boy laughs, and Namjoon privately agrees. "Jung Hoseok, your highness, at your service, Kim Namjoon-nim."
"Just Namjoon-ah, please," Namjoon nearly begs, and Hoseok nods. "All these traditions... once I'm king, I want to undo them."
"Well," Hoseok grins, mischief sparking in his eyes, "why not start with the hair?"
Hoseok works some bleach into his hair, flitting around the space and pulling out different dye bottles. "Ah, you'd look good in pink, or in purple, or in red... you'd look good in anything, Namjoon-ah!"
Namjoon's face heats up, and his head falls into his hands. "Oh my god, Hobi-ah. I'm really not that attractive."
"Lies," Hoseok chirps, breezing around to pull another bottle out of the cabinet. "You speak lies and slander against my very good friend Namjoon."
Namjoon opts to refrain from mentioning the fact that they met mere minutes ago, and instead focuses on the way Hoseok moves. "Do you dance, Hobi-ah?"
"Used to," Hoseok smiles, though there's something wistful in it. "Back before your father found out about my skill with dyes."
He places a bottle on the table, mischief glinting in his eyes. "This."
Namjoon stares at it, then back at Hoseok. Then at the bottle again. "No."
"You'd look good in blue!" Hoseok insists, and Namjoon screams into his hands.
(In the end, they decide on purple, and Namjoon leaves that day with freshly-styled, violet-tipped, blond hair)
Yoongi about has an aneurysm when he sees Namjoon's hair.
"You're fucking joking," he breathes, and Namjoon slowly shakes his head. "You're- no. No fucking way."
He walks over to the nearest wall and leans his forehead against it, a small scream escaping his lips. "Skies, how did this happen? Why am I cursed with the worst king I've ever met?"
"I'm right here," Namjoon helpfully remarks, and Yoongi slams his forehead into the tiled walls.
"That is the problem," the advisor mutters, raking a hand through his hair in an attempt to corral it into submission. "The first king I really have a chance to work with and it's you."
"Hey," Namjoon snaps, folding his arms over his chest. "Like it or not, I am your king. And like it or not, we have to work together. So you can either bitch about me breaking an old, pointless tradition, or we can get work done. Your choice."
Yoongi stares at him for a moment, a smile creeping onto his lips. "I see why Kim Soowon-nim chose you," he comments. "You're better than I expected."
"Thanks?" Namjoon asks, confusion evident. "Is that a compliment?"
"Yeah," Yoongi deadpans. "I thought you were a spoiled brat with delusions of grandeur."
Namjoon bristles, irritation flashing in his violet eyes. "I spend my nights rapping in the underground instead of studying law," he snaps, before realizing what he just said. "Oh. I, um. I didn't mean that."
"You're RM," Yoongi states, and Namjoon quirks a brow. "The sunglasses."
"Oh," Namjoon mumbles, cheeks heating up. "Um, yeah. I am."
"Nice," is all Yoongi says, breezing past the younger and throwing the doors of the throne room open. "Come. It's time for your coronation, Rap Monster."
"When I am king," Namjoon grins, forced cheer infused into his voice, "I am going to send you to work in the stables, and laugh as a horse flings shit in your face."
"Yeah," Yoongi drawls, nudging him inside. "You do that."
Namjoon rakes a hand through his hair, staring down at the numbers scrawled haphazardly on the paper. "We're such a small country... how are we in this much debt?"
"Your father had about fifteen prostitutes," Yoongi remarks, and Namjoon throws an inkwell at his head. "You can't throw inkwells at the truth, y'know."
"Half our country are slaves," Namjoon groans. "Half of them are slaves, Yoongi-hyung. We have no money, and the people in the lower classes are close to revolt."
He taps a pencil on his chin, lips pursed. "Why... there has to be a way to fix this... I mean, we can't just free them right away, as much as I'd like to. We need to create some sort of assimilation program, cut needless expenses so we can lower taxes, I'd like to spend more time with the public..."
Yoongi stares at him, something akin to pride shining in his eyes. "Wow, Namjoon-ah."
"What we could do is have a tiered program with government stipends," Namjoon muses, tapping his pencil on the table. "Promote literacy, partner with vetted businesses... what do you think?"
"That's definitely feasible," Yoongi grins, and Namjoon returns the smile with one of his own. "Why are you doing all of this?"
"Because it's the right thing to do," Namjoon immediately replies, halfway through sketching out some sort of pyramid. "Why else?"
Namjoon watches from the corner as Seokjin twirls Hoseok in a slow circle, both of them laughing at some invisible joke. Next to them, Taehyung's slow-dancing with a silver-haired boy - the mark of a seer - and Yoongi's talking with a doe-eyed boy, both of them seemingly happy in each other's presence. The Royal Guard Captain, Jeon Jungkook, most likely. According to Hoseok, the kid is the only one Yoongi can tolerate.
"Hyung!" Taehyung exclaims and Namjoon flinches, his hands stilling around his gloves. "Come meet Jiminie!"
He sighs, resigning himself to his fate, and crosses the room to offer a hand to Jimin. "It's nice to meet you, Jimin-ssi-"
Jimin raises his hands and runs his thumbs over Namjoon's cheeks, lips curling into a smile. "You are as handsome as Tae-Tae says," he grins, and Namjoon can see that his eyes - shockingly blue - are covered with something like a fog. "And you have dimples, don't you?"
"Yeah," Namjoon slowly replies, and Jimin frowns.
"I've seen danger in your future, Namjoon-ssi," Jimin states, and Namjoon quirks a brow. "Even if you don't believe in seers, please believe me. You're in grave danger."
Namjoon quirks a brow, and Taehyung nods. "Really."
Jimin must hear that Namjoon doesn't believe him, since his eyes widen with desperation. "Namjoon-ssi, please listen to me. You, Tae, Seokjin-ssi, and Yoongi-ssi are all in danger for as long as you stay here. You have to go."
"Look, Jimin-ssi, I'm sorry," Namjoon starts, and Jimin shakes his head, tears welling up in his cloudy eyes.
"No, you h-have to listen to me," Jimin stammers, desperation visibly mounting. "Y-You're in danger, Namjoon-ssi. You c-can't stay here!"
They're drawing a crowd, Namjoon realizes, horror washing over him. "I'll think about it, Jimin."
"T-That's not good e-enough!" Jimin exclaims. His lithe frame visibly shakes, though whether it's from nerves or due to the threadbare clothing he wears, Namjoon isn't sure. "P-Please, listen to me-"
Namjoon bites his lip and meets Taehyung's gaze, who seems just as desperate as he does. "Why don't you come inside?"
He offers a hand to Jimin, who recoils from it as though he's been burned. "Y-Y-You're going to die," he gasps, knees giving out. He falls into Taehyung's arms, and for just a moment, Namjoon sees some of the fog in his eyes clear. "I s-saw it."
The implementation goes perfectly.
Namjoon grins as he reads some of the letters his subjects have sent in, his hands illuminated by faint candlelight. Taehyung's staying at Jimin's tonight, apparently still helping him recover from his fit, so Seokjin's lingering in his room.
"You're still excited about that?" Seokjin laughs, and Namjoon nods.
"I'm making a difference in people's lives!" he exclaims, and Seokjin grins. "Look at this woman - her son was able to afford a place for them to live now that they've been freed. And this man, who's been able to marry his childhood sweetheart. I'm so happy, Jin-hyung."
Seokjin wraps his arms around Namjoon's waist, resting his chin on the younger's shoulder. "And I'm proud of you, Joonie-ah. But why don't we sleep now, hmm?"
"Yeah," Namjoon sighs, leaning back into Seokjin's chest. His elder brother is warm, comforting, just as he's always been. "I just... I keep getting nightmares."
"What about?" Seokjin asks, reaching up to toy with Namjoon's crown. The younger has always fit the picture of royalty, he thinks, with the brilliant violet eyes that mark him as a royal, the way he manages to exude confidence even when he's terrified, the fact that he looks amazing in fur capes... he's proud of his younger brother.
"About war," Namjoon confesses, and Seokjin hums, running his thumb over the dips and crests of his crown. "I... what Jimin said... it scared me."
"Jungkook's here, though," Seokjin points out, and Namjoon nods. "You know him. He'd sooner die than let anything happen to you, or me, or Yoongi."
"I know," Namjoon huffs, pulling his crown off his head and placing it on the table with more force than is really necessary. "I know, okay? I just... the look in Jimin's eyes..."
"Do you want me to stay?" Seokjin asks, and Namjoon nods.
The elder maneuvers Namjoon into the plush bed, gently nudging him under the covers. "Sleep well, Namjoon-ah," he murmurs, reaching over to blow out the candle. "Your fears can wait 'till the morning."
"SM has declared war, Kim Namjoon-nim."
Namjoon raises his eyebrows at Jungkook, pencil stilling on the tip of a letter. "What?"
It's telling that he doesn't bother to correct Jungkook on the honorific.
"Do you know why?" Namjoon asks, and Jungkook shakes his head.
"They have allied with YG and JYP," he frowns, "and according to my sources, Jackson and Rosé seem to be working under orders of Jaebum-nim and Jennie-nim-"
"Can you stop them at the borders?" Namjoon asks, and Jungkook nods.
"I'm positive we can stop Kai and Taemin," Jungkook replies, "but Rosé... I don't know. Jackson, maybe so - you said you knew him?"
"When we were princes," Namjoon grimaces, "there was talk of an arranged marriage between Taehyung and Nayeon, so he and I spent a fair amount of time in JYP. Jackson and I got along pretty well."
"Is that enough?" Jungkook asks, and Namjoon's gaze falls to the sword at Jungkook's side.
"I will accompany you to the front," the king states, and Jungkook blinks at him.
"I will," Namjoon repeats, words slow and measured, "accompany you to the front, Jeon Jungkook."
Namjoon, Jungkook learns, deals well in flashy shows of power.
Currently, the king sits inside a bombed-out building, irritation flashing in his eyes as he stares at the rubble of what was one of his most populated cities. Jackson sits across from him, a crooked grin on his lips and dust lingering in his dark hair.
"Jackson-ah," Namjoon simply states, and Jackson's grin deepens, blood painting his normally pearl-white teeth a dark, potent red. "I never wanted to see you here. Not like this."
"Are you gonna kill me?" Jackson asks, and Namjoon shakes his head.
"Could I ever kill anyone?"
Jackson laughs, a bit of blood dripping lazily down his chin. "If you're holding me for ransom, Jaebum-ah won't pay. Not for me."
"I doubt that," Namjoon hums, and Jackson flinches. "Mark would pay, right?"
"Relax," Namjoon laughs, lips curling into a smile. "You know I'm not like that."
"Time changes people," Jackson frowns, reaching up to ruffle his hair. Dust forms a cloud around him and he sneezes, nose crinkling as he waves a hand in front of his face. "I haven't seen you in seven years, Namjoon-ah."
"Were the bombs you?"
"Chan," Jackson sighs, and Namjoon nods, slow and measured.
Silence reigns supreme for a moment.
"Are you scared, Joon-ah?"
Namjoon flinches, and Jackson grins that same crooked grin yet again. "I was right. Was it Jimin?"
"How do you know Jimin?"
"You're just confirming what I'm thinking, Joon-ah."
Jackson rests his chin on his hand, still managing to seem in control despite being anything but. "You've never been good at hiding your emotions."
"Rosé's going to be at your capital in a few days."
Jackson folds his arms over his chest, emotions warring in his dark eyes. "And I know you don't want her to take over your kingdom. Not with what she'd do to Seokjin."
"Those rumors aren't true-"
"But what if they are?"
Jackson, honestly, does feel a little bit bad about playing Namjoon against himself like this. He knows exactly how much truth there is to each rumor floating through his kingdom - being one of the more down-to-earth members of the monarchy has its benefits - and nothing he's heard about Jennie is even remotely true. Still, he knows there's some truth to Jimin's visions, and he hates the idea of his friend (are they friends?) bleeding out in the dirt.
He fixes his eyes - the startling neon green of their monarchy - on Namjoon, trying to invoke some sense of trust. "Trust me, Joon."
When Namjoon arrives, the city is burning.
He whips his head around, gaze finally landing on Jimin on his hands and knees, tears dripping from his cloudy eyes and landing in the dirt. "Jimin-"
"I w-warned you!" Jimin shouts, crawling to his feet. "I w-warned you, N-Namjoon!"
Namjoon has the sudden irrational thought that Jimin reminds him of an old-timey cartoon witch. With dirty, ragged clothes, bare feet, an accusing finger pointed at Namjoon...
...and this is exactly the wrong thing to be thinking about.
Upon closer inspection, the fires seem to be isolated. Easily explained as house fires.
Easily explained as fires designed to throw Namjoon into a panic.
He gestures for one of the guards to help Jimin - he's Taehyung's friend, after all, and he's a little bit ashamed it took him this long to extend common courtesy - and kicks down one of the city's front gates, grimacing as the door opens with little resistance.
YG's emblem flies overhead, and Namjoon squares his shoulders, drawing his sword from its sheath.
With one quick swipe, the banner flutters to the ground.
Jungkook stares at his king for a moment, utterly dumbfounded. His violet-tipped hair waves in the wind, his cloak streaming out behind him as he stares up at the distant castle. He looks powerful. Strong.
He looks every inch the king his father was.
Perhaps even more.
Namjoon storms through the castle, eyes alight with fury. With any luck, he'll be able to catch Jennie and Rosé before they return to YG.
If they so much as touched a hair on any of his brothers' heads...
And Yoongi and Hoseok, for that matter. Goddammit, if they're not okay...
(If Jimin was right, he'll never forgive himself)
He throws open the door to the throne room, fury burning in his chest. "Jennie!"
Jennie sits on the throne, papers piled up in her lap and her black and pink crown hanging low over one eye. The woman blinks at him, mild irritation shining in her dark eyes, and next to her, Seokjin silently seethes, hands bound behind his back and royal garments gone in favor of a simple cloth shirt and pants, as well as a gag stuffed into his mouth. Taehyung's next to him, tears streaming down his cheeks, and next to him, Yoongi's even more bound than Seokjin, bruises painting his face and exposed chest. "Oh. You're here?" she asks, seeming utterly uninterested in parlay.
"This is your one warning," Namjoon growls, extending his sword towards her. "Leave. Now."
"Or what?" Jennie frowns, unsheathing her own rapier. "You'll fight me? I wasn't aware this was how things were decided here. I thought kings were chosen based on competence."
She runs her fingers over the throne, then steps over to Seokjin, running one polished nail under his chin. "Though given you're on the throne, I suppose that's not true."
"Enough talk," Namjoon spits. "It's time to fight."
"Are you okay, hyung?"
Namjoon's hands make quick work of the knots holding Seokjin, and the elder reaches up to rub his abused wrists. "Yeah, I'm fine."
Namjoon grins, and Seokjin frowns upon seeing a deep gash on the younger's forearm. "Get someone to look at that for you, Joonie."
"I'm fine," Namjoon laughs, and Seokjin rolls his eyes.
Namjoon watches as Taehyung races across the tile, tackling Jimin and enfolding him in a tight hug. The elder lets out a small, surprised laugh, hand reaching up to thread itself through Taehyung's dark hair, and Taehyung beams.
"I'm glad you're alright," Yoongi comments, and Hoseok chirps assent.
"It's been too long," Hoseok beams.
"It's been two months."
"Two months is too long!"
Namjoon rolls his eyes, but he's smiling regardless. "It's good to see you too, Hope-ah."
"Are we throwing a party?" Taehyung asks, eyes lighting up. "Oh! Can I invite some friends?"
"Are you gonna invite Jackson?" Seokjin asks, and Namjoon shrugs.
"We can invite anyone we want. After we rebuild the city, that is."
Namjoon flourishes among his people, Seokjin thinks.
The party is held in the city centre, and the entirety of the kingdom is invited to celebrate. Jimin seems somewhat uncomfortable in the flowing robes that benefit one of the king's advisors (even if he was wrong, he later explained to Namjoon exactly what he saw, and, well, he was mostly right) but Yoongi wears them like he was born in them. Hoseok dances in the town square, eyes bright, and Jungkook participates in mock-battles against the kingdom's youngsters, his laughter ringing through the space.
Ambassadors from other kingdoms have come as well, though Namjoon was clear that here, at this celebration, they'd be treated just as everyone else is. Speaking of the king, Yoongi insisted he wear his crown, but other than that, he's clad in the same shirt and pants as the rest of the crowd. His laughter rings through the air, and Seokjin smiles, leaning against a pillar with Jungkook next to him.
"I knew he'd be a good king," Seokjin smiles. "War hero, freed slaves, pulled BigHit out of debt... god, he really is a good king, isn't he?"
"Yeah," Jungkook hums, watching as Namjoon talks with a small girl, a bright smile on his lips. "Yeah, he really is."